**Some ME1 SPOILERS to follow - though the game is older than several of my kids, I still thought I should warn you.**
Well, that's a wrap. Mass Effect is in the bag. I drove the Mako into the ground, quite literally. I shot Saren in the face (well, SOMEBODY did). A massive space battle was had, and I finally got to tangle with a Reaper, in more ways than one. Overall, I had a great experience with the game. (I'm currently debating playing through one more time before I head to Mass Effect 2, which should tell you a lot.) And I'm especially happy that I managed to deftly avoid plot spoilers, despite the game's age. Maybe I missed just the right episodes of the Bombcast, I don't know.
I have to tell you, a lot about the Ilos mission was underwhelming. I thought we had to fight our way into heavily-contested enemy space. When we got there? Not so much. Sure, we were all on the bridge ACTING frantic, but in reality it seemed pretty easy to dump us down there. The whole Joker "I can do it" thing also didn't have the gravity they had hoped, this he was about to take some Death Star shot sans the targeting computer.
Thankfully, we found that nice AI to explain us much of the story of the Protheans, how they died and what they could have done differently. I really liked the explanation of how the Reapers pulled off the coup time after time. I suppose they never allowed a civilization to get advanced ENOUGH to really study the Citadel. I do find it weird that every civ was apparently just ok with this race of aliens (the keepers) who wouldn't talk to them and just ran this mysterious space station. I suppose you don't look a gift space station in the mouth, eh? Did they never try to study them at all? Nobody really says anything about the keepers other than "just leave them alone." They gave the keepers carte blanche to have an ulterior motive or purpose.
One other thing that really bugs me that I mentioned before. Saren's Reaper ship. So one of your double O, untouchable agents shows up with some weird alien ship, the likes of which nobody has ever seen, and you just let him have it and tool around the galaxy in it? Nobody said anything? No, "I know you're a reaper and all, but we're gonna have to look at that ship." Saren is like an undercover cop that suddenly started showing up high to work every day, and nobody wondered if he was getting into the evidence locker.
Still, plot holes aside the story was a lot of fun. One of my only personal story regrets is deciding to Save the Council. They treated me like dirt the whole game, but I didn't want the renegade points in case it threw off any achievements. (And in my heart, I knew it was the right thing to do.) It's good to know the Alliance can kill a single reaper ship with their entire fleet. Come to think of it, that might be a problem.
Here is where I admit a mistake of my own. I played the game on "casual" difficulty. My intention was to just get through ME1 so I could see if ME2 is as great as people say. I had also heard a bit that maybe the combat wasn't worth playing at a high difficulty. I have to say, though, casual was TOO easy at the end. I did get to level 50 in the course of the final sequence, as I had spent a lot of time exploring every planet I could. I also had 9999999 credits.
Now for an irritating aside. I didn't like being railroaded in the story without warning. I didn't realize that doing the last of the "big three" story missions was going to lock me out of completing so much. I've mentioned before that I'm a completionist, and ME1 kinda screwed me there. And the way it was done, I thought things would go back to "normal" for me and the Citadel at some point and I could get that stuff done. So I didn't go back to an earlier save to finish off the 4 or 5 Citadel-centric missions I was still working on. I love how in games like Fallout: New Vegas they give you ample warning. "You're about to enter the Endgame here, clean up any messes before you head out!" So even though I visited every system, I had a few unfinished quests at the end, and the Completionist and it's related achievements were out of my grasp. Grrrr.
So back to my over-poweredness by the end. I went through the later sequences of the game like butter. I didn't even have to pay attention to anything, just find the red dots, run up and blast em with my shotgun. Rinse and repeat. No cover, no grenades, no powers outside the occasional barrier. I'm not complaining though, I should have known that Casual + Competionist = Cake Endgame.
So there you have it. Mass Effect 2 is ready and waiting for me, with Mass Effect 3 sitting right behind it on the shelf. So the question is, do I play ME1 one more time before moving on? I missed an awful lot of achievements, which I hate to do, and it would be nice to go all Renegade for a 2nd playthrough. If I really like a game, and I really liked ME1, I will often go for the S Rank. How hard is the S Rank in ME1? It looks to require at least 2 more playthroughs, maybe more. I don't know if I like it that much, though with my knowledge of the story I think I could probably get through it pretty quickly each time.