fredag 3 april 2020

Jurassic Morons

You know, I've been meaning to write this little feature for a while now. The one stumbling block, however, was how to actually express in text just how magnificently idiotic the, so far, two Jurassic World movies are.

I mean, I could just rage on about them for page after page, but I don't think that would actually convey just how much I want to kick the writers of those movies in the genitals.

So, here's my plan: we'll pretend that the park is being visited by J. R. Sensibleguy. The reason for his visiting the park is the fact that the main reason why everything went to fuck in the previous movies is because either there was no sensible person involved, or nobody listened to the one sensible person.

In fact, the whole series can just be renamed to "Why the flying fuck didn't anybody listen to Ian Malcolm?!", but that's beside the point.

Mr. Sensibleguy is hired by the InGen board to look into the park, the management, the plans for the future etc, and see if any of it is fucking stupid. His main interlocutor in the park is the manager. Let's name her...F. G. Coquesoaker. This first episode is about how the manager handles the situation with the Indominus Rex. Enter stage right.

Coquesoaker: Let's face it; nobody is excited by dinosaurs anymore.

Sensibleguy: *looks out the window* What the hell are you talking about, the park is literally packed with as many people as can possible fit, and everyone is having the time of their lives.

Coquesoaker: Hrm...but we need to innovate, invent new attractions for the visitors!

Sensibleguy: Okay, fair enough. What's on the board?

Coquesoaker: Allow me to present to you...the Indominus Rex!

Sensibleguy: Oh, okay. What's the deal with that one, then?

Coquesoaker: Well, it's huge and has lots of pointy teeth!

Sensibleguy: So does the T-Rex, what's so special about this new one?

Coquesoaker: Well...I mean, it's bigger, and has more teeth!

Sensibleguy: Right. Well, what else is special about it?

Coquesoaker: We don't know.

Sensibleguy: I...what? You don't know?

Coquesoaker: Nope.

Sensibleguy: But...how smart is it?

Coquesoaker: Don't know.

Sensibleguy: How strong is it?

Coquesoaker: Dunno.

Sensibleguy: How high can it jump?

Coquesoaker: Look, it sounds like I'm not getting through to you just how absolutely nothing we know about this thing.

Sensibleguy: These are important questions from a safety standpoint, how on earth can you safely keep the thing locked up, let alone use it as a park attraction if you don't know first thing about it?

Coquesoaker: Oh, we can't have that as an attraction. Way too dangerous!

Sensibleguy: So why the shit is it still alive?

Coquesoaker: Meh, it costs alot to develop, so we kinda cross our arms and pout over that one. Oh, holy shit!

Sensibleguy: *sigh* What's the matter now?

Coquesoaker: It's escaped! Look, there are claw marks on that wall.

Sensibleguy: Ooookay...but how did it get past the huge moat surrounding the paddock?

Coquesoaker: Don't have one of those.

Sensibleguy: *deeper sigh* Look, are those claw marks supposed to have come from that thing scaling the wall? Are you telling me it leaped, then clawed its way up like a cat that just barely missed a jump? And look at that monitor; the tracker says it's right there in the paddock!

Coquesoaker: The tracker is wrong. The I-Rex has clearly escaped.

Sensibleguy: Hey, before we do something (more) stupid, let's just check the cameras and look through the window at the paddock. Hell, it's tiny! And there is only one hiding spot; that clump of trees over there!

Coquesoaker: No, I don't need to look at anything, and it most definitely isn't hiding in that clump of trees large enough to conceal an Indominus Rex! I will send in two people, completely lacking any equipment that would be able to so much as menace a house cat. Open the gate!

Sensibleguy: Tell me, you don't happen to have two gates, so that the animal will not escaped when you are letting those two people out or in?

Coquesoaker: Of course not.

Sensibleguy: Yes, I thought as much. It was an act of pure optimism to have posed the question in the first place. But...if you don't think the I-Rex is in there, then why the hell do you want to send two guys in to look?

