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What will you put up with for a good storyline?

Posted on 28th Jan 2010 at 11:57 by Mark Mackay with 33 comments

Mark Mackay
After finishing my new gaming rig recently, I installed a few games that I’ve been meaning to get through. Mass Effect and Fallout 3 were amongst those titles. I’d dabbled in both before but found that the slow pace and masses of dialogue weren't really what I was looking for at that time. This is a pair of games that focus heavily on storyline. However, I always had the nagging feeling that I was missing out on some great games and so, with my new rig purring away, wanted to give them another shot.

I started with Fallout 3. The prologue section in Vault 101 was pretty slow going, but I knew the story was being set so I sat patiently through it, relishing the prospect of getting stuck into the post-apocalyptic exploration outside. When I eventually got outside, I was awestruck by how good the game looked. I’ve benchmarked a section of the game many times before but with all the settings maxed out, 8x AA,15x AF, at 1,920 x 1,200 and with the time to really absorb it all, the game looked amazing.

What will you put up with for a good storyline? Storyline Over Gameplay
Welcome to VATS - No skills required

After exploring some, I eventually encountered my first combat situation and was introduced to VATS. Quite frankly, I found the idea of clicking where I wanted my bullets to land and then having the shots executed for me a ridiculous one. So I opted for regular FPS-style combat. However, the mouse pointer feels laggy and delayed. I tried with various mice with a myriad of settings, but using the crosshair just felt sloppy. Coupled with the low skill points in all areas as a new character and the combat in Fallout 3 was terrible. The character development was deep and I’m assured that the storyline is awesome, but with combat soggier than a Weetabix that’s been left in warm milk for a week, I just couldn’t stomach it.

What will you put up with for a good storyline? Storyline Over Gameplay
The combat in Mass Effect didn't push my buttons

The same was true of Mass Effect. I found the combat severely tiresome, with the team AI making for another sloppy combat system. I’ve always been into RPGs as my main game choice but I guess as the years have gone by and multiplayer gaming takes up increasing portions of my time - that’s changed. I’m going to give Mass Effect another shot as Mass Effect 2 looks amazing and I don’t want to miss out on what could be one of the greatest gaming trilogies of all time. But by gum, I hope things pick up as I get into it.

But this all got me wondering. What’s more important to you? Did you also find Mass Effect and Fallout 3 tiresome and feel like gameplay was thrown in as an afterthought to the storyline? Are you prepared to stomach a portion of bad gameplay if it means that you can get involved in a well-written, interactive book with some gorgeous visuals or would you can the game and fire up something else that delivered a more immediately gratifying gameplay experience?

33 Comments

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Manu_Otaku 28th January 2010, 13:20 Quote
I loved both games story and gameplay wise, i like it a lot VATS on fallout 3, and in mass effect i didnt mind the mako sections that so many people did complain about it, and the shooting i like it, it was slow and with a few problems but i did like it overall,it had a great RPG touch in the shotting deparment with a lot of micromanagment, i think i dont going to love the new mass effect for this reasons, based on the reviews i had seen so far, i think is more userfriendly and they throw away the RPG mechanics, now it emphasizes in the shotting elements rather than the RPG, and the mako is gone, damn.
CardJoe 28th January 2010, 13:21 Quote
Mass Effect is clunky at first, but you get used to it quickly.

Mark, as I said, if Fallout 3 isn't fitting then just go to STALKER instead.
Aracos 28th January 2010, 13:25 Quote
I'm having the same issue with Fallout 3, all I find myself doing is VATS and it really naffs me off because I can't hit crap without it, the aiming on it just feels wierd and slow, nothing comparing to FPS's like L4D or MW2, so I go through the entire game having a click fest of nothingness. It makes me really bored so I try to use melee weapons whenever possible, because then it's actually fun to a certain extent. More like oblivion with melee weapons but then you are screwed when everyone has guns *sigh*
WildThing 28th January 2010, 13:35 Quote
It's interesting becuase I was thinking about this the other day. I recently bought Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on Steam for about £1.50 or something. I had acquired it ages ago based on a friends recommendation but could not get into it, I thought it was utter crap if I'm honest, so I unistalled it. Then, after Mass Effect, I realised there are some games out there which aren't purely about combat. It felt like I finally "got" what Bioware was about lol. Also, maybe I had matured a little since I first tried KOTOR.
So I decided to give it another go, and now I'm actually quite enjoying it! I do still think the combat is pants in KOTOR, but as you mentioned in your blog, I put up with it because I'm immersed in the world, storyline and with the characters.

