Have You Played… Mass Effect?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The original Mass Effect was one of my entry-points to RPGs, a genre I’d bounced-off-of throughout the 90s. But Mass Effect’s sci-fi, Star Trek and 2001 trappings held my interest even as the indifferent combat and dull planet-exploration did their best to convince me that I should call it quits.

Mass Effect is nowhere near as good a game as what followed, yet I still think it has many of the series’ absolute best moments. Not just the part where you meet a “loose cannon” security officer named Garrus on the Citadel, but an increasingly grim expedition into a derelict science lab overrun by its own creations, the bitter showdown on Virmire where one of your best party members comes face-to-face with salvation for his species… only to be told that he can’t have it.

Mass Effect gave the series high stakes and a sense of grandeur that the following games profited from, but none are quite as successful as creating that feeling of wonder and discovery that characterizes the original Mass Effect at its best.

87 Comments

  1. Xocrates says:

    I have. Though ironically enough I never played the sequels because I felt the first game gave enough closure, so didn’t see the point in continuing with the same characters and story arc.

    • bleeters says:

      It’s not entirely the same characters, at least. ME2 introduces at least a dozen shiny new cool people to hang out with. I’d recommend it based on Mordin alone.

      Also Jacob. Jacob is there too, I guess.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Yeah, I feel Mordin is the single best computer character ever designed. My hats off to those responsible.

        I hated him early on, but by later in the game, it became ‘What do you thing we should do Mordin??’

  2. Brosecutor says:

    I always wanted to play it in an elevator so I cold hang around in an elevator while hanging around in an elevator.

  3. Luminolza says:

    Garrus is such a good character, he should get his own game.

  4. Jenks says:

    “Mass Effect is nowhere near as good a game as what followed”

    Hyperbole, ho!

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Indeed. Stopped reading there. The only thing that ME2 did better was the combat (ammo over heat management) and a more open story progression. But the story quality was still rather poor. Killing off the main character to bring him back from the dead a minute later totally destroys any sense of stake in the game. And the ending of the game, while cool, was stupid (human reaper, sheesh) and pointless (since ME 3 ingores it).

    • Zekiel says:

      I entirely agree that it’s nowhere near as good, but it is better in certain ways. The plot and sense of exploration being the main ones. However its pretty sucky as an action game, and ME2 and 3 did that pretty well.

  5. Laurentius says:

    I have, actually I played it three times since 2008 and have great fun with each playthrough. It is the best game of trilogy and it shows that Bioware were abel to make cool action cRPG back in the day ( Jade Empire is also great). It is celebration of a good ol’ space opera. Not trying to reinvent the weel but also being able to cherish the known tropes without being cliche ridden (ME2). It has space, aliens, different planets to visit, cool space ship, her crew and reasonable plot leading to satisfying closure.
    Also, so far it ages pretty well, still looks really fine.
    Simply speaking ME is great.

  6. Nasarius says:

    but none are quite as successful as creating that feeling of wonder and discovery that characterizes the original Mass Effect at its best.

    Exactly. Discovering the Reapers is probably one of my favorite story moments in a videogame. I’m a big Lovecraft fan, and I think this is the closest a videogame has ever come to understanding the essence of Lovecraftian cosmic horror.

    ME2 failed to follow up on that. I’ve yet to play ME3.

    • Zekiel says:

      Don’t hold your breath then! But if you enjoyed ME2 you’ll probably enjoy ME3.

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        If you enjoyed the combat of ME2, you’ll enjoy the same from 3. Don’t expect too much from ME3’s plot, it’s not just the ending that’s bad.

    • jj2112 says:

      Well, Dark Corners of the Earth did Lovecraft better, IMO. Even old gems like Realms of the Haunting… This was just a sci-fi story on AIs gone wild. Their origin story took away all their mystery.

    • Myrdinn says:

      Really? Am I the only one who was totally turned off by the ‘reaper’ story the moment it was ‘revealed’? I totally loved the concept of Mass Effect -until- I found out it was once again, a Biowaresque ‘save the world against ultimate evil’ story.

      I am (was) disappoint.

      • Nasarius says:

        It’s a super creepy ultimate evil, though. Well, until ME2.

        “Save the world” can be done in so many different ways, depending on what you’re fighting and how you’re fighting it. Some ancient unknowable quasi-supernatural evil force is so much more fun than some cackling villain. It could be almost like averting a natural disaster.

