Mass Effect 1, Decision Making and Blue Chicks

Posted by MattyFTM (14328 posts) -

So, I fucked a blue chick

I've blogged before about how terrible I am at finishing lengthy games. The last reasonably long game I beat was Fable II. And before that I can't even remember the last time I beat a game longer than 15 hours long. I always seem to put the game down for a break when the mechanics get repetitive and then I just never pick it up again. Or in the case of Mass Effect I pick it up again 6 months+ down the line by which time I want to start again from the beginning to refresh my memory of the story and gameplay. I’ve started playing Mass Effect 4 times now. The first time I gave up at the first driving section because the Mako controlled horribly. The second time I got beyond that, but not by much. The third time I gave up halfway through the first Citadel section because I was repeating the same things I had played 2 times before. With everyone talking about Mass Effect 3, I decided to jump back in for a fourth time this week, and I finally played the game to completion!!! This blog started as a rambling stream of thoughts about the game, but I’ve managed to organize it into something vaguely resembling a well organized blog. Expect some spoilerific stuff about ME1. I’m sure few people care about spoilers from a 2007 game this point, but never say I’m not thorough with my spoiler warnings.

What I liked:

I have always loved the Mass Effect universe. It is an amazing sci-fi world with vibrant and unique aliens. It clearly has influences from a bunch of other sci-fi fiction, and it seems to cherry pick the best things and merge them with some unique ideas into a very compelling world. I love the elcor and their slow, emotionless speech. I love the Hanar and their unique turn of phrase. I love the mystery of the Quarians and the Volus, hidden behind their environmental suits. I love the Krogan and their 4 testicles. I love the Salarians, Asari and Turians too. Everything about the world is awesome. It is a well thought out and well realized sci-fi universe. I particularly like how it explores humanity's role in this universe and how the other species view them. I’m a bit of a Star Trek fan, but I’ve never liked the “origins” story of Star Trek. To me, it never adequately explains how Humans went from being the “new guys” on the galactic stage to being the most powerful species in the known galaxy. Mass Effect tells the story of the rise of humanity extremely well, something I find extremely compelling.

The character development is another thing I loved. The writing does a brilliant job of making you feel attached to the characters. Or even the opposite. Take Ashley as an example. I started out indifferent to her. She seemed like a generic soldier character. It wasn’t long before I began to hate her because of her xenophobic views on aliens. I wanted to call her a “xenophobic bitch” and throw her off my ship. But as I talked to her more, I began to understand why she was like that. The story of her grandfather surrendering to a fleet of Turians and how that has held her back during her entire career. It didn’t excuse her borderline racist views, but it helped me understand her and feel far less volatile towards her. I actually felt bad sending her to her death on Virmire. Many of the other characters had compelling backstories and character development too. I particularly found the relationship between Shepard and Liara to be very interesting, and ultimately ended up getting the romantic story with her.

Few games allow the player as much freedom in their decision making as Mass Effect, and it makes for a really compelling experience. There were multiple times where I had to pause and think about my actions and how they would effect the universe, or even just how they would effect Shepard herself. The biggest one to me was probably whether or not to kill the Rachni. Doing so would amount to genocide, but the Rachni had attempted to wipe out the other species in the universe in the past - could they be trusted? I ended up reluctantly saving them, a decision the Council didn’t seem too pleased with. I’m sure I’ll learn of the consequences of that action in Mass Effect 2 and 3.

What I didn’t like:

The actual combat was very lackluster to me. I decided to play as a soldier since it seemed like the most straightforward class, and I mainly wanted to get through the story and didn’t want to have to learn a bunch of techniques in order to advance. The combat went from being infuriatingly hard in the early portion of the game (the Krogan Battlemaster on the Liara mission in the Artemeus Tau cluster was so annoying) to being stupidly easy later on. I’m sure the early game stuff wasn’t helped by me putting all my points into Charm and Intimidate early on to avoid missing out on dialogue options. Either way, towards the end I was just running around gunning dudes down without even taking cover. It only became slightly challenging if I was facing a Geth Destroyer or something similar, but even they weren’t too hard. Even the final boss (the zombie monkey Saren) was easy once I figured out that I had an ability that could revive my team mates. That meant that Liara dying wasn’t the end of the world - I could just revive her and she’d go back to being awesome and help me take him down.