I havn't tried Fallout 3 yet, but I know what you mean about Mass Effect. As Joe said though, you get used to it. I actually like to play Mass Effect on easy, so the combat is just a non-issue element of the game that crops up from time to time, and kind of acts as an interlude from all the dialogue.
Hugo 28th January 2010, 14:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark
15x AF
:)

It's probably blasphemous to say it, but I found both Mass Effect and Fallout 3 much less frustrating on the PS3 and Xbox 360, respectively, than on the PC. The control schemes for both just result in a hamstrung feeling on the PC; whereas on console they feel 'right' and as such you can enjoy the story more.
Cutter McJ1b 28th January 2010, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
I'm having the same issue with Fallout 3, all I find myself doing is VATS and it really naffs me off because I can't hit crap without it, the aiming on it just feels wierd and slow, nothing comparing to FPS's like L4D...

Thanks for the reply storm20200, glad it's not just me. It really does feel crappy compared with proper FPS shooters.
docodine 28th January 2010, 15:20 Quote
Not many games combine the two very well..

I would rather go for pure gameplay games (Armagetron) or games with heavy emphasis on story (most Final Fantasy) than a poor mishmash, but a balance can be achieved.

Haven't played FO3, but Mass Effect was decent.. Story was average, gameplay was average. It had shiny graphics, but wasn't as good as KOTOR.

KOTOR, Deus Ex, Diablo II are games that combine the two the best I think.
Blademrk 28th January 2010, 15:25 Quote
I could not get into Fallout 3 (x360 version) at all. I've just bought Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics for the princly sum of 45p from PC world as I've heard they're better, I have't installed yet though.

Mass Effect on the 360 I found really enjoyable (I mainly used the sniper rifle which (once leveled up) made the combat a lot easier) - I think it's more suited to a Joypad than Keyboard and mouse.
l3v1ck 28th January 2010, 15:58 Quote
I'll happily put up with Far Cry/KOTOR era graphics if it means good game play and good characters. Top end graphics are a bonus.
mjm25 28th January 2010, 17:02 Quote
you lot with a laggy mouse haven't got vsync on have you? i never remember it being laggy in fallout3...
TurtlePerson2 28th January 2010, 17:02 Quote
When I played ME1 my machine wasn't really up to the task so I got horrible frame rates during action scenes. I then saw the shooting sequences as things that needed to be done to get to the real game, which was the dialogue.
Aracos 28th January 2010, 17:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
you lot with a laggy mouse haven't got vsync on have you? i never remember it being laggy in fallout3...

No vsync for me, Never turn it on unless there's an option for triple buffering, I find my screen doesn't tear with it off anyway so I don't care.
Cutter McJ1b 28th January 2010, 17:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
you lot with a laggy mouse haven't got vsync on have you? i never remember it being laggy in fallout3...

No vsync for me, Never turn it on unless there's an option for triple buffering, I find my screen doesn't tear with it off anyway so I don't care.

I always use vsync. I hate tearing almost as much as jaggies...
Skiddywinks 28th January 2010, 19:17 Quote
I would never play a bad game for story. Ever. Gameplay is first and foremost in my eyes. If a game is fun, that is all that is needed. Make the gameplay immersive (amazing graphics, sound effects and style), and I will enjoy it even more. Story probably comes last in importance, but without a doubt, an amazing story can make a great game excellent. Mass Effect for example.

Obviously, there are limits; a ridiculously fun game that looks ****, I am unlikely to play. Basically, I shouldn't have to put up with anything excessive. Bad story? No difference, since I play for the gameplay. I could even put up with an exceptionally bad story. But sounds, graphics and content etc, should all be of a certain quality at least, otherwise it's a no-go.
mjm25 28th January 2010, 20:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutter McJ1b
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
you lot with a laggy mouse haven't got vsync on have you? i never remember it being laggy in fallout3...

No vsync for me, Never turn it on unless there's an option for triple buffering, I find my screen doesn't tear with it off anyway so I don't care.

I always use vsync. I hate tearing almost as much as jaggies...

turn it off and your mouse lag will be cured... but you will get tearing. so either get a 120hz monitor to kill it more of the time... or turn the settings up higher to get ur frame rate down below 60. or leave it on and keep the lag :/
brave758 28th January 2010, 21:29 Quote
fallout 2 rocked i still play that. I think a RPG should be a RPG and a FPS the same as they try to mix the two they both loose what they really are
bigkingfun 28th January 2010, 21:48 Quote
No specs of this "new gaming rig" yours?

I am dissapoint.
Farfalho 28th January 2010, 22:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigkingfun
No specs of this "new gaming rig" yours?

I am dissapoint.

