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Mass Effect (PC).. first impressions; can't say I hate it

Discussion in 'BioWare' started by DefJam101, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    After the big shit piracy battle between Lord Gaider and Cap'n Whatshisface (& his scurvy crew of salty sea dogs and other stereotypical pirate references) I finally went to my local Gamestop (we got it very early, apparently) and picked up Mass Effect (PC). I played it for a few hours last night and can't say I hate it. I've certainly (certainly) played much better, but I think I might end up liking the game for what it is. I'm gonna play it more later, but here's some shitty first impressions of mine in hopes that one salty sea dog may be converted, or walk the plank, or something....





    Gameplay:

    I figure that I will separate this into two categories: combat and non-combat.


    -==-Combat-==-

    Combat is, well. Not that good. Really not much to talk about here..

    Gameplay feels like (amazingly) Gears of War with a bit less polish. You can take cover, fire, issue some basic orders to your squadmates.. That's it, basically. The guns feel a bit on the weak side, except for the sniper. Combat does not feel very visceral at all, it's tough to get a good look at the enemy with all the post-process effects being thrown everywhere. When shots do hit they don't have much feel to them, you basically just hold down the LMouse button until they die. The dreaded console "O" aim instead of a crosshair has returned, and it still makes you feel rather detached from combat. I haven't played the harder difficulties, and probably never will, but your AI teammates are more than happy to get themselves killed. I'd assume that on the hardest difficulty you will have to order them into cover and to use their abilities constantly, considering they get killed often even on this medium difficulty.

    Character management is pretty shallow, not that I like party-based games anyways. I've just been using the auto-level utility to avoid the process of assigning skill points, and that says a lot when it only takes about 20 seconds to assign them. I hope the secondary skills become more useful later on in the game; at this point I can't tell.


    -==-Non Combat-==-

    Most of the non-combat gameplay is talking to people, running from place to place, or stopping by your local bar to pick up some hot alien pussy. The last two are easy to describe; the running speed feels somewhat slow but there are plenty of ways to get around. Hot alien pussy is, sadly, restricted to our imagination. As for talking to people, there is a bit to be said about how you go about this and the actual content of the chatter. The game uses the little "dialog roll", in which you choose a general response, and your character says the rest. This comes off as a bit shallow, gameplay-wise. Almost every time you have 3-4 options; a 'good option' in which you come off as a naive carebear, a 'neutral option' in which you come off as someone who is playing the game with their eyes closed, and a 'bad option' in which you come off as someone who has 13 inches of flaming Turian dick shoved up their ass and just wants to get the hell out of here and shoot some motherfucking bad guys. The 4th option is either a 'What the fuck?' option or one that is the same as option 1 or 2 or 4 except with less syllables.

    Problems do arise from this, rather basic, system. The first problem being that you no longer have to think about what you are saying, and the second one being that the game doesn't always make sense. An example of this happened to me very early in the game, when I was looking for some badass detective named Garrus. I was asking where I could find him, and was told that I should ask some drunk guy in a bar and he might know where Garrus is. A dialog option came up that said 'Any other leads?' and I clicked on it, thinking I would receive more info on Garrus. Instead I reverted back 4 dialog options and was asking for more leads about the main quest. A minor inconvenience, of course, but I'm sure something like that will eventually pop up in an 'important' conversation at this rate.




    Story & Style:

    I'm going to keep this category very short, because story and style in this game comes down to preference, to be honest. Personally, I love it. Why? It's like playing Far Cry all over again, spoonful after spoonful of shitty B movie goodness.

    The conversations are all fairly basic, and most characters are one-dimensional. The only character I really like is Garrus, although this is probably due to my rampant sexual attraction to pointy & skinny alien species. Which brings up another point; you can't have hot gay alien sex in this game, bullshit. Anyways, I like the style of the game whether it was deliberately crafted or not. Some (alright, a lot) of lines have some very good cheesy goodness to be found in them. The collar-grabbing action and drama is there and feels oh-so out of place, like in any good B movie. There is not much to be said about the story & style, if you want a well-crafted storyline filled with rich characters, you will not find it here.




    Graphics:

    As for the graphical style, I need more time with the game to really tell. I do have a few basic observations down, though.

