Mass Effect Series Catch-All

Wow. Maybe I'll get Genesis after all. More fun than tracking down random saves and editing names.

Can't remember if I got ME3 DLC or not. Stupid ending made me not want to replay story.

Stele wrote:

Wow. Maybe I'll get Genesis after all. More fun than tracking down random saves and editing names.

Can't remember if I got ME3 DLC or not. Stupid ending made me not want to replay story.

Having just replayed the trilogy this summer, the must have DLC for the main story is Leviathan.

Citadel, while not crucial to the storyline, is excellent fan service.

Based on recent conversations, I decided to give Andromeda another shot. I had played it quite a bit a while ago, but stopped because it got to me and I had gotten into Destiny 2, but kept it installed just in case I found time. I loaded up my most recent save and within five minutes found myself running errands on Aya for people I didn't care about about topics I didn't care or understand. At that point I realized, no, it just isn't going to happen. So I uninstalled it and closed the book on it. I feel sad about it, as ME is my favorite series, but... I just couldn't do it.

I'm squeezing wee sessions in here and there with ME1. I'm still really impressed in the early going. The main plot and moment to moment narrative are awesome and well paced.

I wasn't particularly thrilled with the Mako, but I've grown to understand its inner workings and thus develop a soft spot for its unique handling.

Joker is awesome. Tali is a wonder. Wrex is so cool. Ashley is complex. Garrus is justice and honor. I have only just recruited Liara, whom is certainly intriguing, and tied to core events it seems.

Kaidan Alenko, the often overlooked throwaway, is a tough cookie to crack. He brings a quiet resolve that can be coaxed into valued insight. Just not particularly often. Not yet, anyway. His upbringing on earth, and his L2 implant, uncover some reasoning as to this withdrawn approach.

Much better than I expected! The combat is serviceable, albeit weaker than the sequels, yet the story is easily on par if not, at times, superior. Looking forward to more.

Yeah, ME1 combat is far less compelling than the later installments of Mass Effect, but I think everything outside the combat in ME1 benefits as a result (meaning it probably didn't suck up as many resources during development, and thus allowed other parts of ME1 to shine). Under EA's direction, the combat of ME2 and 3 both clearly became the focus, and elements of the story and characters suffer because of it. ME2 is still very good on story, for the most part, but it feels like pieces of many stories rather than a unified story.

The big missions of ME2 are, well... just peppered throughout a pretty sparse main quest, and your focus is picking up, and earning the loyalty of, your crew. Whereas the ME1 main quest line involves 3 big missions that all have a significant relationship to the overarching main quest. All of the parts that take place outside of the main quest are very obviously side-quests that can be skipped. ME3's story has a similar feeling to 2, but also feels like the writers are rushing towards resolving every loose end they could think of.

I would love for BioWare to just make a Mass Effect story in a kind-of Telltale-style game, but written like ME1.

To offer counterpoint, ME1's story is better as a unit, but its characters as a whole are uninspired barring a few standouts. In terms of world-building, it is also very old school, and not in a good way. They basically just take a D&D encounter book and plunk it down on the map, with little in the way of direction or artistry. It's an adventure book without a DM or with one that's basically going through the motions.

ME'2 overarching story was weaker, but this is an intentional focus of Seven Samurai type stories, focusing instead on characters and small episodic content, which is basically how TV series are composed. It's arguably better for discrete play experiences. ME3 is just a full on production movie, almost, scripted, blocked, and cut. It's very, very well done. Yes, even the ending, I think. It's not the game's fault that many players can't piece the obvious together.

I won't deny that I favor ME1 over the others fairly heavily, but ME1 and ME2 were also cinematically scripted, blocked, and cut.

Also, 90% of the world building of Mass Effect happens in the first game. There is minimal world building in the second one, and the world building of ME3 just takes a number of ideas to fairly obvious conclusions. If you don't like the world building of ME1, how do you even like Mass Effect at all?

No. ME1 barely has any cinematic blocking in it. Basically, it's talking people standing in place and barking exposition at each other. This is how it's always been done in most RPGs up to that point, but that's how ME1 is. Not sure if anything in there was cut at all. Lots of info-dumping. ME2 is more cinematically scripted and blocked, but ME3 is just on another level. It's just very dramatic, and the pacing can be extremely good, depending.

I think about 40% of the world-building "happens" in ME1, and I say that having done all of the sidequests on all of the planets and having read all of the Codex entries. I say "happens" because most of that world-building is actually in the Codex and planet entries. You could just read all of that without actually playing the game. Arguably, reading text on the screen is about half of ME1, depending on how deep into the Codex you go.

Each of the character stories in ME2 not only explores the characters involved in them, but that specific part of the world in which they operate. Through Archangel we know that Citadel police can be prone to the same kinds of corruption we see in modern police, and arguably more. We know organized crime is a thing in many galactic societies, and that in many places, these mercenary groups are often the only law-keeping body, such as they are. Tali explores the Quarian and Geth story - perfunctory in ME1, but deepened in ME2. All of this world-building happens without info-dumping, and completely within the space of a well-told story. ME3 is the same. Expertly delivered world-building to the point of it being effortless and invisible is still world-building.

