I have to start this blog off by admitting that I have slipped. My plan was to keep you informed of what was happening in Commander Shepard’s universe as I slipstreamed through it; that hasn’t exactly happened. My plan was to get as close as possible as I could to the end of the game, and then complete all of the side-missions and expansions before concluding the story. Unfortunately I overshot my save opportunity and am now locked into the story inexorably and, through a series of spoilers that I won’t reveal here, unable to dock my ship on the Citadel to start new missions.
Before I give my thoughts on Mass Effect as a game, I do have to rant a little bit about this save problem. In fact, I don’t think I’m the first one, since the guys on the Bombcast had this same problem with Fallout 3. In a game as huge as Mass Effect that has more intricate sub-plots than you would ever care to shake a stick at, this weird meshing of open-world existence and linear progression storytelling just doesn’t work. The issue may seem like a bit of a nitpick, but it really has dulled the experience for me, and I’m sure for others; though I was lucky enough to do plenty of side-questing the first time around and thus got a healthy dose of Mass Effect’s greatness, I can imagine that there are those that were so engrossed in the overarching storyline that they just burned through those missions as fast as they could and, after completing them, put down the game forever. Sadly, that means that they never had the chance to know what they were missing. You can’t even continue to play the game after you’ve completed the final chapter, which doesn’t make any sense; the way the story leaves off it is completely reasonable for you to have a continued interaction with the world post-plot conclusion. Simply because Shepard’s foes have been vanquished doesn’t mean that there are no bad people left in the traverse.
Despite all my ranting on Mass Effect’s save system, it is without a doubt an amazing game that deserved every Game of the Year award it got. The plot, while not taking a hugely creative path, is masterfully told. The combat, while reminiscent of Bioware’s previous work, is a solid foundation for that story to be built upon. The dialogue system was (and is) a complete revelation, transforming long conversations from an exercise in menu-surfing monotony to an organic, fluid and most of all engaging affair. The characters are flawed and believable; one important player borders on out-and-out “species-ism” in their dialogue while another tests the boundaries of ethics in his pursuit for justice. I give Mass Effect a 4.5/5.
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about the expansion in these blogs. That’s because I foolishly locked myself into the story before I could explore them. I have restarted with the same character just to delve more deeply into the side quests and may posts blogs on them, depending on the reaction I get from this series.
‘Till Next Time,