THQ core games boss Danny Bilson has played through BioWare's Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 - and is very complimentary about both titles' "story delivery system". But when it comes to their core narrative path, he's slightly less full of praise.
Danny Bilson told Edge issue 226 that while he's a big BioWare fan, he thinks the ME games feature "every single sci-fi movie cliché mashed together" - and that the studio "hasn't told a good story since Knights of the Old Republic on Xbox 1".
Bilson is helping ready THQ's own narrative-driven epic, Homefront, for release next week on 360, PS3 and PC.
He said: "I drove straight through Mass Effect 1 and 2 back to back. The first one I started, and I thought, God damn it, they have the best story-delivery system. But for me, I loved Knights Of The Old Republic, and they have not told a good story since then.
He added: "Those Mass Effect games are just every single sci-fi movie cliché mashed together. I enjoy the progression through the games, and I had ownership over a couple of characters I liked, but there's nothing in there I remember.
"Honestly, I can barely recall the story. I've seen every beat of those games in sci-fi movies hundreds of times before. But don't get me wrong, I'm a big BioWare fan - I will play every game they release."
In the same interview Bilson told Edge he "can't think of one" game that has interested him in a narrative sense.
"That's a place we have not cracked yet, as an industry," he said. "There have been fantastic story moments in games, there are stories that I think are better than others. But if I try to think of a game in which the story has blown my mind. I don't think I've had that experience.
"Games aren't about story first," he added. "They're about interactive experience - the story is there to make you care about the mechanics, to make it more emotional.
"There have been some cool examples. Ico, I think, is art. But if I separate the story from the experience it doesn't blow my mind like, say, one of Stephen Hunter's thriller novels. But it's not impossible."
Read CVG's recent interview with Homefront developer Kaos to see just how seriously they're taking the game's story - and how they're borrowing from the best.