LarryC wrote:

No. ME1 barely has any cinematic blocking in it. Basically, it's talking people standing in place and barking exposition at each other. This is how it's always been done in most RPGs up to that point, but that's how ME1 is. Not sure if anything in there was cut at all. Lots of info-dumping.

This is demonstrably untrue, and you can find the first examples of it literally in the opening of the game. It's also by no means the last example of it in ME1. The cinematic nature of the camera in these games is one of its hallmarks, and it definitely began in ME1. Feel free to get a refresher of the ME1 intro here.

LarryC wrote:

ME2 is more cinematically scripted and blocked, but ME3 is just on another level. It's just very dramatic, and the pacing can be extremely good, depending.

I am going to have to plead ignorance about ME3, as it has been a VERY long time since I played the game through from beginning to end. I played ME3 through entirely at release, and have tried at least three times (possibly more, I can't remember for certain) to play through it again, but have stalled each time, as I find it the least compelling of the games, because each story vignette is not content to let you talk for more than five minutes without throwing combat in your face. ME3 has a hammer, and every story problem starts looking like a nail (namely, combat). It's a tedious and uninteresting solution for me, as a gamer, within such a usually strongly-written series. And I say this as my last ME3 attempt was less than a month ago, thanks to Giant Bomb's Mass Alex feature prompting me to attempt another playthrough of the whole series. So, my recall of how cinematic ME3 is, is fuzzy at best, but even with my limited playthroughs, I'm not going to argue that ME3 isn't cinematic, because I believe it is. But it is no more than ME2 or ME1 is.

You can catch up on one of the better cinematic character sequences from ME2 here.

I could link more ME1 and ME2 cinematic features, but... Honestly, just play the games. They'll show you.

LarryC wrote:

I think about 40% of the world-building "happens" in ME1, and I say that having done all of the sidequests on all of the planets and having read all of the Codex entries. I say "happens" because most of that world-building is actually in the Codex and planet entries. You could just read all of that without actually playing the game. Arguably, reading text on the screen is about half of ME1, depending on how deep into the Codex you go.

I know the trend of gaming journalism is to slice up games into their constituent parts and analyze each, calling games weak or strong based on how we perceive each of those individual parts, but we rarely do so as precisely or as critically with other forms of media. Discounting the world building as something like 40% in ME1 because a lot of it falls into the codex is just arguing in bad faith. Acknowledging that it's there, but in a form you don't like, is far more honest an analysis than lowballing the word building.

LarryC wrote:

Each of the character stories in ME2 not only explores the characters involved in them, but that specific part of the world in which they operate.

I don't deny this, but there's also an incredibly small amount of world building here. The most we get is a greater introduction to the criminal element by giving them a home at Omega, a closer look at Cerberus, some details about the Drell, and their relationship with the Hanar, as well as some background on the Hanar we may not have had before, some Asari details about Ardat Yakshi and Justicars, the nature of the Geth and how they "live," the Collectors, and... Jacob's weird dad and his experiment? Everything else we get from the characters was largely exposited already in ME1.

LarryC wrote:

Through Archangel we know that Citadel police can be prone to the same kinds of corruption we see in modern police, and arguably more.

Nah, this was already poked at in ME1 with Harkin, and "cops are corrupt" is not even remotely a new story, or a hard one to believe. Can we call it world building if it's a trope?

LarryC wrote:

We know organized crime is a thing in many galactic societies, and that in many places, these mercenary groups are often the only law-keeping body, such as they are.

Once again, this is more than touched on in ME1 (see: the Asari Diplomacy side quests for Mercenaries, and the Hostile Takeover side quests for organized crime), and we just get one of probably many home bases for such things in the form of Omega.

LarryC wrote:

Tali explores the Quarian and Geth story - perfunctory in ME1, but deepened in ME2. All of this world-building happens without info-dumping, and completely within the space of a well-told story. ME3 is the same. Expertly delivered world-building to the point of it being effortless and invisible is still world-building.

If you talk to Tali in ME1, and even help her with her pilgrimage side quest in that game, you'll get the full details of Quarian society, as well as the admiralty board, and the civilian government (and we don't see the civilian Quarian government in ME2, despite actually visiting the Flotilla). The truly new part of that questline in ME2 is visiting the Geth station, and everything that comes with that.

And once again, I don't recall the details of ME3 enough to know what it contributes to world building. But I think it's dishonest to suggest that ME1 didn't play that big of a role in it, especially when your assessment amounts to "less than a majority." That just is not even close to the case.

You're absolutely allowed to love ME3 more than the other games, just as I am allowed to love ME1 more. But there's a difference between criticizing a game for its overall execution, and just completely misrepresenting them.

I don't believe I misrepresented anything, and I never said I disliked reading the Codex. So when I say "about 40% (which is more than a third), that includes everything in the Codex. No discounting is going on there.

Even in the intro, we are soon in barking heads mode after the episode with Joker and Kaidan. The camera focuses on each head when they're talking and that's about it. In ME2, the camera zooms or pans when dramatically appropriate, and people move around the scene more naturally when appropriate. I'd imagine the XO should be busy doing things just at that point so it'd be more natural to have him walk around a bit and glance at panels when talking to Shepard - as if he were in the middle of something else (which he was) when we interrupt him.

A conversation in ME3 can pan while the talkers move closer to an information panel, and they change positions appropriately as they talk about the data presented on it.

