Monday, November 9, 2009

Mass Effect, Dialog Trees and How The Military Helped Me Become An Asshole

I'm not even going to bother with the Late Pass tag. I'm finding it more difficult to watch, listen, or play anything during its release window. There's just too much media being released.

Edmonton developer Bioware (Canada, stand up!) with Electronic Arts will be releasing Mass Effect 2 in January 2010. I decided now would be good time to give the first installment a go.

There are few things better - and fellow nerds can attest to this - than playing a PC game. Late night, in the dark, stereo headphones, Mass Effect is perfect for this. Space: the final frontier. Darkly lit ships, exotic planets, a moody score, sexy alien bitches. I'm very excited to immerse myself into this world.

One aspect of this game that I'm looking forward to is the dialog tree. Not a new mechanic in the world of gaming, but for those not in the know, its basic purpose is to present your characters with options on how you respond/react to other characters in your world.

Naturally, your interactions will have consequences. These consequences might change how a character interacts with you in the future, or determine the fate of the galaxy itself. I've heard that Mass Effect does an excellent job of balancing the consequences, so that everything isn't so black and white. Perfect for someone who might be a little morally ambiguous.

The last game I played that employed the dialog tree mechanic was Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. The game involves a bunch of high school kids wrapped up in Scooby Doo type murder mystery. Throughout the game, you are given the opportunity to improve your Social Link with the many characters of this fictional world. Of course in fantasy game fashion, the more you connect with people, the stronger your evil fighting powers become.

Getting started with this game, I put much thought into character I hoped to become in the game. This form of entertainment is about escapism, so what better time and place is there to get out of my shell a bit? Of course as the game progressed, I found myself playing it very safe. Looking back, I believe its a result of the game's setting, which - other than the aforementioned mystery, and summoning of effed up Arcana - isn't too far removed the life of a high school teenager. Basically, I got involved with as many school activities as I could, bonded with dudes, and tried to get girls to my bedroom.

Life as a shortie shouldn't be so rough

Enter Mass Effect. Once again, before playing the game, I thought about the possibility of changing it up a bit. Earlier on I was presented the opportunity to not take the nice guy approach, and gosh darn it, I seized it. At one point in the game I straight murked a dude because he annoyed the hell out of me. I felt good being an asshole. Why was it so easy for me to do it this time around? I suspect it's because my character is part of the military. A military man with rank at that. Look...if I'm gonna save the universe, stay in line, don't piss me off, and let me do my thing, m'k?

Let's see, A: Nice Guy; B: Get The Job Done; C: Cold Hearted Bastard

I wonder how long I'm going to be able to keep this up? At some point I think I'm gonna have to find a way to turn it down a notch. While it's fun being a Boss (word to Ross), I have to remember that there are more important things than being an asshole. Namely this

Saving the galaxy should have its rewards.


Francesco said...

if you had just told me there was a sex scene right off the bat i would have already been playing this by now!

*runs off to get the game*

Boothe said...


I didn't watch the video (no spoilo), but I hear it's handled quite beautifully ('s tame).

I'm hoping I'll enjoy the game otherwise.