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Like most of the gaming world, I'm playing Mass Effect 2 right now, and it is awesome. The story, combat, and structure are all even better than the original – which is high praise from me, considering how much I love Mass Effect (it's part of my 1000 Club). So far, there is only one area of the game that falls short – and, by "falls short," I mean "totally sucks" – the mineral scanning. Here's how it works: You approach a planet, initiate a scan, and hold the left trigger to start getting readings. Then, you spend the next 20 minutes meticulously (and at a glacial pace) combing the planet's grid, keeping an eye out for spikes in a seismosgraph that indicate the presence of a mineral vein. When you find one, you send out a probe, collecting some of the resource. Repeat that process about 30 times until you've tapped a planet's minerals. Do this until you can't bear it anymore, and then you can return to the main story. Sound fun? No, because it isn't. Eventually, you can purchase an improvement for your mineral scanner, which upgrades its speed from Painfully Slow to Comically Slow. Even after the upgrade, the whole process just sucks at a slightly faster rate. That's efficiency, baby."Joker, set a course for crushing boredom."I guess mineral scanning could technically qualify as gameplay, but it just feels tacked-on and incongruous with the rest of the Mass Effect 2 experience. Everything else I do in this game – whether it's side quests or main story missions – feeds into the mythology of Commander Shepard and builds the fiction of the Mass Effect universe. The pacing is spot-on, the action is fun, and the characters are compelling...but, after a mission or two, I need to take an extended break to go play hide-and-seek with iridium on some god-forsaken rock out in deep space. I know it sounds like I'm being overly harsh, especially considering that the first Mass Effect also caught some flak for the way it handled exploration and mineral gathering. But here's the key difference between the two games: In Mass Effect 1, it's optional. In the first game, if you just want to drive your Mako straight to your mission objective, you can. All you miss by not collecting the minerals is a bit of money (which is hilariously abundant in the second half of the game anyway), and the UNC: Valuable Minerals sidequest (which offers no particularly cool reward). In Mass Effect 2, harvesting minerals is inextricably tied to your upgrades. Want to do more damage with your sniper rifle? You need minerals. Want to improve your biotic abilities? Get out there and get some minerals. Want to upgrade the Normandy's armor so it doesn't get torn to shreds? Oh, you know you're gonna need some minerals!"Commander, I'm researching ways to make mineral scanning suck less. Results are not promising."Guh. I'm just disappointed that, in a game that maintains such a high level of quality and polish in all other areas, this awful mechanic got pinched off right in the middle of the progression system. If I could ignore it, I would...but I shouldn't have to forsake powering up my weapons and abilities just to avoid a poorly designed menial chore.What do you think? Am I just over-reacting? Does anyone else out there hate this part of the game as much as I do?
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Mineral scanning is boring, but personally, I still think you're overreacting. It's worth pointing out -- and you may not realize this yet depending on how far you are -- that all those upgrades you mentioned are purely optional. Unlike most RPGs, you can rather easily make it through the game with base weapons and powers that haven't been upgraded like crazy.
If the upgrades vastly changed or improved the gameplay experience, that would be one thing, but they really don't. I treated them more as something to explore on subsequent playthroughs rather than a necessity for enjoying the game my first time through.
Also, mineral scanning is prime podcast-listening time!
I really havent noticed hw terrible it was. Maybe ill look again
I won't be able to answer your question until next Friday when I actually get the game but I have heard the Mako has been removed from the game all together. Is it just me or is that horrible? I loved the Mako I just wish that they had improved the mechanics instead of completely scrapping it.
Also also: someone else who's playing the PC version may want to confirm this, but I've heard that the PC version of scanning is WAY faster and easier. Maybe too much to hope that BioWare could patch in faster scanning for 360 also?
I agree, my best advice is to load up some music or maybe jump on hulu. Then just try and convince yourself that you're having fun.
Is mineral scanning fun in real life?