Coquesoaker: Because it might still be in there!

Sensibleguy: In which case you definitely don't want to send them in there, because they'll make nothing more than a tasty snack for the dinosaur.

Coquesoaker: Oh fuck, it was in there! Close the gate.

Sensibleguy: Let me guess, the gate is slow as shit so the dino has plenty of time to run for it?

Coquesoaker: Yes, why?

Sensibleguy: Oh, no, nothing. I'm just beginning to see a pattern, that's all.

Coquesoaker: So, now the guard is dino-food, and the I-Rex is free as a bird.

Sensibleguy: What a shocker, who could've predicted it...

Coquesoaker: I know, right?!

Sensibleguy: Tell me just one thing: Do you have any way whatsoever of stopping that thing?

Coquesoaker: Oh yes; we'll send a bunch of guys armed with shock sticks and stuff like that, which obviously can't even hurt an animal that size, let alone incapacitate it.

Sensibleguy: I thought so. Oh well, first we'll have to do a full emergency evacuation of the whole island.

Coquesoaker: Nah, that'd cost money. Much better to waste a bunch of human lives. We'll just let that animal rampage for a bit, then it'll probably get tired and return to its paddock by itself.

Sensibleguy: *starts walking towards the door, then stops and takes out sunglasses* Here's what we're gonna do; we'll play it like Michael Crichton.

Coquesoaker: Why, what did he do?

Sensibleguy: *puts on sunglasses* Bombed the whole island to oblivion. [Exit stage left]

söndag 1 mars 2020

Voix aquetinge!

Voice acting is a tricky thing. Let’s see how tricky.

It’s one of those really tricky things to pull off in any video game. It’s got relatively small margins of error; sound too dramatic and you sound like a parody of 18th century theatre, don’t sound dramatic enough and you sound like you don’t give a shit. And it can really fuck up a game if you get it wrong.

Two Worlds is a game that had absolutely atrocious voice acting, and my attempt at playing it ceased after about the a third of a sentence. The iffy graphics and slightly sub-par controls didn’t bother me half as much as the silly speech.

The whole Resident Evil-series, I think, is just the biggest pile of dung you’ll ever find in the industry in this regard. The acting constantly sounds like it’s spoken by people who’ve heard about the concept of speech but haven’t actually spoken a word out loud in their entire lives.

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, meanwhile, got a lot of flak for its bad voice acting, but I don’t think it was entirely fair. Sure, the lines were often ridiculous and said in very questionable ways, but most of that I’d scratch up to bad directing rather than poor performances by the actors. The hilarious interactions between characters where lines were randomized weren’t the fault of the actors either, as that was due to terrible game design. The voice acting in Oblivion is something I’d describe as “Not good, but not awful enough to kick me out of the experience”.

Something that often causes problems for games is when the developers decide to bring in famous movie actors, thinking they must automatically be great voice actors. At least that is the most generous assumption. More likely they do it to capitalize on their star power for marketing purposes. This is a bad idea. Patrick Stewart in Oblivion, Sean Bean in Oblivion, Peter Dinklage in Destiny, Matthew Perry in Fallout: New Vegas. All of them completely phoned it in. That doesn’t make them bad actors; voice acting in a game is completely different from acting in a movie or TV-series. In the  case of Destiny, the devs even realized that Peter Dinklage made a shit performance, and replaced him with Nolan North, IE the guy who does the voice for every male main character in all of gaming.

But let’s not focus entirely on the negative examples. There are many games and entire franchises with stellar voice acting. One that I’ve followed for many years is Warcraft, where the guy basically in charge of storytelling, Chris Metzen, also is a fantastic voice actor. Dead Space has really credible voice acting for a very dramatic horror-action game.