ME1 is better cinematically than its far earlier predecessors, but Dragon Age 1 was already very similar.

ME2 does more than you credit it with world building. We are shown that assassinations and professional assassins - even publicly admitted ones - are common knowledge in the Citadel. For common assassins to be a feature of public life in the capital presents a far more criminal and medieval society than ME1 might suggest. Omega paints an entire system - and other entire systems - in the control and rule of criminal organizations and the specific personal reality of how that looks on the ground.

From that perspective, Garrus' personal quest of ridding the galaxy of them truly does look like someone in the modern world plotting to end worldwide human trafficking single-handedly - by solving individual cases one at a time. It's an impossible and perhaps foolish quest.

It also answers why Garrus might be taken with Shepard. Shepard is only a single person but she DOES affect entire systems and changes the galaxy in real ways even though she's just one person. That's exactly the sort of power Garrus needs to change the galaxy, and I can easily see him being attracted to and possibly asking such a person to help him out.

With ME2's exploration of the quarian fleet, we see they don't actually manage ship-wide control of the environment when in-fleet. They prefer to stay in their suits. We also see that they are definitely more fractious than could be surmised from a species in such dire circumstances. Evidently, it is also possible to do things like secret weapons development in such a fleet.

There's also little touches like how they array their ships and how they live - they hold public trials in small venues and broadcast it instead of holding one in a bigget space.

I actually don't recall ME3 being quite so combat-heavy, particularly since each segment goes by so fast on the Normal settings. Like literally, seconds.

In the segment where you meet Jack in ME3, there's a part where you're supposed to kill a pair of guards guarding kids within a shield. Keying a single combo will kill them both. That "combat" is practically just a narrative sentence a few seconds long. You spend more time just walking around.

LarryC wrote:

I don't believe I misrepresented anything, and I never said I disliked reading the Codex. So when I say "about 40% (which is more than a third), that includes everything in the Codex. No discounting is going on there.

You put "happens" in scare quotes when talking about the world building of ME1, which carries a heavy negative connotation of your perception of the world building in ME1. And I don't believe you don't have a negative view of ME1's efforts at world building. Maybe you don't dislike the codex, but the context of your scare quotes next to discussing the codex certainly gave that impression. Regardless, 40% is still a gross misrepresentation of the world building. Even if you split ME2 and ME3 down the middle at 30% of world building each, that's way heavier weighting for contributions to world building than those games deserve. ME1 literally built the Mass Effect world. ME1 is the donut, ME2 is the glaze, ME3 is the sprinkles.

LarryC wrote:

Even in the intro, we are soon in barking heads mode after the episode with Joker and Kaidan. The camera focuses on each head when they're talking and that's about it. In ME2, the camera zooms or pans when dramatically appropriate, and people move around the scene more naturally when appropriate. I'd imagine the XO should be busy doing things just at that point so it'd be more natural to have him walk around a bit and glance at panels when talking to Shepard - as if he were in the middle of something else (which he was) when we interrupt him.

A conversation in ME3 can pan while the talkers move closer to an information panel, and they change positions appropriately as they talk about the data presented on it.

ME1 is better cinematically than its far earlier predecessors, but Dragon Age 1 was already very similar.

Shifting back and forth between people talking to each other is a cinematic technique, and it's one employed in every television show and movie you can watch from the inception of the media down to the latest episodes and films released within the last week. We're not talking about the Bethesda-style zoom focus here, or something like allowing the player to play with free-look during conversations. Each angle, each shot, is considered and planned - it has to be, when you see that you're always looking at certain characters and situations from angled positions. The developers approach each conversation considering the camera. Like it or not, this is cinematography, and it happens all through the game, even those shots you seem to think are not cinematic, simply because they go back and forth between two different face shots of the characters who are talking to each other.

The only places where such shots are essentially standardized are when you're not in major story beats, and you're talking to your party on the ship, which happens between missions, at player discretion, and a disinterested player could miss most of these entirely if they wanted to. Even then, some of them still have little cinematic beats, like when you approach Kaidan and there's a shift in the camera angle, looking along the deck, showing brief animation of him... doing whatever he is doing, wiping off his brow as you approach, and he notices. Or the shot when you enter Liara's little room behind the med bay, and she looks over her shoulder, sees you walking in, and stands up to talk to you. The initial shot is through the wall of her room. The camera is placed outside of it, to get the shot of her face, and Shepard behind her.

The characters moving through whatever they're doing isn't a cinematic choice, it's a writing choice. That's stage direction, not cinematography.

And saying that one BioWare game is similar to another is inconsequential to the nature of the cinematography employed in either. Nor am I even certain why you cite Dragon Age as though it were a predecessor or contemporary of ME1, since it was released 2 years later...?

Overall, I'm not saying that BioWare didn't get better at cinematography as it went on. What I'm saying is, they all contain a ton of cinematic elements, and to just out right say "No." when I say Mass Effect 1 has cinematic elements is either a preposterous denial in the hopes that no one has examined it for such, a complete failure of memory, or ignorance of what cinematography is.

And incidentally, if you walked up and started talking to the XO as the Normandy's commanding officer and he kinda side-glances at you while he's punching something into a console, you'd be well within your right to smack him with insubordination. The Normandy 1 is a military ship, with military protocols. Your CO walks up to you and addresses you, you look at them, salute, and say, "Yes, sir."

