Why you SHOULDN'T replay Mass Effect

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Posted by Lies (3985 posts) -

Some minor spoilers probably. Might not want to read this if you've yet to play Mass Effect.

Mass Effect is a great game, no doubt about it. One of it's main selling points is the massive (excuse the pun) replayability the game has, as you can make different choices each time through. I took this to heart, and have played the game an unknowable number of times (My 360 harddrive erased itself a little ways back, so I can't check the clearsaves). I even got all the achievements, which everyone knows is a giant pain in the ass. And I have an important message for you all: Don't play Mass Effect multiple times.

It will ruin the original experience for you. When playing through the first time, the game seizes you with a sense of wonder and impact. It feels as if everything you does has an impact, and every choice you make seriously alters your play experience. This is a lie. Going back again and playing through really shows how little the game varies- the linearity is cleverly disguised, but it's still there. Oh? I can choose to save or destroy this colony? Well even if I save it I can't ever re-visit it and no one will ever mention what happened to it besides this Citadel elevator. Oh, I can kill or save this entire species? Bet THEY won't ever re-appear. Even though you're told that your choices will have huge impacts on the galaxy, they do not. Most of them don't even have a self-contained impact- someone will make a comment about your decision, then the story moves forward.

This even carries over to some of the dialouge trees. If you have a conversation and choose one option, then reload and choose anoher, the response is often exactly the same. There are a few honest-to-goodness moments that really do have an impact- the showdown on Virmire was probably the high point of the entire game for me- but these are few and far between really. They do certainly exist, but not to the degree you would think. And let's not even go into sidequests. Because really, I think we all know the problem there.

1065963-wrexsd.jpg
I'm not necessarily saying this is bad. There's a remarkable illusion of choice built up, and if you're anything like me, that will make your first playthrough downright magical. But when you go back and try to see how you could do things differently, the man behind the curtain begins to show a bit. You begin to see the petty little tricks used to create that illusion, and begin to see the underlying framework of the game, instead of the experience that Bioware's trying to lay out for you. It's simply a matter of using resources practically- it's inefficient to build game content that will only be seen by people who made a certain choice. You're given the illusion of choice, but in reality, are railroaded down a fairly linear story corridor.

Bioware has said they want to tone down the amount of illusory choices in the second game, and make each have more impact, but faced with the prospect of a third game and having to carry over choices to that product, it's likely you won't be able to deviate too much from a preset path in ME2, much the same as in the first game, which is a shame, but probably a necessity to get ME3 out sometime before 2015.

It's ironic, but I think exactly because of the features that Bioware touts make Mass Effect more replayable, the game is better suited to be played once then set down forever. Becuase going back through again will tarnish your first playthrough, make the reality of the situation much more apparent than it was the first time through, when you were wide-eyed and full of wonder. In the case of Mass Effect, ignorance really is bliss.
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#1 Posted by Lies (3985 posts) -

Some minor spoilers probably. Might not want to read this if you've yet to play Mass Effect.

Mass Effect is a great game, no doubt about it. One of it's main selling points is the massive (excuse the pun) replayability the game has, as you can make different choices each time through. I took this to heart, and have played the game an unknowable number of times (My 360 harddrive erased itself a little ways back, so I can't check the clearsaves). I even got all the achievements, which everyone knows is a giant pain in the ass. And I have an important message for you all: Don't play Mass Effect multiple times.

It will ruin the original experience for you. When playing through the first time, the game seizes you with a sense of wonder and impact. It feels as if everything you does has an impact, and every choice you make seriously alters your play experience. This is a lie. Going back again and playing through really shows how little the game varies- the linearity is cleverly disguised, but it's still there. Oh? I can choose to save or destroy this colony? Well even if I save it I can't ever re-visit it and no one will ever mention what happened to it besides this Citadel elevator. Oh, I can kill or save this entire species? Bet THEY won't ever re-appear. Even though you're told that your choices will have huge impacts on the galaxy, they do not. Most of them don't even have a self-contained impact- someone will make a comment about your decision, then the story moves forward.

This even carries over to some of the dialouge trees. If you have a conversation and choose one option, then reload and choose anoher, the response is often exactly the same. There are a few honest-to-goodness moments that really do have an impact- the showdown on Virmire was probably the high point of the entire game for me- but these are few and far between really. They do certainly exist, but not to the degree you would think. And let's not even go into sidequests. Because really, I think we all know the problem there.