Then there’s Simon Templeman. He is the greatest voice actor in all of human history. He also constantly sounds like he wants to piss in your cornflakes. He’s simply got the best evil voice in the industry. Funnily, then, that in the Legacy of Kain-series, he plays the perpetual anti-hero trying to save the world in his own way. Or an evil bastard trying to rule the world. Or just a guy with a personal vendetta against the Hylden lord. It’s not clear. Other than that series, he’s probably most well-known for doing the voice for Teyrn Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins and Admiral Han’gerrel vas Neema in Mass Effect 2 and 3. His voice is simply amazingly punchable, which makes it all the more satisfying when you actually get to punch his character in Mass Effect 3.

So, to sum up, I think the conclusion here is that we should all want to punch Simon Templeton, but not actually do it.

Toodles.

onsdag 5 februari 2020

I could make you care!

Care.

Game developers want to make you care.

They want you to feel a connection with the world and the characters in it, so that you’ll feel that you are part of the world they have created.

They suck at this.

Whether it is because of laziness or just gross incompetence can be debated, but what is evident is that developers tend to display an impressive lack of knowledge of what makes us care. As is my way, I shall be tearing down a game that perfectly exemplifies this. My victim tonight? Fallout 4!

Mind you, I regard Fallout 4 as one of the best games in the world. This is not a (conscious) attempt at trashing the game, it’s just a case of it having the most egregious example of this nonsense I could think of.

They use a baby. It’s that cheap. At the start, you tickle the baby, your spouse dies when the baby is kidnapped, and you spend most of the game looking for the baby. But there is no reason whatsoever to care. I understand what Bethesda are trying to do here; they can’t be bothered to get into what makes people tick, so they intend to hitch a ride on the human instinct to protect infants. It doesn’t work, and here’s why.

Firstly, the so called “baby” looks like a creepy loaf of play-dough. What you have to realize about the automatic human affection for infants is that it actually requires an infant, and that abomination certainly isn’t it. There’s always the issue of the uncanny valley when depicting humans in media, and infants aren’t easier in this regard, they are more difficult! We regard them as more adorable and lovely, but that only makes it worse when they’re all wrong. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that movies and games that want to scare you always tend to contain demonic or zombified children. Letting us see that useless piece of clay won’t endear us to it in any way.

Secondly, they let the next step rely completely on the first one. In it, your spouse, a person you’ve interacted with for all of 58 seconds, is shot and your play-dough “baby” is stolen. It’s inevitable; since nr. 1 fails, nr. 2 goes down the drain, as it well might. We walk through the game with the character constantly whining about how he/she is searching for their child. But you don’t actually do much to find him. Fallout 4 is just a terrible environment for this particular type of story. “Woe is me, my son is lost, I need to find him! But first, I’m off to find some paint for the inside wall of Diamond city.”. In open-world games, the developers tend to tailor the game to that setting; you might run around gathering allies for a war or trying to find clues to ancient mysteries. These stories allow for you to go around doing various tasks, meeting people, uncovering secrets. But it doesn’t allow for hurriedly searching for your infant son!

But number 3 is the one that shows up to completely kneecap the whole thing. It’s when you get to the Institute and find out that your son was actually abducted some 60 years ago, and is now an aging man. Add to that the fact that said aging man is dying from cancer and wants you to succeed him as the head of the organization that kidnapped him from the beginning. There’s a lot to unpack here. You’re suddenly face to face with someone who is your son but is a complete stranger who has no actual connection to the infant you were looking for. How is a human being supposed to feel an emotional bond with this old man you’ve never met before? Fact of the matter is, the Shaun you were looking for, the infant who was kidnapped and needed to be saved, hasn’t existed for many years. Instead you’re faced with the leader of the faction that has clear as day been presented as the bad guys thus far in the game.

Bethesda are just so comically bad at this. First they try to pluck your heart strings with the cheap trick of using a “baby”, then they drop that in favour of ordering you to care about an old man in charge of the evil faction! You’ve been trying to find and rescue him from his kidnappers, all the while he was sitting pretty in the Institute, grateful to his kidnappers for having “rescued” him, as he puts it. Okay, so the main character was robbed of experiencing their only child’s whole lifetime, but the Institute were nice to his son, so there’s no need for the main character to be upset.

