Can’t Escape from Mass Effect

I spent two weeks trying to write about playing Wow again. Got about 6 lines in and a screenshot.

Also spent that time trying to play the Witcher 2, in hopes of getting to the Witcher 3. I think I made to the end of the prologue.

My heart just wasn’t there.

My heart, as we know, was shattered after playing the original Mass Effect trilogy and never recovered. /overlydramatic. I’ve played Mass Effect 1 a bit since then but haven’t been able to go any further because I can’t handle the feels. Since playing Andromeda, though, (and missing most of the references because it’s just been too long) an itch has been slowly growing to revisit Shepard.

I…I think I’m ready.

I changed the resolution a few hours after creating my character so now she looks all weird and stretched out. Hence, why you only get a side shot. Wish Mass Effect had a Mirror of Transformation like Dragon Age.

I miss Shepard. My Shepard. So I made her with roughly the same look and roughly the same personality. Doing identical (or somewhat identical) playthroughs was actually such a foreign concept that it didn’t even occur to me until I came across a Mass Effect subreddit where someone mentioned doing several playthroughs with the same Shepard and choices. How someone could submit themselves to that emotional roller coast so many times in such a short period, I can’t fathom, but since it’s been a few years and I only vaguely remember my old game, I thought the idea to be brilliant.

I’m still undecided about what to do at the end. It is much better with the extended cut (it’s been years and I still can’t get over how anyone thought the original ending, with no acknowledgement of your personal efforts, no explanation, no epilogue, was a good idea), but it still doesn’t sit right with me. I’m told there is a mod that sets Citadel to be played as an epilogue (which is pretty much how I head cannoned my original game since Citadel came out long after I’d finished), but I think I might just play up until Shore Leave and leave it at that. *****SPOILERS***** I previously went with Synthesis since I didn’t want to destroy the Geth with whom a lot of work went into forging an alliance, and being a space god for the rest of eternity is just UGGG. Plus EDI and Joker get to be together! (Priorities!) But Synthesis doesn’t make any sense – like how does it work? How does Space Magic turn people into part computers and computers into part people with just a beam of light? (The other options don’t really make any sense either, but they’re a bit more plausible, as Destroy could cause some short of galactic malfunction and Control would be Shepard accessing the main panel.) I also hate changing the galaxy to that extent. And why must Shepard be disintegrated in a well? Kill her if you must, but…not like that. ****SPOILERS OVER **** I never decided how I wanted to head cannon retire my Shepard. I mean, her career is clearly over. You can’t go back to normal hunting bad guys and rescue missions after what she’s been through. Settling down with Garrus doesn’t suit her either, she’s an adventurer and spacer through and through. Being put in a pod and shipped to Andromeda for a total change of scenery might fit her personality, but would she want to leave the Milky Way behind after everything she did to save it? I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m only with her for this ride, what happens after, whether she accepts her Bioware fate or lives on to do whatever, is in her own hands, not mine.

So yeah, Mass Effect 1 vs Andromeda

I was interested in how the two compared side by side since they are both Part-Ones-That-May-Be-Stand-Alones.

ME1 definitely feels better fleshed out in all the story elements, the species and their cultures are given way more depth (despite introducing a lot of species – it’s amazing what they did, actually), the characters feel like real people (while in MEA, with the exception of Peebee and Drack, they kind of just felt like their tagline) and you can tell you’re just touching the tip of the lore iceberg. The dialogue options, however, are extremely unpredictable. I know we complain about that in every Bioware game, but ME1 is especially bad. A lot of options are along the lines of 1)Yes 2)Sure 3)Of course. You figure out quickly that the top option is usually gentle, the middle one is neutral/professional and the bottom one is more aggressive, but still. I’m hardly a newcomer and I’m still shocked by some of the things to come out of my character’s mouth. The voice acting, as well, triggers flashbacks of voice actor con panels where the actors always complain about they’re often not given context for their lines and have to guess. It’s not obvious in new games, but in ME1, you frequently get odd lines where the tone is all wrong.

On the other hand, while I’m driving around, I really miss the Nomad banter from MEA. That’s something the newer game did brilliantly.

While critics denounce MEA’s open world, I’m finding ME1 to be way more grindy and drive around random-y. The Nomad is much easier to handle than the Mako (and I’m super glad they made the Nomad in MEA, I love the Mako but always thought it needed some maneuverability improvement. I did miss the Mako’s canon.) and while ME1’s discoveries are fun and exciting (in MEA, you rarely discover anything cooler than respawning enemy camps – and in space, this drove me crazy, even the most “remote and mysterious” solar systems end up being polluted by remains of the Angara, the Kett, the Outlaws and a Nexus science shuttle), it takes a lot of boring driving to get there. I also found that MEA’s sidequests were more connected to the main plot than in ME1 (which, I suppose, is more natural for a “settle these planets” plot). I feel like in ME1, Admiral Hackett takes way too much advantage of the fact that you happen to be near somewhere (“I know you need to find Saren and stop him from bringing on our inevitable destruction, but while you’re in the area…can you rescue this guy?”).