1065963-wrexsd.jpg
I'm not necessarily saying this is bad. There's a remarkable illusion of choice built up, and if you're anything like me, that will make your first playthrough downright magical. But when you go back and try to see how you could do things differently, the man behind the curtain begins to show a bit. You begin to see the petty little tricks used to create that illusion, and begin to see the underlying framework of the game, instead of the experience that Bioware's trying to lay out for you. It's simply a matter of using resources practically- it's inefficient to build game content that will only be seen by people who made a certain choice. You're given the illusion of choice, but in reality, are railroaded down a fairly linear story corridor.

Bioware has said they want to tone down the amount of illusory choices in the second game, and make each have more impact, but faced with the prospect of a third game and having to carry over choices to that product, it's likely you won't be able to deviate too much from a preset path in ME2, much the same as in the first game, which is a shame, but probably a necessity to get ME3 out sometime before 2015.

It's ironic, but I think exactly because of the features that Bioware touts make Mass Effect more replayable, the game is better suited to be played once then set down forever. Becuase going back through again will tarnish your first playthrough, make the reality of the situation much more apparent than it was the first time through, when you were wide-eyed and full of wonder. In the case of Mass Effect, ignorance really is bliss.
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#2 Posted by EvilTwin (3316 posts) -

Not to rain on your parade, but, by telling everyone that the illusion of choice is just that, an illusion, haven't you pretty much ruined the experience for people in the same way that replaying the game would?  Not that I necessarily agree with you that replaying it ruins it.  I just find it kind of funny.

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#3 Edited by Brendan (8910 posts) -

I played it through again and still had tons of fun, for me a game with tons of real branching choices dilutes a storyline rather then enriches it, and makes each ending less powerful.  Especially since almost every game with plot changing choices has a "cannon" ending anyway, I would rather a single plotline be developed.

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#4 Posted by PureRok (4269 posts) -

Playing it the first time ruined it. What a horrible game it was.

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#5 Posted by Lies (3985 posts) -
@EvilTwin said:
" Not to rain on your parade, but, by telling everyone that the illusion of choice is just that, an illusion, haven't you pretty much ruined the experience for people in the same way that replaying the game would?  Not that I necessarily agree with you that replaying it ruins it.  I just find it kind of funny. "
Shhh. Quiet.
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#6 Posted by subrandom (145 posts) -

i've played through ME countless times and its certainly not the choices that ruin the game, or the lack of real choice that ruins it either. The way Mass Effect deals with choice is in fact one of it's biggest strength when compared to other Bioware titles. Unlike KotOR which presents you with a really huge yet meaningless choice, Mass gives you the option of being a huge dick or being a nice guy. Frankly it's a lot easier to present a player with alternate endings when the choice doesn't hinge on the difference between the light and dark side of the force.

I could talk way more in depth about what i find to be the games flaws but for your sake and my own i won't. I will however say that despite the choices having less and less meaning as you play they are no less interesting after the 15th time through. Replaying a game like Mass Effect is like rewatching a film or rereading a book, you will loose that initial excitement but usually you can find something new.

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#7 Posted by EvilTwin (3316 posts) -
@Lies said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" Not to rain on your parade, but, by telling everyone that the illusion of choice is just that, an illusion, haven't you pretty much ruined the experience for people in the same way that replaying the game would?  Not that I necessarily agree with you that replaying it ruins it.  I just find it kind of funny. "
Shhh. Quiet. "
My lips are sealed.
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#8 Posted by Expletive (1101 posts) -

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#9 Posted by Jimbo (10453 posts) -

Great post.  I've only played through it once but this feeling was nagging me through a lot of the game - in fact, already knowing what they were attempting to do with this trilogy kinda undermined my enjoyment.  Instead of just being able to enjoy a great story, it was always in the back of my mind that, no matter how important these decisions may seem to be, they are going to have to gloss over them or disregard them entirely in ME2.  The last 2 or 3 decisions you make in ME1 are so momentous that they would completely change the events of ME 2 and 3 if left unchecked.

It's pretty telling that your original crew seems to be destined to no more than the odd cameo, for example.  They aren't going to record a games worth of dialogue for somebody that might already be dead.

TBH, I think there's a decent chance that ME2 could end up disappointing an awful lot of people - people that Bioware have talked into having completely unrealistic expectations.

The ME gameplay is decent and the main storyline has promise, but ultimately I think the ME trilogy will be a shining example of why people don't make games like this.  I guess kudos to Bioware for trying it, but I think I'd rather have a single outstanding canon storyline than several mediocre ones as a result of a failed design experiment.

If Bioware do manage to pull it off convincingly, I will be extremely impressed and very happy to be proven wrong.

