omgryebread wrote:The inventory in ME1 did absolutely nothing to differentiate between characters. There were guns, and then there were better guns. In ME2, a Geth Pulse Shotgun plays way different from a Claymore. A Widow and an Incisor are both valid choices, and really different in the way they play. ME1's inventory wasn't too complicated per se, but it was too complicated for how little it mattered. It reminds me of when I used to play Ragnarok Online and would have endless arguments about literally 2 points in vitality. (Which, to some extent with, I'm fine with in an MMO, but it's ridiculous for a shooter/RPG. I just made that word up.)
The inventory did have some effect- I always outfitted my main squad entirely with Spectre X weapons, even if it was weapons they didn't use, to help define them. I gave the best armor to my favorite characters, I left the characters I hated with their crappy starting equipment, to punish them for not being interesting enough. The clunky
inventory didn't add anything, but the inventory did. And yes, they did improve the differentiation between weapons, that was an improvement. ME2 isn't void of improvements, even if I think overall the end result is worse than its predecessor. I would rather that they had improved those weapons and still left in an inventory- a better inventory.
omgryebread wrote:I'm not sure that's so valid anymore. A whole lot of games have levels, skills, experience, and an inventory. Resident Evil has an inventory, and no one calls it an RPG. On the other hand, Monster Hunter also has items but no leveling, and it is indeed an RPG. The definition is pretty arbitrary. I like using "has extensive non-combat interactions outside of cutscenes, some non-linear play, and extensive leveling or gathering elements" but that excludes things people would call RPGs Final Fantasy XIII stands out in particular. Though I'm quite willing to say that particular game is genre-breaking and doesn't fit cleanly into RPG or anything else. Heavy Rain is also a good example of a hard-to-fit game.
And those examples show that you can have some of those things and not be an RPG. Hell, I'm sure you can have all of them and not be an RPG; I was not trying to give a thorough definition of what an RPG is. Most genres are hard to define satisfactorily, and usually fit into a "you know it when you see it" area. I think defining an RPG as "a game, where you play a role" is a useless definition, which was what I was getting at. How many games don't
have you playing a role? That's what I was getting at.
If I was forced at gun point to give some kind of a definition for RPG that I liked, I think it would be some variation on "A game where character skill is just as- if not more- important than player skill". And that's something that ME2 almost completely lacked. Your ability to hit things? Player skill. Your ability to make a good conversation choice? Player skill, with some horrible morality meter added in. Even your character skills had little true effect on combat, because all of the fights were scaled to your level (to be fair, this was true in ME1 as well, but due to the larger number of variations in your skills, it still mattered).
Belial wrote:Pretty much! The only real choice was whether to optimize for synthetics or organics and even then that wasn't a character defining choice: everyone pretty much switched between the two depending on whether it was a geth-heavy world.
I disagree, but even ignoring that: so what? That would just mean the inventory in ME1 was a bad inventory. I have never denied this! When you have something that is poorly done, and if done well could add some depth to your game, you don't excise it completely. You fix it. The inventory in ME1 was clunky, and the weapons and armor only had so much separating them, and many of the weapon mods were useless (though I did switch around between the heat sinks and some of the others), but I found the complete lack of an inventory in ME2 to be even worse.
Belial wrote:I don't think what weapons your character is carrying is a terribly important part of their role, nor do I really think anything about how combat is played does. I think having tabletop rpgs as a point of reference is really the deciding factor here. There are plenty of rpgs that don't give a fuck about what your character has in their pockets and some that don't even care what your stats are. The defining characteristic is how much control you have over both story and action. In that respect, saying that Mass Effect isn't an RPG because it *only* lets you control story and conversation...is pretty nonsensical to me
And I haven't limited my argument to just the inventory! They also simplified the skill system rather horribly. Your weapon, your gear, your skills, your past decisions- those all help define your character, giving them their role. Looking at other games- take Fallout 2. My character was strongly defined over his journey by his weapons and armor. When he had power armor, he was a very different person than when he was running around with a vault 13 jump suit. When he had a gauss rifle, that was different than when he had a hunting rifle. And when he went unarmed in San Francisco, that was even more different! If you spec your character in speech, lockpicking and pickpocket, that's going to play very differently from someone with melee weapons, science and throwing. Or we can take everyone's* favorite Bioware game: Baldur's Gate 2. The robe of Vecna helped define my sorcerer, as did his ring of Gygax. The spells I choose for him defined his role in combat, and many helped define his role outside of combat as well. When Keldorn switched from generic full plate +n and some shit two handed sword to fire dragon plate and a holy avenger, that helped define his character, his role, his effect, in the party. If I had switched his weapon skills to mace and shield, he would have played differently, not hugely, but noticeably.
ME1 had a poor inventory, which meant it achieved very little of this. That means it should have been improved
, not removed. I also dislike that they removed character skill from combat. Now when you want to hit something, it's all determined by you
, completely removing your character from the equation. Your character's skills, abilities, experiences.. they had practically zero impact on the game. That isn't much of an RPG. It might still have been a good game (even if it was less my cup of tea than before), but it had lost that, and I was, and will remain, disappointed. As for control over story, how much control did you actually have over ME2's story? You still went to the same places, grabbed the same people, fought the same bad guys. Your only real choices were which end of the morality meter you wanted to be at, the order you went to those places, and whether you wanted to go and make all of your ship mates happy (and that isn't even much of a choice either, because it's the purely optimal course of action!). Bioware has never been good at letting you control the story; they give you lots of options, but in the end, most of them only change how many emails you get and whether you're a good cop Shepard or a bad cop Shepard.
* Probably not everyone's.