We just finished “Mass Effect 3”, the third and last part of a game that – think we can say without hesitating – is certainly one of a kind.The emotional upheaval during this scifi saga is pretty hard to match.
When we first started playing “Mass Effect” in 2008, it was still a little rough around the edges. But we were hooked instantly.
Lene: I just love creating my own character’s looks. I spent an evening an making my first Shepard. Actually, I always do that when I have the chance. My Skyrim-char took several hours as well. My first Shepard was female and sort of Eurasian-looking. She was a tough cookie and I liked her instantly.
Thias: Oh yeah, she LOOOOVES character creation. I mean: it is fun and I take my time, too. But Lene… we often start games in two different rooms at the same time, but under no circumstances am I allowed to start playing before her character is done. Sometimes feels like I could have finished a whole other game waiting for her. 😛
Anyway: My shepard was a male soldier, handsome, role-model, blablabla.
Lene: I played a Sentinel with my FemShep. It is just me, or does being a Sentinel not really have any edges in 3? As a Sentinel, you are a biotic tec. In 1, that used to make it easier to hack things likes wall safes or computers and such. But this element completely vasnished in 3, you just pick up stuff as you go and you don’t have to do anything except look for it. If you usually don’t bother with this kind of explorations you probably won’t miss it, but I kinda like decoding things. So playing this class doesn’t give you any real edge. I was thinking about changing to pure biotic… Well, this is a minor inconsistency anyway.
Thias: I totally forgot about the hacking stuff and I’m usually really into that kinda stuff. Didn’t miss it in ME3, though. Played the “IMMMAA FIRIN’ MA LAZZOOORR”-type-a-guy, if you know what I mean.
ME3 in relation to…
Lene: Replaying ME1: I hated driving that buggie, the mako, they call it. I call it a pain in the ass. Still hate it! Mission level designs are tuby at best. Now, playing ME1 again after ME3 you can just see how much gameplay has improved over the series. Adding jumping makes it feel more shooter-y.
Thias: I actually missed the mako. Did so in ME2 already. And why they dumbed down the planet scanning game even more…. come on guys, if you make it so simple, why not leave it out. Or bring back the mako for a few missions. Speaking of which: the missions are still very linear in ME3 with only a little bit more room to the right/left before you run into something that prevents you from hitting the invisble wall. But hey, this is no open world shooter, no hard feelings. I will play through the whole saga again in a year or so, being less of a saint and write about it then…
Lene: The affection you can develop to your NPC friends in “Mass Effect” is incredible. If you haven’t played it: Half of the time of the game is talking to people. You can have relationships, you can flirt, intimidate, bribe, consult, betray… And it all looks so nice. Why does this differ from any other RPG then? This is not news.
Bioware spent a great deal inventing new ways to animate the characters. For example in ME2 the facial emotions are AI created in relation to the recorded voice performance. The characters you encounter really come to life, have an intricate background story, their own thoughts and goals and pursue them, too.
Thias: What I found really amazing is how it often felt as if Lene and I were playing two completely different games. Characters and missions changed so much based on our interactions and decisions that we often found us talking about the things that happened in our last gaming sessions, having a lot of “What? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?”-moments.
A history of violence
Lene: Alien races have a complex history and genealogy as a rule. Of course, every race has its issues. E.g. one race created another race, then tried to annihilate it (because they were getting “too clever”); another race enslaved another race and than neutered it (because they were getting “too strong”); and pretty much every other race thinks humans are stupid (because they are “too young”) and have to be convinced otherwise before they do anything for you… You get my drift. It’s all about superiority in the galaxy, basically. There is a ton to learn and the history is very sophisticated and intricate; it’s hard to find a ‘blank spot’. Some of the non-council races are just adorable, like the Elcor. Here is one example.
Thias: LOVE the Elcor. And besides being adorable: this is a very grave, intelligent and alien species with a long history..
Lene: Personally, I demand a diploma in “‘Mass Effect’-related cultural Xenology and History” that you get as an achievement once you finish all the games. It would be *.pdf instant print and it would go right to my wall.
Thias: And I even read ALL of the background information. Seriously, I know popular sci-fi universes which give less background on their inhabitants. A+ for creating a whole new, rich setting from scratch!
Tragic Deaths and Loving
Lene: Sadly, in ME2, many of my Shepard’s crew died. I lost Thane, Tali, Wrex and Morden. I could never get over it and neither could she. She romanced Liara in ME1, I didn’t have savegame for ME2. So Liara was amnesic and couldn’t remember her at all. That was sad! Then Shepard went after Jack, but apparently she is not into women. Me not wiki-ing everything, nothing happened there. In ME3, she finally realized she had fallen in love with Garrus, but got distracted by her sexy secretary Traynor, so that didn’t happen either. All in all, I am not very satisfied with how that went down.
Thias: I don’t remember who I romanced in ME1 (might have been Liara, too), but I totally went for Jack in ME2 (and ME3 for that matter). Lene was quite envious as I recall. Har!
Returning to the Citadel
Lene: As I mentioned earlier: Now I will play “Mass Effect 1” again, and this time, it will be different. My FemShep was a hard-ass, but she was basically friendly. Like, 90% Paragon (the goodie points you get) and 10% Renegade (the baddie points) when someone really pissed her off or threatened the ones she loved. And the one time she punched this Quarian captain in the nuts was a total accident, I swear it!
For my replays, I am playing an ugly old man. This is him:
There’s a new Shepard in town now. He will be a bit like Admiral Adama. Feared by his enemies, loved by his crew. Maybe not loved by all of them equally, but still one hell of a guy. Definitely more Renegade actions for him. He’s a Vanguard, I just can’t do it without biotic power – maybe I liked the sound design of warping, too.
This time, I am going to keep Ashley instead of Kaidan (at one point in ME1, you have to decide either/or), because frankly, Kaidan is annoying. “Oh noo, I’m an outdated biotic with an implant that gives me headaches and I am so emo all the time … Sheppy-Weppy, my brainz hurtz, please tell me it’s going to be okay everything is terrible and my head hurts noo…” Boo-fucking-hoo, get over it. Is what the new Shepard would say. Yes. Not the old one. He’s just going to be nice to all the young pretty women and antagonize everyone else except maybe Wrex, they might become buddies.
Thias: And as I already mentioned: I will take some time, but will definetly come back to the saga again. But definitely not before “Bioshock Infinite”.
Lene: And, yes you have just read a highly subjective post about personal “Mass Effect” experiences that contains a lot of spoilers and opions. But telling you that I am replaying it as someone else might give you an idea about the many shades and course of events this detailed universe has to offer. I’m simply curious what butterfly effect it might have if I sneezed in a Quarian’s general direction. Thank you, makers, for a unique gaming experience.
Thias: Indeed, hurp durp.