Shut the X Up About Your Problems

On I go down the pathways (okay, it may be a single pathway, I’m unsure) of Mass Effect 3. It’s been relatively pleasing, a way to pass time that doesn’t require to read my current book (Great Ideas of the 20th Century or L’Étranger) or work on the new game (undisclosed for now, but a no-sex sex game). It’s a game with an epic narrative of universe-saving proportions. It’s a game where people like to talk about what’s going on. Quite a lot. It’s a game where I would quite like them to shut their pie-holes most of the time. Lucky there’s the X button.

In the Mass Effects the X button can be used to skip the voice acting for the current line of dialogue. It’s pretty much a blessing. It’s not that the voice acting is bad – it’s really pretty great, and Jennifer Hale’s job as the female Shepard is, of course, rightly acknowledged as something that makes the game worth playing. On the other hand, Christ they do talk a lot. And it’s not that interesting or well written. I’m sorry, it may be up near the top of the game for game writing, but, let’s face it, that means next to nothing in terms of dramatic portrayals of situations.

So the X button it is. Skip skip skip. But the best thing about the dialogue in the game is that they appear to have very nicely scripted it with the X button in mind. People tend to say the most pertinent two or three words immediately, and then ramble on after that to “add feeling” or whatever, like one of those horrible colour commentators in an American football game. Thus, when you’re skipping through, providing you pause a beat each time, you hear this fantastically abbreviated but still intelligible version of the conversation in question. It’s actually pretty remarkable. It sounds a bit like this:

“Did you defuse the bomb? -”

“Yes, I -”

“Thank god, we -”

“Now Earth is safe and -”

“It’s true, now -”

“What about the Reaper base? Last -”

“They’re mounting an attack with -”

“We have to attack by -”

“Agreed, it’s -”

“Let’s do it.”

And it takes like 10 seconds to hear it out instead of a minute or two, with no real loss of information, just the loss of slack jawed boredom crossed with creeping embarrassment about being involved in such another florid exchange. Perfect.

In the end, it’s most imp-


16 April 2012
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