LarryC wrote:

ME2 does more than you credit it with world building. We are shown that assassinations and professional assassins - even publicly admitted ones - are common knowledge in the Citadel. For common assassins to be a feature of public life in the capital presents a far more criminal and medieval society than ME1 might suggest. Omega paints an entire system - and other entire systems - in the control and rule of criminal organizations and the specific personal reality of how that looks on the ground.

I didn't really go into detail about this, but I did credit ME2 with introducing the Drell and the details that come with that.

LarryC wrote:

From that perspective, Garrus' personal quest of ridding the galaxy of them truly does look like someone in the modern world plotting to end worldwide human trafficking single-handedly - by solving individual cases one at a time. It's an impossible and perhaps foolish quest.

It also answers why Garrus might be taken with Shepard. Shepard is only a single person but she DOES affect entire systems and changes the galaxy in real ways even though she's just one person. That's exactly the sort of power Garrus needs to change the galaxy, and I can easily see him being attracted to and possibly asking such a person to help him out.

This is Garrus's entire character arc in ME1, as well, though. He's already taken with the entire concept of the Spectre, and says as much. Shoot, every time he opens his mouth he's complaining about how tied his hands were by CSec, and how he joined up with Shepard because of the freedom a Spectre badge permits. Garrus turning into a vigilante between ME1 and ME2 isn't world building, it's character development... and it's not even really all that inspired. It's the natural progression for him.

LarryC wrote:

With ME2's exploration of the quarian fleet, we see they don't actually manage ship-wide control of the environment when in-fleet. They prefer to stay in their suits. We also see that they are definitely more fractious than could be surmised from a species in such dire circumstances. Evidently, it is also possible to do things like secret weapons development in such a fleet.

There's also little touches like how they array their ships and how they live - they hold public trials in small venues and broadcast it instead of holding one in a bigget space.

Yes, I believe most of this is new in ME2, but thus far that's... The Drell and assassins, which I technically already counted, and some details about the Quarians. That, plus the list from my last post, is not 30%, and even if you aren't splitting the leftover 60% into equal halves for ME2 and 3, I still don't see any world building coming from 3 that justifies giving ME1 only 40% of the credit.

LarryC wrote:

I actually don't recall ME3 being quite so combat-heavy, particularly since each segment goes by so fast on the Normal settings. Like literally, seconds.

In the segment where you meet Jack in ME3, there's a part where you're supposed to kill a pair of guards guarding kids within a shield. Keying a single combo will kill them both. That "combat" is practically just a narrative sentence a few seconds long. You spend more time just walking around.

I remember that sequence because I have played it recently, and honestly, because of the nature of the moment where you find them, it really is part of the story (and incidentally, one of the moments that can carry from ME2 if you do the Overlord DLC). But ME3 still tosses combat at you so much of the time that it's silly. The one truly memorable sequence that isn't really combat (but still can't get away from you shooting at things to solve the problems) is the story that takes you through the origins of the Geth. And I say truly memorable because I know I've only gotten that far in the game once - when I played it at launch.

The rest of the time, I just remember this sequence:

Shuttle into shooting gallery -> Shoot everything -> Talk a bit, usually to get pointed to next shooting gallery -> Walk to shooting gallery -> Shoot everything -> etc.

This is not to say that ME3 has no story and doesn't carry the series forward. But I definitely miss things like the sequence in ME1 where you could spend a good 4 hours walking around the Presidium and the Wards, completing quests that maybe require you to fire your gun no more than 2 or 3 times. It can be done. It's just that they didn't.

NSMike wrote:
LarryC wrote:

I don't believe I misrepresented anything, and I never said I disliked reading the Codex. So when I say "about 40% (which is more than a third), that includes everything in the Codex. No discounting is going on there.

You put "happens" in scare quotes when talking about the world building of ME1, which carries a heavy negative connotation of your perception of the world building in ME1. And I don't believe you don't have a negative view of ME1's efforts at world building. Maybe you don't dislike the codex, but the context of your scare quotes next to discussing the codex certainly gave that impression. Regardless, 40% is still a gross misrepresentation of the world building. Even if you split ME2 and ME3 down the middle at 30% of world building each, that's way heavier weighting for contributions to world building than those games deserve. ME1 literally built the Mass Effect world. ME1 is the donut, ME2 is the glaze, ME3 is the sprinkles.

Those aren't scare quotes. Since so much of ME1's world building is expository info dumping and Codex entries, they're not really happening in the sense of events or visuals building the world. They're literally dumping information baldly in text entries. So the world building is there, but it happens in a way that doesn't happen in the story. It "happens."

NSMike wrote:
LarryC wrote:

Even in the intro, we are soon in barking heads mode after the episode with Joker and Kaidan. The camera focuses on each head when they're talking and that's about it. In ME2, the camera zooms or pans when dramatically appropriate, and people move around the scene more naturally when appropriate. I'd imagine the XO should be busy doing things just at that point so it'd be more natural to have him walk around a bit and glance at panels when talking to Shepard - as if he were in the middle of something else (which he was) when we interrupt him.

A conversation in ME3 can pan while the talkers move closer to an information panel, and they change positions appropriately as they talk about the data presented on it.

