With Andromeda coming out towards the end of March, now is the perfect time to play through the first three games which fostered my love for this phenomenal sci-fi series. Except I’m only playing two of them.
Ruairidh, I hear you ask, why only two?
Well, while the original Mass Effect kick-started the franchise with an amazing original story and gameplay it is really Mass Effect 2 that is “THE” Mass Effect we think of when talking about it. That’s not to say that Liara, Kaiden, Ashley and Wrex’s contributions in the original should be discarded and ignored though.
The original Mass Effect was a sleeper hit, slowly growing a massive fan base through word of mouth and forums, as gamers delved into the deep and beautiful galaxy and storyline prioritising content and player choice over furious gunplay and action elements. The varied and dynamic races which were introduced along with the history and mythos of the Mass Effect universe helped to build a fully fleshed, original and engrossing story.
So why don’t I want to dive right back into Mass Effect enfolding myself in the cosy familiarity of my Normandy family? Quite simply, the gameplay.
Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay is great; they balance the guns and powers nicely, the worlds are extensively detailed and inviting while the villains are colourful and unique. But if you’ve played ME2 and 3 then you’re aware of how smooth and intense the gameplay can be, so ME1 feels like a bit of a slog.
Of course, I am so intimately familiar with Mass Effect 1 after my numerous play throughs that I could beat for beat recite the story according to your choices and actions if need be, so it’s not a big deal to jump over 1 for me. The same can be said for 2 though, but that’s not stopping me from re-playing it.
Mass Effect 2 is quite simply one of the best video games every made. While it is predominantly an RPG game with a lot of dialogue, decision making, character development and questing, the combat system is fluid and dynamic, ignoring turn-based fighting and feeling more like a 3rd person space combat game. The relationships and effects of minor choices in the story are well developed and draw you into your own little Commander Shepherd world and keep you there. And the story? Oh the story!
This is the first time I’ve taken to Mass Effect 2 without importing a character from the previous game. This is due to not being able to export my Mass Effect saves to cloud storage from my 360 and import them onto my Xbox One which entirely defeats the purpose of it. I know, I could transfer my saves to a USB then onto my Xbox One that way, but it’s just such a pain. Anyway, the point is, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the beginning of the story as to how ME1 panned out in canon.
It turns out: pretty differently from how I always play it; Shepherd killed the council (boo), Wrex (bigger boo!), Kaiden (standard) and put Udina in charge (why??). This was weird, as the alien races hate you, Udina loathes you even though you put him in power and Urdnot Wreave leads the clan on Tuchanka. With that weirdness I decided that I’d play the entire game making different choices this time.
For starters, I played as a dick just as the results from ME1 seem to imply. You’d better believe I was hammering that right trigger through the cutscenes and firing through my Renegade score! There were times that I couldn’t bring myself to be too much of a dick, but I did it as much as I could.
As for romancing, I decided to go for Mass Effect’s own Suicide Girl in Jack rather than Genetically Engineered perfection from Miranda or anyone else (Samara hated my moral choices anyway so she was right out). That has to be the most intense sexytime cut-scene.
I was on the verge of taking Morinth instead of Samara in during Samara’s loyalty mission, but after some Googling I noticed that she’ll mate with you straight after the collector base mission which means… Nope.
Anyway, I’ve been having one hell of a time all over again with ME2. Every time I play it, I love it. Sometimes it feels slow and dated, at other points I just look at the level of detail they put into the game and am left in awe of the majesty. ME2 is like a pair of comfortable slippers that will last decades. Sure you don’t want to put them on every day, but they are just so nice, comforting and cosy to wear whenever you do.
I’ve still not quite finished with this playthrough, but thankfully I have a while to finish ME2 and ME3 before the 10 hours of early access free play for Andromeda arrives in March. And I can’t wait to savour every Reaper-beating minute of it!