Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke, What Do You Do?

The problem with games with morals systems is that I only ever really see the nice guy path. I mean, sure, it might be fun to see a bit more of the, let’s say, “morally ambiguous” path, but when the mouse pointer is hovering over the “throw the puppy into the blast furnace” option, I can never bring myself to click it.

I blame Lord British, to be perfectly clear. I played Ultima IV at a young and impressionable age and was uh…

…impressioned? I’m going to call that a word, anyway.  Having to play a game by a set of eight virtues is pretty heady stuff for a 12-year-old kid, particular after the empty-all-the-chests-kill-all-the-guards gameplay from Ultima III.

But enough about old Origin games and more about something a little more recent:


I’ve been putting off starting Mass Effect for a few years now, for a variety of reasons – no controller support in the PC version, knowing that the trilogy was unfinished, not wanting to commit quite THAT much time to an RPG in favor of playing quick-to-finish action games – and I probably would have kept putting it off except for recently needing to stay up for about 32 hours to set myself to Japan time before getting on a plane.

Since I started Mass Effect about 24 hours into this, my memories of the earlier bits of the game are a little fuzzy.  Mostly I have vague memories of following objective markers across alien planets and feeling completely outgunned most of the time.

I made the mistake, you see, of not having anyone in my away team with the skills to open all of the assorted secured lockers we were walking past, so I wasn’t getting money or upgrades very often.  Once I figured out that, hey, I should have a tech guy along, the game got WAY easier.  Not that I didn’t still die an awful lot, because apparently I love the spicy taste of plasma cannon, but I stopped dying quite AS often.

Anyway, I played the second half while NOT sleep-deprived, and had quite a good time.  I’d MOSTLY managed to avoid being spoiled, though I did ruin at least one plot point for a later game for myself by foolishly browsing Amazon’s selection of related plastic trinkets, but that’s all on me and I can’t fuss too much about it.  Mostly all I knew going in was that a) the first Big Bad Guy I met wasn’t the REAL Big Bad Guy, and that b) it had managed to make the pearl-clutching set clutch their pearls all that much more tightly by including girl-on-alien-girl romance action.

It gets significant points for occasionally having solutions to conflict that did NOT involve insert bullet A into mook B, and getting to skip one boss fight completely purely on charm brought back happy memories of talking my way through the final Big Bad Encounter in Planescape: Torment.  I will take some points OFF for being able to accidentally gimp myself by forgetting a tech guy, but not many.

Mostly I play RPGs to get to feel like The Badass Guy (or Girl) who gets to save the world, drive back ancient evils, and generally secure a bright future for people who never appreciated me along the way.  This one gave me all that AND let me romance a blue alien girl with tentacles, so I will mark it off as mission accomplished and try to get to the sequel games before I forget everything that happened in the first one.


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