I mean, go watch "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" - you're lucky that half your crew doesn't go crazy and try to kill the other half out of insane paranoia for their share of the goods every time. Just saying.
i dont know why u bash a great game for an included mini-game, whether u like it or not it; isnt neccesary, so if u dont like dont do it especially not for the entire planet/galaxy. u people r morons, it was so much better in the first where u press a; Survey, now that was a fun mini-game. if u people have such a problem w/ great games with not so great mini-games, how bout u make ur own game full of mini-games so u can sit there and complain how bad the mini-games u made were. how perfect does a game need to be to have u guys drop a "steamin pile" (ur opinion) on it, i bet there isnt a game in history that u havent complained something, why, cuz u have no talent to create so u tear down something someone else built. and havent u seen that u just get money, and in a game where money becomes useless for the fact that there is so much of it and so little use for it
He was simply expressing an opinion. A bad part of an exceptional game isn't any better because of the greatness around it. No need to bash.
The above comment was directed at PharaohKrakFeet.
Phil, I'm a little surprised to hear you defending it so ardently. As someone who grew up on RPGs, I feel like I've been trained to maximize my combat effectiveness to the greatest degree possible. If a new sword has better stats than my sword, I equip the new sword. While the new sword may not be strictly necessary (I've beaten the first Final Fantasy using garbage starting gear), it is put in front of players as a way to improve their performance. And, in many games (and RPGs in particular), much of the fun lies in this progression from lowly warrior to a powered-up, god-like wrecking machine.
The research projects in Mass Effect 2 may not "vastly" improve the gameplay experience, but they are upgrades, presented to players as goals they are expected to work toward. In this context, saying that they're optional and unnecessary seems more like willful neglect of one of the game's main features.
Also, to be clear to everyone else: I'm not bashing Mass Effect 2 as a whole. I love this game. I just don't love this PART of the game. There's a difference between those two things.
I'm not sure how people can justify this part of the game. I guess I can understand what Pharoahkrafeet is trying to say (seems like projecting)but the truth is that mining is dumb. Who makes a game and says "Hey lets throw something slow and boring into the mix. Also i think it should help you level up your weapons, and lets not have any really notable effect to said upgrading." Mass Effect 2 mini games should go the way of the mako!
"Ok team time to bypass this door. We got the arrow over here and.. SHOOT!! I hit the battery."
I think it moves slow but I don't hate it. Of course, I've only been able to log in maybe 4 hours of gameplay since Tuesday so maybe I'm just not sick of it yet. I do think I prefer the Mako exploring segments over this system, though. At least with the Mako it gives you a feeling of exploration and discovery; this new scanning thing feels like demo for Minesweeper 2.
Considering that most people working on this site, and indeed on the Game Informer magazine cousin to this site, have been researching, analyzing, and experiencing the industry more closely than we have, for a MUCH longer period of time, and much more consistently than us, I think it's safe to assume that they're in a better position to evaluate somethings quality than you or I.
That said, Joe simply stated a small problem he had with a miniscule portion of the game. Calm. The hell. Down.
Dylan Snyder seems to always know how to phrase things. Pharaohkrakfeet, you have been owned.
Maybe they will have a patch by the time I get a 360.
Mineral scanning is much faster on the PC - but only because they screwed up mouse control. Most PC gamers have gaming mice these days, with DPI counts ranging anywhere from 2000 to 5600. Whoever tested the PC version of Mass Effect and setup the mouse controls (there are only three sensitivity options - low, med, high - it's just ridiculous) must have been using an ancient mouse with only 400 DPI because even on the lowest mouse sensitivity setting, a slight flick of my mouse on the lowest DPI setting will send the camera flying around the room.
You end up having to hack the .ini file to change the mouse sensitivity in any meaningful way.
Jeez, it's dead in here. I think it goes like this: "BIOWARE IS NOT GOOD! THEY MAKE POOR QUALITY GAMES, I SAY! RUBBISH! MASSIVE EFFECT IS FOR DUMB-DUMBS AND IS NOT GOOD EITHER! AND MICROSOFT CREDITS ARE GREAT TOO!"
Light fuse, get away.
While I'm not particularly fond of scanning I do like it. Although I wish Bioware improved upon the Mako and planet exploration rather than add this.