PAX 2007: Live Demo of Mass Effect Really Was Disappointing
Apparently there’s been some controversy surrounding the live demo of Mass Effect at PAX that got started when Destructoid posted an unfavorable review of it. Now I saw the exact same demonstration they referred to and I have to say, I agree. It really was a pretty disappointing show. Maybe the game just has so much hype surrounding it, or maybe it’s because these are the same folks that brought us Knights of the Old Republic; but many people are expecting some real innovation to come from this game. Unfortunately, what they showed at PAX doesn’t really cut it.
For one, the demo focused a lot on the conversations and making decisions, rather than the action. Because of this, really all we saw in that respect was some enemies being shot and one bionic power (“lift”) being used. Now imagine you’re there, watching someone play the actual game for 20 minutes, and all they really do is…talk. Just talking, with maybe five minutes of action thrown in. That may be fun to do yourself, but to watch someone else? Seriously, I was falling asleep in the stands, and I’m looking forward to this game. Even the action they showed though looked all too familiar: moving a targeting reticule around and shooting at enemies in real time. It didn’t feel like an RPG, but more like a third-person shooter with RPG elements (which we didn’t get to see in action either). We were shown a menu with different upgradeable abilities, but it was never really explained how these would be used in the game.
I will say though that the facial and character animations are some of the best I’ve seen in a game…ever. Even in the character menu, you can see the protagonist’s face twitch and move in a very natural way; as if he were really just standing there waiting for you to continue playing. Also, the conversations really are about as interactive as you can get. To demonstrate, we were shown two ways of handling a guy who has gone crazy. You can either talk to him and try to calm him down, or you can just punch his lights out. I don’t think I need to tell you which one looked most satisfying.
I’m not dismissing the game entirely based on this one demo though. This could just be one of those games that isn’t very entertaining to watch, but loads of fun to play. Still, when I buy Mass Effect, it’ll be more out of what I’ve heard about this game already and my trusting BioWare to deliver yet another solid title than out of this demonstration. It certainly didn’t match up to the awe-inspiring live demo of Assassin’s Creed.