“Ah”, you comment, forgetting that I’ve told you to shut up numerous times, “I see you’re upset, doesn’t that mean you care?”

I’m not upset at the Institute, or Shaun for that matter. I’m pissed at Bethesda for creating a story that is absolute bullshit, especially in this type of game. It’s like it’s carefully tailored to make us give no shit whatsoever about the main story. Heck, the Institute, their methods, and their goals are nuanced and interesting. The dynamics between the different factions and what they want to achieve is complex and doesn’t just make it a clear-cut “good or bad” plot.

Oh, you think it works as a sort of depressing revelation? Come on, this is Fallout; the series where there’s a vault entirely populated by clones of a guy named Gary, all capable only of attacking you and screaming “GAAAAAARRRRYYYY!”. This isn’t some Greek tragedy, it’s too silly for that. There’s a time and place for such a story. Fallout ain’t it.

In the end, there just isn’t a single reason to give half a fuck about the Shaun-angle. It’s pointless. The game could not only make do without it, the game would actually be a lot better without it.

Don’t try to fuck up my favourite game, Bethesda.

onsdag 15 januari 2020

In New Vegas!

Lately, I have spent a lot of time playing New Vegas.

Wait, not quite right; what I’ve spent the most time doing is caring about New Vegas. What do I mean by that? Well, what the hell do you think the point of this post is?!

*breathes deeply*

Anyway, I tend to get stuck on games; playing them as much as I possibly can until I’m done with them. In general, that means either until the game is finished or, in case of Bethesda Games, I grow bored with them. Point is, I have a very easy time engaging in games. But New Vegas doesn’t just engage me, it makes me care. It makes me care about the decisions I make, about the characters I meet, about the enemies I mow down.

I’ve tried to deconstruct exactly why that is. The method I’ve employed for that is to make a comparison to other games.

In Skyrim, for instance, I can massacre the stormcloaks if I side with the empire or vice versa, but I don’t care. Those soldiers are little more than groups of pixels to be demolished. And that goes for really any enemy; bandits, beasts, even dragons. Perhaps it has to do with said interchangeability; if you side with either faction, you’ll be butchering the others in the same forts, in the exact same way. One side doesn’t have distinct locales or methods.

Meanwhile, in New Vegas, the fiends, for instance, are situated in a vault, and have a very identifiable aesthetic. They’ve got vulgar texts scribbled on walls, mutilated bodies lying around, all the lovely stuff. You know what kind of people you are dealing with just by looking at their camps. Caesar’s Legion tend to have large camps with lots of tents, while the NCR have barracks and bunk beds. As opposed to everyone and their dog, their dog’s uncle, and their dog’s uncle’s bollocks, live in the same early middle-age houses.

For my next trick, say a character from Skyrim whose history and fate you really care about.

None? Thought so.

Now, let’s do the same for New Vegas. The list is pretty darn long. For a start, you’ve got all the companion characters. The are superbly characterized, not just in terms of personality, but in terms of their life experiences. Cass came to be sitting at the bar at the NCR’s Mojave Outpost drinking herself half-blind after her caravan was burned to a crisp by unknown assailants. If you can convince her to come with you, you’ll end up trying to find out who was responsible, and bring them to justice. Along the way, you might pick up bits and pieces of her past, such as the story behind her full name.

Note that I’m very much including the player character in this. They are part of the world. All we know is that they are a courier who was shot in the head. Who knows what adventures they were up to in the past. Sure, the whole vault-dweller fish-out-of-water thingy was fun. The first time. Maybe even the second. But it’s gotten really stale. What was the history of this character? Oh, they just had a boring life in a vault. The end. The vault dwellers are a known quantity, and they don’t belong in the world they are kicked into. That makes immersion hard.

As an example of this point, I’d like to use the Elder Scrolls games. Again. There, you always wake up a prisoner of some fashion. It’s always the same deal in every game. But you are a part of the world. You had a life in Tamriel before you were imprisoned, a life the player is free to imagine. You could imagine you having a past that will come and haunt you one day, as actually happens in one of the DLCs to New Vegas.