ME1 is better cinematically than its far earlier predecessors, but Dragon Age 1 was already very similar.

Shifting back and forth between people talking to each other is a cinematic technique, and it's one employed in every television show and movie you can watch from the inception of the media down to the latest episodes and films released within the last week. We're not talking about the Bethesda-style zoom focus here, or something like allowing the player to play with free-look during conversations. Each angle, each shot, is considered and planned - it has to be, when you see that you're always looking at certain characters and situations from angled positions. The developers approach each conversation considering the camera. Like it or not, this is cinematography, and it happens all through the game, even those shots you seem to think are not cinematic, simply because they go back and forth between two different face shots of the characters who are talking to each other.

The only places where such shots are essentially standardized are when you're not in major story beats, and you're talking to your party on the ship, which happens between missions, at player discretion, and a disinterested player could miss most of these entirely if they wanted to. Even then, some of them still have little cinematic beats, like when you approach Kaidan and there's a shift in the camera angle, looking along the deck, showing brief animation of him... doing whatever he is doing, wiping off his brow as you approach, and he notices. Or the shot when you enter Liara's little room behind the med bay, and she looks over her shoulder, sees you walking in, and stands up to talk to you. The initial shot is through the wall of her room. The camera is placed outside of it, to get the shot of her face, and Shepard behind her.

The characters moving through whatever they're doing isn't a cinematic choice, it's a writing choice. That's stage direction, not cinematography.

And saying that one BioWare game is similar to another is inconsequential to the nature of the cinematography employed in either. Nor am I even certain why you cite Dragon Age as though it were a predecessor or contemporary of ME1, since it was released 2 years later...?

And incidentally, if you walked up and started talking to the XO as the Normandy's commanding officer and he kinda side-glances at you while he's punching something into a console, you'd be well within your right to smack him with insubordination. The Normandy 1 is a military ship, with military protocols. Your CO walks up to you and addresses you, you look at them, salute, and say, "Yes, sir."

Not just him, though. There is a lot of world building side content in ME1 and nearly all of that is people standing around with nothing particularly interesting going on info dumping on each other. If that was a carefully considered cinematic choice, it's poorly directed. I was trying to be kind by saying they didn't really have much time to direct and block all that so they did talking heads with eople standing around unnaturally.

NSMike wrote:
LarryC wrote:

ME2 does more than you credit it with world building. We are shown that assassinations and professional assassins - even publicly admitted ones - are common knowledge in the Citadel. For common assassins to be a feature of public life in the capital presents a far more criminal and medieval society than ME1 might suggest. Omega paints an entire system - and other entire systems - in the control and rule of criminal organizations and the specific personal reality of how that looks on the ground.

I didn't really go into detail about this, but I did credit ME2 with introducing the Drell and the details that come with that.

LarryC wrote:

From that perspective, Garrus' personal quest of ridding the galaxy of them truly does look like someone in the modern world plotting to end worldwide human trafficking single-handedly - by solving individual cases one at a time. It's an impossible and perhaps foolish quest.

It also answers why Garrus might be taken with Shepard. Shepard is only a single person but she DOES affect entire systems and changes the galaxy in real ways even though she's just one person. That's exactly the sort of power Garrus needs to change the galaxy, and I can easily see him being attracted to and possibly asking such a person to help him out.

This is Garrus's entire character arc in ME1, as well, though. He's already taken with the entire concept of the Spectre, and says as much. Shoot, every time he opens his mouth he's complaining about how tied his hands were by CSec, and how he joined up with Shepard because of the freedom a Spectre badge permits. Garrus turning into a vigilante between ME1 and ME2 isn't world building, it's character development... and it's not even really all that inspired. It's the natural progression for him.

It's not just Garrus. ME2 is a world that's - not all that changed from ME1, Garrus' efforts notwithstanding. So it says that it's got a lot of inertia, which isn't true of all narrative worlds. Shepard is notably unusual in that she can influence large changes relatively quickly. That's both a character statement and a world statement.

NSMike wrote:
LarryC wrote:

With ME2's exploration of the quarian fleet, we see they don't actually manage ship-wide control of the environment when in-fleet. They prefer to stay in their suits. We also see that they are definitely more fractious than could be surmised from a species in such dire circumstances. Evidently, it is also possible to do things like secret weapons development in such a fleet.

There's also little touches like how they array their ships and how they live - they hold public trials in small venues and broadcast it instead of holding one in a bigget space.

Yes, I believe most of this is new in ME2, but thus far that's... The Drell and assassins, which I technically already counted, and some details about the Quarians. That, plus the list from my last post, is not 30%, and even if you aren't splitting the leftover 60% into equal halves for ME2 and 3, I still don't see any world building coming from 3 that justifies giving ME1 only 40% of the credit.

Three goes deeper into both of the major conflicts in the game and includes some detail into how each major faction goes about going to war and what their respective relationships are. The ME1 Codex says the Asari are no good at open warfare. ME3 shows why that is, and they hold out much less than factions like the Turians. Even Qurian warfare is given surprising amounts of detail - like that they are capable of arming worldships and turning civilian ships into suicidal attack ships on the premise that they might as well get some if they're doomed anyway.

