Casual Reviews – Mass Effect Trilogy

To be honest, I don’t know how to start this review. I actually don’t even know for sure what I’m going to say, and much like the creators of this game, I have no clue how to end it.

But I do know I want to talk about Mass Effect. But before we begin, a word from my endorser…

“I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite blog on the internet.”

Okay, this sweet babe was birthed from the loins of possibly my favorite game of all time, Knights of the Old Republic. It was published by one of the most hated companies in gaming, EA, and is the work of the developer BioWare. BioWare took the core concepts of what made KotOR so good and created a whole new world with it. A world which I ignored for a long time. I couldn’t get interested in a sci-fi universe I didn’t have knowledge of. Sure, friends kept telling me to try the game. Some offered to buy me a copy. The problem was, I knew that this game would take some work to really enjoy. I’d actually have to pay close attention so I could understand what was happening. Yes…I was that lazy.

I broke down one Friday and bought the first Mass Effect. I failed the following week’s Organic Chemistry mid-term.

25 bucks well spent.

This review may end up being slightly longer than most, but remember, it’s a threesome. You should expect things to go a little longer than normal. I will speak to each game individually in every section, and the final rating will be an average of each installment’s score.

Environment

Describe the Environment of Mass Effect? Jiminy Christmas, how to begin?

Oh, I know…

The aliens of Mass Effect are a part of its draw. They are mostly original and can sometimes be very entertaining. Although it wasn’t until my second playthrough that I really started catching the nuances of the story, the way these races interact makes the universe seem like it truly has a history. You must commit to learning about this history, at least a little, for this game to be enjoyed the way it was intended. Even if you don’t like going deep into fictional worlds, Mass Effect does a good job keeping you interested. I am so easily bored by lore in games, you would think I had narcolepsy. The fact that I know so much about the Mass Effect world indicates how good BioWare is at telling stories.

I still believe that BioWare really screwed the pooch when they never included an Elcor in your party. I would have romanced the balls off that emotional roller-coaster.

Mass Effect kept the same feel to the environment through all three games, the graphics only got better, and the music is one of the best soundtracks in gaming history.

As with any RPG, the characters matter. If an RPG has a memorable character that you can build a relationship with, many issues can be forgiven. Mass Effect delivers in a big way. Each character has a backstory you can choose to delve into…or not…I’m looking at you, Kaidan. For me, Liara is by far the most intriguing character throughout the three game campaign, but there’s someone for everyone…except Kaidan…there’s no one for him.

Gameplay

The first game had much deeper menu options to level your character. There is a wide array of gear to equip, and I felt the first game gave me the most personalization of all the games. Changing my gear effected how my character looked, and the points I used for leveling up had so many options I was always torn on where to build my skills. Along with this also came a much clunkier combat mechanic that took some time to adapt to. Combining somewhat unpleasant combat with extremely long missions made some periods in Mass Effect feel like a chore.

Also, elevators in the first Mass Effect don’t take you to different floors, they are time travel devices that transport you five minutes into the future…in real life.

In the second game, these combat issues were fleshed out, and fights became a playground to show off my skills. While the leveling system was much shallower in this game, the way to track missions and the progression of the game made Mass Effect 2 a much better game. As Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back showed how to create a sequel to a beloved movie, Mass Effect 2 set a standard for how gaming sequels should be made. It also introduced using the triggers during cutscenes to make renegade or paragon choices. These are some of the best, most memorable moments in the games…someone you are interrogating is being an all-around dick while standing next to a window 50 stories high…do I pull the renegade trigger? Must you ask?

Mass Effect 3 promised to make the next leap forward. And in graphics and combat, it did. It pushes my PS3 to the max and the combat mechanics are the best of the three. That said, the menu system, how to keep track of missions and side missions, and safeguards to keep players from getting lost suddenly went backwards after making such great improvements in the second game. The frustration of finding yourself wandering the Citadel aimlessly, unsure of exactly where to go became a much too common occurrence. As a refresher of these games, I got my wife hooked and watched her play. While she had issues with the combat of the first, the third installment was hands down her least favorite of the three. Much of the gameplay was improved from the previous two, but she had a much harder time following her tasks so much so that she wasn’t very interested in finishing the final game.