Another thing that might contribute is the fact that New Vegas is rather…uncompromising. The moment I’m thinking of is when an officer is worried about the mental wellbeing of one of his rangers, because while in captivity with a group of raiders, she was raped. And you’re not in charge of fixing her, just finding a way to convince her to seek treatment. It might be hypocritical to be shocked by this when it’s a game where you kill a ridiculous number of people, but the fact of the matter is that war is run-of-the-mill in gaming. It’s what we’re expecting. The psychological consequences of someone being raped isn’t.

Of course, I won’t pretend like it’s not pertinent that it is a setting that appeals much more to me than the Viking stuff that makes up Skyrim. I feel that the developers did a stellar job with integrating the setting of the old west with that of the post-apocalyptic world. Contrary to Fallout 3, the world in New Vegas is one where the people aren’t just walking around in rubble, they are trying to rebuild civilization, and have reached that to a degree. Heck, they’ve gotten so far that they’ve got trouble with currencies. The NCR have their own dollar bills, but they’re worth very little as people don’t have confidence in it. The Legion denarius, however, are worth much more because they are gold coins that are backed up by an actual valuable good.

All in all, it’s an impressive game, especially given what they had to work with; the least stable engine in the history of gaming, and character models that look like stroke victims.

Now if only they could not remake it.

tisdag 31 december 2019

New Year's Eve!

I thought we should end this year on a positive note, so I'd like to talk for a small bit about one of my favorite game series; the Anno-series. It consists of a number of games with the name "Anno" followed by a year whose numbers add up to 9. That is, Anno 1701, Anno 1404, and so forth.

The games in the series are as follows in order of release:

Anno 1602
Anno 1503
Anno 1701
Anno 1404
Anno 2070
Anno 2205
Anno 1800

I'd say start no earlier than 1701, because the two older games are starting to look their age.

The latest game in the series is Anno 1800, and I haven't played that yet. Looking forward to that in the new year!

All of the games are in the style of real time strategy mixed with a large portion of city-building. You build and manage your settlements on different islands, while also conducting trade, diplomacy, and war with other factions. A lot of the concept is based on the fact that a single island can't possibly produce all the wares needed to feed, clothe, and satisfy the whims of, the population. Thusly, you have to branch out from your starting island and establish trade routes between them.

If I were to describe the feel of the games in general it would be...serene and stressful. Yeah, that's contradictory enough! Thing is, the music, the ambient sounds, the look of the waves, it's all just so soothing. It makes it the kind of games you can just sit and chill with for ages, picking away at the various things necessary to build your own little nation.

But it's also stressful, because you'll have about nine thousand different things to keep track of at any one time, and a whole lot can do straight to shit if you neglect even one of them. Additionally, it's not the kind of games where you can just take things as they come, you better think ahead. If an enemy manages to land an army on your island, you've actually got a big problem, as they can cock up a whole lot of things for you. If it gets that far, you've failed, because you should have stopped that from ever happening. When you start delivering luxury goods to your populace, you've better be damn sure that supply line is solid and has enough supply of that goods right from the start, or your economy can be fucked.

Anno 1404 is so far my absolute favourite. 2070 is more modern, but some of the changes have made it less interesting. 2205 is the most futuristic one, but that has crammed so many mechanics into it that the whole idea of spreading out over islands and trading is gone in favour of having isolated regions where you simply build one settlement each. The whole aesthetic of 1404 is wonderful, from the way the towns look to the sound design, to the interface.

I do wholeheartedly recommend anyone to try out this series, 1404 in particular. It's intellectually challenging, but fair, and thinking things through in advance allows you to avoid a whole lot of pitfalls.

To sum up; buy Anno 1404, and have a happy new year!

fredag 13 december 2019

This is not a Fable!

To entertain myself, I have now been playing the remastered edition of Fable. Yes, that Fable; the one from 2004.

