By RecSpec 1 Comments
In 2012 I bought more games than I had any previous year. From cheap steam games to old PS2 games at the used bookstore to holiday shopping deals, I ended up with a ton of games I didn’t have enough time playing. So for the first part of 2013 I’m trying to get my money’s worth out of these games. This is the Pile of Games. Also, it's a metaphorical pile, I have shelves. Yes, there will be spoilers. This week I’ll be talking about Bioware’s Mass Effect.
I started Mass Effect knowing a little bit. I knew the names of a lot of characters, so it wasn’t a surprised when they joined. I knew that at one point I would have to choose between Kaidan and Ashley. And I also knew that there was a chance that Wrex could die. The story was pretty good, although I was surprised at how short it was. I was able to complete everything (including Pinnacle Station and Bring Down the Sky) just short of 35 hours. It seems like you could cruise through that game in about 10-15 if you just stuck to the story missions.
The best thing about that game is the world it has created. I’ve never thought much about space travel and meeting other life. Just wasn’t something that interested me. But Mass Effect got me interested in learning about these other races that inhabited their interpretation of space. I remember the first time I got to the citadel, it was so damn cool listening to the Volus and Elcor in the embassy just talking about themselves, their races, and their planets. Each time I started a session, I would stop and read all of the unread codecs I had. Kinda wish I could turn off the auto-reading though, I always read faster than that guy could talk. I liked reading the planet descriptions too. Just a fantastic job of fleshing out this story.
I played as a male renegade Shepard mostly. I had a tendency to speak nice to my team (except for Garrus and Wrex, because the renegade options fit more with them) and was a complete prick to everyone else. I was wavering on it at first because with the team I had it was weird. I felt like I was in sharp contrast to everyone else on the ship, and not in a good way. Then I recruited Garrus and Wrex, and felt a lot better about it. I tried to play renegade no matter what unless there were people I was working with. I did free the Rachni queen, because I didn’t want extinction on my hands and the only time I felt bad about the renegade path was when I killed everyone in Zhu’s Hope.
Exploring the planets were cool enough, even though things got repetitive near the end. I appreciated that Thresher Maws were always a threat to be worried about, but fuck those things. Combined with the weird checkpoint system (dying anywhere on a non-story planet resets everything unless you save it), Thresher Maws were a goddamn bummer. I guess I should mention the combat at some point. Pretty average, I set it up so my comrades would use their own powers, because that power wheel is a drag. Unfortunately everyone either used a pistol or assault rifle, early on snipers and shotguns failed, and later in the game I didn’t feel the need to change it.
Of course, the one thing they nail down is humanity and the potential for us to fuck up space relations. From the Terra Firma party to the asshole general that keeps saying “I know you’re a Spectre, but think of humanity” every time. Space racism abound, I really enjoyed telling my crew that we were working with other races. It’s not that they are completely wrong, I mean, it’s good to worry about your race first at times. That’s why we eat meat for crying out loud, you can’t protect everything. But nobody in the first Mass Effect makes a good case in their “Humanity first!” argument. Of course, at the end of the game I let the council die and humanity ended up taking over. We had to kill Sovereign, and it’s not like they had my back. Also, that’s probably why I chose Kaidan over Ashley.
Yeah, I knew about the choice from the start, so it was weird thinking “one of these two people will die.” And I had no idea which one to choose early on. Luckily for me, Ashley is a space racist. I know, I know, not really. She had her reasons. Also, she was totally getting the wrong idea. I was being nice! I have no interest romantically! Just had flashbacks to FFVII and how I was somewhat relieved that Aerith died because Cloud is an idiot, Tifa is the better choice for you. Speaking of party characters dying, who the hell shoots Wrex? Seriously. What could possess you to do something like that? To it’s credit, even though I knew it was coming, the actual choice was hard as hell to make. I thought the choice was when you picked which member was going with the Salarian squad, so that stressed me out. Then when the real choice came, damn. Even though I had it in my head for awhile that Ashley was going to be the one that died, I still took a few minutes to actually make the choice. It was brutal.
I may have mentioned this before, but the best part of Mass Effect is just running around the ship and talking to your team. I liked talking to the various people around the galaxy, but talking to the people in your ship is on another level. The six characters you have (Joker was pretty good too) were all great, even Space Racist Ashley (trying to feel better about my choice, back off). Tali is my favorite character, not by much (Garrus and Wrex are pretty great), but still a clear favorite. That was the only time I reloaded a save to try something different. I made sure Tali was in my party when we found the Geth data that she was going to use for her pilgrimage. I had Kaidan and Wrex the first time I think, I always tried to rotate. Tali was really cool, heck, Quarians in general are pretty cool.
I really liked Mass Effect, and I’ve put a few hours into 2 so far (So please, no spoilers for the other two games, I've heard enough at this point). I could continue talking about this for days, but that’s a good place to stop.I just hope that 2 and 3 can keep it up. It seems like a better game technically, and the combat shift is pretty weird, mainly worrying about ammo. But hey, even if I end up hating the other two games, Mass Effect was goddamn fantastic, nothing can take that away from me.