      • malkav11 says:

        It isn’t really a ‘save the world’ story, though. It’s a “buy some time in which to maybe, maybe scrape together some sort of viable defense” story. It doesn’t become a save the world story until ME3, and even there it’s way more downbeat and hopeless a struggle than those stories usually are. If they’d maintained narrative consistency across the whole trilogy and ME3’s ending hadn’t been such a trainwreck, it would have been a refreshing change of pace. Not, perhaps, quite as much so as the small scale of Dragon Age II’s (also botched) story. But to some degree.

  7. Zekiel says:

    Shamus Young is in the midst of a MASSIVE, highly interesting retrospective on the whole Mass Effect series (he’s just getting to the end of ME1 at the moment). Here’s the latest one – massive spoilers, obviously.

    • deiseach says:

      It’s full of so much hokey drivel – we’re meant to believe the asari are some manner of herrenvolk while so many of them earn a living pole-dancing in backstreet drinking pits – that I should hate it. But I don’t. I love it. It’s one of my all-time favourites and I’ve lapping (pun unintended) up every scrap of Shamus’s retrospective.

  8. Eight Rooks says:

    Mass Effect is nowhere near as good a game as what followed

    Oh, oh, are we allowed to say this now? I played it; it was rubbish. Worst story of the three, worst characters (there is literally nothing to Liara in ME beyond “teach me of this thing you humans call ‘love’!” and “oh, mother”), terrible over-complicated game mechanics drowning in useless loot, and I don’t know where this sense of wonder and exploration was but it wasn’t in the game I played. Planets were terrible. The Mako was terrible and anyone who enjoyed playing it should feel terrible about their terrible taste. I’m being perfectly serious when I say few pieces of DLC have made me as happy as the opportunity to visit the Mako’s grave, though probably not for the reasons Bioware intended. ME2 blew it out of the water in pretty much every way, and it remains one of the most surprising sequels I’ve ever played. I honestly wouldn’t recommend the first game to anyone other than obsessive completionists. I played the first on the 360: I own 2 and 3 on Origin, now, but I doubt I’ll ever complete the series on PC, even just to have.

    • X_kot says:

      I am compelled to chime in here as the contrarian who enjoyed the planet exploration in ME1. Most planets were empty balls of dust with brief moments of discovery; finding something in a remote location required patience and determination. Plus, the Mako is amazing at scaling polygonous surfaces. Driving up cliffs at 70-deg angles will never get old. Plus, the vehicle combat in the PC version is vastly superior to the 360. That part I hated until I switched to the mkb controls.

    • Jay Load says:

      You, Sir, are most definitely wrong. Please correct yourself at the earliest opportunity, and good day to you.

    • konondrum says:

      I too enjoyed the Mako. The planet scanning mini-game that replaced it unfortunately, was a boring, time sink nightmare. I mean it really was just the worst. If you suffer from even a mild case of completionist OCD, ME2 can ruin your life for a month.

    • jellydonut says:

      I thought the story was better in ME1 but every single mechanic sucked ass.

    • malkav11 says:

      You’ve always been allowed to be wrong.

      That said, I wonder what part of the gaming-related internet you’ve been spending time in, because the critical consensus seemed nearly unanimous that ME2 (the worst of the trilogy) was actually its best and one of the best RPGs ever made and only recently have I seen many people that agree with my ME1 >> Mordin >> ME3 (minus ending) >>>>>>>>>>>> everything else about ME2 ranking.

    • yabonn says:

      I think I hae a better way to not-like ME. These steps work for all versions.

      Enjoy playing the good guys. Get surprised, annoyed at all the tedious ego-fellations you get in the game. Realize that for the game makers, if you play good guy as you’re used to it’s because you expect all these blowjobs from the uncanny valley.

      Decides that game makers are assholes and/or idiots.

      … And it never was more that a spongy FPS x choose your own adventure book anyways.

  9. Zenicetus says:

    I played through each one twice, so I must have enjoyed it. The main attraction was just finally having a technically polished sci-fi Action/RPG of any kind to play, more than the inherent quality of the setting or writing.

    Some of the crew interactions were good, but the “ancient evil” storyline was hackneyed, and so much of the setting was ripped off from Star Trek that I couldn’t get too invested in it.

    Another thing that always bothered me about the game, was that they let you walk around this AMAZING spaceship as your home base, but you never get to actually fly it and control it combat. It’s just set dressing. I hope in the upcoming game they give you at least a little more direct interaction with your ship, whatever it turns out to be.