    -==-Art Design-==-

    I've always been a "fan" of space-opera (if that's possible..) and there is a very fine line you need to pay attention to when creating alien species. Since they are all inevitably going to be humanoid (fuck you, realism), you need to find a good balance between making them look alien enough to avoid uncanny valley, but humanoid enough to not make them absurd looking. An example of this being executed badly is 80% of all aliens seen in Star Wars and 99.9% of all aliens seen in Star Trek. IMHO Mass Effect is a mixed bag; the Turians are well done, having a fairly unique facial structure and body type. But most of the other species look like your standard Star Wars knockoffs, such as the weird "frog had sex with a down syndrome kid" aliens, or the inexplicably blue women walking around with no clothing on.

    The weapons, ships, machinery, and locations are all very standard and generic. A mix of Star Trek & Babylon 5 with a very small drop of BSG. It's very clear from the start that some things are blatantly ripped from (or are obvious nods to) other space opera games. The first time I saw the 'Geth' my first thought was "Covenant Elite!" until I figured out they were weird robots..or something. The Artificial Intelligence that guides you around the Citadel is almost an exact copy of Cortana with a bit of porn-star flare thrown in. The Citadel itself felt like a combination of Babylon 5 and Halo, with it's ring structure & colorful plant setup.

    The characters are fairly well facially animated (borrowing from Half Life 2's craze, no doubt), and don't just stand around in dialog. The additional movement in dialog scenes gives the game even more of an action movie feel. My only real complaints with the animation is the running speed that feels painstakingly slow, and the way your selected three characters look like total idiots standing with their arms at their sides in a triangle formation at the end of every cutscene.


    -==-Technical-==-

    To start off, the game runs decently on my computer at max settings; I can't be a good judge of performance because my CPU is in dire need of upgrading. If you have a good C2D and a 7800+ or something you should be fine running this game.

    As with any UE3 game so far; the post-process effects are out the fucking wazoo. The bloom is very high in some parts of the game, but perfectly tolerable in others. The motion blurring is a bit distracting to some people's eyes (including mine) but you can turn it off, and this is the same in any game. The two effects that Bioware seemed to take a risk with were the 'film grain' effect, and a strange black blur around the edges of your screen. I wasn't bothered by the film grain at first, but I don't exactly understand it's place. It's a fairly subtle effect, unlike bloom, but I couldn't help but feel that I was playing Grindhouse in space. I eventually switched it off, I like it better this way. The other effect, which I hate, is this weird blackish blue blur around the outside of your screen. Combined with the film grain effect it *sorta* simulates a movie experience, but does little more than get annoying by itself. It's a decent attempt at building a unique visual style, but I think it could've used more subtlety (and the ability to turn it off like the film grain effect). I, however, have to point out a good use of depth-of-field effects when looking through a sniper rifle's scope. Distracting? Yes, but the combat is easy anyways.

    At times it does feel like the excessive post-process work is trying to make up for some otherwise shoddy texture work. The normal maps and shaders all look good enough, but some of the textures of people's clothes or faces look like the belong in Oblivion.




    Sound:

    The sound of the game (an oft ignored aspect of videogaming) is a mixed bag.

    -==-Moosic-==-

    The music is *not* what I expected at all. It's not your typical aggro-industriatech breakbeat nigracore like every other action game in existence. The music is very light and... how do I say this, 'boopy'. Some weird synthesizer noises that I can't say work very well add a bit to the 'bad movie' flare. I don't mind the music, in any case.

    -==-Voice acting sans Patrick Stewart-==-

    The voice acting is solid, actually. They managed to get a fairly diverse cast of actors to work on the game, and the main female character (thankfully) doesn't sound like a dumbshit bimbo like every other game in history. The voice modulation on certain alien species is fairly well done, and makes them sound different but not absurd. Of course, the actors are limited by the writing; no matter how well you say 'I think she's the right person to save the galaxy.' it's going to sound stupid. My only complaints are the frat-boy ship pilot and one incredibly aggravating female character.

    -==-Things that go boom-==-

    Weapons and explosions in general sound weak, coupled with the graphics and loose feel... they just feel weak. The sticky grenades sound (and look) pathetic, so do many of the guns in the game. The sniper rifle has a decent kick to it, as well as a few pistols. That's about it.