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#10 Posted by Claude (16648 posts) -

I played Mass Effect on my PC and it took around 38 hours to complete. I liked it, it felt like a big summer blockbuster movie. When Mass Effect 2 comes out, I will play it on my 360, because the old PC is getting a little long in the tooth. I thought about playing Mass Effect again on my 360 just for the save and continuation for the sequel. I'm still thinking about it.

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#11 Posted by RedSox8933 (2501 posts) -

My girlfriend deleted my save data, so I wanted to replay it in order to get the full experience out of ME2.

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#12 Posted by Demokk (212 posts) -
@subrandom said:
"I will however say that despite the choices having less and less meaning as you play they are no less interesting after the 15th time through. Replaying a game like Mass Effect is like rewatching a film or rereading a book, you will lose that initial excitement but usually you can find something new. "
I agree completely.

Besides, you don't need to play it a second time to know that the choices are mostly just for looking like a good, respectful or a rude, disrespectful guy. I am not finished with the game yet, I am about to do Virmire.
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#13 Posted by CL60 (17118 posts) -
@PureRok said:
" Playing it the first time ruined it. What a horrible game it was. "
fail.
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#14 Posted by natetodamax (19453 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" @PureRok said:
" Playing it the first time ruined it. What a horrible game it was. "
fail. "

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#15 Posted by MasterOfPenguins_Zell (2120 posts) -

I was moving onto creating my perfect Shepard before I bought a couple games recently, and stopped, but yeah. I never played it back when it originally came out, so I don't have much nostalgia for it.

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#16 Posted by Red (6146 posts) -

(Following post spoils the whole entire game.)

Mass Effect is an incredible game, but the "illusion" (even though it's an illusion) is a fantastic one. When deciding whether I wanted to destroy the remainder of the Rakni, even though I was playing a mildly bad character, I had to think. In the end, I couldn't go through with it. When the game made me choose between Kaidan and Ashley, even though I used Ashley and was pursuing her romance sub-plot, I had to think. When I finally let Kaidan go, I had to take a break from Mass Effect and just think about what I did. I didn't care whether it affected the gameplay or the story, I cared about how it made me feel. Lastly, your argument is fairly invalid because BioWare have specifically stated that these things WILL come back in Mass Effect 2. If you saved the Rakni, they might help you/hurt you later on. You kill the council? There's gonna be a huge difference in the next game.

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#17 Posted by EvilDingo (651 posts) -
Recently I acquired this game and have already been playing through it twice, and pretty much believe I have a good grasp of every possible outcome of every situation.
I am however already beginning a third game, because the thing that have me coming back, is playing through as a different class and different "main" ally-squad.

@Red said: 
"Lastly, your argument is fairly invalid because BioWare have specifically stated that these things WILL come back in Mass Effect 2. If you saved the Rakni, they might help you/hurt you later on. You kill the council? There's gonna be a huge difference in the next game. "

I have a hard time comprehending HOW Bioware are going to pull this off, since it's pretty obvious that they've designed the achievements around multiple playthroughs - and thus multiple Shepards will be available on many people's profile.
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#18 Posted by Tru3_Blu3 (3541 posts) -

I actually didn't enjoy the game on my first play through. I did, however, enjoy it on my second. Blame my high expectations before Mass Effect's release.

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#19 Posted by Origina1Penguin (3522 posts) -

I don't know.  I've played it eight times all the way through with sidequests too.  Sure nothing tops the first run, but nothing made me think less of it either.  I will probably play it two more times before buying Mass Effect 2.

As far as the paths based on decision, I'm sure you're right to a certain degree.  For example from the first game, when the group splits up and you decide later what happens to one member.

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#20 Posted by Bubahula (2224 posts) -
@PureRok said:
"Playing it the first time ruined it. What a horrible game it was."

and now i will never belive any other of your posts
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#21 Posted by Maxszy (2111 posts) -

I fully do not agree with you on this one.

I've played through it 4 times since it came out. 2 times right away. While by the 4th, there obviously was no surprise story wise, I don't think it ruined it.

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#22 Posted by oraknabo (1708 posts) -

I just started my second playthrough last week and it's been a really long time so I don't remember every little detail. I was a bald male Shepard named Goat who was incredibly nice and was always offering to go out of his way for everyone.
My new one is female and she's a huge bitch named Hippolyte who takes every opportunity to to belittle people and whose dialogue options sometime end with someone getting shot. Linear or not, it's pretty impressive how different the characters feel.

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#23 Posted by demonbear (1934 posts) -

I totally disagree with the OP, arguments are lame. I'm at my 4th completed playthrough going on 5th and this game is still great.

You can get your A.D.D. butt back to halo 3 while I enjoy my mass effect one more time.

