I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all seen our fair share of sci-fi themed video games over the years. It’s a theme that seems to sell well to gamers. Who doesn’t love futuristic weapons, badass spaceships, and neat alien races? In fact, the market seems to be increasingly flooded with them. That being said, it’s safe to assume that most people have played the Mass Effect trilogy or one of the three games. Those who have not, have most likely at least heard of it. This article is for those that haven’t experienced the full trilogy and why I think they really should.
So, why Mass Effect? Like I said previously, there are a lot of sci-fi games to choose from these days; so, why should you be bothered to play a trilogy of games who’s first title released nearly 9 years ago?
I’ve been asked on multiple occasions, what “game or movie universe” I’d like to live in, given the choice.
Despite my love for Halo and Star Wars, the answer has always been the Mass Effect universe, pre-Reaper War.
The ME universe is one of the most unique and compelling that I’ve seen. The folks over at Bioware really poured a lot of love into everything in these games. Characters, races, weapons, vehicles, armor, locations…even the in-game relationships and galactic politics that are at play. Everything is so thoroughly thought out and explained, that you never feel gaps or plot holes anywhere. The immersion into the universe that they created is so encompassing that you’ll find yourself playing for hours without even realizing it. The Mass Effect games are what’s called an “Action RPG” mixed with a third-person shooter and from the moment you set foot in this wondrous universe they’ve created, you feel the role that you’re playing take over. You find yourself always wanting to complete just one more mission, no matter how many missions you’ve already completed.
Oh, and I should mention that each game allows you, if you so choose, to fully customize the face of the protagonist. Known as Commander Shepard, you can even choose which backstory you’d like him or her to have and what class you’d like them to be. In this sense, choosing a class essentially means choosing how you’d like to play and what types of “powers” you’d like your charcter to have at their disposal.
There are three types of powers in Mass Effect:
- Tech – for engineer types
- Adrenaline – for run ‘n gun types
- Biotic – Essentially advanced “Force” powers
- Other classes include different options from two of the three.
Mass Effect’s design style is very unique among other sci-fi games. It follows the universal language of all sci-fi: fancy tech, a bunch of alien races, and incredible locations. What makes the ME universe unique, however, is that it’s very much based on the science fiction of the ’80s and early ’90s. Everything is very sleek, with glancing curves mixed with sharp angles. However, there are also elements of modern sci-fi mixed in as well, which puts a modern spin on the old sci-fi feel from that era.
The original game admittedly has its flaws. The controls are clunky, the graphics are decent at best, and the inventory/armor/weapons system is severely lacking. Also, one of the biggest drawbacks in the game is the fact that weapons don’t actually have ammunition. Weapons can be fired without ever having to reload, but at a cost. They overheat instead and, when they do, they take what seems like forever to cool down. This leaves the player vulnerable and essentially unable to play the game for quite a few seconds. It can become very frustrating.
However, despite these flaws, I urge everyone to simply power through the game. What the original game lacks in gameplay, it makes up for in story. Sure, all the games have their own individual selling points, but the overall story is what truly shines in this trilogy. Considered by many to be a “space-opera”, the ME series is a truly wonderful tale full of action, suspense, drama, and even romance.
On that note, I should mention that although you may not realize it at the time, your actions in Mass Effect directly and indirectly effect the universe around you. The decisions you make as a player reflect upon your character in-game. How other characters perceive you and how the nuisances of the story unfold weigh heavily on which path you choose. Will you be the epitome of a true hero and follow the path of the Paragon, or will you do whatever it takes and use whatever means necessary to get the job done, like a true Renegade?
If you can power through the original game, then Mass Effect 2 will knock your socks off.
Bioware realized all the mistakes it made with the first game and made sure to address them before releasing a sequel.
Gone, are the days of over-heating weapons and clunky controls. Weapons in ME2 and ME3 use “thermal clips”, which is essentially a universal ammunition for all weapons and people just leave them lying around, apparently. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Mass Effect 2 focuses on forging a team to take on the Collectors, who are mysterious alien race that have suddenly begun abducting entire human colonies without cause or provocation. Humanity is being targeted and it’s your job to form a team, find out why, and stop them. However, you have to scour the galaxy to find the members of your team and even when you finally get them to join you, loyalty doesn’t come easy. You have to earn their respect and their trust. No one will follow a leader they don’t believe in.
Fresh off the heels of success that was Mass Effect 2, Bioware released the final game in the trilogy in 2012.
Mass Effect 3 is the closing chapter in the series and although the ending wasn’t what fans were expecting, the overall game itself is spectacular. Not only did they make sure to take the graphics up another level, but they improved upon pretty much everything from Mass Effect 2. New weapons, new abilities, new characters, returning characters, and the ability to use your omni-tool as a melee weapon are just a few of the awesome things that ME3 brings to the table. Being the final chapter also means that this is where everything comes to a head. The epic conclusion to everything you’ve experienced in the previous two games all comes to fruition here. It’s a massive game and a beautiful one at that.
Mass Effect 3 also included a cooperative wave-based mulitplayer mode. This mode allows you to play as nearly every species in the ME universe and as every class. There are so many options to unlock and use that it becomes incredibly fun and addictive. The mode pits you against ten waves of increasingly difficult enemies on a variety of different locations. Choose your weapons, your gear bonuses, your teammates, and take the fight to the enemy together! It’s one awesome experience and can get very intense at higher difficulties.
The original Mass Effect trilogy has taken countless hours of my gaming time and with Mass Effect: Andromeda on the horizon, I’m already preparing to spend countless more doing it all again.
Even if RPGs or third-person shooters aren’t really your thing, I highly recommend you give this series a try. If you’re a fan of science fiction, epic space battles, awesome aliens, and badass guns, I think you’ll love the Mass Effect series.