"NSMike wrote:
LarryC wrote:

I actually don't recall ME3 being quite so combat-heavy, particularly since each segment goes by so fast on the Normal settings. Like literally, seconds.

In the segment where you meet Jack in ME3, there's a part where you're supposed to kill a pair of guards guarding kids within a shield. Keying a single combo will kill them both. That "combat" is practically just a narrative sentence a few seconds long. You spend more time just walking around.

I remember that sequence because I have played it recently, and honestly, because of the nature of the moment where you find them, it really is part of the story (and incidentally, one of the moments that can carry from ME2 if you do the Overlord DLC). But ME3 still tosses combat at you so much of the time that it's silly. The one truly memorable sequence that isn't really combat (but still can't get away from you shooting at things to solve the problems) is the story that takes you through the origins of the Geth. And I say truly memorable because I know I've only gotten that far in the game once - when I played it at launch.

The rest of the time, I just remember this sequence:

Shuttle into shooting gallery -> Shoot everything -> Talk a bit, usually to get pointed to next shooting gallery -> Walk to shooting gallery -> Shoot everything -> etc.

This is not to say that ME3 has no story and doesn't carry the series forward. But I definitely miss things like the sequence in ME1 where you could spend a good 4 hours walking around the Presidium and the Wards, completing quests that maybe require you to fire your gun no more than 2 or 3 times. It can be done. It's just that they didn't.

Well, at the point of ME3, Shepard is literally a soldier on active deployment in non-stop mission assignments in a galaxy that's rapidly devolving into an open warzone end to end. Would it not make sense that she has to fight her way through every point of interest she is likely to visit? Isn't that a narrative statement, too? And it makes far more sense for all of her missions to be related to the war she's fighting. Wouldn't make much sense to go around palling around the Citadel, especially when that's exactly what they think is the problem with the Citadel.

ME1's noncombat roaming around the Citadel is usually characterised as "slow." I, myself, don't particularly love it. It's okay. But ME, IMO is strongest when it shows rather than tells, and it's most robust and most impressive game system is the combat, which may or may not include shooting.

There are quests in ME3 that don't involve shooting. The resolution of Conrad's story is purely a story mission. No shooting at all. Same for finding the Batarian General. Heck, you don't even go through a shooting segment to kill Wrex. It's also a story segment.

Shot reverse shot is literally the de facto choice for most dialogue in just about anything filmed. If each dialogue sequence was panning around, swooping in, zooming, or generally just doing something, you'd be complaining about how needlessly active the camera was during dialogue sequences. And you'd be right. It would be too much. The fact that they used shot reverse shot for most dialogue sequences is not only fine, it's mostly the right choice, and continues through all three games, whether or not you choose to remember it that way. Major story beats always get more cinematic consideration, but if you walk up to a character on the Normandy just to check if there are new dialogue options? Shot reverse shot is plenty.

Those aren't scare quotes. Since so much of ME1's world building is expository info dumping and Codex entries, they're not really happening in the sense of events or visuals building the world. They're literally dumping information baldly in text entries. So the world building is there, but it happens in a way that doesn't happen in the story. It "happens."

I don't know how you wrote this paragraph, explained what you meant, and still don't understand that you exactly explained scare quotes.

Not just him, though. There is a lot of world building side content in ME1 and nearly all of that is people standing around with nothing particularly interesting going on info dumping on each other. If that was a carefully considered cinematic choice, it's poorly directed. I was trying to be kind by saying they didn't really have much time to direct and block all that so they did talking heads with eople standing around unnaturally.

I said that ME1 and ME2 were both cinematically scripted, blocked, and cut, and you said "No." That's not being kind, that's just a denial.

Every major story beat of ME1 calls upon more cinematic elements for its cutscenes and dialogue than just shot reverse shot (although it does still use that, too). Yeah, all the little side quests that you can go on aren't especially cinematic, but... They're not the reason you're out there. Most of them have no bearing on the game or the world other than some expository bits or some character beats for your party, like finding Wrex's family armor, getting Tali's Geth data, or cornering the organ harvester that CSec let go for Garrus.

Three goes deeper into both of the major conflicts in the game and includes some detail into how each major faction goes about going to war and what their respective relationships are. The ME1 Codex says the Asari are no good at open warfare. ME3 shows why that is, and they hold out much less than factions like the Turians. Even Qurian warfare is given surprising amounts of detail - like that they are capable of arming worldships and turning civilian ships into suicidal attack ships on the premise that they might as well get some if they're doomed anyway.

I'll try one more analogy, since you don't seem to care for the donut... Let's say you want to build a bookshelf. So, you head off to the lumber yard and pick up some poplar planks, and some dowels. You take them home, cut the planks for the top, sides, bottom, and shelves, and connect them all with glue and the dowels. When you're done, you've got a functioning bookshelf.

But, poplar isn't a very pretty wood. You picked it because it was relatively inexpensive. So, you sand it down, and paint the shelf. It looks good, but still a little plain. You head back to the lumber yard and pick up some trim - a modest baseboard with a bead routed on one edge for the bottom of the shelf, and some fancier molding for the top, with some simple corner trim to cover the sides. You miter the top & bottom trim, attach all of it, and paint it to match. Now, you've got a complete, attractive bookshelf to put in your home office.

