Saturday, October 9, 2010

Computer Game Review Supplement: Mass Effect Combat Supplement

Since my Mass Effect review was such a success (cricket cricket), I decided to post some more thoughts on the game. I'd like to talk some more about the combat system, because even though it's not the best thing about the game (the characters, story, and setting are what really make this game shine), it's still really fun, but it has some down sides you may want to know about before deciding about whether or not you'd like to play.

Combat will feel very familiar to gamers. You can hold the spacebar to pause the game and open up the squad command/special attack screen, above, which allows you to change weapons, change the squad AI's behavior, or use special attacks.

You will always have two squad members on your team. No more, no less. You can pick them at the start of each mission, or whenever you leave the Normandy.

Healing is very simple: press F to use a health pack. It will heal you and your squad. How much each health pack heals and how often you can use one depends on your squad's total First Aid skill.

You also have grenades, which you throw with R and detonate with another press of R. These can be very useful in certain situations and all but useless in others.

Combat is cover-based, meaning your character will hide behind cover if you walk up against it. You can pop up from behind cover by clicking the aim button (right clicking), which is very easy to get used to. Unfortunately, cover does not protect you from explosive attacks.

Mass Effect features very cool-looking bad guys rendered very well, but for all that, most of the time you're going to be shooting at the aiming reticles on your screen. These are drawn over all of your enemies, so you'll be watching for the red triangles rather than the cool-looking bad guy models. Also, when your enemies die, they disappear, so you can't even go inspect the fallen enemies to see how cool they look (or to finish the kill).

The squad AI is okay, but you'll have to get used to your squad mates spending a lot of time shooting at intervening terrain while trying to hit an enemy on the other side.

One great thing about the combat system is the way looting happens, or rather, they way it doesn't happen. Rather than having to end each fight by running around gathering up items from the fallen bad guys, you receive a notification every time you killed a bad guy and got an item, and the next time you open your inventory, it tells you all the items you found since the last time you opened your inventory.

As I mentioned in my main review, it's also nice that you don't have to worry about ammo, or about repairing the condition of your items. Your items heat up while firing, but you only have to let the heat dissipate before you keep firing again.

Biotic powers look really cool, and tech powers are interesting, too (though not as showy as biotic powers). Guns look like, well, guns, though one time I saw an NPC with a cold upgrade in his weapon shooting an enemy, and frost crystals formed on the enemy with each bullet hitting him. That was rad.

The combat system isn't the best thing about Mass Effect, but it's more than serviceable. The most important part of any combat system is that it makes sense and is easy to use, and in my book, Mass Effect succeeds.


Kawaika said...

"Since my Mass Effect review was such a success (cricket cricket), I decided to post some more thoughts on the game."

Heh. I always stop by here when I can to read your posts although I don't always comment. I'd love to play Mass Effect, but I don't know when I'll get around to it.

By the by, have you played any Warhammer lately? I still remember when I first saw a couple people playing 40k and got sucked into that crazy, expensive realm. For whatever reason I did not like Warhammer at all at that time, but recently I've been going to a game store somewhat nearby and played a few Warhammer games with armies that people have been kind enough to lend me. I played against Skaven with Dwarfs and it seems like the Skaven is a really cool army.

Lord Admiral said...

My 40K experiences lately have been playing Dawn of War 2, which is way good, but I've put it aside for now to play other games.

Overall, my opinion of GW right now is this: love the worlds, hate the price of all their games.

By the way, Dwarfs and Skaven are probably my two favorite WFB armies.