Three years ago, a little after getting my Xbox 360, I decided to purchase the original Mass Effect Platinum Edition. I don’t consider myself to be much of a PC gamer, but I did play through all of Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Planescape Torment and Icewind Dale, so I had pretty high expectations. I thought Mass Effect would have a turn based feel like in Baldur’s Gate and was surprised that I had an actual attack button. In the end it didn’t matter, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. All the decision making and seeing my Renegade and Paragon Levels being quantified numerically really appealed to me. I enjoyed exploring planets, searching for resources, being surprised by Thresher Maws and occasionally stumbling upon an enemy base. I was also impressed that there were some tough decisions to be made, spare the Rachni? Kaidan or Ashley? I don’t typically care for graphics, but Mass Effect did have pretty impressive graphics, and surprisingly memorable music. I typically feel that modern video games don’t have particularly memorable music. Upon completing the game, I was pretty satisfied with the end result and had no expectation of a sequel.
When Mass Effect 2 was nearing it’s release date, I pre-ordered the collectors edition and was excited that one of my favorite 360 games was getting a sequel. At first I was taken aback by the stripping of RPG elements. No more deep item management, leveling up was very streamlined and there was no longer any exploration of planets outside of those which have a main quest. I guess the last point made sense, since presumably, planets were explored in the original game. At that point, I had never played Gears of War so the comparisons were lost on me. Nevertheless, I completely enjoyed Mass Effect 2 and even played through all the DLC and scored every single Achievement. It wasn’t really an RPG anymore, but was still fun. The story was really engaging as well.
In between Mass Effects, I played the Dragon Age Games. I enjoyed both games, but will always prefer Dragon Age: Origins simply for it’s huge world and awesome story. I don’t hate on Dragon Age 2 as much as others do, but I think the game would have been better off being called, Dragon Age: Shadows of Kirkwall (kudos to those who get the reference). I have to say, I really got into the multimedia aspects of both Dragon Age and Mass Effect. I have read all of the comics and even played the facebook Dragon Age Adventures for a while and am looking forward to the upcoming animated films.
Back to Mass Effect. Purchasing Mass Effect 3 was a no brainer, I made sure to get the collectors edition as well and got into the demo. Immediately, I was delighted to see the return of some of the original RPG elements. Weapon upgrades, varied pieces of armor and a skill customization that is between Mass Effect 1 and 2 in terms of complexity. There were some very powerful sequences, many of which brought tears to my eyes. I was really into the game play and much to my surprise, found myself enjoying the multiplayer. Of course, there has been much controversy over the ending. I often find myself taking the middle road in terms of the ending, and finding value with the overall journey from the original game to the last one. I was happy to see that my decisions had an impact on the events of later games, despite not actually contributing to the ending. I am still shocked that Bioware didn’t take a Dragon Age: Origins approach with the ending, and feature some simple hi-res images and a little bit of text detailing the fates of Shepherd, his companions and possibly the races overall. Hopefully this will be addressed in future DLC.
10 minutes of “huh??” were not enough to make me disregard the entire series. When I have a little more free time, I intend on replaying the games from the original story. The result may be the same, but the journey is always dynamic. There have been worse endings in games before. Ever finish Saga Frontier with Blue?