There was a point in that whole process where you went from simple planks to a functioning bookshelf. You could've put it in place, put books on it, and been done. It was built.

But, then you sanded it to smooth the surface, and painted it. Even at that point, it was a completely functional bookshelf, but you made it a little nicer for the space where you were going to put it.

But, it was still too plain. So, you added some trim. Finally it fits what you wanted.

Adding the paint and trim didn't build you a new bookshelf. It just made the one you had already better.

Mass Effect 2 and 3 added paint and trim. Those contributions aren't insignificant, but they certainly aren't a bookshelf by themselves.

I understood the analogy, I just don't agree. I don't agree that adding detail is less world building than establishing foundational elements. Those to me are equal parts, depending on the amount each has. We know the Turians comprise the Citadel's military might. We're not shown exactly what that means until ME3. Like they're literally the only force barely holding on by the end.

NSMike wrote:

I said that ME1 and ME2 were both cinematically scripted, blocked, and cut, and you said "No." That's not being kind, that's just a denial.

Every major story beat of ME1 calls upon more cinematic elements for its cutscenes and dialogue than just shot reverse shot (although it does still use that, too). Yeah, all the little side quests that you can go on aren't especially cinematic, but... They're not the reason you're out there. Most of them have no bearing on the game or the world other than some expository bits or some character beats for your party, like finding Wrex's family armor, getting Tali's Geth data, or cornering the organ harvester that CSec let go for Garrus.

I played all three games in multiple playthroughs and each game exhaustively. Scanned every planet. Got every side mission on every planet in ME1. Even read the Codex entries. The bulk of it that's story in ME1 and is not only just shot-reverse shot, but the exact same bust framing, angle, and attitude for every single character and they're all stiffly standing at odd angles to each other barking words that are strangely expository for minutes on end. It's not particularly very good. On the whole, the cinematic content for ME2 and ME3 are superior.

In the scene where you can shoot Mordin in the back, he's not just standing around. He's busy doing the work you're both ostensibly there to do. But when he realizes you've betrayed him, he stops and adopts an aggressive stance against you. The camera zooms close when he declares that he's made a mistake - a very dramatic statement coming from him, and in the last moment, the quick time event slows down time and you have a lot of time to decide whether you want to shoot him or not. This isn't made just to make it easy to trigger intentionally, but also so that in the event you decide not to, there's a very dramatic segment where Shepard is looking down a gun barrel, trying to shoot her friend in the back, and everything seems to stop. It's very well done. No interactive scene of a similar calibre exists in ME1.

LarryC wrote:

In the scene where you can shoot Mordin in the back....

I don't know what you're trying to prove here. It's like you're selectively reading my statements, so I'll just quote them here.

Major story beats always get more cinematic consideration, but if you walk up to a character on the Normandy just to check if there are new dialogue options? Shot reverse shot is plenty.

This Mordin moment is a major story beat of ME3. This isn't a collect-a-thon quest, or a bug that Hackett radioed in because he needs you to swat it. This is a major character's death. Of course it gets more attention.

So, my recall of how cinematic ME3 is, is fuzzy at best, but even with my limited playthroughs, I'm not going to argue that ME3 isn't cinematic, because I believe it is. But it is no more than ME2 or ME1 is.
Overall, I'm not saying that BioWare didn't get better at cinematography as it went on. What I'm saying is, they all contain a ton of cinematic elements....

I don't say anything about ME3 not being cinematic, so I don't know why you felt the need to cite a scene. I even acknowledge that BioWare would have improved.

Additionally, posting things that show ME3 cinematography is good doesn't mean ME1 cinematography doesn't exist.

Shot-reverse shot is basic enough that it existed even in KOTOR, which was a really old game by the release of ME. It's strange that you'd bring that up and die on that hill. ME3's is quite significantly better. Not just good. Significantly better.

I really don't think it's fair to compare the two games, when the technology and gameplay changed significantly. Remember, Mass Effect was released in 2007 and didn't have the interrupts and all those slowmo's. Mass Effect 3 was released in 2012, if I'm not mistaken. That's five years.
I'm 100% with NSMike, though, on the world building. Mass Effect **IS** entirely world building, even without the codex. You can play the entire game, not read the codes, and still get a truckload of lore. Provided you talk to characters, of course (which I know some of you don't). You can learn about the Quarian fleet, about First Contact, about the Asari, big corporations, Jump Zero, the Alliance, the Geth, the Keepers, the Krogan Rebellions, the hanar, there's just so much there, if you actually take the time to look (again, you don't even have to read the codex).

Spoiler:

YOU CAN'T MAKE ME CHOOSE, THEY'RE BOTH EXTRAORDINARY GAMES!

According to NSMike, 90% of the worldbuilding in Mass Effect happens in ME1. That's such an extreme fraction that it basically posits that there were only tiny minuscule details of Mass Effect revealed in both later games.

It would make more sense to say that 90% of ME's foundational elements were laid down in the first game. That's expected. But 90 of the world building? Bit much.

LarryC wrote:

Shot-reverse shot is basic enough that it existed even in KOTOR, which was a really old game by the release of ME. It's strange that you'd bring that up and die on that hill. ME3's is quite significantly better. Not just good. Significantly better.