    • malkav11 says:

      Having played KOTOR and Jade Empire, I really hope you don’t. Seriously, Bioware’s ship combat minigames are terrible.

  10. karthink says:

    Mass Effect is nowhere near as good a game as what followed

    Hahahahahahaha. Ha.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    Played through 2, somewhat mechanically, the universe was interesting but the story was so, so bland. Began playing 3, and abandoned it without realising it. never looked back.

  12. Philopoemen says:

    ME1 is my favourite of the three – I liked the heat management, expanded weapon and ammo choices, expanded skill tree, and tight complete storyline.

    I tried recently to replay the trilogy, but after playing through ME1 and thoroughly enjoying it, I bounced hard off ME2’s simplified systems.

    • Pazguato says:

      Agreed. ME2 is way less RPG and more shooter. They thought that was the people wanted (and their money) ¬¬

    • Seraphithan says:

      Expanded weapon choices and skill tree

      Don’t make me laugh.

      The 4 weapon class differed only in how long you had to wait between clicks and pistols were strictly superior to the other three. And while the game threw a crap-ton of “different” weapons at you even without SPECTRE weapons it boiled down entirely to DPS since that was the only relevant metric. Both ME 2 and 3 introduced systems that made the choice between them if not non-trivial at least less so.

      Skills similarly had a lot of filler. Yes each skill had 10 or even 12 levels but the difference between a skill at 4 and 5 was entirely mathematical, what mattered in an impactful, appreciable way was the level of the associated ability and there you had three, less than in ME2.

      That leaves you with the higher number of skills in ME1, which is less clear. IMO the higher number of skills leaves you with less distinct classes and makes your squad composition more of a wash. It further gets muddled by the 4th skill rank in ME2 which makes you choose between one of two distinct upgrades. And then there is the change from a per ability cooldown to a global one.

      • Philopoemen says:

        By “expanded weapon choices” I should have really said “expanded item choices”

        Things like various armour types – (do i want armour, shields, light, medium, etc), and their scaling as you played – getting some rare armour was a big deal.

        Then add the item mods, ammo types for guns (different ammo for different enemies); different tech and omni tools based on your particular style of play. ME2 and 3 dropped all that for generic extra damage really.

        As for skills, you mention the global cool down, which had a lot to do with it, but you could also split focus too if you wanted to, and then the Spectre specilaisations which added another aspect of replayability.

        ME1 in normal difficulty was a cover shooter, where as you say, DPS was the only real issue. But playing in the harder modes, it became a bit more about tactics, and how you used your skills.

        ME2 became a game of rock paper scissors in terms of barrier/armour/health…and held your hand doing so. I found ME2 and 3 more shooters, and less RPGs.

      • malkav11 says:

        ME3 had some weapon decision making. ME2 didn’t even pretend to offer choices to any class that couldn’t wield assault rifles, unless you bought some overpriced DLC that they’ve never put on sale or reduced in cost in any way. And even then it wasn’t much.

  13. klops says:

    I have. Then I had to end it because the not-so-well-done PC port didn’t work in my old computer.

    You could drive around in that APC shooting monkeys, you could fight in combat, you could do everything else – and if I remember correctly, the loading times were ok.

    What you couldn’t do was the hacking minigame, there my computer just died. Which was a bit weird.

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    Bluerps says:

    I have, twice. It has a bunch of problems like the boring planetary exploration (the skies are nice, though), the constantly reused locations (today we go to The Mine, tomorrow it will be The Spaceship) or the weird combat (strongest weapons: pistols) but I love it, like I love the entire trilogy. It’s one of my favorite games.

  15. Sin Vega says:

    The last stretch of the game, from meeting the ancient archivist thing, to racing back home and fighting spoilers, is the best section of the series. The big villains actually felt threatening and truly alien when they’re revealed, whereas after the first game they just became routine.

    Also, Sheperd should have died at the end. The bit where it turned out she didn’t wasn’t a relief at all, it was trite and anticlimactic. Especially given the events of the second game.

    But anyway. It had the most Wrex in, therefore is the best ME game.

    • Eightball says:

      >But anyway. It had the most Wrex in, therefore is the best ME game.

      This.

      There should be a spinoff game where you play as Wrex (or a subordinate to him) as becomes a Bismarck figure for the Krogan people and welds them into a unified nation.

    • konondrum says:

      I have to agree with this. The first game ended on such a high note. Although I enjoyed 2 a great deal, no moment in the series ever equaled the last few of hours of the first game for me.

