Sunday 31 January 2010

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory

As predicted, the launch of Star Trek Online has been slightly overshadowed in KiaSAville by Mass Effect 2, which has both of us hooked at the moment. The ability to import your original Mass Effect character, once a staple of CRPGs (I remember taking a character from the slightly odd minigame collection Hillsfar into Curse of the Azure Bonds), is unusual these days, and really gave things an added hook at the start. I’d more-or-less forgotten the events of the first game, and didn’t think it would matter too much if I created a new character or imported an old one. I started a new character, as I’d heard that the game would let you make decisions on the key points of the previous game and was interested to see how that would work, but it seems that feature was removed before launch (RPS has a piece on it, including a link to a library of saves should you not be able to find yours, or want to bring in slightly different choices). After a quick run through the starting areas with the new character, I imported my previous character, and it was surprising how quickly it clicked as ‘me’, the character I’d got used to and all the decisions taken. Even early on I’ve bumped into a couple of people outside the main cast of characters who’ve recognised me, people involved in side quests from the original game who I’d forgotten until they wandered up for a chat.

There is something of the “inverse butterfly effect“, naturally; the differences in decisions you may have taken don’t change the major plot points. ‘My’ Shepherd had saved the council, the new one hadn’t, but that just meant a tweak in a line of dialogue from something like:
“After saving the council, they embraced humanity and gave us greater responsibilities”
“In the wave of the destruction of the council, humanity was able to play a greater part in their reformation.”
Even so, the imported character just felt more right than the default starting option.

Couple of other early impressions, I think I might have found my favourite party member from a line in combat when using his fire-based ability, something like: “Ah, flammable! Or, inflammable. Can’t remember which. Not important right now.” Also slightly disappointed that “bonus” suits of armour like the Blood Dragon and Collector’s armour can’t be customised in the same way as your main suit, which you can tweak the colours and pattern of. I was wearing the Blood Dragon armour for a while, and it looks pretty good (they’ve done a good job of making it fit into the setting), but when I sat down at the bar, ordered a drink, and promptly smashed the glass into the visor of the full helmet it did look slightly odd…

Anyway, time to play some more, there’s a galaxy to save!

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