Current Activities in Gaming #190
April 12, 2017

I’ve sort of mitigated some of the single player “lag” I get from ME:A and I’ve started recording it again on my NG+. It’s a mixed bag, since the lag still happens but at a lesser rate than before and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what settings I had that gave me the smooth run beforehand. I’m wondering if my recording software relates to it but I doubt it, as I had the performance issues even when I wasn’t recording.

Either way, good to pump out some content again. I have some more thoughts on ME:A on a writing standpoint, with a few quotes from a forum thread I participated in.

For context, this is the article. If you fish in the thread you’ll likely see my responses anyway but I want them on my blog. For posterity. Or whatever. The idea is that Yahtzee (Yes, that one) feels there’s not a lot of actual roleplaying in RPG’s anymore and that tied into a few things. But in the comments section...

"I seem to recall in Dragon Age 2 that if you favoured a particular style of response then the non-chosen dialogue Hawke had would start to tilt that way as well."

My response:
I wish I saw more of this, honestly. It mostly happened in random banter while you were running around and not engaging in actual conversation. I think it was fluid way to have your character fleshed out depending on where you mostly spent your "dialog" points. ME:A opens the way for it with a similar system and doesn't do anything with it. So far I've done an all logic/stern playthrough and nobody really called me out on the 'lack of emotion', and Director Tann complimented me on my pragmatism like, once. Currently doing a full empathy run but it may not mean much.

At least the original trilogy had something. You even had "evil scars" due to aggressive behavior akin to going Dark Side in their earlier Kotor games. Certain "really" bad decisions had far reaching implications that your teammates didn't really let you live down. In ME:A, no matter my choice the character will be angry for about one scene and not much after that. Drack and the Moshae come to mind.

I think ME1 was a surprise hit but now we all, including Bioware, fully expect and purposefully wrote this game to be designed around another trilogy so all this stuff feels like it means nothing, but might have implications in the next one or two games. I think that turns ME:A into an inherently flawed and weaker product until we get the "entire" story when everything comes out.

I like the game, but mistakes were made.

Someone else had a few good ideas on improving character relations, this was among their list:

"3) Initiate the relationship at any point in the game. I get it's playing with the "if we don't come back alive" trope, but having the relationship be official at the end of the game means is we only experience the honeymoon phase."

My response:
I like this and ME:A is a very, very slow step in the right direction. Some romances in Andromeda are easier than others, and you can basically sleep with Peebee, strings attached or not, just a few missions in and she'll make coy remarks about it through a couple lines of dialog. Meanwhile Vetra is a slow burn that you get a cute dinner date with damn near the end of the game.
(I can't speak for other characters yet cos I'm still early on Playthrough 2)
Multiple characters go at a different speed and that is a step in the right direction, but they didn't go the whole way.

I just wanted to highlight those thoughts.

I explain in my review that the writing is some of the weakest in the series but it’s a big zigzaggy. The finale of the game was a lot of fun, reminiscent of ME1′s finale which was also great. I also don’t have a lot of overt complaints against the crewmates and their character arcs. I find Cora to be a little whiny “Waaa I should have been pathfindeeerrrrr” and I don’t really know what Liam’s deal is. His loyalty mission boils down to “I tried to help and it backfired”. He’s a little angsty over that but it’s not too bad, mostly there’s just not a lot to him.

The writing is just flawed when you’re out in the world. The banter is as fine as ever, if too short and MOTHERFUCKING SAM keeps interrupting the banter that is good, but I feel as though a different set of people wrote some of their “observations”. Far too many times I’d find a cave and hear one of my minions pipe up with “There’s a cave. Should check it out.” Or when I approach an enemy structure and hear some asshole go “Looks like an enemy base. Be careful”. It’s not even hand-holding, it’s just obvious, stupid and people don’t talk like that. It also happens pretty much every time you drive by a random enemy encampment, which I still stop to clear because ~250xp is a decent chunk no matter what level you are but sure enough, some idiot in my Nomad goes “Hey, looks like an enemy encampment, we should clear it out”. Fuck me they must think I’m blind. I SEE those camps, caves, and bases and whether or not I do something about it is either my choice or I was already moving towards so please shut the hell up.

To repeat myself: I like the game but mistakes were made.

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