    • onodera says:

      And it has the best dialogue in a videogame: link to youtube.com

  16. SaintAn says:

    Started replaying it for more or less the 10th time a few days ago because I’ve been watching Cosmos and it made me want to play again. It’s definitely one of the very best games made in the last 15 years. The sequels are complete garbage, so it’s really sad how Mass Effect never got a proper sequel.

    “dull planet-exploration did their best to convince me that I should call it quits.”
    “Mass Effect is nowhere near as good a game as what followed,”

    I expect better from this site. I thought the writers here were gamers, not braindead ADHD casuals that don’t know what you’re talking about. What is this, Kotaku?
    Planet exploring on the Mako is brilliant, and there’s so many different types of planets to explore with all kinds of things to find that it feels like a sandbox game sometimes even though it’s a pretty linear game. The driving physics are extremely satisfying too. It’s all optional so if you didn’t like those parts you could skip them. Sadly they got rid of that system for you casuals, which enrages me because us gamers can’t have nice things, everything has to be dumbed down for you people.

    The Mass Effects that followed have incredibly shitty stories that in no way live up to the story of the first.
    The Collectors are a stupid idea and a horrible followup to one of the best stories in games, and an even worse followup to the best villain in gaming, Saren.
    They lack the RPG elements of the first.
    They dumbed down the combat into a CoD-like pile of crap.
    There were more companions, but they didn’t have the feel that the originals had and the random death gimmick at the end makes the deaths feel cheap.
    The areas you visited had more to them, so if you went to an a planet you needed to talk to lots of people to learn about the world. In ME2&3 you just rush to the combat mostly, because people don’t want a lore-rich universe, they want to just shoot stuff.
    The awesome Mako planet exploring was replaced with incredibly boring planet scanning minigames that are required if you want to keep the crew from dying in that last mission.

    And that’s mostly just what I can remember of the 2nd. The 3rd is even worse.

    • Eightball says:

      I liked the Mako more than I disliked it, but not every planet needed to be covered in 80 degree hills and valleys.

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      teije says:

      Wow – way to rage out because opinions.

      I’m guessing “casuals” is an insult.

      • c-Row says:

        Yeah, no need to be an ass.

      • geldonyetich says:

        Honestly, there’s a grain of truth to the rage against the casuals: a great many good game mechanics over the year have been scrapped because somebody complained it was too hard. Granted, the greater blame lay with game development budgets that required such a huge audience to repay that catering to a casual demographic put hardcore gamers in the lurch among AAA developers.

        As for the MAKO, it’s awkward, but you can get used to it. Casual indeed to complain it is insurmountable.

    • Arehandoro says:

      I agree with what you say, I really think the same about first ME and the sequels, but not how you say it. Specially coz typing that way your arguments, and therefore mine, somehow lose their credibility.

    • ninjapirate says:

      So when a writer’s opinion differs from yours, this means his view is automatically the lesser one?

    • Horg says:

      ”They dumbed down the combat into a CoD-like pile of crap”

      Duck Hunt would be a more appropriate comparison, but that was my biggest gripe with how the series developed, and why i’ve never finished ME2. Encounters felt artificial, like a shooting gallery where the enemies conveniently feed themselves into the arena in small waves. Arenas themselves don’t look like real environments with all the conveniently placed cover objects. Shepard dies almost instantly if you leave cover for even a second. Biotic and tech powers were watered down to feel utterly anemic. Equipment upgrades felt pointless (i’ve heard they are essential later but still feel pointless early game). Your 2 companion squad mates feel like they contribute nothing to a fight beyond a passive ammo power up.

      ME1 was hardly the pinnacle of 3rd person squad shooters, but i’d take its systems of combat and environment design over the changes ME2 and 3 implemented.

      • konondrum says:

        This comes closest to my recollections of the two games. Combat in ME1 was awkward, but tactical. The combat in ME2 and 3 (which is even worse in my opinion) feels closest to Gears of War, a series I dislike both for its mechanics and style/tone.

  17. Chaoslord AJ says:

    There was a lot in ME I liked. I really enjoyed the quick fights, the “force” powers and all. It felt like Knights of the old Rep. 3

    Characters were cool, alien races and background was cool much like in Babylon 5.

    Mako was bad – switch this for a carpet from Magic Carpet.
    Backtracking and always trying to talk to everyone for possibly new dialogue felt pointless.

