Gather round, internet kiddies. I’ve got a story to tell.
Picture a time in your life where you had never experienced Star Wars. Never saw the destruction of the Death Star or how our protagonist rises from Force newb to Force master race. Imagine life before Star Trek, before Battlestar, before Firefly. Let’s face it, these are the tenants of sci-fi geek/nerd culture. You can’t claim to be ‘in’ with that culture if you haven’t seen these films (I’m looking at you, Britt – watch fucking Star Wars already).
Now, picture how shamed I feel that I literally just finished the Mass Effect trilogy. The first in the series being released in 2007, number two in 2010, and number three in 2012. I NEVER PLAYED ANY OF THEM.
What the fuck was wrong with me?
Not only did I never play them at release, but I dragged my feet time after time. “Nah man, I tried playing the first on 360 and I just didn’t like it.” The combat system sucked, the graphics were straight out of 2007 (no shit, Sherlock). I dunno. I’m a retard.
I doubted all of my friends that praised this series so highly. That’s my thing though, you tell me something is good and I’ll tell you it sucks on principle alone. So after I purchased my gaming rig and spent a disproportionate amount of time playing The Sims (fuck that game) and Spintires – I decided, “Why not just download Mass Effect and try it again.”
And holy shit did I.
I had already gotten maybe 25% of the way through the first on console. On PC it felt more relaxed, easier to play, and I was using this expensive piece of electronics to do it. I felt pretty good about it, naturally. After coming to grips with the poor combat system in ME1, I began to feel the atmosphere surrounding the game. The same parts of my brain that lit up for Star Wars began firing again as I played this game. From Noveria and Feros, to Citadel and Ilos. The conversational dialog drew me in the first time I played it, but it wasn’t enough. But this time around I was getting more and more into it. I found myself playing late into the night, forgoing sleep to see what the next mission was, to soak up more information on my squadmates, the galaxy, and what the future might hold. By the time I attacked Saren on Virmire, I was done for. I went to Ilos, and then I went to the Citadel. Bombshells all around – indoctrination, the Conduit. I wrapped up the first game with a sense of awe at this fantastic piece of writing and gameplay that I originally scoffed at. Fuck me, right?
The night I installed ME2, I told myself I’d import my character and play for a minute just to see what it looked like. Two and a half hours later, I finally went to sleep. The beginning of 2 was such a shock, I had to keep going, obviously. I finished 2 in seven days exactly. The combat system was redone and felt great. The story piled on more character development than I’ve seen in a game before. With each squadmate’s loyalty missions, I began to know them and relate to them. It’s essential you know and understand their strengths and weaknesses, since it plays a critical role not only in the game in general, but the Suicide Mission at the end. Speaking of which, dat ending doe. Holy fuck. All my hard work, and planning, and mission running paid off. The only character I lost was Zaeed. I was cool with it because he was a paid merc that didn’t give a fuck about the galaxy. I’m glad he died. Peace out.
The part that began to enthrall me about the whole thing was how your choices – whether it be in 1, 2 and later on 3 – effected the world and the characters in it. I sacrificed Kaidan on Virmire, which later on I wish I could have changed. With choices come consequences, and I fell in love with that feeling while playing through the series.
I began playing ME3 and noticed immediately a shift in tone. The world (and the galaxy) was going to shit, and it was going to shit in a hurry. The Reapers were here, and they were out to fuck shit up. My friend Brian told me once that Mass Effect 3 was all-out warfare, and he was right. But it makes sense, the Reapers are here, there’s no more time to pussyfoot around. It’s put up or shut up time. The story of 3 filled in a lot of gaps, a lot of back story. There were moments of legitimate sadness – Mordin, Thane, and most of all, Legion. There were moments of triumph – turian and krogan peace, quarian and geth peace. It was a clusterfuck the entire game.
And then… The ending of Mass Effect 3.
(I’ve gotta devote an entire post for the ending, so bear with me)
EDIT 9/10/14 – Yeah, I’m lazy so I wouldn’t expect that second post anytime this week.