This is yet another time I have heard about how much better The Walking Dead delivers on the promise of "choices with real consequences" then the Mass Effect series.
I have just finished my playthrough of The Walking Dead. Sticking to "this is my story" way of playing I do not intend to replay it to check other storytelling branches. But I am a curious person, so I have checked walkingdead.wikia.com to find out what have I missed.
Guess what - not much. Mosty extra dialog lines.
Each time the story branches it quickly goes back on the track. In Ep. 1 you choose to save Shawn, and leave Duck to the walkers? Well we will need Duck later on, so nonono Duck will live anyway, and Shawn will die. In Ep. 4 Ben is dead, and there is noone to fall into the alleyway, so Kenny can commit zombie suicide? Fear not - Christa will be boxed in the same alleway trying to retrieve the radio - Kenny will die trying to help her. And the conversation with the Camper/Stranger near the very end? You didn't sack his wagon in Ep.2? Doesn't matter... his reaction is the same!
And the ending.... well there is only one...... not even in different colours....just one.
Does it make Walking Dead less impactfull? Not at all, few times I was nearly crying, burying the boy who starved to death, next to his beloved dog almost made me stop playing.
So what is the difference? The promise, and the context.
It is easy to agree with the fact that in the face of zombie apocalypse the fate is predetermined. Everyone will die, and you can kick and scream in disagreement, but it wont help.
This is what you expect from the Walking Dead franchise.
Bioware's marketing has created huge expectations (maybe not even consulting the designers), on which they simply couldn't deliver. Aditionally over the course of the adventure player is tricked into believing that Shephard can make a difference. Hence the disappointment.
Ancient greek Moira helps modern game designers :)
One wants a real "story that has been tailored to how you play"? Then one needs to wait for AI to happen so it can create the story on the fly, or somebody would need to crowdsource the plot creation for a game (sounds Molyneux-like, isnt' it?)
I liked the honesty of Eidos people when at the end of DeusEx: HR they have implemented the autosave right before the final decision. It was an invite "Go ahead, make your choice, then reload, and check the other outcomes, those are there for your enjoyment and curiosity".
Personally I was OK with the original ending of ME. I have interpreted it the same way as I have interpreted the case of Walking Dead - hey solider boy, you can do whatever you wish, shoot as many...whatever you shoot... as you wish - the cogs of history are turning, and you won't change that.
Hey... isn't it what most greek tragedies were about?
And many of the Shakespeare's plays?
Nothing to be ashamed of :D