That’s pretty much it. That’s the only real gripe I had with the game. OK, it’s a big problem since you spend large portions of the game fighting dudes, but it was worth putting up with to see the story through to conclusion. The only other thing I can really think of that I disliked was the shops and loot. The loot made the shops pretty pointless because I was finding good items all the time. By the end of the game I had over a million credits left over. I’m sure there was better gear for sale, but I didn’t feel the need to buy any because everything I had seemed fine. If the combat was more compelling, I might have cared more about my gear. So it still ultimately comes back to the combat.

Some other thoughts:

I think I have a problem. I make too many save files. Throughout that game (which took me about 23 hours) I amassed 153 save files. That’s one save every nine minutes. Despite how easy some of the combat was in the late game, I’d still feel compelled to save after every battle in case I died. At times it felt like I was saving after I’d walked 5 yards just because I didn’t want to walk that 5 yards again. I feel like a crazy person for having so many saves.

Also, I want to briefly mention the character creation. I always spend far too long trying to create the perfect character in these kind of games. And I the Mass Effect character creation looks simple and easy to use, but for some reason I found it incredibly hard to make a decent looking character. Ultimately I ended up really happy with my Shepard. She looks better than the default for sure, but it took a lot of effort. Also, the hair looks TERRIBLE in that game. It looks like the hair belongs in a PS2 game.

My Shepard

Anyways, now I’m looking forward to getting to Mass Effect 2. I really want to see how my decisions in this game will effect the universe.I don’t want to jump straight into it since I’m worried I’ll get burnt out on the gameplay. I know ME2 is a big step up gameplay wise, but I still want to have a bit of a break. I think I might read Mass Effect Revelation though. I really want to experience more of the fiction in the universe right now, so reading the first Mass Effect book seems like a good thing to do.

Moderator
#1 Posted by MattyFTM (14328 posts) -

So, I fucked a blue chick

I've blogged before about how terrible I am at finishing lengthy games. The last reasonably long game I beat was Fable II. And before that I can't even remember the last time I beat a game longer than 15 hours long. I always seem to put the game down for a break when the mechanics get repetitive and then I just never pick it up again. Or in the case of Mass Effect I pick it up again 6 months+ down the line by which time I want to start again from the beginning to refresh my memory of the story and gameplay. I’ve started playing Mass Effect 4 times now. The first time I gave up at the first driving section because the Mako controlled horribly. The second time I got beyond that, but not by much. The third time I gave up halfway through the first Citadel section because I was repeating the same things I had played 2 times before. With everyone talking about Mass Effect 3, I decided to jump back in for a fourth time this week, and I finally played the game to completion!!! This blog started as a rambling stream of thoughts about the game, but I’ve managed to organize it into something vaguely resembling a well organized blog. Expect some spoilerific stuff about ME1. I’m sure few people care about spoilers from a 2007 game this point, but never say I’m not thorough with my spoiler warnings.

What I liked:

I have always loved the Mass Effect universe. It is an amazing sci-fi world with vibrant and unique aliens. It clearly has influences from a bunch of other sci-fi fiction, and it seems to cherry pick the best things and merge them with some unique ideas into a very compelling world. I love the elcor and their slow, emotionless speech. I love the Hanar and their unique turn of phrase. I love the mystery of the Quarians and the Volus, hidden behind their environmental suits. I love the Krogan and their 4 testicles. I love the Salarians, Asari and Turians too. Everything about the world is awesome. It is a well thought out and well realized sci-fi universe. I particularly like how it explores humanity's role in this universe and how the other species view them. I’m a bit of a Star Trek fan, but I’ve never liked the “origins” story of Star Trek. To me, it never adequately explains how Humans went from being the “new guys” on the galactic stage to being the most powerful species in the known galaxy. Mass Effect tells the story of the rise of humanity extremely well, something I find extremely compelling.

The character development is another thing I loved. The writing does a brilliant job of making you feel attached to the characters. Or even the opposite. Take Ashley as an example. I started out indifferent to her. She seemed like a generic soldier character. It wasn’t long before I began to hate her because of her xenophobic views on aliens. I wanted to call her a “xenophobic bitch” and throw her off my ship. But as I talked to her more, I began to understand why she was like that. The story of her grandfather surrendering to a fleet of Turians and how that has held her back during her entire career. It didn’t excuse her borderline racist views, but it helped me understand her and feel far less volatile towards her. I actually felt bad sending her to her death on Virmire. Many of the other characters had compelling backstories and character development too. I particularly found the relationship between Shepard and Liara to be very interesting, and ultimately ended up getting the romantic story with her.