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    Risingson says:

    At the time I thought “this is a really wise mix of game mechanics, some of them unexpected – the mining one, directly from Starflight/Star Control 2”. I never replayed it, but enjoyed it inmensely.

    • nigelvibations says:

      Same here. There was a moment on the surface of a planet where I realized I was playing a near-perfect marriage of KOTOR & Ur-Quan Masters.

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      alison says:

      Bingo. Mass Effect was basically Star Control 3D. Without the annoying time limit that made me never able to finish Star Control 2 before the Ur-Quan killed everyone. Driving around in the Mako was somewhat of a pain in the ass, but definitely better than having to land, grab one mineral blob, then take off again on a Star Control 2 planet with ridiculous levels of fire and lightning.

  19. c-Row says:

    Count me in with the apparent minority who liked ME2 more than its prequel. ME1’s proper story missions involving the Mako were alright but the few dozen “let’s put some random white noise image through our terrain generator and randomly place some items everywhere” made me want to pull my hair out repeatedly. Mass Effect 2 had the perfect balance of well-designed side missions and proper dialogue, something ME3 pretty much dropped again.

    • Jenks says:

      I don’t think you’re in the minority. On its own, ME2 was my favorite of the series. I think that saying ME was “nowhere near as good” as ME2 is more than a little retarded, though.

      I also don’t think it’s fair to talk about the Mako without talking about the much worse planet scanning in ME2.

      Side note – a prequel is something that comes out after but takes place before. Previous entry or predecessor maybe but not prequel. I’m not usually a pedant but I’m not a fan of prequels.

      • c-Row says:

        Right, I should have noticed that – the Star Wars prequels probably being the most (in)famous example.

      • malkav11 says:

        It drives me crazy when people talk about the first thing in a series being a “prequel”, so you are not alone. :P

    • Eight Rooks says:

      let’s put some random white noise image through our terrain generator and randomly place some items everywhere

      This. So much this. Every single planet in ME1 was absolute rubbish. It didn’t work aesthetically at all and they should have scrapped it at the prototype stage, end of story. And the Mako wasn’t particularly hard to control, it was just really, really, really frigging stupid. It amazes me – seeing as it seems to be the PC Master Race/”More numbers=better game” crowd who love ME1 – that people defend a mode of transport that’s basically, like, the direct expression of what a five-year-old thinks being a spaceman entails*, realised with what could almost have been tech from 1998. (*And no, not in a good, Nintendo-first-party-title sort of way.)

      • malkav11 says:

        The side planet nonsense being rubbish isn’t really a knock against ME1 in the context of the series, since ME2 and 3’s replacement mechanics were also incredibly terrible.

  20. Muzman says:

    Only played the first one. The design and so forth is pretty cool. Really makes an impact. I never really liked the other gameplay-ey aspects that much. They were like everyone says; cookie cutter bases and missions, fairly easy combat and so forth. But I found it innocuous enough that I did keep doing it regardless.
    The good things were good and the less than good didn’t hurt.

  21. Solidstate89 says:

    Of course I have, like 4 times all the way through. It will always remain the best in my mind because it’s the only one of the trilogy where WREX IS ACTUALLY PART OF MY PARTY GOD DAMMIT!

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    alison says:

    Speaking as someone who played through the entire trilogy over the space of a couple weeks well after the hype had died down, i must agree that Mass Effect is a must-play. I held out for years because third-person-shooters are absolutely not my kind of game, but the truth is the story is worth it.

    It is entirely depressing that in Mass Effect 2 and 3 the series turns into all the worst stereotypes of a third-person-shooter (walk through a corridor, enter an arena, waves of baddies come to attack you, hide behind the conveniently-located undestroyable crate, poke your head out, fire off some sniper rounds, run out of bullets, switch to your magic missile attack so you can finish the insanely boring “battle”, walk through another corridor, repeat). In spite of the woeful combat mechanics, Mass Effect 2 and 3 are a great ending to the story, and if you keep your guy through all three episodes you get to see some really touching emotional closure on the relationships you forged in the first one.

    But the combat after the first one is truly atrocious for people coming from PC first-person shooters and sneakers. Forcing you into artificial cover and relying on magical fireballs and magical healing spells instead of running around open spaces with proper guns and one-shot-kills completely ruins the immersion in a science fiction world, imo.

