Archive for August, 2012

Ah, Leviathan… Because the ME2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker apparently wasn’t just good, but also has a (deserved) good reputation, some ads tried to give the impression that Leviathan would basically be a “repeat” of the same great stuff, just for ME3. That’s not the case. Leviathan is no LotSB. That doesn’t make it bad, certainly not, but certainly less great.

This piece has an interesting beginning, by allowing the player to check out the environment a bit, instead of just being put on (too obvious) rails again (and I really liked the husk-head on the table! Almost like the playfulness of Dr. Kleiner‘s lab in HL²), but ends without a bang. It was over so fast and suddenly, that I literally had to go check the war terminal first, to find out what it was exactly, what I’d gotten as a result of the last scene. And it wasn’t because the Leviathan voice was sometimes hard to understand without subtitles.

I haven’t played the endgame again after finishing Leviathan, so I can’t say if it has any effect on e.g. cut scenes. Given the nature of the gained war assets and the lack of extra scenes for groups that were always in the game, I would doubt that. The possibility of maybe 1-2 extra lines of dialog weren’t enough to motivate me to go through all of it again.

I really don’t envy the folks over at BW, who still have to come up with more stuff for a story their own company has basically declared over many times. It’s just weird. It doesn’t have to be necessarily, but there is still something off. No one is gonna care anymore about war assets, especially since the requirement was lowered to 3100 and even “new” guns (previously available for people who had pre-ordered) aren’t gonna do any good, at least not without playing the game anew from the beginning. The situation seems bleak from several angles.

Without DLC relying heavily on the characters most people like… the most, it will be hard to make future DLCs intriguing. The parts of Leviathan that were very enjoyable to me, were remarks of characters like Liara who said to Shepard “What is it with you and saving scientists from mining planets?!? When you’ll team up with her to take down the Shadow Broker, I’ll be jealous. AND somewhat WORRIED!”. Such elements always were the good parts of ME to begin with. It’s not the so-called main story, which is painful to think about at this point. So this is probably the biggest problem of Leviathan, that they didn’t realize this and therefore still lingered around to explain elements no one wants to hear more about. It even failed at that actually. The DLC doesn’t reveal anything substantial “we” didn’t know about Reapers. If you don’t like the very idea of Midi-chlorians you don’t want to hear George Lucas explain them at even greater length. Why should any DLC, especially at this point, be anything but fanservice, is what I’m saying.

So I’m curious to learn if the next DLC will have Shepard (and thus the player) have a good time with the squad first and foremost or if next, they’ll start to explain stuff like Jacob’s background more and more (so people will have even more clarification on why he’s boring – the explanation on why he can’t join up, because he’s busy standing in the same spot in the hospital for the rest of the game, was… enough) or Shepard will have to walk many times through this security door on Normandy, that has Shepard stop for a few seconds every time (I’d be really surprised if they won’t make at least one more SP DLC, even if this one doesn’t sell, it’s ME3 after all – Dragon Age II got 2 DLCs…)… I’d much rather enjoy the little things. They didn’t get all the voice actors back (Joker and Specialist Traynor are prominently missing from the mix) and yet I was happy that they thought of adding these little remarks to all squad members they usually have when visiting them at their stations after a mission.

//Edit

If I come to think of it, the Leviathan story wasn’t all that great. It opened up new questions it didn’t deal with. The Leviathan agenda stays kinda hidden. At one point they even say something along the lines that the solution works (!) which makes them sound as if they are really happy about what the Reapers are doing. It’s quite contradictory. Because they end up giving war assets regardless.

Also, they have the ability to indoctrinate. So once the Reapers are dealt with, what does that mean for their future? The Leviathan could end up being the next menace threatening the galaxy (Mass Effect: The Leviathan Menace?). They could be even worse, because they seem to be unpredictable in comparison. They have no static cycle to follow and the like. The ending slides don’t mention Leviathan AT ALL, so no one knows what they’ll be up to. It seems to be such an incredible thing to tack on and then just leave like this.

It’s never truly explained why they stayed inactive for all this time. They tried a bit, but it didn’t make sense. It sounded as if their knowledge could have lead to a successful construction of the crucible ages ago. It’s weird that one single, short and unimaginative speech from Shepard would convince them to act all of a sudden, when they didn’t for millions (!) of years… It would have been funny if the Leviathan just killed Shepard if he tried to ally with them, like trying to have some “special time” with Morinth did. Their ability of hiding successfully from the Reapers combined with the fact that the Reapers always vanished for 50.000 years like clockwork, put them in the perfect spot to raise an army and crush them upon their return. The Leviathan probably didn’t need 50.000 years to come up with the Catalyst AI. WTF? The Reapers never even evolved and had the same tech they did when they were brand new. Their superiority completely relied on them being many and attacking civilizations whose technologies didn’t pose that much of a threat (yet). That wouldn’t have worked against their own creators.

