The video team on our sister site GameSpot UK today asked me to come in and say a few words to camera about what I'm looking forward to at the upcoming, restored E3. After I'd stopped sweating and shaking at the thought of being filmed, there was only one thing that came to mind -- Mass Effect 2.
Eighteen months ago I tore myself away from the first Mass Effect to writeto describe how I felt about that game. At the time I was a scant 40 hours (!) into the game -- I ended up playing it for triple that length, completing it three times with different characters. Something about BioWare's design makes me crave its games beyond anything reasonable. I must play them over and over again, until every last gram of play has been wrung from their tired corpses.
In the end I resented this compulsion, annoyed by the tiny bugs and glitches that inevitably creep into a work of this size. The combat, calibrated for a quick playthrough, became too easy for my obsessively levelled-up characters. The exploration too became repetitive. But this is where games have a huge advantage over movies -- a sequel can take the world (universe, in this case) the original created and improve everything that everyone complained about.
BioWare's Casey Hudson recently wrote, of the starting point of developing ME2, "We read forum posts, reviews, watched people playing the (original) game on YouTube, and literally noted and categorised every piece of feedback we could find, to help us target an overall evolution of the gameplay to the way people actually experienced it." In the latest teaser video for the sequel, Hudson promised that they'll show all their improvements at E3. I can barely wait a week for that -- I'll be hanging off the walls for the actual game, which agonisingly is due in 2010.