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#24 Posted by Time_Lord (793 posts) -

Thats whats stopping me getting the last two achivements i just cant be asked to do the same thing all over again.

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#25 Posted by Oni (2273 posts) -

As someone who played through ME thrice, I totally agree, and also began to realize that while the story is good, most of the dialogue is pretty shit.

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#26 Posted by einherjan (623 posts) -

The game was pretty good until the end. The ending was not too epic.

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#27 Posted by ChopperDave47 (80 posts) -
@Lies:

that was a good game. i will totally play it again sometime when i have the time. i already knew the story was linear, but yeah
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#28 Posted by JeffGoldblum (3836 posts) -
@expletive said:
"
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"
Oh man, Watermelon!
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#29 Posted by deathk1ng (7 posts) -
@EvilDingo: it does not matter. bioware is pretty much the most consistent, and arguably greatest, game developer of all time. they will get it done. ME1 was simply a test to gauge how awesome they could make the second and third games.
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#30 Posted by ArbitraryWater (14248 posts) -

The illusion of choice has been in every single W-RPG since the first Baldur's Gate. Of course, back then the choices were lower key than those of Mass Effect and the linearity was more obvious in the story, but its still the same.

No RPG that touts "Your choices have an effect on the world" really means it. At best you can choose between obvious good and obvious evil solutions to a quest and those choices will determine what quest you get after that one, as well as the ending. It's in this way that I appreciate the total lack of Role-Playing in the Might and Magic series. There is exactly one choice in Might and Magic VII that determines who you will get your quests from for the remainder of the game, as well as if you get dark or light magic. That's it.

But nonetheless, I am still a huge Bioware fan. KotOR (1) and Baldur's Gate (2) are two of my favorite games of all time. Sure, the illusion of choice is frustrating, but I still replay those games because of how excellent they are. I have trouble replaying Mass Effect for other reasons, mostly because of how messed up it is on the technical front, as well as the boring and repetitive side quests.

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#31 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2878 posts) -

I've replayed it 7 times, and yet still don't have all the achievements :P

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#32 Posted by Sweep (10043 posts) -

Some of the most fun times I had in GTA4 were ramming a car into a swingset and sailing through the atmosphere. That doesn't mean the immersion I experienced on my initial run was somehow corrupted, because the glitchy world physics had revealed just how shallow the realism actually is. There is a mandatory amount of acceptance that you are actually in a game, and it can be exploited and broken should you desire. Thats the way videogames work. If you replay a game, you may not get the same buzz you did the first time, but there is a chance you might find a whole new buzz now you have more freedom to explore.

Moderator
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#33 Posted by EvilDingo (651 posts) -
@deathk1ng said:
" @EvilDingo: it does not matter. bioware is pretty much the most consistent, and arguably greatest, game developer of all time. they will get it done. ME1 was simply a test to gauge how awesome they could make the second and third games. "
"They will get it done?" Is that really an answer?

How can you just ignore my statement like that?
At the very least you could suggest that players can select their "Shepard" at the start of their ME2 game or something to that effect :-)

Don't get me wrong. I genuinely love ME1, but this is also why I also believe that a large percentage of players will have more that one Shepard on their Xbox 360.

I do however believe it's probably healthy to wind down the expectations about the whole "choices that effect the world"-thing in games generally.
As they would say in my country: "The trees don't grow in to the sky".
The game has to be made, which is why every possible dialog, option and consequence has to be thought of, voice-recorded and programmed into the game.

Personally I don't have a problem with this, since it kind of nice to be able to actually find everything that is to find in the game - but it's of cause all about expectations towards the game.

Specifically something I felt could make the game a bit more interesting and "individual", is if your character's background-story actually gave more than one submission in the game.

I'm pretty hopeful about ME2 mostly because of the development-time. KOTOR2 came out relatively shortly after KOTOR and featured several improvements to the game-mechanics, but it was obviously at the expense of the story-line. It feels like ME2 have had more time.
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#34 Edited by SmugDarkLoser (5041 posts) -

Yep.  lol. And just about every JRPG does it.

Typical Mass Effect choices.

You can't do this
Stop it
I'm gonna hurt you
All lead to --- I'll do whatever it takes to stop you.


The text choices rarely ever matter.


The only game that has true impact that's not just the same thing is Fable 2 actually.  For example, if you don't donate money the church/shine thingy will be torn down.  The acorn grows into a tree if you choose to plant it, etc.
granted, it's just if you do X thing it'll lead to Y or not Y and perhaps quests alive/dead, but it's still one of the best.