It’s also not dealt with, why Leviathan, who feared destruction of organic life through synthetics, create the synthetic (WTF?!?) AI to prevent this. And then of course exactly what they feared happened but it even is their own creation that murders most of them. They just say this incredible fact like it was a statement about the weather and move on, like it’s nothing… I was flabbergasted. Even super-small Cerberus had the sense to shackle their AI. How could people, who were already afraid of synthetics, build uncontrollable AIs?!?

When they kill a Reaper at the end, it was really really easy for them. This breaks this whole “Reapers can’t be fought conventionally” idea, that was forced down players’ throats for the whole game. Why not equip the fleet with the force the Leviathan have and kill all of them. It was a “one shot you’re dead”-weapon… I mean, come on…

Links:

Mass Effect 3 ‘Leviathan’ DLC Review

ME Leviathan DLC Video Collection (Paragon, Renegade, and other DLC)

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v8.2 30.07.2012
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  • +Restored first person Thaumaturgy animation, thanks to EntenSchreck.
  • +Placed a GLOCK pistol in Fu Syndicate and increased new idle rates.
  • +Restored Presence dialogue tutorial popup and missing junkyard dogs.
  • +Made NPCs act longer distance to Nosferatu, thanks to EntenSchreck.
  • +Corrected Danielle disappearing from Asylum and added oak animation.
  • +Restored option to stealth kill Johnny and to get gallery bonus XP.
  • +Fixed beachhouse cash bug by using cigarbox and a loop with the bum.
  • +Restored leaf and smoke to Grout’s mansion and fog to warrens lake.
  • +Extended first warrens spiderchick cutscene, thanks to EntenSchreck.
  • +Added option to sell severed arms to Pisha and tutorial armor info.
  • Corrected some new histories bugs and added handle to Venture Tower.
  • Fixed an elevator icon at Venture Tower and corrected two map ones.
  • Restored several dialogue gestures of Venus and a big line for Knox.
  • Fixed a few gender related bad dialogue sound files, thanks to UDM.
  • Added fixed lockpick and physcannon item files to free view weapons.
  • Restored Ocean House moon and fixed floating rails issues downtown.

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What they kinda did with this one, was to change the setting. The problem with that is, that the setting in and of Max Payne is… Max Payne. There is really nothing else defining the series (one of the few things, strangely, that ties the 3 games together, is that Max Payne has a different face in every single one of them – this time he looks a lot like the voice actor). It’s not guns and not even the bullet time. So it’s very much unlike Star Trek, where it’s no big deal to have another crew on another ship and it can still be… Star Trek. There’s really more than just the long time period since the last game, that makes it a little hard to get used to this installment.

MP3 (no one is gonna be confused by this abbreviation, I’m sure) definitely was a big budget title, it’s hard to overlook but it still didn’t help to make it more endearing to me. Instead I couldn’t stop thinking about this.
While I wanted/was looking forward to this intense feeling MP1+2 gave me, I got a cut scene extravaganza with a very good voice actor who sadly merely says rather mediocre stuff. Besides Max, no major characters come to mind that I could call noteworthy. I can’t even say for sure who’s still alive at the end.
The story has Max trying to protect/rescue some rich folks, who mean nothing to him. There’s not one person among them, he really likes or I, as the player, liked a lot. It’s almost as if Max is only there, because he has nothing better to do at the moment. That’s not exactly the best motivation to play through hours and hours of this and keep anyone hooked until the end. So in absence of an involving storyline, one has to play MP3, almost exclusively, for the gameplay itself, which is hardly anything but shooting until the level ends, to start the next one, where the only action possible is to… The action isn’t bad and the game mechanics work, but it couldn’t be more repetitive. There are not many scenes, in which a slight spin on the usual is applied, like shooting with a sniper rifle from a helicopter (yes, shooting from a fixed location instead of shooting while walking around is the sole variation of gameplay in MP3). I don’t even know exactly, what made the constant identical shooting here so tedious to me, when this could be said about many action games of this kind.

The best part of it really was the art and level of detail many levels were decorated with. Whoever was responsible for this did almost everything any player could ask for. I especially liked the level in these back alleys. In this context it was almost wasted and makes it only more frustrating, that they couldn’t get more out of it. Potential it certainly had enough of.
So in the end it were the little things, that added to the experience, when the big budget failed to impress in the way it apparently was supposed to, like Max commenting the pickup of almost every single pain killer (it’s extreme, realizing that they wrote and recorded lines for almost every single one of these items), or taking one blurred the vision for a moment. Most levels allowed to collect clues connected to the story, I never found them all, so I don’t know if there’s any value in doing so, except for getting an (to me meaningless) achievement. Collecting golden gun parts at least has the effect to equip Max with a modified version of the original weapon, although I’m not quite sure what positive effects this adds besides the looks, if any.
This game leaves me behind wondering if this game series is now considered buried, or if there will be a MP4, with Max being frozen and reactivated somewhere in the distant future perhaps…

Would you like to know more?

Max Payne 3 Review