+1 You selfish nerd =P
thehippoz 28th January 2010, 22:49 Quote
don't play dragon age then.. I think half the game is voice acting- but when you get the gay dwarf at the brothel, you kinda go ok.. least they have a sense of humor.. really liked fallout and mass effect- kinda blown away by mass effect really but played it on a crt in grain.. looks like a movie
Psytek 29th January 2010, 01:20 Quote
I think the problem here is not about 'putting up with things'. It's about what you like and don't like.

I personally had no problem with VATS or the Mass Effect combat. Everyone operates under the logical fallacy that all things have an absolute quality, that if something is 'good', then everyone must like it.

Ask people about marmite, doctor who, or opera. If you like marmite, then you'll think marmite is awesome, if you don't like doctor who, you'll think doctor who is rubbish, and if you like opera, well, you're weird aren't you?

My point is: These things are a matter of personal preference. If you find yourself 'putting up' with something, what is actually happening is you forcing you to play a game you do not like, because you have the faulty logical belief that just because other people say something is good, that you should like it.

Don't feel bad if you don't like the gameplay features that other people do. I personally hate mmorpgs, but a hell of a lot of people like them. If I played an mmo, I would be 'putting up' with a lot of the aspects of the game, that wouldn't be a reflection of it's absolutely quality, a) because there is no such thing, and b) because it is my personal opinion.
Skiddywinks 29th January 2010, 01:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psytek
I think the problem here is not about 'putting up with things'. It's about what you like and don't like.

I personally had no problem with VATS or the Mass Effect combat. Everyone operates under the logical fallacy that all things have an absolute quality, that if something is 'good', then everyone must like it.

Ask people about marmite, doctor who, or opera. If you like marmite, then you'll think marmite is awesome, if you don't like doctor who, you'll think doctor who is rubbish, and if you like opera, well, you're weird aren't you?

My point is: These things are a matter of personal preference. If you find yourself 'putting up' with something, what is actually happening is you forcing you to play a game you do not like, because you have the faulty logical belief that just because other people say something is good, that you should like it.

Don't feel bad if you don't like the gameplay features that other people do. I personally hate mmorpgs, but a hell of a lot of people like them. If I played an mmo, I would be 'putting up' with a lot of the aspects of the game, that wouldn't be a reflection of it's absolutely quality, a) because there is no such thing, and b) because it is my personal opinion.

Perfectly said. Rep.
cyrilthefish 29th January 2010, 03:00 Quote
Quote:
What will you put up with for a good storyline?
I play JRPGs, that answers the question mostly by itself

Personally, Story > gameplay by a huge margin.

crappy gameplay but great story? - I will play it to the end even if i have to resort to easy mode and/or cheats to do so

Crappy story but good gameplay. - I might not bother finishing it, unless the gameplay is exceptional.

Results in me giving RPGs a huge leeway on gameplay, but games such as doom3 meaning i can't bring myself to finish them...
Skiddywinks 29th January 2010, 03:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Quote:
What will you put up with for a good storyline?
I play JRPGs, that answers the question mostly by itself

Personally, Story > gameplay by a huge margin.

crappy gameplay but great story? - I will play it to the end even if i have to resort to easy mode and/or cheats to do so

Crappy story but good gameplay. - I might not bother finishing it, unless the gameplay is exceptional.

Results in me giving RPGs a huge leeway on gameplay, but games such as doom3 meaning i can't bring myself to finish them...

Are you honestly saying you would put yourself through all kinds of **** for a good story? And you play JRPGs?! That's a lot of **** to put up with for what usually amounts to a mediocre at best story.
Zurechial 29th January 2010, 03:25 Quote
What? People think Fallout 3 had a good story? Ugh.
Each to their own I guess.
As far as I'm concerned it was a paper-thin bland questline characteristic of Bethesda.
Like most elements of Fallout 3, it just felt like Oblivion with different art assets.

Mass Effect had a good story, good roleplaying elements and good presentation of the above and I played it to the end.
The combat was crappy, though, and puts me off actually revisiting the game.
So you could say I put up with it once, but the horrible gameplay was enough to kill the longevity or replayability of the game for me.

As said elsewhere on the forums, just go and play Planescape Torment or Deus Ex.
Then weep over the sorry state of modern gaming. :p
sear 29th January 2010, 04:41 Quote
For the record, Fallout 3's in-game v-sync option doesn't work. You have to disable it by changing the Fallout3.ini file, specifically the line iPresentInterval=1 to 0. However, this causes the game to move too fast once it goes past 60 fps (yeah Bethesda sure are competent that way) and as such it's recommended to use one of a few programs available to cap the framerate at 60 fps.