Combat is more fun (love jet packs and combos!) and intuitive in MEA, though I do like having a ton of abilities at my fingertips in ME1. I prefer the talent system in ME1 with new abilities being unlocked at certain points, though I did like MEA’s as well. I love how in ME1 you can access your weapon loadout screen at any time. After how tedious MEA was about gear switching, every time I update my gear in ME1, I get a feeling of “YESSSSS!!! OH YES!!!”. I do, however, find it super annoying that a squadmate has to be in your party in order for you to access their talents. Especially early in the game, while I’m on the Normandy, trying to upgrade weapons. How am I supposed to know what to give if I can’t check what their weapons skills are?

I’m on the fence about what I prefer between equipping my squadmates myself and letting them take care of their own gear. I’m an RPGer at heart and loooove dedicating entire evenings to pimping everyone’s gear, but I didn’t miss it at all in MEA, maybe because they give you lots of other opportunities to micromanage stuff.

If you don’t have your Classic Bioware Games on Origin, you can download the DLC here.

 

All the DLC for ME1, 2, Dragon Age Origins and 2 (and a random Need For Speed Game) can be downloaded off the EA site, even if you purchased them on Steam. I originally thought that they’re free now due to the age of the games, but it seems that Mass Effect 2 DLC (and possibly the others) won’t work unless you bought them. Mass Effect 1 DLC is free however so grab Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station if you don’t have them already.

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2 Comments on “Can’t Escape from Mass Effect”

  1. Coppertopper Says:

    Some great comparisons/contrasts there. I never finished any of the other ME games mainly due to the fiddly mechanics. MEA really nailed the mechanics like you pointed out. Driving around planets in the Nomad is one of my favorite activities (after some speed and boost upgrades), especially on that low G crater filled planet that they were mining Helium-3 from. I agree though that it’s tiresome that all you ever find is respawning enemy encampments. But the fast travel system is a godsend – really takes the boredom away from what would make fetch questy side missions a total skip. And wow the side missions – many feel more like mini episodes of Star Trek. Like you pointed out, they really do tie back into the whole arc of the games story in a way that always affects your character, from a small game mechanic upgrade to the way other characters respond to you. And agree though – in general the human squad mates all are generic as hell. and some of the voice actors just don’t fit the damn species lol! Kumal Nanjiani is as passionless a voice actor as he is a real actor on Silicon Valley – straight deadpan. Which is too bad because he and his wife have an awesome lively podcast. Then there is the feminine lilt coming from the giant Krogan body – women Krogan are warriors as well I imagine yet there is no feeling of that in that characters v.a. Just my opinion but really throws me off in those scenes. I’m also a little annoyed that as a male Ryder every character is always open to romance options (except a couple rare exceptions). I hate having to specifically avoid conversation options that lead to romantic leadins – could they please work on another gameplay mechanic that would introduce those options into conversations in future ME’s? Anyways enjoyed your comparison to previous ME’s and I will probably give ME3 another shot once I finish MEA – it had the most potential for me as far as getting all the way thru.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Sorry on the slow reply! I haven’t checked the blog in weeks.

      It’s very cool that MEA might be the first Mass Effect you actually finish. I’m surrounded by original trilogy nostalgia (some, perhaps much of it, emanating from myself) so it’s refreshing to read the perspective of someone who isn’t a diehard fan of the franchise.

      Totally agree about the fast travel system. It seems to be under celebrated… I wonder if those who complained loudly about the openness of the planets didn’t realize that it was an option. I also don’t know why there was so much criticism about the sidequests. The “collect 5 datapads” were annoying but skippable and the “fly to 6 different planets” could have been introduced earlier in the storyline to allow you to knock out steps of several quests at once, but I thought that the majority of quests were very well designed and made sense.

      Since a bit of information was leaked on the challenges faced by Bioware Montreal (mainly terrible, terrible management issues), I’ve been more understanding of Andromeda’s weaknesses. Given the hell the developers went through, it’s actually amazing what they were able to produce. It also makes me sad for what could have been.

      ME2 seems to be most people’s favorite in the series, though perhaps ME3 provides a smoother gameplay. I honestly don’t remember very much about either. ME3 seems like a shorter game: slow, completionist me has about 30 hours in ME3 vs 64 for ME2, both have only been played once.


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