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Mass Effect 2, RPG or not RPG

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Mass Effect 2, RPG or not RPG

Editorial - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sun 28 March 2010, 19:42:08

Tags: BioWare; Mass Effect 2

... that's the question. This time Gareth Fouche elaborates on the matter.
First he kind of reviews the game

The intro sequence gave me goosebumps of the kind that only Blizzard cinematics do with regularity, and the ending where you assault the Collectors is one of the most enjoyable sequences I’ve played in an RPG to date, largely because the whole game focuses on preparing for that Dirty Dozen suicide attack on the Collector base and the ending brings all that preparation to a smashing conclusion, all the upgrades you’ve made and characters you’ve recruited playing their role in the sequence. It just gives this fantastic weight to the things you’ve done to get to that point and losing party members in the assault has emotional impact (I lost Tali, for reference. I’d been pursuing her romance option for a while but then chose Miranda instead of her. Later, I sided with Legion over her and she’d gone cold to me. Then she loses her life defending the door in the final battle. Watching my character touch her coffin in farewell in the epilogue sequence was…well it had emotional weight.). I can honestly use the word ‘Epic’ here without a drop of irony.
I need to conclude this post, all this gushing probably got boring a while ago. ME2 is a great game, for once the hype didn’t disappoint. I know without a doubt that some will absolutely hate it for all the classic RPG mechanics it cut out. But I honestly think Bioware have done something bold and interesting with this title. While most of the mechanics aren’t original, the incredibly tight focus on the core mechanics is, and I think it challenges notions of what ‘needs’ to be in an RPG for it to be engaging. Do we include these mechanics because they support the gameplay we want to create, or because of the legacy of older titles in the genre? Are there better ways? I know when I sat down to create SoW I came up with a laundry list of standard RPG features I’d need to program and I didn’t even think about whether an inventory was necessary or not. I simply took it as a given.

and then he proceeds to take a look at the game mechanics, the issue whether ME2 is an RPG and the basic question what is an RPG in the first place.

What is an RPG?

(Are you ready for it?)

Answer : ‘RPG’ is a communication shorthand term for a game which shares common features with the other games classified as ‘RPGs’.
Well, roleplay at its most basic is when you take on the persona of someone else and act how you think that person would act in a given scenario. Everyone has roleplayed at some time in their life, especially as children. We’ve all played Cops and Robbers, or whatever your personal equivalent was. I remember we used to love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so we’d go off and pretend to be them, playing out the martial arts moves and riding skateboards and fighting imaginary bad guys.

The key thing with roleplay though is that it involves improvisation. You aren’t given a strict script to follow. Rather you take on the goals and motivations of a persona and are then placed in a scenario where you get to improvise your responses based on how you think that the persona you’ve taken on would do so. The outcome is a result not of a set script but the organic melding of the situation, your responses and the responses of any other roleplayers. (Which is why roleplaying is generally at its most dynamic when there is more than one human involved. The interactions between the two can give rise to fascinating and unpredictable outcomes.)

Since a lot of people seem to be quite riled up about the issue whether ME2 qualifies for an RPG or not - I don't hesitate to excrete my opinion on the subject as well. An RPG is a game that has an RPG character system and RPG combat. ME2 lacks both so it isn't an RPG. Easy. As for whether it is an Action RPG - I think that depends on how far you're willing to stretch the meaning of *Action* RPG. Being an RPG is by the way not a prerequisite for being a good game, therefor I agree with Gareth on this:
I eagerly await ME3.

Spotted at: GB

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