    Still, it is probably the best original space opera that has ever hit computer games. I don’t know why everyone complained about the ending, you could see it coming a mile away if you are a serious sci-fi fan. There isn’t much on the PC that hits that epic Dune/Ringworld/Culture feeling, but this is one. Play it. Then play Deus Ex or Gemini Rue or something else to remind you that even without an epic story at least you can enjoy science fiction games without having to stare at your hero(ine)’s buttocks 24/7.

    • malkav11 says:

      You could see the entire game boiling down to pushing one of three arbitrary buttons and then getting a whole 40 seconds of copy-pasted cutscenes that tell you virtually nothing about the actual consequences of your actions coming a mile away? Because that’s why the original ME3 ending(s) were terrible. or the biggest reason. And none of the classic SF that I enjoy ends like that, thankyouverymuch. (Though IIRC 2001 sort of does, at least in the movie. And I wasn’t a fan of that either.)

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        alison says:

        SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ THIS COMMENT IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED MASS EFFECT 3 NO SERIOUSLY JUST KEEP SCROLLING.

        Well, yes. With this sort of epic story where the entire point is “save the galaxy”, it was (for me) quite clear that at the end you were going to have to sacrifice yourself, and the galaxy would never be the same afterwards. Epic stories don’t tend to end with kill the baddie, throw a parade and everyone lives happily ever after. If they did, they wouldn’t be very epic – they’d just be another day in the life of the universe. I found the ending of ME3 touching, since you basically spend 20 hours saying goodbye to all your old friends, then ultimately (and inevitably) sacrifice yourself so they can live. The developers even gave you the option to play God and decide what world they will get to live on in. Seemed fine to me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • malkav11 says:

          Did you intend to reply to my post? Because you certainly didn’t address anything I said. I certainly don’t object to the idea of Shepard dying in a climactic sacrifice, whether or not that sacrifice were to accomplish the objective. There’s this weird idea that people who disliked the original ME3 endings did so because they wanted Shepard to live, and people who liked them seem determined to push that idea regardless of what the former people actually say. But that’s not the problem! The problem is that the actual ending isn’t a climactic sacrifice, it’s an arbitrary set of buttons to push with none of your previous choices taken into account (at least in any sort of surfaced way – warscore apparently affects which buttons you have available to push, but that makes no sense and isn’t disclosed), and then the concluding cutscenes were extraordinarily brief, have almost no difference in content based on your choice, and really do little to nothing to close out the story or give you a sense of what happens next.

          I also have complaints about the holo-boy conversation (which seems like a pretty direct ass-pull, narratively, and doesn’t allow you to really argue with the central premise even when it directly conflicts with your previous experience with the game), the general pointlessness of the warscore mechanic and the weirdly truncated final Earth sequence, but if that final conversation had decided the ending (as opposed to giving me a set of buttons to push) and reflected the story I’d been telling with my Shepard and branched based on previous choices and encounters, then launched into personalized epilogue cutscenes that were actually coherent and provided some sense of closure? I would totally have been okay with it. Or if the game had ended with that last scene in the control room on Earth, with Shepard’s eyes closing as (he/she) died? Also totally okay.

          As it is, I don’t remember the scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke presses one of three buttons to defeat the Empire and then we see a color-coded explosion followed by the Millenium Falcon warping away, roll credits. Or the scene in Dune where Paul Atreides presses one of three buttons to defeat the Harkonnens and then there’s a color-coded explosion and we see a sandworm writhing off into the distance, roll credits. For example.

          • malkav11 says:

            (The Extended Cut free DLC came out after I’d already beaten ME3, so I haven’t seen that version of the endings. Hopefully they’re better, but it’ll have to wait until my paragon Soldier finishes ME2 and gets imported into 3, which at this rate won’t be anytime soon.)

          • bleeters says:

            The extended cut is a mixed bag. There’s some more fleshed out and varied cutscenes depending on which outcome you ended up with, and the game actually remembers that your squad existed.

            If what you’re looking for is a decent explanation for any of the crap that came out of the Catalysts mouth, you’re not going to be satisfied. The added dialogue asking about where the Crucible came from and who designed it – an important question, seeing as how nothing about its purpose or functionality really makes any sense – literally results in being told there’s no time to explain. Thanks Bioware. Everything makes sense now.

    • disorder says:

      I have to agree Mass Effect’s backstory, setting and maybe even the story it was trying to tell was a draw. Yet largely for similar- sounding reasons I didn’t really get to playing it – any of them – all through. I didn’t get the gameplay. And it seemed like a book of, choose what order you read the chapters in. And I’m not saying any of that is explicitly bad, but if there’s youtube video that can condense your game into a movie (note: they exist) I’d argue there’s probably some truth in it.

