A lot of you might remember when I first started writing on this blog series I wrote about Mass Effect. More specifically, the male and female characters of the trilogy who my female Commander Shepard (FemShep to you and me) could interact with. A lot has happened since I wrote those pieces around 7 years ago. I was such a neophyte when it came to writing and reading those past articles makes me cringe just a little to see how basic and short they were. I was, however, feeling nostalgic about the franchise ever since Electronic Arts announced they were releasing remastered versions of all 3 games for current systems.
It’s been a while since I’ve played the original trilogy as well as the supposed new entry, Mass Effect: Andromeda. So, before I actually do pick this game bundle up when it’s released, I’d like to wax nostalgia regarding my personal experience with BioWare epic sci-fi action-RPG series. Besides, I think my perspective is quite a doozy because, as much as I love the original Mass Effect games, however, I’ve never actually played any of them!
I guess we do have to start out with the first game from the series I experienced: Mass Effect 2. My brother actually got the game second-hand from one of those back alley stores who buy and sell used games. He heard really good things about it but never bothered getting it because it was a sequel to a game he never played. This was because the first game was an Xbox 360 exclusive during the early days and we only had a PlayStation 3. Anyway, this was around the time when I was very timid when it came to playing video games; the only ones I really played were The Sims and Street Fighter IV. I just couldn’t get a handle on action games before because I would get all confused and panicky when the action heated up. I was generally content with watching my brother play and I would just give my inputs during the story moments as well as being his second set of eyes and ears.
After booting the game up, I distinctly remember us spending a good hour or so just trying to design our version of Commander Shepard just right. We were both never really good at creating characters who would look good. I was, of course, adamant our hero would be a female so we would build our version of FemShep from what we thought would look good. She obviously had to have red hair and red armor because, simply put, I like the color red! The resultant FemShep we build, from scratch, natch, came out pretty good, if I do say so myself!
We then got to the game proper and, for the longest while, we really didn’t know what we were doing. It’s not like my brother didn’t know how to control FemShep or the Normandy. Rather, we just didn’t know what we were supposed to do because there was just a ton of stuff we couldn’t understand! What’s this about Cerberus, the Illusive Man, Reapers and the Collectors? We had no idea what was happening and we assumed it was because all of this was explained in the first game. Little did we know Cerberus, the Illusive Man and the Collectors were introduced in this entry. Anyway, we plodded along and we kind of settled into a groove of sorts. We started to figure out what was happening just by playing through the story.
After completing all of the Loyalty missions, we then reached the point where I both fell in love with and felt betrayed by Mass Effect 2: the suicide mission in the Collector base. I remember this moment so vividly because I loved how the game gave you choices on who to pick to go as well as who to send to perform specific tasks. At the same time, however, I got incredibly mad because we both made the wrong decisions, leading to Thane dying while crawling in the tubes and Garrus getting carried away by insects. I even though we were being smart because Thane is an assassin and should’ve been perfect for crawling inside small spaces and Miranda volunteered to put up the barrier in my fire team! Also, I could stomach Thane’s death… but Garrus? Sweet, sweet Garrus! I could not abide with him expiring on my watch! We promptly looked up a walkthrough to see how to get everyone, specifically Garrus, to survive the suicide mission!
After finishing Mass Effect 2, we sort of forgot about the series until Electronic Arts announced they were bringing the entire Mass Effect Trilogy to the PlayStation console, including the missing first game in the series. The game we hadn’t played yet and we had mixed feelings. We were going to get the Mass Effect Trilogy for sure as we wanted to play the first game. However, this would mean scrapping our playthrough of Mass Effect 2, the game we went through so much pain in order to get all of our party members to survive until the end! If we got the Trilogy, we just had to play the first game, didn’t we? We eventually bit the bullet and got the Trilogy and went all the way back to playing all 3 games in succession, loading all of our decisions from the subsequent games.
