Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mass Effect Trilogy: Final Thoughts

First, as a Playstation 3 only owner (my PC is crap), I haven't played the first Mass Effect. a shame, in fact, one I hope one day to correct. my only contact with the first game is the interactive comic at the beginning of ME2. So, my thoughts about the trilogy will be based on the two later games and the comic.

Mass Effect is a huge game, for starts. it have dozens of locations in each game, with a great number of alien races. many compared it as the Star Wars of videogames. I think that Mass Effect is better than Star Wars for several reasons. The races are more realistic, not just created to look cool, are more developed as a culture and as characteristics of its individuals than Star Wars. While Star Wars, if you base only in the movies and not on the Expanded Universe, feels very artificial when compared with ME.

The universe set in ME is one I can believe as possible, not just the product of some people with lots of imagination but very little concern about how much believable the universe is. All the background offered help to feel the universe is not just a series of backgrounds, but a living entity in itself.

The story on itself is not really unique. Shepard is set to save the universe from a menace most people don't believe it exists or not want to admit it exists. So, he/she group up with a set of unique characters to save the universe. And it is those characters the meat of the game. Most of them feel unique and interesting enough to keep myself interested in their backstories, in their past and in what could happen to them.

It is very rare to find a game where most of its cast escapes many of the stereotypes who populate games. Not that it doesn't have its share, like Miranda and her now infamous buttocks. But characters like Mordin, Tali and Legion more than compensate this.

The story itself is very standard if you look at it superficially. But what make it great is the amount of influence you, the player, have on it. Not only your decisions can have impact in the current events, some will come back to bite you when you least expect. I felt consequences of decisions made in the first Mass Effect game (through the interactive game) come back in the third game to punish me. This is what make the game so interesting. To see how past actions affects you in current events.

Gameplay wise, there is nothing really to write home about. It is a 3rd person cover shooter and it is competent. It is nothing near amazing, but good enough to not be a problem. The choices you make through the games are the real mechanic that set Mass Effect apart.

Shepard, as a character, is also part of the gameplay. It is the Shepard you want to be, a ruthless badass or a paragon of virtue, all depending on how you wish him/her to be. Shepard will be amazing as long as you make him/her to be.

My favorite character of the NPCs surely is Tali, the quarian engineer. She is lovely and energetic. Garrus is pretty damn good too and feel like a real badass. others don't feel so interesting like Jack, Miranda or Ashley, but they aren't a pain in the ass so they hardly affect you appreciation for the game.

And that final in Mass Effect 3 is hardly the awful thing many people decided to make it to be. I felt it was very satisfying. Sure, your choices will not matter in the end, except that one final choice, but it is not like your choices don't mattered. They all mattered during the adventure.

The Mass Effect trilogy is a great sci-fi RPG mixed with a good, competent 3rd person shooter. If you love epic stories, great characters and surprisingly good story choices who affects the game, this is a great game that deserve to be played from the first to the last one. It is not a game for those who only care about shooting stuff, since there is way better shooters in the market without all this story to interfere.

I am glad I gave Mass Effect a chance and this ride have being incredible. I don't know what they will do with the franchise from now on, but surely is a great series that I will keep my eyes on.

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