With all that comparison done, the gameplay of the Mass Effect trilogy is like playing your way through a movie. The cinematics of these games can be breathtaking at times, and serve to show just how far games have come in expressing emotion and telling a story. Mass Effect is a monument to storytelling in games, the experience is very rewarding, and, most importantly, the games are fun.

Replay Value

I have played this trilogy to death. Revived it…and played it to death again. That is why I delayed writing this review. I simply burned myself out on Mass Effect. Watching my wife discover this series and seeing the story through her eyes helped revive it enough that I have the energy to finish this review…but my jokes are waning fast.

These games will keep you coming back. Not only to make different choices, but to also be a different character. You can change your sex as well as your class. The styles of combat for each class are unique, allowing you to be a soldier who can carry and use more weapons, or a biotic…who uses…The Force.

Online

N/A…I’m sensing a pattern…I don’t play many online games…

Conclusion

This is one for any RPG fan’s library. It is a cut and dry western RPG. There are good choices, there are bad choices. There is good vs evil. It is all fairly typical with only some occasional major surprises.

But it is done so well. Just watch this trailer:

Mass Effect 2 was the superior game of the three, having the most beneficial/severe tangible consequences to choices. That said, the entire trilogy is one of the best sci-fi romps you can have in gaming. I took a potshot at the trilogy’s ending when I started this post, so let me conclude by saying that I do believe the endings are different…in theory.

The presentation of the ending was lazy. That’s what hurt it. Not the idea. For the first time, the choices were not black and white. This threw me, and many other gamers for a loop, as I wasn’t able to just mindlessly pick the good or evil choice. If you pay attention to what the game says will happen to the universe depending on the choice you make, the endings are drastically different…but then…they never show the differences…instead, they leave it up to your imagination.

The ending to the trilogy was lazy. The rest of the games…amazeballs. And in the Mass Effect games, if you can play it for the moment, not the finish, you’re in for a treat.

Also…if Dr. Chakwas can heal your face…does she have something against Garrus?

Mass Effect:

ME

Mass Effect 2:

ME2

Mass Effect 3:

ME3

Mass Effect Trilogy:

ME1

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24 thoughts on “Casual Reviews – Mass Effect Trilogy

  1. I really wanted to like Mass Effect series but for some reason I just couldn’t get into them. Perhaps it was the hyperbole attached to the series or my ridiculously high expectations but it just felt flat to me. I totally understand that I’m in the minority here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never got around to playing the third game. When I played part one on release for the Xbox, I was running what was effectively Space Chuck Norris, totally a renegade with the only two paragonish choices being not shooting [Character] on Virmire and not making Conrad Verner cry. But the sequel took so long to come out that I lost my save data and didn’t play until I got it and the first game on sale on Steam.

    By the time the third game came out and the ending issues arose, I just couldn’t be arsed. I can say that ME2 was the best of the bunch.

    Thanks for the review

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review. I haven’t played these games, though I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. So they’re on an ever increasing list of games that I would like to play, but never get round to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sweet review. I am a massive RPG lover and felt that they had fallen off track once JRPG (mainly the Final Fantasy series) started going downhill. Mass Effect definitely played a big role in rekindling my love for this genre again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The ending of Mass Effect 3 almost destroyed my life :-). I considered myself a happy and well adjusted escapist up to that point. What can I say? Me and the wife still spent more than 200 hours on multiplayer but I did not buy any of the story dlc even though I planned to. Now ME4 is coming and I am not pre-ordering. I’ll wait for Jim Sterling’s opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Casual Reviews – Bloodborne | SevenFlorins

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