Top 5 Action RPGs Before Mass Effect 3
With a few days before release, here are the 5 games Mass effect 3 needs to beat to be the very best. Like no one ever was.
Mass Effect 3 is only days away and after last week’s paranoid but probably realistic rant we take a look at the 5 games that currently sit at the top of the pile.
Each game on this list is an excellent nugget of gaming fun and should be tapped at your earliest convenience, and you should call the next morning as well.
They are not perfect though. All great games will have many facets of brilliance but here we’re looking at each game for a particular feature or two. Something that game did better than any other that has come before.
In the bar of Action RPGs these guys have a reserved table at the back and the cutest waitress gets assigned to them. No one looks them directly in the eye.
5. Kingdoms of Amalur – Having It All
In case you haven’t heard, you should play this game.
Probably the first RPG to have truly engaging, fluid and tactical combat. Kingdoms of Amalur manages to be both visceral while not sacrificing any of the RPG in-depth goodness we love.
This game is new, and the guys over at Bioware couldn’t have learnt from it during the development of Mass Effect 3 but it is still a worthwhile example of a game doing it all.
It may lack a little polish here and there but they nail the important stuff.
They managed to create a huge varied game world with more content than some MMOs all while having combat that is actually satisfying.
Mass Effect 1 had the world and variety, Mass Effect 2 had the combat but they lost a lot of the exploration, freedom and RPG elements I loved.
I hope Mass Effect 3 does it all.
4. Mass Effect 1 – Completeness
It is no small thing to be the final chapter in a trilogy as outstanding as Mass Effects.
These games, for all my nit-picks and griping, are still among my favourites ever played. They represent a beautiful mix of story, characterisation, sci-fi awesome, and true emotional engagement wrapped in a chocolate shell of power riddled third person shooting.
I get excited just remembering them, not just in my pants but emotionally as well.
I enjoy exploring every aspect of the world, its inhabitants and the characters I’ve come to love.
This is why the game needs to be complete. Fully complete.
The original Mass Effect had this down. There were problems, sure, but it still had a completeness about it that I really did miss in its sequel.
Stories were started and finished, new characters were fleshed out, and game mechanics were really stretched into a wide variety of environments and situations.
Come to Mass Effect 2 and we have much improved combat but at the expense of a large number of elements from the first game.
Vehicles were DLC. The tie in with the beginning of Mass Effect 3 was DLC. One of the few unique missions in the game, Kasumi’s loyalty mission, was DLC. Even the resolution of the Shadow Broker’s story (something I was very excited for from Mass Effect 1) was DLC.
This is nonsense. DLC is supposed to expand a games world. Let you explore characters and new lands. DLC should flesh out and dig into the world. It should expand sideways and not forwards, if that makes any sense.
The original Mass Effect did this well, there was very little DLC because the game was so complete already. In Mass Effect 2 they got this wrong.
DLC should be big and expansive. It should provide opportunities to explore and give you insight into the world and its background.
It is the correct mind-set to have. A game should be complete; any extra content released should be complete as well.
Luckily this is the end of the series, there is nowhere to hide – hopefully.
3. Bastion – Story Telling & Tone
If experience has taught me anything it is that popular opinion can be wildly different to my own.
I loved Bastion. Its art style, graphics, music and gameplay were outstanding. I would have been satisfied with that.
Bastion wasn’t out to satisfy me, no sir. Bastion was out to blow my mind.
Bastion’s story, and its unique way of telling it is among the best I have experienced to date.
Every piece of art, music and gameplay is in service to its beautiful world and the story it is telling.
The story is unique and personal while we still fight for larger answers and to save the world. The characters have their own motivations and personalities and most importantly – the tone is perfect.
Tone is still my biggest worry with Mass Effect 3. The original had you doing a variety of things ranging from light-hearted, to heart-warming, to dark and sinister and then ending with some serious determination and hope.
Mass Effect 2 had not much light-hearted. I know it’s a serious world and the threats we face are serious. The characters are all determined and serious (flirtatious does not count as light hearted). Everything is serious. Seriously serious.
I understand the desire to inject meaning and gravity into a situation but humour is one of those magical human qualities that differentiates us from the animals. Adding some lighter interactions would not make me care less.
The exact opposite in fact – I would care more. It would highlight the significance of my battle and make me truly care about what I’m fighting for.
Make me angry and I will fight. Make me happy and I will fight to the death.
2. Skyrim – Exploration
Many people will argue that Skyrim and the Mass Effect trilogy are too different to be compared. They fundamentally have different design philosophies and cater to different crowds.
They would be right.
I don’t want Skyrim in my Mass Effect, I have Skyrim if I want some Skyrim.
What I do want, however, is the freedom and most importantly exploration that Skyrim gives you.
Running around in a country sized piece of land is filled with more wonder and moments of discovery and exploration that jetting around an entire galaxy of planets in a space ship.
That is male-cow faeces is what that is.
When the original Mass Effect came out, at least it tried to give planetary exploration with the Mako. Most people were happy to see it go for the sequel but I was sad to see them give us nothing in return (the planetary scanning crap doesn’t count).
Instead of fighting to give me the sense of exploration I craved they just gave up.
I want to explore the galaxy.
1. The Witcher 2 – Maturity
The Witcher 2 has ruined me for other games.
Before I was happy with characterisation that didn’t feel quite real; I could tolerate simplistic story and 1-dimentional character motivation; I could understand my choice having only cosmetic effects; I could even understand a lack of environmental beauty – not anymore.
The Witcher 2 changed how I see RPGs and their potential. There were certainly clunky parts to the game but most of it is so far above the bar set by the rest of the industry that it makes me wonder if I can feel anything but disappointment at the rest of the genre.
I will love Mass Effect 3, I can say that with near certainty, but at the back of my mind there will always be this niggling little feeling that the characterisation, the motivations of the characters, the black and white decision making, the poor morality system (even with its new overhaul), all of it is going to feel like so much fast food.
Delicious and a treat, but ultimately unsatisfying and unhealthy.
With time comes maturity, The Witcher 2 is a truly mature game. Not gratuitous or overtly sexualised, just mature, in the truest sense of the word.
I have spoken at length about my feelings on the Witcher 2. At present, it is only available on pc which means most people haven’t played it.
It’s a shame, a real shame.
It is getting an Xbox release in April and I predict now, for all the world to see, that when you compare Mass Effect 3 to The Witcher 2, people will be hard pressed to tell me which is better.
I have been a fan of the Mass Effect series since it released. I hold it close and dear to my heart.
I am excited beyond what is probably healthy for the final chapter of the epic tale.
I am not the boy I was when the first game released, I have played a lot and done a lot, I have changed.
In fear I worry that I have left Bioware behind.
In faith remember how much love I have for the series and blindly hope for the best.