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#35 Posted by RHCPfan24 (8663 posts) -

Interesting point there, Lies. I have played Mass Effect like....1.5 times. The first time was great and I loved every minute. i did feel as if the situations were impactful and I was an important part of the universe. The second time I stayed along the same path mostly, so I really didn't see many of these "clever disguises". I am glad I haven't because I haven't really thought of your argument until now. Nonetheless, it is still an amazing game and there is nothing wrong with linearity, although the weight of the decisions that are presented makes this feel a bit cheap.

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#36 Posted by pause422 (6311 posts) -

I never planned on playing ME ever again to begin with, so this is great.

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#37 Posted by Jedted (2801 posts) -

While your statement is somewhat true, it's the extreamly high quality writting that keeps people going back and replaying ME.

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#38 Posted by c1337us (5877 posts) -

I wasnt going to play it again and just for that now I will. Wait, fuck my xbox is still broken. But when its not your in trouble. Then I might even play it THREE TIMES!!!

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#39 Posted by AN0N (12 posts) -

I didn't care for it in the first place.


I feel that the KOTOR's will never be matched.
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#40 Posted by Systech (4190 posts) -

You know what, Lies? I completely disagree. I played through Mass Effect with one character about three times and I enjoyed every play-through.

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#41 Posted by twenty0ne (3056 posts) -
@Lies: I played the game three times, and I liked it even more every play-through.
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#42 Posted by Dolphin_Butter (1985 posts) -

Playing through it again right now and loving it even more the second time.

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#43 Posted by UnsolvedParadox (1931 posts) -

Great post. I think it's important that you not only recognized the limited impact of our choices on the overall narrative, but that you also acknowledged that reasonable limitations such as development time and audience exposure to diverging content were key factors. 
 
Part of it is technical limitations, as well. I believe the game clocks in at about 6GB (if I remember the size from the On Demand store correctly), and the 360 hasn't exactly embraced games spanning multiple discs. 
 
It's interesting that significantly different branching content is harder for a company like Bioware, because their production standards and choices such as a large quantity of voicework in their titles makes them more resource consuming. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be their ultimate test in this regard, and I'm waiting eagerly to see if they can successfully tackle that enormous challenge (and I have faith that they will).
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#44 Edited by HitmanAgent47 (8553 posts) -

I finished this game a ton of times, your illusionary of choice idea or concept is your own, not mine. It's way more fun at second playthoughs or thirds because I get more powerful armor and the game is outright fun because it's AAA on gamerankings. AAA games deserved to be replayed many times over. Okay you don't have alot of choices in dialogue, however you can open up more options for dialogue when you finish it more and upgrade those options for speech. They will give you an extra blue text which is a good speech choice and the red one is bad. This way at least, spoilers for those who hasn't played it, will help keep rex from dying when you have to make a choice. The dialouge isn't the biggest part of the game, however it's nice it's there, I think it's a good feature.

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#45 Posted by boj4ngles (302 posts) -

OP is right.  ME's choice options are pretty lame, especially compared to recent genre titles like Fallout 3 and Fable 2.  In fact ME is a pretty mediocre game in general.  All the weapons look and behave pretty much identically, plus there is a level scaling system for the enemies which takes almost all the reward out of gear collection.  The story is predictable, the locations are boring, and there is really not much replay value unless you're new to rpgs and it just blows your mind the first time through.
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#46 Posted by Whisperkill (3045 posts) -

I replayed it a bunch of times and yes, it made me like the game much less
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#47 Posted by rmills87 (549 posts) -

I understand this thread it old, but I have to agree.  I recently finished Mass Effect 2 a few months back, and I was debating on whether I should go back and play these two games again.  While they were GREAT experiences, I just can't see going back and playing through each again.  I believe it won't be NEARLY as exciting and engrossing as the first play through.  I own both games on Steam, so I will get rid of them on the hard drive, but definitely keep the saves for ME3.  Thanks for being the final weigh-in on my decision!

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#48 Edited by Mrskidders (1298 posts) -

I played it through a couple of times.  I disagree with you.
 
Edit - @rmillz87:  I just noticed that you bumped an ancient topic.  Don't be a dick, leave things where they are.

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#49 Posted by JeanLuc (3876 posts) -

Well it would have been nice to know this before I played the game 7 times now wouldn't it :)
 
Seriously thou, I've never really had a problem with the whole breaking the illusion thing. In fact, I tend to enjoy an RPG more the second time I play it because I'm less concerned with finding out what happens next and spend more time exploring.

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#50 Posted by Tiger1535 (25 posts) -

I play ME and ME2 still to this day and its always an amazing experience...

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