…Are starting to get a little overused, no? Even Obsidian has tried copying them in Alpha Protocol.
This way of handling conversation trees was perfect for the cinematic style of the Mass Effect series. They still do a great job of making the player feel like the hero, but the game does give the protagonist a voice, fewer options and a level of canonical personality.
Compared to traditional dialogue selection, it disassociates the player character from the actual player, which can hurt the level of immersion. Rather than putting you in the shoes of a space badass, it puts you in the very specific shoes of this particular space badass.
Now it’s been reported that Dragon Age 2 will be using a similar system to this. I’m fine with them giving the player a name and restricting them to playing a human. Especially if it helps them write a good story this time.
But just swiping part of what made Mass Effect unique and cinematic is not helping a series that should be forging its own style. Plus, given the irritating lack of choice in the original, further oversimplification isn’t going to be a positive for the game.
As if that homogenisation wasn’t enough, Bioware are also using Mass Effect’s dialogue wheels in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Although the quick, basic and smooth choices may just be a good fit for online play.
But it’s just worrying to see them reusing this system in every new game they’re making. Bioware are the kings of interactive storytelling, so to see them making their stories less interactive is a sad thing. Or taking away from the individuality of the Mass Effect series.
Here’s hoping Jade Empire 2, or whatever their next big project is, doesn’t go down the same route. Who knows, maybe they’ll come up with a brand new conversation system!
…That will then be reused for Dragon Age 3.