    ~~~
    Overall, I'll have to get back when I have finished the game (I'm about, 6 hours in..?); these are just my initial impressions of it. Post your thoughts on the PC version of the game if you have played it. I am enjoying myself playing it, so far.


    Praying for hot alien gay sex

    ,Def
     
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  2. Texas Red Whiner

    Texas Red
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    Thanks mate.

    ME never gave me an impression of a crappy game, in fact I'm looking forward to playing. Story and setting wise it seems better than KotOR or JE. Never really understood the bashing from the likes of skyway.

    How is character creation? A great character system is what keeps me playing. I hope it isn't the sort of like JE, which was simple and just bleh.
     
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  3. Raapys Arcane

    Raapys
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    I've played for a few hours, and I think it's just about average in all ways. Good for a game released these days, but for me it's not as good as either of the KOTORs( which it feels very similar to ). An okay experience though, worth playing.
     
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  4. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    The character system is rather blah, hate to burst your bubble. You basically choose a class, choose a few very basic stats, choose your appearance, then choose your background. If you've ever played Mount & Blade that's basically what the background selection is like, except with less options. I'm sure if you play on the higher difficulties it becomes a much larger component, but I chose Infiltrator (Sniper/Recon) and I don't feel much different from the other classes.

    I'm only a few hours into the game though, don't listen to me.
     
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  5. shihonage Subscribe to my OnlyFans Patron

    shihonage
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    Bubbles In Memoria
    Brilliant description, which brings to mind many of these types of "aliens". There's at least two of them in Farscape.
     
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  6. Castanova Prophet

    Castanova
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    The character creation is pretty meaningless. Guns, magic, or tech or a hybrid of two of them. After you level up, you get points to allocate to your skills which usually just increases the damage by a %. The only "exciting" points you spend are (a) when you acquire a new skill entirely and (b) when you hit a certain number of points in a skill you get a bonus or unlock a different skill.

    By the end of the game I had every skill available to me and I didn't feel any great need to increase the skills that I hadn't already.
     
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  7. Jaime Lannister Arbiter

    Jaime Lannister
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    Are there any mods or even a custom crosshair?
     
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  8. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    As far as I know there are no modding tools for the game (as of now). I can take a quick look through the options menu but I highly doubt that there is a custom crosshair.

    The "circle of doom" crosshair is of the expanding circle type, and is probably hardcoded into the game or some bullshit like that.
     
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  9. Herbert West Arbiter

    Herbert West
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    There was no bubble to burst in my case, but I can't help feeling somewhat dissapointed after reading your "preview".
    I knew that combat is an fps, that dialogues kind of suck. But I was expecting a bit more from the B-movie space opera stuff. I could get through the tedium of combat and half-assed dialogues just to enjoy the atmosphere, but now I have serious doubts wheter I should play it at all.

    Tomorrow I'll recieve my Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 that I got for lousy 7 euro. If it's in any way decent I shall have something to play for some time (yeah, I'm still missing the good old Rainbow Six 1).
     
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  10. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    To be honest I thought the half-assed dialogs did a good enough job of conveying the B movie atmosphere (intentional or not). It felt like a mixture of Top Gun, Snakes on a Plane, and Star Wars. The actual 'atmosphere' is fairly generic, but I can't help but laugh every time a dramatic music queue begins in the middle of a rather pathetic speech about saving humanity, often so loud that I can't even hear what the person is saying anymore.

    Good thing you only spent 7 euros on that game; I didn't like it very much. It was a valiant attempt to bring some PC flare back into a dead series, but the colour palette consisted of gray and dark gray, it was unbearable after the first few missions. Who knows, you might like it.
     
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  11. Kingston Arcane

    Kingston
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    Tired post, prolly spelling errors.

    I hated a lot of the interiors. You feel far too confined, if its a huge city, why can't you experience it? Why is everything within a hundred meter radius? Jumping in a vechile and bursting through a city in a few seconds to reach another spot would have been far more 'immersive'. The outdoor areas look superb, even if you have to drive a predetermined route.

