The Game Boy: Why Gamers Need to Wise Up and Realize That “Streamlined” Doesn’t Mean “Dumbed-Down”



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Let me preface this with the fact that I did play through ME2, and still enjoyed it.

Nonetheless, many of us longtime Bioware fans are justified in feeling that they used a hacksaw where only a scalpel was needed. Instead of making improvements to systems that needed it, they chucked them out the window. While the narrative of the game was good enough to make the game enjoyable, I feel it was DESPITE the lack of features like an inventory or new armor and weapons, not because of them. This article sounds like it's almost an apologists view, and calling things like an inventory, new weapons and armor, vehicular exploration, etc "archaic" is just a disservice to gamers. You don't like them? Fine, go play Halo... leave the RPG's to those of us who enjoy them for what they are.



Indeed. It was a disappointment to see how little character development (in the game mechanic sense) there was in ME2. It feels like a little toy game, and to be fair, at 35 hours for 100% completion on Veteran my first time through, it is.


While the OP's premise (that streamlined doesn't NECESSARILY equal dumbed-down), in the case of Mass Effect 2, and now Final Fantasy XIII, it does. These games are simplified to the point of being stupid.


A "game" is interesting when a player has to make intelligent choices about what he wants to do. In ME2, you have so few character options you end up more or less taking them all, and in FFXIII it's even worse - you just hold down a button and your character levels automatically.



... you lost me when you started selling lack of interactivityas a good thing with the FFXII and Heavy Rain examples.

Of the two, IMHO, Heavy Rain is worse.  At least with FFXII, there's the programming aspect of it.  Where's the strategy in pressing A to not die?



Nathan, I agree with you all the way. Very good article, the best I've seen in a long time.



ME2's new combat system allows for a more fluid and tactical battles. However, this is achieved at the expense of strategy and variety.

If you don't want to read the rest of my rant, understandably, I make the following three points:
1) The new inventory/customization system sucks because it doesn't exist.

2) 'Spell Caster' combat got nerfed and is no longer fun.

3) Bottom line: Some things were done right, others not so much.

If there were three things that were almost universally not liked in ME1 they were: the terrible inventory system, the elevator rides, and the mako. ME2 fixed all these things, but in return took some things away from the game that it shouldn't have. Elevator rides were replaced with cut and dry load screens, sure I'll buy that. The mako was replaced with nice drop in points for the missions. The bad inventory system was replaced with... no inventory system at all. The first two things, I thought were done well and were acceptable replacements. With the inventory system I felt like Bioware got tired of people complaining about it and just decided that, fine, if we don't like their inventory system we won't have an inventory system. With the inventory system went the plethora of customization options that at least I enjoyed toying with. Dealing with the advantages and disadvantages of each option was one of the ways ME1 offered the player a legitimate strategic choice. This combined with the new and simplified upgrade system takes away almost all strategic choice with regards to equipment customization. 

 They completely nerfed the 'spell caster' classes by focusing too much on gun combat. With ME2 anything with a shield, barrier, or armor is impervious to you doing anything interesting to them, and by the time you've broken through that tough stuff, their soft fleshy insides are no match for your bullets anyways. Also, the new system that only allows you to cast one power at a time is downright lame. While you could argue that it represents a "tactical decision" really, it's just not as fun as unleashing a torrent of biotic pain on your foes. Want to do that in ME2? Not going to happen.

 Still, the game is fun. Just not as in depth as I would like it to be.  With the inventory system I feel cheated. From the first game it felt like there really was something there, and then Bioware just threw it away rather than deal with it. For those of you who like to just get in the action, why not have an 'equip best' option, while letting others mess around with it if they wanted to?




After talking to one of the producers for Dragon Age this past weekend, we talked about ME1 and ME2 and shared some of the same likes and dislikes for the game. We both agreed that the "micromanaging" from ME1 was much better than how it's set up in ME2. We both liked the ability to increase a specific skill. Heck in ME2 I just click on the auto level option and let the game take care of it for me. And the ammo clip thing really irks me. ME2 is set 2yrs after ME1, and they've gone backwards in terms of weapon technology. Sure the sniper rifle is actually steady now, but we've gone from an unlimited ammo with overheating to a limited ammo system. Kinda doesn't make sense to me. Maybe if the weapons were the other way around, it'd fit a bit better.

And as someone else pointed out, scanning each planet for resources gets so tedius and boring. If it wasn't required, I would do it at all! And what's with the ship needing fuel all of a sudden? If Cerberus is insanely rich, and can develop the most advanced ship ever, you'd think they'd be able to improve their fuel system a bit better. Almost running out of fuel traveling to another solar system, because you have limited money due to buying probes so you can scan planets for resources so you can upgrade your weapons...

I haven't played dragonage yet, but the Producer said that if I liked the gameplay mechanics, and management system from ME1, I'll like Dragon Age. Besides, supporting local businesses is important to me! And if I want to ever get a job as QA with Bioware, I should really start supporting them more!


-= I don't want to be dead, I want to be alive! Or... a cowboy! =-


Mighty BOB!

I have to disagree and agree Nathan.

In the general sense I agree that it shouldn't matter what "definition" of a genre a game falls within.  I could care less if it's a shooter or a RPFPSRTSMMOG.  What matters is if it is fun or not, not some random assemblage of requirements to fit in a genre.