      Not that I think they made all that many unexpected narrative choices either (heroes never die until they’re out of usefulness, I didn’t expect game of thrones in space in 2007). And to the list of story elements they’d borrowed from that we’ve seen before (I liked the SC2 ur-quan analogy; I’d not thought of) it seems noone mentioned shivans or – Unreal 2’s parallels with drakk, the latter of which seems almost scrubbed from (internet) memory.

      But I did enjoy watching the mass effect as ‘movies’.

  23. Veles says:

    Played all three and loved them. Don’t really get the hate for the ending. The Mass Effect trilogy sits in my list of best games of all time.

    The stand out moment of the whole trilogy for me is in the first game when you speak to Sovereign for the first time. That scene sent shivers down my spine.

  24. kael13 says:

    Played them all at least twice. I feel like ME1 and 2 had three runs each. Gosh they were rather good weren’t they?
    There’re a lot of aspects about ME1 that were a bit rubbish, but wow did they nail the world-building and – using that hated word – immersion.

    The first time the Normandy sails gracefully into drydock at the Citidel, Ashley and Kaidan take a moment to marvel in awe at the great arms of the wards and ponder humanity’s new place in a larger galactic society. Truly a magical moment in gaming.

  25. Det. Bullock says:

    Oh, boy if I did.
    I first got a budget edition of the first game with a magazine, but I still had my old PC so it had audio buffering issues that were really distracting.
    I think it was the first game I tried on my new rig, I finished it a few times, I even enjoyed driving the Mako, exploring planets was very Star Trek-y.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I initially bounced off this game. I don’t normally go for the shiny clean future vision of Star Trek and the like… seeing the Citadel for the first time it all seemed a bit sterile, and I wasn’t immediately convinced by the characters either, except maybe Wrex.

    Later gave it another shot, this time with FemShep, and I went from “not sure this is for me” to “okay this is interesting” even if I was still skeptical about some bits, like Liara’s fanservice-y “let me tell you about my people’s mating rituals” (I like Liara, but she doesn’t really come into her own until Shadow Broker), or the grind-tastic item management.

    Then ME2 really sold me on the series. By the time I blew up the Collector base I was a 100% on board.

    That said, I liked ME1 more when I replayed it. I could see how they built up the characters and the world, and the whole arc of the story and that bit when you scale the Citadel tower is pretty grand. I do love the music as well.

    The main thing in ME1 that doesn’t hold up are the generic side missions with near identical base layouts. Only one that really feels different is the DLC one, Bring Down the Sky, and maybe that one with the hostage on a ship.

    I didn’t like the combat in ME1 that much, especially compared to 2 and 3, though it’s definitely more enjoyable on New Game+ when you don’t have to worry about grinding equipment and skills, as long as you put it on Hard-mode and make good use of squad abilities.

    I like the concept of the Mako exploring more than the experience of actually driving it but it made a nice break from combat and talking and really suits the theme. I’m very interested to see how the new Mako drives in Andromeda.

    Though in the end ME3 is my favourite, naysayers be damned.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I wonder if the classes people choose affect how they feel about the combat… I’ve always played as the Soldier class with shotgun + pistol and occasional sniping, with the Barrier shield as extra ability… I moved around a lot rather than just waiting behind cover. Really enjoyed the combat from ME2 onwards as a result, though like ME1 it becomes more interesting on higher difficulties if you’re actively using your squad’s abilities and ordering them into good positions rather than letting the AI take care of it.

      I think ME3’s multiplayer made me appreciate the combat more.

  27. jalf says:

    So much unnecessary negativity in the comments.

    So I’ll keep it simple.

    I really liked the game.

    I also really liked the other games in the trilogy.

    Yay!

    • Premium User Badge

      Risingson says:

      You people that think different than jalf, stop it! You are going to make him cry! :(

      • cpt_freakout says:

        I didn’t like any of them! (I played 1 and a bit through 2 before I decided the whole thing was a waste of my time). Sorry jalf :(… but hey, we can cry together, even if it’s for entirely opposite reasons. :)

  28. geldonyetich says:

    Mass Effect 1 was great, I was particularly happy with how the space travel, planetary vehicular segment, and on foot segments felt relatively seamless (though they weren’t completely).