Oh, and Fallout 3 has a dogshit storyline. It's better than the average shooter's, sure, but the game is overall much too schizophrenic and the main story is far too short and repetitive, with far more emphasis on linear action than on proper freeform role-playing that made the first two Fallouts so excellent. Fallout 3 has its strengths, but they're in atmosphere, exploration, and the whole sandbox nature of the game; there's very little in the way of deep game systems or memorable characters, events, story twists, etc.

Mass Effect on the other hand has pretty poor combat, but it's offset by the excellent universe the game features, along with its characters and storyline. Probably the first BioWare game where character interactions don't feel forced and stilted, and in some ways it does a better job than Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age. Some moments in the game are just phenomenal too, including the entire endgame sequence, and make up a lot for some of the occasional slowness.
Blarte 29th January 2010, 10:51 Quote
I have Mass Effect still on my shelf waiting to be played ..
There will probably be Mass Effect 4 out by the time I get round to it
Fallout I do enjoy though each to their own though I guess.
Xir 29th January 2010, 11:48 Quote
Quote:
Did you also find Mass Effect and Fallout 3 tiresome and feel like gameplay was thrown in as an afterthought to the storyline?
I don't think that's the case, they probably thought a lot about the gameplay.
...THEN they decided the gameplay had to be optimised for consoles.
You need VATS or autoaim when running about with no mouse.

I've found both games mediocre at best, and both very repetitive.
If you stick to the main storyline* ME is very, very short.

Fallout3 and Stalker both make you collect loot, return to a selling point, collect again, return, collect, return...

Xir

*and ME urges you to continue the main storyline (Hurry, he's getting away!) instead of wandering the universe.
CardJoe 29th January 2010, 12:10 Quote
Story is important, make no mistake. My favourite ones are usually the ones which have a great story or some really compelling characters and there are things I'm willing to forgive if they are really strong - but not the majority of the gameplay, certainly.

Take Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, for example. Wonderful story, beautiful characters. I love it. The combat is incredibly shoddy though, to be honest, and the final fights are...ugh. Just, ugh. That's OK though because the fighting is concentrated into short bits and the bulk of the action is the platforming, which is excellent. If the platforming had been bad and the combat good though, well the story would be much less of a concern.

I love story. I love good characters. My favourite games are the ones which have interesting plots, like Deus Ex and Thief. At the end of the day though a game has to have more than just story - because if ALL I cared about was the story then I'd just read a book instead. I don't because I want to interact with the story in a meaningful, intelligent and fun manner - which is something you can't do in a book.
kenco_uk 29th January 2010, 13:28 Quote
I sort of felt a little, 'Godalmighty, *another* bloody gunfight' when playing through Uncharted 2, but then with the amount of really quite good setpieces and the story behind the whole thing just made it absolutely brilliant.

Fallout 3 was a non-starter for me at first, I just couldn't handle myself once out of the vault. Aiming's fine for me though, sometimes use VATS to get a couple or so shots in while I think how best to dispatch the baddies.

Mass Effect just got very annyoing very quickly. I was enjoying it up to the point where you first land on a planet in the transport vehicle you control. I think it's a bug wherein you can't tell if you've fallen off the sometimes fairly narrow path you have to follow, the textures aren't 'complete' and then you start back at the beginning. I like to be given at least a fair chance. Because of that, I gave up on it after the umpteenth go.

PoP:SoT was incredible although I agree with Joe, sometimes the combat was completely against you. I remember a part where you dropped into a room and there were several guards to defeat. That took a lot of fancy footwork and new swear words.

DragonAge Origins - I'd prefer to play the game rather than watching a fairly poor graphics engine try and provide a cinematic experience. It's just so bloody boring! Give me a dragon to stick a fork into!
LJF 29th January 2010, 16:27 Quote
I think the combat in Fallout 3 was designed to encourage the use of VATS rather than charging round FPS style. I find it far more fun to cripple a deathclaws legs in VATS with a railway rifle than to just frantically running backwards away from it trying to pump all your plasma ammo into it. Plus you get the slow-motion-critical-hit-exploding-head camera view which is always satisfying.

Basically, the going is tough in the early parts of the game. Remember you are just some youth who's lived in a vault all their life. Not some kind of special forces commando. It's better to avoid combat and conflict entirely against anything bigger than a wild dog until you've levelled up enough!

