Monday, December 15, 2008

Byte: Mass Effect - revisited

I've been replaying Mass Effect quite heavily since I bought my shiny new widescreen monitor. I rolled a new Adept character (opting for Sniper Rifles, rather than Assault Rifles as my bonus feat, in order to not make the combat such a walkover), and unusually for me, chose a male avatar so I could replay the Ashley romance, since it's the most interesting one. I've got about a third to halfway through the main quest with my new character (named Buck, after one of my favourite characters in Band of Brothers), a despite a few weird clipping problems with the Matriarch Benezia fight on Noveria (that was fun having to repeat that four times because my character kept getting put inside walls during the cutscenes in the middle of the fight) and a few graphics driver problems (nVidia, the way it's meant to be played, my arse!), I've been having a lot of fun with it. Adepts totally kick bottom, especially when you're chucking out biotic singularities that suck up enemies like a black hole and rip them to pieces in mid air. I'm playing through the game with Ashley and Tali, which gives me a specialist in each talent tree, rather than going for a hybrid approach. Tali is surprising useful in combat, thanks to her ability to hack hostile AI characters, amazingly high personal shield strength (if you pump lots of points into Electronics and her class skill) and she's bloody lethal with a decent shotgun. At anything beyond level 20, she's at least as good as Wrex at dealing damage, and with a high decryption skill as well, you can really hoover up all the artifacts and locked goody chests without any real problems at all.

I think Mass Effect probably goes down as my favourite single-player game of this year (Trials 2 does run it close, however), though it would be nice if Bioware could sort out all the driver issues, because having to reboot my machine every two hours played is a bit of a swine. Though that is an improvement over about a week ago, since I've now removed the faulty graphics card and switched my mobo over from SLI mode to single card mode in the BIOS, which means that the PC doesn't take an Ice Age to POST and the whole system is a lot more stable now. Still, I'm disappointed that Bioware's post-release support seems to have taken a huge downturn since they got assimilated by EA. Not only have they released just one patch in six months since the game was released, I can't even find a link to the patch on the official website, and had to download it through a gamer site instead. I hope this isn't going to set a trend for their future releases. I'm not holding my breath though, since EA's general attitude to post-release support seems to be "we have your money, why should we give a fuck?", which is about as enlightened as their approach to DRM - that is, not very fucking enlightened at all. Way to garner customer loyalty, EA!
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