Further to this and this; a report on a storytelling panel at a video games developers’ conference. It’s worth reading that, and then skimming this remarkably circumspect review of Mass Effect, Bioware’s latest and greatest RPG. It’s been getting rave reviews, but PCWorld are refreshingly arms-length about it.
I’m currently playing Bioware’s previous effort, Jade Empire (yes, I know, I’m late to the party). It’s one of the first games since Ico to make me stop and stare at the scenery – oooh, pretty! – and the clickfest combat isn’t annoying me half as much as I expected. Probably because I have it set to ‘stupidly easy’ mode, come to think of it, and I do enjoy feeling like an unstoppable hero. Well, don’t we all?
However, I’m slightly disappointed by the storytelling. It’s a decent enough yarn, but I’m about a third of the way in and I don’t get the feeling that the main story branches at all. That is, I don’t feel as if my choices are having an effect on how the game plays out – there’s one story, and you’re funneled down it.
There’s sound reasoning for this, of course, but it’s still not very satisfying. I’m unsure, however, if my principle complaint is that I lack control over the narrative… or that I lack the illusion of such control.