    The combat is far too sterile. No weapons have a kick in them and the biotic powers feel the same. There isn't much interaction with the environment. I would've liked to have to seen glass shatter, chairs break, to have the world react more, but alas.

    The story development is disjointed, very jumpy and not much point to it. I would've dug the B-movie script if they had gone balls out with it like Far Cry, but instead it takes itself far too seriously. You can't be the badass you thought you could, either. I do laugh when Shepard pulls the gun out, but that only happens on a few occasions.

    The cutscenes are pretty well done, actually. The camera is all spiffy and zoomy, the animations solid.

    The characters are the worst I've seen in a Bioware game (haven't played Jade Empire btw). There is no substance to them, you hardly ever talk to them and they hardly ever interact with each other. WEAK! Wrex has a few good lines though, he's the only character I liked.

    The music is very good and Defjam describes it well. Its a bit System Shock 2. My complaint is that they use music far too little. Why do I spend most of the time with no music? Going overboard is common in games, but going under is strange, especially when you've got such a solid soundtrack.

    I thought the game would have been huge. A big world to explore, lots of sidequests etc. But no. I have to admit I was really, really surprised at how linear it was! There are barely any sidequests, unless you count landing on random planets and stealing crashed probe parts from monkeys (actual quest!) sidequests. There are some better ones, but I dunno... The game just feels shallow.
     
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  12. WalterKinde Scholar

    WalterKinde
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    Didn't they included the expansion on the 360 for PC users?
    No idea if its adds more meat to the storyline or if its standalone like the NWN expansions or Oblivion addons.
    I will probably eventually pick this up (when its bargin bin AND the drm is fully cracked i aint taking no chances) could never resist space opera games from RTS, to rpg ones.
     
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  13. Starwars Arcane

    Starwars
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    It's not an expansion, it's a downloadable content deal that adds a sidequest to the game. I think you can download it if you register the game or something like that.

    As for the game, I'm kinda expecting something very KOTORish just in terms of how the game "feels". Meaning that you get these huuuuuuuuuuge locations (different planets, woow!1!!1) but you're extremely limited in where you can go.
    Kinda like how Jade Empire felt similar to KOTOR as well.

    Still, I'm sure I'll be able to get some enjoyment out of it, like it's been with all of Biowares games so far. I suspect that Mass Effect will be the one that is the farthest away from my tastes though as of yet.
    Not sure whether I'll buy it.

    Does anyone know if the EU version will have the same copy protection stuff? I don't care that much for the online activation, but the 3 activation deal sounds a bit sucky.
     
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  14. MetalCraze Arcane

    MetalCraze
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    only russian version will have starforce. but I think it won't be hard to "english-localize" game - by replacing certain files - I'm not sure which ones are that as it is UE3 now - so I doubt there will be dialog.tlk
    the other good news is that only text will be translated so you will need only english text file.
    the only problem is where you will find the rus version.
    there is a rumour however that groupies may use russian *.exe to crack all other versions - so hope.

    Unreal Engine 3 has PhysX built-in. why Bioware didn't use it - I don't know - lazy or something.

    look at what people are writing here.
    B-movie, shitty dialogues, lack of atmosphere, boring action, generic characters. a game that just cries "I was released for consoles"

    probably the only reasons to play the game are - to look at graphics with characters that look better than at UT3 (but only main ones and UT3 is such a piece of shit btw) and having some badass motion capture (though every 2nd game today has it) and exploring empty planets. that's basically it.
    I doubt that the storyline will be any good as it is Bioware we're speaking about.
    the other reasons for me to buy it are relatively low price (compared to western ones) and starforce which will be cracked on the same day and a crack will work normally 100%.
     