    Mass Effect 2 swapped that out, the combat segments were better, but the space sucked and the vehicular segment was completely gone. Later DLC introduced an arcade vehicular segment, but that sure wasn’t what I wanted!

    I bought Mass Effect 3 long ago. Heard the ending sucked and they still haven’t added the good vehicular support. Haven’t had the heart to play it.

    Bioware’s fall as a worthwhile developer can more or less be traced from Mass Effect 1 to 3.

    • malkav11 says:

      ME3 is a significantly better game in almost every respect than ME2 was. FWIW. And it actually continues the main plot – some continuity issues aside – in a way that ME2 didn’t.

  29. April March says:

    There is a part in the first Mass Effect in which you find one of the thingamabobs you have to find the the pointless planet romps and the game rewards you with TWO WHOLE PAGES OF TEXT describing how you briefly inhabit the mind of a primitive alien humanoid.

    When I played, I just raised an eyebrow. Thinking back on it today, I think how gutsy it was to have such a thing, even as a minor diversion, in a big AAA RPG that was also being published on consoles (where I was playing it, in fact).

    I cannot imagine the second game rewarding the player with two pages’ worth of text. I haven’t played the third game yet.

  30. tehfish says:

    I find this an unusual series in that whilst i generally prefer the more traditional RPGs, i prefer the gameplay in ME2/3 to ME1.

    I initially didn’t like the ME2 mechanics, but it has grown on me and now i’d be very happy if they did a port of ME1 with ME2/3’s gameplay…

    But ME1 is still a great game years later. I’m currently replaying it (though not looking forwards to the shader bug in the later areas on AMD CPUs they never fixed) link to reddit.com

  31. Rufust Firefly says:

    I love Mass Effect–the soundtrack is great and really adds a lot of “OMG space is awesome isn’t it?” feel that the first game tries so hard to achieve. Later games are a bit more streamlined and the penchant for the developers to focus on cheesecake and ass shots instead of story gets incredibly annoying.

    Mass Effect 3 had a really awesome multiplayer mode. The game itself had great combat and some good character moments, pity everything else was absolute grimdark dreck. Some day I might play Citadel–I gather it is a better ending than the actual one, but the original “BUY OUR DLC” message they settled on originally still pisses me off years later.

  32. alisonburgers says:

    I have played Mass Effect, and it is my favourite game in the series. Yes, the environments were empty and often re-used but they were beautiful and full of promise. I explored EVERY SINGLE PLANET I could because I loved reading the descriptions and imagining what the colonies on them were like (nevermind that there wasn’t actually that much to do on them). Meeting all the characters for the first time and talking to them was also a treat, and learning about the universe and the different races was engrossing.

    I felt that the next two games lost their sense of freedom, exploration and discovery. Also, they should have made working for Cerberus a choice. That was the single worst part of the trilogy for me; the Commander I played (FemShep Paragon Adept) would never have co-operated with them. She’d have gone back to the Alliance the minute she escaped that facility.

  33. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    ME1 was definitely the best overall experience; it was set in a neat new universe, had a good story arc, impressive villain reveal, exciting finale.
    2 and 3 were just, ultimately… more of the same, but with fewer surprises, and a lot of less-interesting plot baggage piling on higher and higher, slowing things down.

  34. AyeBraine says:

    I’m not a person who longs for walking simulators or escaping into dumb repetitiveness, but for some reason I never minded the endless driving in Mass Effect. I don’t know.

    COME ON! It’s driving on the surface of some blasted planets in outer space that you chose to go to just like choosing a burger. Like, almost free choice and everything’s very appetizing and shiny. And you’re just plopping around in your funny rover and you never HAVE to do this actually (I mean if you only do story missions and don’t chase items, the amount of driving is more like a mini-game).

    I had a freaking rover like this when I was a kid! It was programmable! (I couldn’t figure out how to program it, though, and then it died.) And this one can jump off mountains! And (again) you don’t HAVE to drive it, you just can! And… hey, remember this game called Star Control 2?

    I think if the first Mass Effect didn’t have these “wide-open” mechanics – like driving up random hills and managing a bazillion items from different manufacturers – I wouldn’t buy into the whole series so much. You could forgive ME2 for being a set of pretty bloom-filled corridors – because you already knew how spacious and deliciously indifferent this universe can be.

  35. dangerlift says:

    Having played the sequels first, the only fun thing I took away from playing ME1 for the first time recently was being awarded extra bastard points for accidentally running over a family of space-monkeys.

    Sequels better in all regards. Except mining.