Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are two of my favorite games to come out this generation. I have yet to play Mass Effect 3 due to all the bad press surrounding the supposedly God-awful ending. But, I have decided that since the first two of the trilogy are some of my favorite games I really should finish out the story. I really should find out first hand what happens to Commander Shepard for better or for worse.
This post concerns the first of the trilogy, Mass Effect. I originally played the game on Xbox 360 way back in 2008 (a bit after its original release at the end of 2007). I wanted to replay both games on PC (since both 1 and 2 were on sale on Steam for dirt cheap) then finish up with three on PC as well. I figure the best way to go about playing through the third game for the first time is to replay the first two so I can experience the trilogy as a single continuous story. Not to mention I had forgotten pretty much everything that had happened over the past five or six years. So what follows are my general thoughts of Mass Effect. Not exactly a review or critique, just my opinions on the game.
My favorite part about the Mass Effect universe is the insane amount of world building that goes into it. There are so few games that do such a great job at making the player feel like they are truly a part of the game’s world. But Mass Effect goes above and beyond making a believable future for the Milky Way galaxy. Everyone you talk to has something interesting to say that adds to the lore of the world and makes it all the more richer. Not to mention the codex that could fill entire books with the amount of information it contains.
The Mass Effect universe may be great, but it just pales in comparison to another aspect that falls flat so often in games, the story. Bioware goes all out in this game to raise the stakes as high as possible and make a compelling story where Shepard is the only possible hero who can save essentially the entire universe.
The story is so strong it seems to have directly influenced two of the other most popular sci fi video games of this generation: Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3. Both of these games introduce “Prothean” races (just as Mass Effect five years earlier) as well as deal with the origins of the human race. The problem is, the worlds built in both the Halo and Assassin’s Creed franchises are only a fraction of what’s found in Mass Effect. And in affect, their stories suffer and manage to hit all the wrong notes. They come across as just trying way too hard.
My first play through in 2008 was with a male Shepard character. This play through was with a female Shepard (or femShep as she is commonly called among gamers). I had heard great things about the voice acting from Jennifer Hale for female Shepard and I figured I should hear what all the fuss was about. Hale does a great job delivering her lines and gives off a very strong, commanding presence. Though I will say, I seem to remember Mark Meer (male Shepard voice) doing a great job as well. Either way, it was a nice shift in perspective to see a woman leading role in an industry so over saturated with the stereotypical gruff, 30-something male space marine. This time I had a gruff, 30-something FEMALE space marine!
This game is great because of its setting, lore, and story. I know Mass Effect 2 will continue this trend and I look forward to continuing my mission to save the galaxy.
Just a quick note: Mass Effect 2 may not be my next post. I’m considering taking a break for another game. But who knows!