Monday, February 1, 2010

How I Spent My 3-Day Weekend

Let me just get it out of the way:

Mass Effect 2 is OWNING my soul right at this current moment!

I popped the game into my Xbox 360 last Friday, my day off, and have pretty much not seen the light of day since. It's ridiculous good fun, although I really should be working on my novel outline some more. Bah, I'll get to it. I will.

But for now I'm enjoying my second foray into the sci-fi goodness that is this game. I purchased the collector's edition which comes with the game plus extra bonus features disc nestled in a sweet metal tin clamshell case, along with an art book and a code to download this exclusive armor and gun for my character to use in-game.

As with the first, Mass Effect 2 is an action RPG. But this time with more emphasis on the action, it seems. Dialog trees have been truncated severely, so that conversations between you and your team members and NPCs are still meaty and informative, but considerably shorter. And as much as I simply LOVE expository conversations to develop the hefty backstory these games have to offer, I must admit that it is a relief not to spend 15 minutes trying to mine a particular standoffish Asari consort out of valuable information I need. Full conversations now range in the 3 - 5 minute range, with many much shorter than this.

There are a host of other ways this game has been streamlined to highlight more action and less time-wasting activities, but I won't list them all here. Suffice to say that the RPG elements have been dumbed down a lot, but not completely removed. In some ways this is a bonus (no more item management tediousness!), but in others it is bizarre (what, I only have 5 character development stats to allot exp points to?).

As for the game itself, what more can be said? It is a freaking MASTERPIECE! Yes, I've only just started, but DAMN! I was afraid the first one had been some kind of fluke, but nope -- this one pretty much starts off running from where the last one ended, and drops you straight into some high-stakes intrigue. You still control Commander Shepard, a kick-ass human Spectre operative who saved galactic civilization the last time. Except now he has to rebuild a brand new team Dirty Dozen-style to combat an even greater threat to the space-faring races of known space.

The new team members are a cool mix so far. I know it's blasphemous to say, but I'm actually enjoying this bunch better than the last. Although it seems I will be reuniting with a few of my old friends, too. In fact, I already have at least three along for the ride with me, with the promise of maybe 1 or 2 more joining me later. Play the game if you want to know who's back and who's not.

I played through all day Friday, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, with breaks in-between only to work out, eat, and say some words to the wife the few times she was around (Lisa had to work night-shifts at the hospital this weekend). I'm making good headway, and can't wait to travel to new planets in search of more bad-asses to join my quest.

As always, keep checking my "Now Playing" sidebar on this page at the start of each week to monitor my progress.

P.S. -- And, yes, I am still on track with my writing goals. I think this will be the last weekend I devote completely to gaming. I made the one allowance this time because a game like Mass Effect 2 doesn't come around too often. Also, because I need to beat this before God of War 3 arrives in March. See, finished or not, ME2 will most definitely take a back seat to that game. You just don't KNOW my obsession with the GoW franchise! :)

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