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  15. Korgan Arbiter

    Korgan
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    I've completed a couple of planets and I can say ME is shallow but often enough kinda fun. The combat is easy as fuck on Veteran (take cover, throw a debuff, shoot) and not visceral and gory at all, but it still feels nice. Maybe it's because the squad interface is quite decent and you actually tend to give useful orders to your teammates instead of just setting them on "Follow" and forgetting it.
    There are very few skills, and they are really unbalanced - it's waaay better to spread the points around for a few weak abilities that can do a lot of damage together then specialise and get a somewhat upgraded one that you can't spam anyway - there's a reduction in cooldown as you upgrade skills, but it's still 30-60 sec.
    The story is not too deep, but ok, with decent acting at times, a predictable OMG TWIST in the end and some nice gimmicks mostly in side quests - a protagonist with the War Hero background actually gets to PHONE HIS MOM with the ship's uber comm system. The Paragon/Renegade stuff is kind of alright too - basically it's not alignment but attitude, and there's a separate scale for each, so an dark n gritty hero who is compassionate to his people and brave as hell but doesn't mind a dirty side job, takes no prisoners and dislikes aliens will have lots of both. These don't have much influence on gameplay though, probably less then JE's OP/CF.
    Oh, and many characters are awfully done, especially Garrus, who is pale even for a Generic Tactical Shooter Teemmate. Ashley and Wrex are quite likeable though.
     
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  16. MetalCraze Arcane

    MetalCraze
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    lol recent news - the fight against drm continues and the galaxy map bug is no more it seems. some guy found a way to bypass drm by simply... using cheat programs like ArtMoney and CheatEngine. you know the ones that let you cheat yourself more money, health etc. so he released a cheat table for that.

    gosh this fight is getting much interesting with each day.

    I just took a look at CheatEngine - the workaround seems to be so simple. basically as I take it in the ME menu before you load anything you just freeze specific variables which are changed (telling drm that the game is cracked) when you load the savegame. smart bitch.
    so if it will go this way - Starwars you most likely won't be bothered by 3 installations in a week or so. so just wait.
     
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  17. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

    Jaesun
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    Just bought it and thankfully it activated just fine.

    Bringing down the sky is not available yet for PC. It's "Coming Soon".

    Now I just need to figure out what class to play...

    skyway, please just shut the fuck up and go away. Love Jaesun.
     
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  18. Kingston Arcane

    Kingston
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    Don't sweat it, they all play almost exactly the same and whatever skills you don't have you can compensate for with party members. The biotic powers spice the combat up slightly, so my personal suggestion is either Adept or Vanguard.

    And yes, Skyway if you could shut the fuck up for a while I'd appreciate it kk thx
     
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  19. MetalCraze Arcane

    MetalCraze
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    ok ok just trying to be helpful
     
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  20. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    Oh fuck you, Garrus is the most huggable character ever.

    Well, maybe not a 'character', but he'd make a good stuffed animal.
     
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  21. Kingston Arcane

    Kingston
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    Only because you're a horrible nerd and he gives you hope that you could be kicking intergalactic ass someday if you leave behind your old life and go against your father's fishes.
     
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  22. OccupatedVoid Arbiter

    OccupatedVoid
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    Once you find out who the real bad guys are, you'll facepalm.
     
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  23. MetalCraze Arcane

    MetalCraze
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    what about planetary explorations? basically as I take it every other things are mediocre in a game - but there should be lots of planets in the game. how are they?
     
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  24. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
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    Depends, some of them are O.K. and others outright suck. Seriously, some of them look like nothing more than a randomized heightmap with textures thrown on top of it. It doesn't help that the Mako driving physics are aggravating; but generally you need a sidequest to have it be decent fun, and not all of the sidequests are very good. I don't know, pretty much everything in the game (so far) is a big 'mixed bag'... the only reason I really like it is because I am a space-opera sucker and I like B movies. That's not to say the game doesn't have redeeming qualities, they are just offset by some bad ones.
     
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  25. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

    Jaesun
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    I was at first very hesitant about the NEW AND IMPROVED EXTREMEâ„¢ dialog thinggie. A quick way to describe it is: Like to get more info, like more roleplayering? Select questions on the left. Do you have ADD and just want to WIN TEH GAME!! Just keep selecting dialog from the right. It works surprisingly well. I like it.

    I so far hate the fucking combat. But thats just cuz I'm a n00b and just need to RTFM more and stop having my party members die. I actually wish they would have provided an actual tutorial, instead of the learn as you play for stupid people like me.

    After going through a long long long dialog and then immediately going straight into battle (No saving!) is fucking shitty. I fucking hate that. WHY do developers do that? :/

    Time to RTFM.
     
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