Massively affecting

It was going to be a bit of a Holy Roar week, but it’s actually turned out to be a bit of a quiet week. That’ll be work keeping me busy plus the lethargy of self-inflicted exhaustion. Reviews of Throats and Antares should go up sometime soonish.

My pre-order copy of Mass Effect 2 arrived yesterday, so I spent the evening in the company of its occasionally plastic-faced charms. I enjoyed the first game a great deal despite its flaws, and am happy to find that thus far the sequel has addressed most of these – although it has introduced its own foibles in so doing.

I probably won’t bother writing a review since it’ll be several weeks before I’m in a position to do so, and by that time what would be the point? But here’s an excitable little account of a gripping experience from last evening, which I shared with some friends this morning:

I experienced a genuinely affecting moment in ‘Mass Effect 2’ last night, where I thought an earlier action I had taken – not murdering a thug in cold blood in order to disable some military hardware – had later resulted in the death of a comrade I was very fond of. He was torn to fucking pieces. I was actually horrified that I might have been responsible.

As it turned out, he survived – but his face was half torn off and he’s permanently scarred. For the rest of his life.

I was relieved when he didn’t hate me. It was a gamble – when I met him after he was patched up I risked making a joke – a sort of macho camaraderie thing – and when he laughed it was just, wow. Thank fuck. And yet I still felt so sorry for him. I wondered if the game would let me tell him that I could have spared him that tragedy. Would I tell him if I could? Should I tell him if I could?

I can only hope the game is full of more moments like this: moments when you come face to face with the unintended consequences of actions you chose to take, moments where regret or horror or shame are the emotional responses not demanded of you, but drawn out of you. But I’m already impressed that the game made me care enough about one of its characters to make me feel this. That is special, particularly in a medium where a derisive blasé attitude is more than most titles’ stories and characters deserve.

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  1. […] previously wrote briefly about an early experience in the game; a moment I found both genuinely affecting and shocking as a […]

  2. […] an essential ingredient in the narrative’s culmination. In other words, it’s another Garrus’ scar (I wrote the linked blog post before discovering that event was a narrative inevitability and never […]