Few games allow the player as much freedom in their decision making as Mass Effect, and it makes for a really compelling experience. There were multiple times where I had to pause and think about my actions and how they would effect the universe, or even just how they would effect Shepard herself. The biggest one to me was probably whether or not to kill the Rachni. Doing so would amount to genocide, but the Rachni had attempted to wipe out the other species in the universe in the past - could they be trusted? I ended up reluctantly saving them, a decision the Council didn’t seem too pleased with. I’m sure I’ll learn of the consequences of that action in Mass Effect 2 and 3.

What I didn’t like:

The actual combat was very lackluster to me. I decided to play as a soldier since it seemed like the most straightforward class, and I mainly wanted to get through the story and didn’t want to have to learn a bunch of techniques in order to advance. The combat went from being infuriatingly hard in the early portion of the game (the Krogan Battlemaster on the Liara mission in the Artemeus Tau cluster was so annoying) to being stupidly easy later on. I’m sure the early game stuff wasn’t helped by me putting all my points into Charm and Intimidate early on to avoid missing out on dialogue options. Either way, towards the end I was just running around gunning dudes down without even taking cover. It only became slightly challenging if I was facing a Geth Destroyer or something similar, but even they weren’t too hard. Even the final boss (the zombie monkey Saren) was easy once I figured out that I had an ability that could revive my team mates. That meant that Liara dying wasn’t the end of the world - I could just revive her and she’d go back to being awesome and help me take him down.

That’s pretty much it. That’s the only real gripe I had with the game. OK, it’s a big problem since you spend large portions of the game fighting dudes, but it was worth putting up with to see the story through to conclusion. The only other thing I can really think of that I disliked was the shops and loot. The loot made the shops pretty pointless because I was finding good items all the time. By the end of the game I had over a million credits left over. I’m sure there was better gear for sale, but I didn’t feel the need to buy any because everything I had seemed fine. If the combat was more compelling, I might have cared more about my gear. So it still ultimately comes back to the combat.

Some other thoughts:

I think I have a problem. I make too many save files. Throughout that game (which took me about 23 hours) I amassed 153 save files. That’s one save every nine minutes. Despite how easy some of the combat was in the late game, I’d still feel compelled to save after every battle in case I died. At times it felt like I was saving after I’d walked 5 yards just because I didn’t want to walk that 5 yards again. I feel like a crazy person for having so many saves.

Also, I want to briefly mention the character creation. I always spend far too long trying to create the perfect character in these kind of games. And I the Mass Effect character creation looks simple and easy to use, but for some reason I found it incredibly hard to make a decent looking character. Ultimately I ended up really happy with my Shepard. She looks better than the default for sure, but it took a lot of effort. Also, the hair looks TERRIBLE in that game. It looks like the hair belongs in a PS2 game.

My Shepard

Anyways, now I’m looking forward to getting to Mass Effect 2. I really want to see how my decisions in this game will effect the universe.I don’t want to jump straight into it since I’m worried I’ll get burnt out on the gameplay. I know ME2 is a big step up gameplay wise, but I still want to have a bit of a break. I think I might read Mass Effect Revelation though. I really want to experience more of the fiction in the universe right now, so reading the first Mass Effect book seems like a good thing to do.

Moderator
#2 Posted by Brodehouse (9518 posts) -

It was upon deep reflection that I discovered that Liara in the first game is an absolutely horrible portrayal of a female love interest. She is the prototypical ingenue. She's shy, naive, and ineffectual if Shepard isn't around, she faints more often than a Tennessee Williams character, and the first time you meet her is rescuing her from being stuck in a trap she stumbled into. The romance writing is also pretty flat, there is really no turn where it becomes clear through her actions that she's interested in you, she just says it like she was giving a lunch order.

They completely rescued that character in ME2 and 3. Same with Tali, Tali is just a codex for the quarian race in that first game. There's no personality there separate from her race.

#3 Posted by Dixavd (1291 posts) -

Does hair look good in any ME game? At some point I was so used to it being bad I totally blanked it, character model and animation-wise all the ME games seem pretty bad to me (to the point of me actually liking it now as it has blurred into the asthetic of it).

What did you think of the general feeling of scale of ME1? Because I find that it was actually the best in the series for feeling like you actually are in a massive universe going to big planets with each their own feel.

Also did you play Paragon or Renegade? (I assume form your anti-Ashley xenophobic thoughts and having a relationship with Liara that you were Paragon?) And in turn what did you do on Feros with the Thorian Asari and the colonists? Also what choice did you make with the Council at the end?

