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Archive for March 22, 2010

“Massive Side-Effect” or “Shepard’s Shanenigans”

March 22, 2010 6 comments

A ton of news regarding Mass Effect 2 has been circulating in the last few days.

Appearance Pack DLC

BioWare tweets about a DLC getting released tomorrow, March 23rd, that includes new costumes for Thane, Jack and Garrus. Although the change is purely cosmetic and does not include any new gameplay, story or lore elements, it does add some much needed flair to the characters, especially Jack, with her S&M leather straps, and Garrus with his shattered armor after the gunship fight. I do wish they would release a costume that would get rid of Thane’s coattails though. The DLC also reinforces BioWare notion of consistent and varied DLC for their space opus.

Too sexy for our pants!

It seems developers these days apply an increasingly loose definition of what constitutes as a ‘DLC’, especially if it is free. I am not complaining about the DLC, I just don’t understand why simple costume pieces were held back only to be released as DLC later in the year. Or a gun that shoots electricity. Or a bigger bulge in Shepard’s pants. Actually, come to think of it, I’d probablypay for that bulge.

I digress. In contrast, Borderlands’ DLCs, although far from perfect, and certainly not free, added a significant amount of additional content, gameplay, weapons, story elements and lore to the game. Is it just me, or do you also prefer strong meaningful content for a price, instead of additional character costumes for free?

Firewalker DLC

Of course BioWare being the mind-readers that they are, decided to give players the best of both worlds by providing free content that adds the hovering Hammerhead, new missions featuring the vehicle, and new locations to explore in yet another DLC that will release tomorrow as well.

Let's hope this one doesn't bounce.

As I am sure you would agree, a horse carriage with square wheels, being dragged by a crippled horse, piloted by a dyslexic mad man would likely handle better than the ever-bouncy Mako from the first game. So the Hammerhead sounds like a welcome addition (I think). I suppose we’ll find out tomorrow how well the damn thing actually handles.

Dark Horse Comic

Via Joystiq, following the immense success of Redemption, Dark Horse has now announced a new monthly Mass Effect comic series, penned by Mac Walters and John Jackson Miller, writer of the original comic mini-series.

Redemption - Cover Art - Issue # 3

The plot of this new series will follow the second game. I am not sure, and neither is Joystiq, if the events will run parallel to the game, precede it, or take place after the main ending of the game. Perhaps it will be a combination of all three.

At some point, I would love to see some of the historic lore depicted in the comic series, such as the Krogan-Rachni wars, the Batarian conflicts, and especially the Geth destruction and eventual occupation of the Quarian homeworld. That’s the great thing about the Mass Effect universe: its background is rich and complex, ripe with stories that can be expanded further and elaborated upon. I for one am really looking forward to the new comics.

BioWare Mission Statement

Stephen Totilo of Kotaku recently sat with the team over at BioWare to try and ascertain the vision behind the design of some of the most visceral, engaging and complex RPGs ever created. In two words, that vision was “emotional engagement.” BioWare says they try their earnest to provide the players with a believable world that pulls you in at an emotional level, and constantly challenges and tickles your moral compass. Adrenaline during intense firefights, sadness at the loss of a squad mate, anger when a team mate has been wronged, excitement at facing an increasingly difficult challenge, connecting with the sacrifice needed to complete the final suicidal mission; all of these are emotional bridges built to immerse the player in the universe.

I can certainly attest to this. One particular example stands out. In Dragon Age: Origins, I decided to play all the origins stories prior to playing the main campaign as it picks up from Ostagar. I finally settled on the City Elf background, because it was such an interesting take on the perpetually noble, elegant and immortal elves as seen in just about every fantasy universe ever constructed. Upon reaching Orgrimmar, I had to choose which tasks to undertake to ensure a king of my choice would succeed the recently deceased ruler. Having played the origins stories, I was aware of the ruthlessness Bhelen was capable of through the Dwarf Noble origins story. However, logic, at least for me, dictated that he be made king. I remember saving the game and quitting for the day, just to mull over who I should put on the throne.

If engaging players in choices and events that trigger complex emotional responses is BioWare’s vision, then that is a vision well accomplished!

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Categories: Comic, DLC, Mass Effect 2