Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Progression: Quantitative vs. qualitative

So, I've mentioned that I dislike the fact that Mass Effect makes me care too much about the spreadsheet when it comes to progression and stats. In other words, I need to decide between adding X% to my cooldown or subtracting Y% from my kickback when I choose where to add my precious talent points each time I level up. This, to me, isn't quite as fun as choosing between the "dagger of swift ass kicking" and the "two handed sword of slow and plodding death".

Luckily for me, I tend to always plunge charisma/dialog based abilities. The game UI didn't seem to offer compelling reasons to upgrade my Intimidate or Charm skills (how exciting is a 5% discount at the item shop?). And, after having navigated countless dialog trees in many games, how compelling is "adds the potential to get additional dialog options"? Despite my misgivings, I did remember the joy of leveling up my chat-stats in Planescape:Torment because of the cool gameplay options it presented me at key points in the game and I wondered whether Mass Effect might also provide the same rewards.

It turns out that yes, Mass Effect does add cool dialog options when you level up your Intimidate skill. My character slams people into the wall, yells at them, and guns them down at the flick of my left stick during a conversation tree. And I chortle gleefully, knowing that the red text options (Intimidate) are grayed out for players who chose not to plunge the chat stat lines.

I recently completed the "resolve an impossible situation" achievement via Intimidate and it was pretty cool.

Now I'm grinding my way through side quests before making the plunge to the end-game at Ilos with the hope that I can max out my Intimidate skill. Why? Because a friend told me that if you have maxed out your Intimidate you can unlock a very cool ending.

And, of course, I also want to cheese out a few more usage based achievements.

Note: Obligatory UI complaint. I landed on a planet and couldn't tell if I had been there before by looking at the map. Nor could I easily cross index the planet with outstanding quests. You'd think that the onboard computer system would be good at that sort of thing. Pfeh!

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