(I'm going away on vacation, so I wanted to dump everything in my brain while it's still there. I have to stop writing games sometimes. Working on Avadon is making my brain melt.)
I played Mass Effect 2, of course. Bioware. Have to play. And I really, really liked Mass Effect, warts and all.
Mass Effect 2 is a lot of fun. The new action-based combat model is simple and fast-paced, so the action, while a little repetitive, is always fun. And the game conclusively shows that there is no problem that can't be solved by going from one end of a corridor full of crates to the other. The player characters are a little dull for a Bioware game, but they're fine. (Morden and Garrus are cool.) I suspect that there's just too many of them, so the interestingness got spread a little thin. I missed Morrigan.
But, as much as I enjoyed it, there was one thing that really bugged me. Bioware has said that Mass Effect 3 will be a bit lighter in the subject matter, and thank God.
So there's a woman in your party named Subject Zero. She is harsh and obnoxious and crazy and I wished I could throw her out of the airlock while covered in hurting fire. Like all of the other allies, there's an quest you can do to win her loyalty.
So I accept it, and we go to this abandoned research base. It turns out, Subject Zero was, while a child, subjected to horrible experiments to give her psychic powers. You learn, in blucky detail, how many other children were taken there and killed in other experiments that seem deliberately reminiscent of the work of Josef Mengele.
You also learn that this base was built by Cerberus, a pro-human organization that you work for.
You do learn, for what it's worth, that after Cerberus built the base they went a little rogue before all of the child-murdering started. As if that makes it better. Which, no. When you find out that your bosses helped start the Holocaust, it doesn't matter if they're a little bugged by what happened later. It's still, you know, bad.
I had a lot of fun playing the game. The zappy zappy was good. But that quest really put a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the game, and this isn't like God of War, where the story is only a vague backdrop for the hacking. Bioware is known for story, and they took a seriously wrong step here. If you want to cover this sort of material, fine. But treat it with respect, don't just make it a little side quest meant to make things all edgy, and certainly don't expect the player to continue to support the organization that created the horrors in the first place. As someone who sometimes takes games seriously as an art form, it's embarrassing.
Also, if you are forced to have these yahoos on your ship, "helping you", asking for favors, and bugging you with their issues, you should always have the option of feeding them into the mass-energy reactor. Hey, your ship has to be fueled somehow.
(And hey, Bioware, still love you, right? Let's not let this little tiff interfere with our deep and lasting relationship, OK?)