Nitpicking Creed, Mass Effect

by Steve Bowler on March 1, 2008 · 2 comments

in combat,design,nitpicking

I managed to finally get my mitts on Assassin’s Creed and began a playthrough of it today, and a buddy of mine brought over Mass Effect just so I could look at it.

I’ll have some larger notes as to what each one’s getting right and wrong later, maybe some full critiques, but for now there’s a couple of things that really piss me off about one and mild bemusement about the other.

First, the Creed.

Death to the Infidel who Made me Drop my Panini!!!

Okay, I know they want some repercussions for your “violent” actions while you navigate the world, and I know that times were different in the medieval/crusade era, but do you really think getting bumped by a horse driven by someone in a hurry should be punishable by death?  How many games am I going to have to play that claim to be “next-gen” intelligence and yet somehow only have a kill on/off switch?  Seriously, jumping sets guards off?  Did they chase down children playing in the street and lop their heads off routinely in the middle ages?  I’m no historian; I wouldn’t really know.  The game claims to be based off of real events.  Maybe they had a serious hate-on for having any kind of fun back then.

Turn Based Combat
The combat is just horrible.  Animation quality aside (sometimes it’s hot, other times it’s not, and still other times their compression scheme is wayyyyyy too overzealous and compression jitters pop up), there are a ton of decisions here that just don’t play out in reality as well as they do on paper.  Besides the whole “turtle camping” they make you do with the guard/counter system, the idea of “hit attack when your blade makes contact” for a killer combo just doesn’t work when you only have one button for an attack, and the attack you get varies based on how many steps you are away from your opponent.  If I’m a half step away, the time it takes my blade to reach my victim is radically different than it is when I’m a step and a half away, or three steps away, or even five steps away.  And it’s not like there’s any logical timing here.  Technically, 5 steps away should be 5 times as long as one step away, but it isn’t, because he runs to close the gap when he’s far away and takes his sweet ass time when he’s a step and a half away.  The combat timing’s all over the place, and I’m finding it a huge pain in the ass to try and time when the blade’s actually going to hit, and frequently don’t get any kind of combo whatsoever, because there’s no way to honestly know when it’s going to hit.

From here, I started playing…

Not So Massive Effect

Mass Effect was interesting, but it’s seriously not my bag.  For a game that’s all about space exploration, I was seriously let down when I saw that going to another planet was essentially the game just loading up a huge hallway for you to drive your ridiculous 6 wheeled ATV through.  I was somehow under the impression that I’d be going to a planet, not a valley.  And then there’s only 4 points of interest?  On an entire planet??

Frankly Mass Effect, I Don’t Give a Damn

But worse, (and I know I only played a small tiny mission in a game that spans 40 hours) I’d appreciate it if when I’m given 4 conversation options that at least one of them actually means a different outcome.  Conversation is a tool for communication.  We use it as humans to influence others, primarily, and then in a secondary fashion to let people know who we are (convey our personality).  In Mass Effect, it seems that conversation is only there to “level up” who you are.  I imagine there  must be a few situations where there are different outcomes based on how you handle yourself (the scenes leading up to the romantic interludes, I’d hope), but don’t even bother giving me options if the options don’t mean anything for the situation at hand.  If you teach people that conversation doesn’t matter, and if it isn’t impactful, they will wonder why they are wasting their time with it.  I know who I am.  I don’t need a dialog radial menu to help me determine this.  Worse, if they’re ignoring conversation options because you taught them they don’t mean anything, they’re seriously going to miss the boat the few times you do use them in an impactful meaningful way.

Looting Puzzles?  Really?

The title basically says it all, but when you feel you’ve got to give someone a button timing puzzle just to pick something up you’ve got one boring game, or a sadistic streak, or both.  Button puzzles for doors?  Hotwiring circuits?  Awesome.  But for mundane tasks?  It is to laugh.

Six Wheeled Tea Bagging

Not so much a nitpick as it was a hilariously awesome experience:  okay, show of hands from the folks who found that using the jump jets on the ATV to repeatedly land on enemy corpses was way too entertaining…

Hello?  Anyone there?  Bueller?

Just me?  Okay then.


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