I have to say the first game wasn’t impressive in the least. Even though I was just watching my brother play it, it just looked really plain and boring! The graphics and the places we had FemShip visit looked really bland. We couldn’t make an attractive FemShep to save our lives! The combat looked really clunky since my brother looked really wobbly when trying to aim. The controls were also weird but that’s mostly because we got the US version of Mass Effect Trilogy where the X button was the Accept command but my Asian PlayStation 3 had the circle button to do that. This led my brother to have to “exit” from some puzzles first then go back at it for the controls to work properly. In retrospect, it was unfair to be too hard on Mass Effect 1 since it was made before the glorious Mass Effect 2, which looked and played fantastic.
I don’t remember much about Mass Effect 1. Maybe the story was just forgettable or most of the characters (except for Garrus, naturally) were rather cookie cutter and too dour for my liking. I vaguely remember the choice when you had to pick between either Ashley or Kaiden to save. While we also hated Ashley for being too serious all the time and not letting loose, we had no qualms about letting Kaiden die because we just found him annoying and too full of himself. Good riddance… to either of them.
I was equally upset with Mass Effect 3 but for different reasons. The gameplay looked much better and the worlds and maps felt like a whole lot of fun to traverse but the character models somehow looked better and worse at the same time! Ashley, the one we decided to save from Mass Effect 1 looked like some dressed up harlot while still stating she’s the straight laced loyal soldier. Jack, the tattooed and bald psychic from Mass Effect 2 looked less flamboyant and had this weird mohawk and ponytail combo which looked really lame, especially for such a badass character. At least she had an excuse for the change as she turned over a new leaf and was now teaching other psychics on how to use their powers.
I also didn’t like you couldn’t use all of the characters from previous Mass Effect games and put them in your party. It was just lame to have them sit on the sidelines and not join FemShep after all they’ve been through in the previous games! This was somewhat offset with the massive Citadel DLC BioWare developed because of the uproar on how lame the original ending was. The Citadel DLC, especially the party at the end made all the effort of ensuring as many people survived was worth it!
Speaking of the original ending, we sadly never did experience it but I do recall all of the hate and grief fans were giving Electronic Arts and BioWare because of it. If I remember correctly, it was something like all of the choices you’ve made throughout the Mass Effect Trilogy came off as moot as whatever choice you made in the end didn’t really factor them in. The ending just mostly dependent on your actions in the third game, how much you’ve rallied the Alliance’s forces and which beam you pick when reaching the final point of the game. Either way, my FemShep would die, which just rubbed more salt in the wound of a lackluster destination from an awesome journey.
Like I said, we never experienced any of the lame endings. We started from Mass Effect 1 and then played through Mass Effect 2 using the save settings from the previous entry. By the time we got to Mass Effect 3, EA and BioWare already implemented the Citadel DLC as well as update the endings to make them feel more substantial. If I remember correctly, we picked the Synthesis ending as we wanted all life, including synthetic lifeforms like Legion and EDI to retain their identity instead of destroying or subjugating them. Honestly, none of the options seemed like the right one so we choice something that would mutually benefit everyone to a degree.
Even with they update, I hated the endings of Mass Effect 3 because, basically, it was a huge exposition dump. This weird child AI went up to FemShep and just blah-blah-blah about how biological lifeforms and synthetics will always fight. This could have been written in much better by sprinkling in these ideas throughout the 3 games instead of loading it all at the very end. I guess the folks at BioWare, while they were making the games, didn’t really know where they were going with all of this initially and just came up with this crappy ending at the last minute and made it seem like this was their plan all along.
After finishing the entire first Mass Effect Trilogy, we were excited for the next entry as, well, by the time FemShep made her decision, the galaxy was at peace. What new enemy would come out and challenge us in the future?The answer was Mass Effect: Andromeda. That’s another story for another time.
I will say I am excited for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition as I’m planning to get it an play all 3 games for myself this time and not stick to being a backseat gamer for this go-around! I know it’ll be different as they’ve already announced a few changes, like reducing the number of Miranda’s butt shots and enhancing the gameplay mechanics for Mass Effect 1 to make them on par with later entries. Hopefully I can make more memories of the franchise this time around.
Have any fond memories from the original Mass Effect Trilogy? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!