For those not in the know about these things, the game was perhaps most famous for the job Peter Molyneux, the head of Lionhead Studios, did in hyping it to the stars. He claimed that it would be the most beautiful, revolutionary, immersive gaming experience ever. A game that would allow you to experience a living world where you are free to interact with other characters however you want.

The game that was actually released was…not a good game. In fact, it was shit.

Now, I don’t think it would be fair to judge the game by the lunacy of Mr. Molyneux, and so I prefer to judge it on its own merits. That said, it was a curiously unfortunate thing for Molyneux to focus on hyping up the immersion factor in particular. See, there is none.

What do you think about when I say the word “immersion” in a gaming context? A living world with different people going about their lives? Being able to interact and converse with NPCs? Good voice acting?

The developers of Fable clearly put a lot of work and effort into making sure the game has absolutely none of those.

The NPCs are all the same, and every single one speaks in ridiculous phony british accents. They can have different facial hair, or a different hat, but they don’t have personalities to begin with, let alone different ones. The extent of your interactions with them is using stupid emotes, like flexing, laughing, or belching. You can’t talk to them, you can’t hold conversations with them. You don’t even have a voice. And I’m not talking in the way most player characters in RPGs don’t speak but you still choose lines of dialogue. You simply just stand there gormlessly. You can marry them, but why the hell would you ever want to?!

I suppose we have to get to the combat, but I don’t want to. It is atrocious.

It’s a pretty standard affair; you lock onto enemies one by one, and you attack. If you want to experience the joy of “Whack, whack, whack, bigger whack”, you can use melee. If you want to shoot slowly from afar, you can use a bow. If you want to die, you can use magic. Seriously, magic sucks in this game! It does less damage than whanking things with a sword, but you have a limited mana pool.

The targeting mechanic is a topic all of its own. It’s not good. Not good at all. It’s absolutely terrible. It’s a pretty standard affair; you pull the left trigger to lock onto an enemy, and you proceed to turn him into mulch. Putting a spanner in the works of this is the fact that whether or not you hit your enemy is not so much dependent on your relative position and direction to your target, than whether or not you prayed to the correct gods this morning. When the time has come and your enemy lies dead, if you don’t release the trigger you will automatically target the next being in the vicinity, without any regard whatsoever for their attitude to you. Yes, I’ve killed quite a few peasants in my day because the targeting system decided that they were the greatest threat and not the huge demonic beast slightly behind them.

I suppose that should be enough. It should, but it isn’t.

When you knock down an enemy with a strong blow, you just have to wait for them to slowly stand up again before you’ve even able to damage them.

On top of it all, your melee attacks have a wind-up time; it takes a moment to swing your sword before it connects. Naturally the enemies have no such limitation; they can attack instantly with no delay. Because if there is one thing that aids your immersion more than anything it is the feeling that the enemies play by different rules than you do.

The story is barely worth talking about, because it’s so bog standard. Your village is burned down when you’re a child, and you grow up to be a great hero who defeats the great evil and saves the day. During this journey you find that your mother and sister actually survived. I’m not leaving things out for comic effect, that is actually all that the story is about.

And the game world? There’s even less to say about it; tiny little areas that you can “roam” around for 2 minutes. It’s linear. The line goes back and forth, but there is no open world to explore.

I purchased this game not that long ago, and this is my very first playthrough. Have no doubt; there won’t be another. I actually had fairly high expectations. The game had gotten rather good reviews from all the review sites I frequent, and I was perfectly aware that the hype over it was nonsensical. Add to that the fact that Fable 2 was an excellent game, and it was all around a dour experience.

I’ll be back with a review of Fable 2 once I’m done with that. Maybe it’ll turn out to be shit too.

Toodles.

lördag 2 november 2019

End of the Trilogy!

After I finished the last post, I realized that I had just about enough rage pent up to squeeze out one more issue, making this a trilogy.

The story makes no damn sense whatsoever.

