The Mass Effect Trilogy - Playing them all in 2014

The Mass Effect Trilogy was on sale on Origin for 20 dollars recently, and I figured now is a great time to get into those games and play them all in a row. Thankfully, I stayed away from/forgot all the important story beats of the games so that the story wasn't really ruined for me and I got to experience that ME3 ending first hand. It sure was fun playing all these games back-to-back-to-back just to seen how games(and also Joker's face) have evolved over the past 5-10 years.

There's a few SPOILERS in here, if you're wondering.

Mass Effect 1

So I should probably get this out of the way at the beginning and say that this game looks ROUGH. This game did come out in 2007 but unless there's something crucial I missed, the fact that the highest 16:9 setting on the PC is 1280x800 is pretty telling of just how old it is, and it definitely took a while to get used to. I wouldn't quite say it impacted my enjoyment of the game, I would just say it was really noticeable, that's all. Playing it on the PC, I never felt like the jankyness was annoying to the point of frustration but I could only imagine how much worse that stuff would've been playing on a console when that game came out...

As for the game itself, I would say I actually really like the first Mass Effect on the whole. I went in expecting a lot of stuff to be rough but in terms of gameplay I thought it was a lot of fun. The things you were doing weren't always amazing, but I would say that there are a ton of fun missions, areas to explore and there were a few fun side missions, although a lot of the side stuff was kind of bland. There were definitely aspects of the gameplay that also showed that this game has aged quite a bit. Weird things like only being able to sprint in combat and other mechanics of that nature (the mako totally tells you this game came out in 2007) really stick out as weird design decisions. Overall, however, I would say I was definitely into the RPG shooter nature of Mass Effect. Shooting people generally felt good and I also felt like I had some cool powers to play around with. I never felt like the shooting felt extremely clunky or anything, but I sure am glad they fixed that stuff in the next two games.

But of course, knowing what I know now, the Mass effect games are really about the story and dialogue. I feel like it got off to a bit of slow start, what with the first quarter of the game basically boiling down to "You should find Saren" but it really got my attention as i played it more. I definitely felt like some of the story beats that happen were still shocking/satisfying even playing it in 2014.

I also thought that the dialogue in Mass Effect 1, both inside and outside of missions is extremely well done. Often times when I was talking to people, I found myself thinking "Hey, this is good dialogue" which is always a good thing. Its always good to have a good bond with your party members and I felt like most of the dudes on my ship were people I actually wanted to talk to and get backstory on (I got your back, Garrus).

So yeah Mass Effect 1 - way better than I thought it was going to be. Even though the look and general feeling of the game feel a little old, a lot of other aspects of it were totally fine, if not pretty great in my opinion. Its always totally crazy to look at this game by itself and say "Man, its awesome how much effort they put into the fiction for this game" and thats totally a good thing, considering that this is a trilogy.

Mass Effect 2

So, I think Mass Effect 2 is really good. Is it one of my top games of this generation? I'd have to say probably not, but that didn't stop me from enjoying basically every aspect of it. I would say that most of the changes they made were for the better. Stripping down the RPG mechanics was something that I wasn't totally on board with, but improving the shooting, gear upgrades and the general feel of the game made the game feel like more like a modern game.

It shouldn't really be suprising to you at this point, but hey, the story in Mass Effect 2 is excellent. Sure, having you work for Cerberus only in ME2 and not the other ones is definitely weird, but I would definitely say this game has some pretty amazing moments. Just like the first game, there were a ton of interesting squadmates and talking to them on the normandy was something I enjoyed doing. It weirded me out a little to see most of the squad make a lot of jokes and stuff this time around (which well get to in a bit), but I feel like they always had interesting things to say and I want to respond with actual answers, instead of just saying something stupid to see what their reaction would be.

In terms of the missions, I would have to say I enjoyed most of them. I felt like even though this was the second game, the stuff I was doing was still important. Man, a lot of those loyalty missions sure are great in this game. I really feel like they shouldn't have made that stuff optional because some of the stuff was both important to the mass effect universe and it was also excellent. I'm also glad that Mass Effect 2 has its own contained story. A lot of times with the second part of a trilogy, the second and third part are really just one continuous story and I hate that. But with Mass Effect 2, dealing with the collectors was its own thing and i felt like it had importance in the world.

Just one last thing I have to say about ME2... Did anyone else find the humour in this game to be really weird? There were definitely a couple times I tilted my head at the game and said "Did that really just happen?" I mean, a krogan makes a pun in Mass Effect 2. I'm no sci-fi expert, but I can tell you THERE'S NO WAY THAT WOULD EVER HAPPEN! Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.

Mass Effect 3

Alright, here we go. What do I think of Mass Effect 3? I think its a pretty good game that generally declines in quality as you progress through it. I feel like the first half of the game is still of a really high quality, having great moment both in the story and the action. The mission where you stop the genophage in Tuchanka was super cool. You get some pretty good action, and also the other 'things' that happen later in the mission I thought were pretty good (I have a weird obsession with liking games that make me sad).

Speaking about the second half of the game, I just didn't feel like it stayed at as a high a level as it did previously. I still enjoyed my time with it and wouldn't call it 'bad' in any capacity but I found myself enjoying it just a little bit less. I felt like there could've been some awesome set pieces of "Everything is going badly!" in Mass Effect 3 but I really only felt like there were a couple of those. Changing the subject a little, I'm a person who doesn't particularly like dying in games where that's not the main goal (As opposed to games such as Dark souls, FTL, Xcom) so having this game seem harder then the other two was not something I was particularly on board with. I died so many times on that part where you fight that reaper one-on-one (maybe that's just me, though) and a lot of the time I just felt like there were maybe a few too many enemies for me to deal with sometimes.

So I guess if you're reading this, most of the reason you are reading it is that you want to see my reaction to the ending. And yeah, I thought it was a little disappointing, but I'm not so I would go as far as to say it totally ruined my whole Mass Effect experience or anything. However, I've always been a person who thinks the ending is the most important part of the story. TV shows like Curb your Enthusiasm and Video games like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons tell me that having a video game or episode of TV culminate in a single, solitary amazing moment at the end is something I would almost always prefer over having a bunch of good stuff and then falling flat at the end. While I still feel ME3 was a game that had some bright spots it definitely is disappointing to see the trilogy end on such a flat note.

I feel the same way about the ending to this game that I do about the ending to Bastion, where in the very final moments they just dump a bunch of information on you. Then after that, they force you to make a decision that I didn't really care about, and that whatever decision you make doesn't really make any difference. For me personally, making a choice that alters the world at the end of a game is something that I'm never going to care about because the game is already over at that point. It's not like I can jump back in and make my decision have consequences, it just make a random choice and then I'm done. It was sad to see Mass Effect go this route, and I wish my last memories of Mass Effect were maybe something a little better, but it most certainly could've been worse.

One more thing...You know what? I enjoyed the multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. I don't really play a bunch of wave based horde modes, but I feel like Mass Effect is a game where that style of game works because of all the different powers you can have at your disposal. Also, I thought it was interesting how it integrates in your story progress. The fact that its there to help you out but its not completely necessary for you to do it was fine by me in the grand scheme of things.

So I guess I'll close this gigantic wall of text to say yeah, I like mass effect (suprising, I know). I'm a person who usually enjoys themself when playing games, so it didn't really suprise me that these games are awesome. What did suprise me is just how much i enjoyed that first Mass Effect (boy am I glad I played that game on PC, you should too if you haven't). I mean these games have already been discussed to death, but if you saw something I said that I thought was interesting feel free to talk about it :)

Also, "I'll cut your balls off and sell them to a krogan" is a FANTASTIC line.