It's also not the only thing in ME1, by a long shot. It's standard fare for unimportant conversations. Even in those cases, though, it's not just the same two shots being put in front of you. There are angle changes, focus changes, over-the-shoulder shots... All of these things indicate an effort to give the game a cinematic quality.

And again, citing an older game doesn't invalidate the nature of the cinematic approach or devices used. It's like trying to say that an electric circular saw makes handsaws unable to cut wood. It's a silly argument.

But go YouTube any of the major cutscene moments of the game and you'll find a variety of cinematic styles employed. The opening, approaches to any of the places you dock the Normandy, the big moments during midpoints and endings of the major missions, the space battle with Sovereign... You get establishing shots, pans, flybys, crane shots, etc. It's all there. You're either just not remembering or choosing to ignore it because you're so peeved that ME1 used shot reverse shot for a bunch of conversations (spoilers: ME2 and 3 both do, too).

LarryC wrote:

According to NSMike, 90% of the worldbuilding in Mass Effect happens in ME1. That's such an extreme fraction that it basically posits that there were only tiny minuscule details of Mass Effect revealed in both later games.

It would make more sense to say that 90% of ME's foundational elements were laid down in the first game. That's expected. But 90 of the world building? Bit much.

90% may be a bit over the top, but I wouldn't go lower than 80%. Like I said before, ME1 is the bookshelf, ME2 and 3 are the paint and trim.

Most conversations, if you did all of the side content. Even comparing only the major story beats of each game - ME's cinematic artistry is just not on par. ME2 and ME3 played for all their content don't use basic shot-reverse shot to the same degree.

The incident where you meet Ashley is as representative as the into you posted. There's a cinematic scene, but when you get to the interactive part, Ashley's standing there in the open in the middle of a warzone and you're chewing the fat in rote shot-reverse shot standing around style. It's discordant for where they are and how they met. At least they should have their guns drawn and sitting in cover as they talk.

This isn't some side mission, either, or some redshirt. That's a major supporting character in her establishing scene. Compare that to Shepard and Ashley's climactic confrontation in ME3.

80% world building being in ME1 says that assuming that ME2 only had a fifth of the world building content of ME1 (16% total), then ME3 would have 4%, or so little world building it's basically ignorable. Which is weird. The succession rules for the Turian Hierarchy are explored in ME3. That's pretty important world building. Also the entire origin story of the Geth in detail.

LarryC wrote:

80% world building being in ME1 says that assuming that ME2 only had a fifth of the world building content of ME1 (16% total), then ME3 would have 4%, or so little world building it's basically ignorable. Which is weird. The succession rules for the Turian Hierarchy are explored in ME3. That's pretty important world building. Also the entire origin story of the Geth in detail.

The Turian hierarchy is mentioned for a grand total of one in-game mission that isn't even that long. When you pick up the new Primarch, that's the end of that little dusting of world building.

And I cited the Geth origin story as a high point for ME3. I'm not ignoring it, but again, we're talking about a single sequence in the game. It might take you an hour to complete.

Every single moment of the first Mass Effect game is essentially world building - because that world didn't exist before then. The codexes for subsequent games borrow heavily from ME1, and in many cases, just copy what was already there. I never said there wasn't new stuff, but the later games do not contribute equally to the world building. There's no way they can.

I specifically indicated that ME1 did more world building on average than the succeeding two games (40%). I don't know of anyone who has claimed here so far that the latter games contributed equally. The Turian Hierarchy isn't explored very much in-game in ME1. If you didn't delve into the Codex, you wouldn't even know they had any social differences from humans and human governance.

Compare that to Shepard and Ashley's climactic confrontation in ME3.

Oh, look, it's a conversation done almost entirely in shot reverse shot.

They're not standing around stiffly barking words at each other and the shots aren't static bust views.

How about 50%? I still wouldn't agree, but saying ME1 does the same amount of world-building as both latter games combined is less bonkers-ridiculous.

LarryC wrote:

They're not standing around stiffly barking words at each other and the shots aren't static bust views.

That's not what's happening in ME1 either.

LarryC wrote:

How about 50%? I still wouldn't agree, but saying ME1 does the same amount of world-building as both latter games combined is less bonkers-ridiculous.

We're not going to agree on that. I think you and I have fundamentally different ideas about world building. You credit things in the later games that absolutely ARE world building, but also credit things like simple character development, or even the natural conclusion of a character arc (see: Garrus).

I count it if it builds on details of the world. Characters do build a world. In the case of ME1, both Garrus and Tali were absolutely put up as representatives and info dumps of their respective species. Establishing Garrus as an outlier for a Turian not only builds Garrus as a character, but also says something about Turians in general.

Lots of standing around there. At least Shepard has his weapon drawn. The body language of the characters here is almost blank - some canned animations that don't have that much meaning. In their penultimate meeting, Ashley puts her body between Shepard and his target. She didn't actually speak, but even that body language and action meant something, and they show, not tell.

That clip's transition looks strange because the person editing it cuts out the combat sequence that happens after the initial appearance of Ashley, and before that conversation.

And I'll repeat this again, because I can't get this across, apparently. Standing around does not mean that the cinematic device being used is not cinematic. There are also a few different angles used. Yeah, this is a pretty stale example, worth criticizing for being unimaginative. But that's not 100% of the conversations in Mass Effect.