I have to disagree on your specifics about Mass Effect 2 however.  I don't blindly rag on ME2 for taking things out that 'should make it more like an RPG,' I rag on ME2 because BioWare pulled out a bunch of stuff from the first Mass Effect that I LIKED.  The heat mechanism on weapons was unique, the upgrades and skillpoints allowed me to customize the way I played.  The new "heat clips" is the same exact ammo system that all other shooters have, no matter how BioWare tries to candy coat it with a technical 'canon' explanation.  The customization is much less deep than the original.  Also they super-nerfed the biotics and how many abilities you and your squad can have.


Now with that being said, ME2 is still a very fun game and I do like it, I think it's still great.  The combat pacing is more fun, I just think it could have been done better if they included maybe 50% more of the stuff from ME1 that they cut out.  Such as, for example, instead of cutting out all the weapon upgrades or so many different versions of each weapon type, instead of having 10 levels of upgrades, weapons, and armors, make it just 5.  Instead of replacing the heat system with the ammo system, have a hybrid where weapons overheat when you're out of clips to immediately disperse heat.  Instead of only having two or 3 weapons to choose from in each category, make it 4 or 5.



You know, sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who enjoyed the gameplay aspects of FFXII.  People always complain about the Gambit system, but they always ignore the fact that you DON'T have to use it.    Yes, your character will keep attacking until you choose otherwise, but it doesn't take much or long to do that.  I liked that the Gambit system eliminated a few unnecessary button presses.  Like if I had to choose between performing a summon or heal my entire party when their life was below 25%, I liked knowing that my support member was smart enough to heal the party so I could continue attacking.   And anytime you wanted to bring up the menu to choose a command for a character, you could.  I think Square should revisit the Gambit system but allow you to have more direct control over your character. 

What I wasn't too excited about was the skill system because the characters lost a little of what made them unique. 




I loved that game.

One thing about the FF series is that there is always some part of the game that is near impossible. Sure you can beat the main game, but if you try to kill all the unique monsters it can be rediculously hard. Not to mention take 20 -30 minutes or longer to drop one of them. Almost all FF's have this.

Games coming out today are too easy, even on hard. Case in point: Mass effect 2. 



 One thing i always liked about the FF series was that odd game changed the gameplay, even was about story. Seeing a new spin on the combat rules every other game was something i looked forward to

Coming soon to --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.



i liked mass effect 2, but it's no dragon age.

i like the story and role playing just fine, but what i don't like is the lack of complex character/equipment building, and the depth of side quest. maybe it's because i play mass effect, i just don't find the world of mass effect to be as  immersive as dragon age. one aspect of triditional RPG i really like is how i can make my character unique, not just visually, but also how it handles. IE. getting a really big sword for pure offense, or a sword and shield for a more balanced play style.



I got ME:2 after its release, and enjoy the idea- but it seems games are catering to noobs now. Like you said, these storylines are so preset, its as if the game is playing itself and you're set on a fixed path to complete "x" mission. This is why I stopped playing ME:2 and instead watch whatever movies/shows I can find on the internet, I'm just not motivated to play through the game to watch the storyline unfold, after I spend a few minutes shooting baddies.



ME2 is a kickass game. Why sit back and lazily watch a movie when you can play Mass Effect and be the star of the best science-fiction universe since Star Wars?

"its as if the game is playing itself and you're set on a fixed path to
complete "x" mission"

And that's different from watching a movie how? The genius of Mass Effect is that it's one of the very few games that actually feel like you're playing a movie. Lots of games say they do that--only ME accomplishes it.

Seriously, the end of ME2 made me feel like I was saving the galaxy in the Millenium Falcon. It was freakin epic.



I tend to agree. Once I completed my ME2 run I started a new ME1 game - yes I have to know what will change if I save the council instead of replacing it and such - and I realized how much they made to enhance the experience. 

Mass Effect is among my favorite games and Bioware did what it takes to keep its customer - me - happy. They effectively removed the "generic space station" designs to give every place you visit a unique feel, they suppressed the "around every corner" loot and tweeked some of the combat mechanics a lot. 

Instead of playing the role of a clerk managing an inventory I can play the story they have in store for me. Feels much more closer to the pen and paper version I played when I was a teenage boy in the mid-80s.

One irritant I found is the planet scanning and probing process. Yes it is faster than scouting all over with the Mako but dang! it's long. I wish for the scanner to scan the whole planet at once and color zones of interest. 

Running around the Normandy also is a lengthy process: you want to go check every hired guns after missions for new dialog paths but it can take a whole lot of time to talk to them all.

Mass Effect is still one of my favorite games and ME2 made its debut on the top 5 :) I still have at least one play-through to complete but I am already anxious for ME3: please make it a 2011 release ... early 2011.




In ME 1 I hated hunting around planets for various objectives in the Mako, but at least it was exciting and it usually involved looking for plot elements. With scanning your looking for some resources that help you a little bit with tech, but don't advance any plot. Once I realized there was enough resources to just scan planets down to moderate instead of depleted it became less painful though.

As far as talking to everyone on the Normandy, you really only have to go talk to everyone after the main plot missions, all your missing out on is some colorful commentary. You can catch the loyalty quests at anytime, you don't have to check after every mission. Just make sure you talk to everyone before hitting the point of no return.



You think running around the Normandy takes a long time?  Ha!

Try playing one of the old Ultima games.

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