#4 Edited by GS_Dan (1401 posts) -

I'll be interested in hearing what you think about ME2, as I found the jump to be a bit jarring (especially as the PC controls are complete wank for some reason).

The bits I loved about ME1 (exploring the Citadel and feeling part of the world, aliens and upgrading my gear and loot) were all downplayed in 2, although the combat was significantly better (although wtf ammo) and the dialogue was a jump up.

The books are pretty good though. :D

EDIT: Hair gets better in ME3:

#5 Posted by natetodamax (19164 posts) -

Lame, you should be playing as Male Shepard.

Also, I thought Ashley was totally unlikable. I was a-okay with her being absent from ME2 and ME3 (I chose Kaiden over her on Virmire).

#6 Posted by StarvingGamer (7907 posts) -

I play on PC and hit the quick-save button practically every minute. I wonder if there's a way to see how many quick-saves I accumulated over my time with ME3.

When you get into ME2 just make sure you play anything but Soldier. The drastically improved gunplay plus some nifty powers will make it feel like an entirely different game.

#7 Posted by James_Giant_Peach (751 posts) -

As someone who has almost 2000 saves in Skyrim from only 120 hours of play, I can assure you that 153 over 23 hours isn't too bad.

#8 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Your Shepard is the wrong Shepard.

Ashley can go on suicide missions all day. Kaiden and I are too busy being awesome best friends to care.

#9 Posted by thetenthdoctor (291 posts) -

Nice writeup. You really should play the sequels as a non-soldier character though, because the biotic powers are what makes this game's combat unique. Shooting has never been Mass Effect's strength, and playing as a pure soldier just makes it a poor shooter with cutscenes and emphasizes how lackluster the controls are compared to a Gears, MW, etc. Playing Vanguard or Sentinel opens up a world of fresh gameplay types, like lifting, throwing,debuffing, etc.

Plus, biotic detonations are the coolest things ever, and can WRECK tough enemies. Hitting an enemy with an "effect" power (like lift, pull or reave) and then following that up with an instant damage power like throw causes a huge biotic explosion that annihilates the target and sends nearby enemies cartwheeling to the corners of the room. Laughs ensue.

#10 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -

Playing DAO I found the save file system to be rather pleasant. Not sure if it's even remotely the same as the one ME1 uses, though. 
 
I get a feeling of dread when I think of our Skyrim files, though... not even organized by character, unless you mouse over every one...
 
I also get the feeling I might enjoy ME1 more than the sequels, at least as far as its worldbuilding and sense of optimism. May never go down that road, though...

#11 Posted by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

The combat is only bad because you choose the wrong class. Biotic is the only way to go along with having Wrex and either Liara/Kaiden as squad mates. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only way to play Mass Effect 1. Any other way is plain wrong. It makes all fighting in the game fun and most importantly makes you feel powerful as a Universe-trotting Spectre agent should feel.

#12 Posted by MattyFTM (14328 posts) -

@Dixavd said:

What did you think of the general feeling of scale of ME1? Because I find that it was actually the best in the series for feeling like you actually are in a massive universe going to big planets with each their own feel.

Also did you play Paragon or Renegade? (I assume form your anti-Ashley xenophobic thoughts and having a relationship with Liara that you were Paragon?) And in turn what did you do on Feros with the Thorian Asari and the colonists? Also what choice did you make with the Council at the end?

I certainly loved the scale of the universe. It always felt like I was part of a living, breathing world with stuff going on all the time. Every planet I visited felt unique and like it had it's own history and culture.

As for Paragon or Renegade, I was mostly paragon with a little renegade. I thought of Shepard as a "Chaotic Good" character. She ultimately had the best interests of the universe at her heart, but she didn't care how she reached the outcome. On Feros I didn't kill a single colonist and I let the Asari go. They were all just innocent people caught up in that madness, I wasn't going to kill them. And at the end, I told the fleet to focus on the sovereign and the Council died. I felt really bad about that one afterwards while watching the cut scene, but I'm going to live with the consequences of my decision.

@Voxel said:

Lame, you should be playing as Male Shepard.

Female Shepard is the only way to play Mass Effect.

@StarvingGamer said:

I play on PC and hit the quick-save button practically every minute. I wonder if there's a way to see how many quick-saves I accumulated over my time with ME3.

When you get into ME2 just make sure you play anything but Soldier. The drastically improved gunplay plus some nifty powers will make it feel like an entirely different game.