My first attempt at playing it was infuriating. My graphics card wasn't up to the job meaning the draw distance had to be brought right down. I'd find bullets flying past my ears out of the nothingness in the distance only to find i'd come with in range of a couple of supermutants - by that time it was too late!
stoff3r 1st February 2010, 01:35 Quote
I'm glad it's just not me. There have been several games like this, and I feel like Bioshock was the worst pc-fps, I was hoping there was a mod or tweak around the corner, and read huge forumtreads about the subject, only to find half of the post was from idiots that did not recognize the problem and believed they had superior hardware/skills. Deus-Ex II was an excellent fps/rpg, although it wasn't very sandboxy. I'm also glad STALKER was brought up, even if it was a joke or not, it's still my pick in this soup of fps games with rpg elements.

I will allways pick gameplay over story, and if the aim/engine is fundamentaly flawed to the point of no return, like Bioshock, I will pass out on it. I still played Fallout 3, allbeit did not like free-aim at all, and led me to not finish up the game even if I was at the end of the story. I passed on Mass Effect as it looked too flat and uninspired, not my kind of artstyle, and the planet-explorations looked sucky.

Hopes up for Metro 2033 to get som rpg-elements and perfect freeaim of course, Stalker: Call of Pripyat has also gotten good critics and have been said to fix up inventory and gui a lot.
BLC 1st February 2010, 11:38 Quote
OK, to get FO3 & ME out of the way first...

At first, FO3 did feel rather clunky and sluggish - I expected to be able to approach combat in the same manner as you do with an FPS, which is not the way the game was built. Once you get used to the combat mechanics and using VATS, I found combat really entertaining. My first strategy was to bludgeon the crap out of everything with the biggest gun going. This worked well enough until I encountered my first deathclaw (a good way into the game), whereupon I was quickly slaughtered. This forced me to rethink how I approached combat and take a more creative approach (in the case of the deathclaw, cripple or poison it's legs and you can easily run rings round the thing, without it getting close enough to attack). You can approach the game as an FPS and get incredibly frustrated with it, or you can at least try and be more creative with the combat and enjoy it a whole lot more. It doesn't help that, as others pointed out, it takes a while for your combat skills to be improve. This just adds to the immersion though; you've lived all your short life in a sterile and safe vault - now you have to face the post-apocalyptic wasteland with nothing more than a piddly pop-gun of a pistol.

I've just started playing Mass Effect, so can't really form much of an opinion, but I find the combat to be a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest; the first "real" mission I took - no spoilers here - was to find Liara, and I kept getting my ass kicked. I must have re-played that fight about 20 times. I often find myself re-loading the game, because some super attack comes out of nowhere and wipes me out. The squad control system can be a pain, too - I usually let squad members do what they want, only directing their actions with the occasional tech/biotic ability. Again though, with more experience, combat does get easier.

Mass Effect is all about the story telling & dialogue - having previously played KOTOR to death, I expected this. In contrast, Fallout 3 - at least to me - is more about combat and exploration; the story is quite good, but not a patch on the first two games.

Back to the point of the point of the post... I'm willing to put up with quite a lot for a good story line. The game has to be playable though - I wouldn't put up with dire gameplay mechanics just to finish the story. I'd put up with quite a bit, but I have my limits. The first time I ever played Final Fantasy VII, it took me some time to get into it. The gameplay felt completely alien at first - I was used to fast-paced FPS games or Resident Evil, not the relatively slow and calculated turn-based combat. It took about 5 hours of putting up with confusing combat and character development before the story got it's hooks in to me; once it did, I couldn't put it down (I damn near failed exams in school, because I'd be playing that game until 3 in the morning). It took me even longer to master the combat, which forms a major part of the gameplay - in fact, I don't think I truly nailed combat until the third time I played it. It now stands out as possibly my favourite game of all time.

Admittedly FFVII is a bad example because the game play and story are just brilliant. But if it's not a style of game you're used to, the random combat and complexity of the character progression/customisation can very quickly put you off. Gameplay and story don't necessarily go hand in hand: you can have a game that's incredibly good fun to play, but has no story whatsoever - see Audiosurf, one of the best game purchases I've ever made. On the other hand, a game with a fantastic story line is not worth playing if the game mechanics/engine doesn't work well.
CardJoe 1st February 2010, 11:51 Quote
If you're having trouble with ME combat then I'd suggest dropping the difficulty down - which you can do at any point via the menu - or replaying as a Soldier. By far the easiest class.

The game is definitely all about the story though. I'm playing through Mass Effect 2 at home right now and my girlfriend has quickly got into the habit of sitting behind me and watching me play. She says she doesn't truly know what's going on in terms of the gameplay and fighting, but she loves the story and is treating it as a TV show where she occasionally gets to jump in and yell at me to kill someone.
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