At the end of Mass Effect 1, the council was saved, they understood the threat of the reapers, and Shepard was about to go out into the galaxy to find a way to stop said reapers.

Then, at the start of Mass Effect 2, the Normandy was just out hunting spare geth for no reason whatsoever, and the council had "dismissed that claim" about the reapers.

Now we get to the start off Mass Effect 3, and Shepard has just spent the last few months in house arrest, doing shit all to stop the reapers, even though he knows from the DLC Arrival in Mess Affect 2 that they would be arriving in a matter of months.

This is the first thing that bothers me; did Shepard just sit in house arrest and do nothing for these months? Is that the Shepard that we came to know from Mass Effect 1? No, it isn't. The Shepard we knew would've broken out of the building, stolen a ship, and went off to pursue whatever leads he could find.

But he just didn't.

Then the reapers attack earth, and Shepard has to flee to...do what exactly? I understand that he has to leave earth; he won't do much good if he's dead, but what's the plan?

Well, if they had just said that there was no plan, that he was going to try to link up with Hackett and go from there, that would've made sense. But that's not what he does. He starts down a path that makes no sense; that he'll gather a fleet and come back to liberate earth. That's the plan that he sticks with for the rest of the game.

That plan makes is stupid.

Earth has no actual strategic importance when it comes to stopping the reapers. Even if they could conjure up a fleet large enough to defeat the reapers on and around earth, which they naturally can't, they would've gained exactly piddly squat regarding a final solution to the reaper problem. They bang on about how force of arms alone has no chance whatsoever of beating them, but then completely ignore that.

Prepare now to have Shepard fly all over the galaxy to gather a fleet to return to earth. Yup, that's what he spends 90% of the game doing. It's not critical to beating the reapers, and it's not going to be possible anyway, but that's what he spends the majority of the time doing. For no fucking reason.

Anyway, a few seconds after leaving earth Shepard is contacted by Hackett, the bigshot high-admiral of basically all the remaining human fleets, and told to go to Mars. On Mars they find plans for a macguffin that will defeat the reapers.

That's right; we're not 20 minutes into the game yet, and we already have the solution we need. Nevermind the fact that nobody knows what it does, how it works, or how to build it, it'll solve everything somehow.

But prepare to forget about it, because it will be built entirely off screen, in an unspecified location, with no direct input from you. Now and then Hackett will phone you up and go "Well, we're still building that thing. Hackett out.".

So, explain to me how, during an ongoing reaper invasion, they are able to funnel enormous amounts of personnel and materials to an unspecified location without the reapers finding out about it. Remember, the reapers are so good at finding info about the civilizations they destroy that they are able to basically wipe out all but the smallest traces of them from the galaxy. Yet somehow they can't find the macguffin.

Back to Shepard; after leaving Mars he leaves the solar system using a mass relay. A what? Of, right; those devices that allow interstellar travel that are the very first thing the reapers shut down when they take the Citadel, in order to isolate enemy forces and prevent them from gathering.

"B-b-but..." you stammer, "...the reapers didn't capture the Citadel...".

Case in fucking point. Why the flying shitstain didn't they do that? Oh sure, their little gambit with Sovereign failed, but they could just head to the Citadel and capture it. But instead they go straight for all the homeworlds of the major races for...some reason. There is literally nothing stopping them from simply taking the Citadel and shutting down the mass relays, which would completely stop everything that Shepard and co. do throughout the game!

*sigh*

You know what, I fucking give up. I had other points to make about how the story is nonsensical, but it can't get dumber than this. The villains can just do this one thing that will guarantee their victory and prevent and attempts at thwarting them, which would instantly fail the entire quest of the main character, and the reason they don't do that is...they don't feel like it?

The writers didn't even pretend to think up a reason for it, they just completely ignored it. It's like a stormtrooper caught Leia at the start of A New Hope, before she had the time to input the plans into R2-D2, but just stood there and did nothing to stop her, for no reason.

Screw this game. They took a promising new IP and pissed all over it.

Bioware, screw you.