I was playing on PC too, and I did a few quick saves early on, but ultimately decided that I should make proper saves in case I needed to go back further for any reason. I never actually did. And yeah, I was debating whether to go for Vanguard or Soldier when I started, but ultimately decided that since I mainly wanted to play it for the story I should probably go for soldier since it would be more straight forward and would save me from having to learn techniques and things. I definitely think I'll try something different when I play ME 2.

@James_Giant_Peach said:

As someone who has almost 2000 saves in Skyrim from only 120 hours of play, I can assure you that 153 over 23 hours isn't too bad.

2000 saves? And I thought I was bad. That's crazy.

Moderator
#13 Posted by loopy_101 (286 posts) -

"So, I fucked a blue chick" - What I said about my "romance" on Mass Effect, verbatim, ahaha. Good read.

#14 Posted by rjayb89 (7716 posts) -

When I played Mass Effect again not too long ago, but for the first time on PC, the only thing I complained about were the battlefield layouts, in buildings especially. Tactics were just a matter of squeezing out enemies through a narrow passage. Since I was an Infiltrator, High Explosive Rounds and a sniper were my best friends. It was ridiculous having to check every corner just in case there was some loot to be had since everything was usually in the way.

On a gameplay standpoint, Mass Effect 2 improves upon Mass Effect's brute-force tactics to more of a thinking game. Rapid-fire weapons work well against shields and barriers, while burst-fire (hopefully I'm using that right) work well against armor. Warp and Overload also become bigger players in the latter games, Warp is effective against barriers and armor while Overload is for shields. And tactics become even more powerful in the third, as far as biotics go.

I know a lot of people bag on Mass Effect 2's story compared to the first, but where it shines most in comparison is the character interaction. After every main mission in each of the games, I loved speaking with each character to get some input on the mission I've just completed or get some background on them. Not even the third matches the fiction dropped from each character, but by the third game longtime fans might see a different side to them.

Seeing an old teammate of mine cutting ties to a previous affiliation of mine and suffering for it put her in a different light. Hell, her hair looked more shaggy and overgrown when previously she had a more well-maintained and almost perfect appearance. Cocky and dismissive in first light and now seemingly desperate to get the upper hand yet determined to get rid of her worries.

Also, you might want to read Mass Effect: Ascension. Someone alludes to what happens in it in the second game and doesn't explain it in detail. Then Mass Effect: Retribution happens after the second Mass Effect I think.

#15 Posted by tourgen (4426 posts) -

@MattyFTM: Just curious if you played ME1 on the PC or on Xbox360? I thought the Mako controlled pretty well on the 360, for what it was. The controls on the PC though were terrible.

Most of my issues where due to the way the terrain was built. It really felt like just a pseudo-randomly generated heightfield and not like real terrain. The scale was way off too.

#16 Posted by MattyFTM (14328 posts) -

@loopy_101 said:

"So, I fucked a blue chick" - What I said about my "romance" on Mass Effect, verbatim, ahaha. Good read.

Yeah. I wanted that to be the title of my blog, but we have rules against swearing in thread titles. However much I may want to, I can't break the rules that I helped write. I had to think of a somewhat more creative title, and put that as a heading within the blog itself.

@tourgen said:

@MattyFTM: Just curious if you played ME1 on the PC or on Xbox360? I thought the Mako controlled pretty well on the 360, for what it was. The controls on the PC though were terrible.

Most of my issues where due to the way the terrain was built. It really felt like just a pseudo-randomly generated heightfield and not like real terrain. The scale was way off too.

The first time I played it it was on 360, and I even hated the Mako then. The subsequent times were on PC, but they were too far after the first time for me to reliably compare them. I certainly didn't like it on either platform, though.

Moderator
#17 Posted by Daveyo520 (6651 posts) -

I think I had even more saves than that. I am a saveaholic too. It is very true about the gameplay being much better in me2.

#18 Posted by JimiPeppr (150 posts) -

Well-said.

#19 Posted by JosephKnows (57 posts) -

I never saw the point of playing any of the ME games as a Soldier, even with the improved combat mechanics of 2 and 3. Shooting is "OK" at best for all the games, and upon playing games like Binary Domain and Vanquish, it's all the more apparent how simple and restrictive ME's shooting elements are.

I mean, come on, you're in the future where super tech powers and The Force available, and you just choose GUN? Haha.

Also, Vanguard4lyfe.

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