Post-launch dlc has to be handled very carefully to succeed. Not only does every piece need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its core game, but needs to be created in relation to the pieces that have already been released. In the two story additions to Mass Effect 3, we were given missions that were designed for very specific purposes- they expanded the universe fiction. Problem is, even though they do so in different ways, they’re both filling in gaps to a story that is already closed. The third piece is Bioware’s opportunity to get away from Mass Effect 3’s controversial ending and flex its creative muscle on something different. ‘Omega’ reminds us why Bioware are among the best storytellers in the industry.
Mass Effect 2’s post-launch content was among the best examples of the practice this generation. Not only did each flesh out the Mass Effect universe, they allowed custom built levels and their own cohesive story that could accentuate Shepard’s story while still existing outside of its confines. Leviathan is the first such piece of content for Mass Effect 3 but that games controversial ending hangs heavily over this even before you embark on its mission.
Since Mass Effect was first announced, skepticism about Bioware’s claims that choices made in its space opera would carry over its trilogy have given way to mounting pressure to make them a reality. Mass Effect proper introduced a dense universe of characters and races with real history and threw them into peril against an ancient race of synthetic life forms called Reapers who threatened to eradicate all life. But it also introduced us to Commander Shepard, the hero that took up arms to protect the galaxy. Mass Effect 2 was an incredible story of bravery set against impossible odds as Shepard once again fought against forces no one believed in.
The aspects of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that place it in everyone’s mind as an Elder Scrolls knock-off disguised in a bright, cartoonish atmosphere are probably the least important of all. Yes, you are in a rich fantasy world fighting typical fairy-tale type monsters. Yes, you can choose to play as a decent, upstanding individual or to roam the world looting what is not rightfully yours. In 2012, these are common facets in most great open-world games. It is the fully realized manner in which Big Huge Games offers these features here that make for a truly satisfying experience.
NOTE- This review is for the release day version through patch 1.65. CD Projekt Red has announced version 2.0 with new content and refinements to several of the issues addressed below.
RPG designers should study what CD Projekt Red has accomplished with The Witcher 2. In the almost four years since they released the original Witcher, they have built a detective story wrapped in a mature fantasy where choices beget choices from the second you start a new game to the credits roll.