Mass Effect

February 8th, 2010

I’ve had a strange relationship with Mass Effect. It was always the game on the Xbox that would possibly sway me away from Sony. This was even before I bought a PS3. Actually this was even before I’d played Mass Effect. I think I just liked the idea of an RPG set in space. I still look back on the Knights of the Old Republic fondly. By far the best game based on Star Wars and one I never got round to finishing. Trying to play it on a PC that clearly wasn’t up to the job was a bad idea.

I was envious of Xbox owners when Mass Effect came out. I was even more envious when they kept banging on about how good it was. Then it was all over the news because it was apparently full of cosmic rape. I was dubious, but you wouldn’t go on telly making that sort of claim unless you’d played it all the way through and were pretty sure of your facts.

It took almost a year for it to come out on the PC and I bought it the day it was released. I did the first two or three missions and got bored (probably three or for hours work). That was back in 2008.

When Mass Effect 2 was announced I got my pre-order in straight away. Clearly the fact that I’d lost interest in the first one hadn’t really sunk in.

Two or three weeks ago I was reading a preview of Mass Effect 2 and I suddenly realised that this was the second part of a trilogy. Not only that but the decisions you make in the first one influence how the second one pans out. I assume the programmers would not have been able to have anticipated my decision to put the first one in the loft.

Worried that I was going to miss out on something I decided to go back and finish off Mass Effect. This involved going up a ladder and finding it. Not an insignificant commitment. I also had to find my save game off a backup hard drive and tease it back into the reinstalled game. Not actually difficult or time consuming but it sounds quite impressive.

I ended up being back in a game I had little or no recollection of. Apparently my last save was July 2008.

You’ll be relieved to hear it all worked out alright. It turned out to be a really really good game.

I had intended to fly through the story as quickly as possible and get on to the sequel. In the end I did get through pretty well every side quest and visited every planet I could. It’s also the first game I’ve played in a while where I can truthfully say I did understand what was going on.

The plot was well thought out and fairly robust. Also lots of little stories that lend themselves very well to making good characters.

It’s strange going back to a game that I would  consider old. Especially one that is held up as defining elements of game play we find quite common these days. Moral choices are all over games these days but, and I might be wrong, Mass Effect was the first to integrate this into the way the story develops. inFamous did quite a good job of this but as it was largely based on jumping around firing electricity out of your hands it didn’t have a stable basis in narrative. Mass Effect does ask  you to make some interesting decisions that do influence the game. Quite often the temptation with these sort of games is to play simplistically as good or evil. The decisions here aren’t that simplistic and found me quite often hovering for a while over two seemingly similar options.

There are a stupid amount of side quests to do but they involve travelling to planets that all look exactly the same and have buildings with identical layouts. Whoever got the contract as the principle property developer in this galaxy did very well for themselves.

Mass Effect also relies way too much on driving a large Big Trak about. One of the weirdest game based driving experiences I’ve had. The thing bounces around in a completely unconvincing way but it is strangely compelling.

So I got it finished and ended up putting much more time than I thought I would into it. I’m pretty sure that everyone in the world that was ever going to play this probably already has so I doubt I’ll influence anyone to give it a go.

I did notice there was no cosmic rape in it.

But i would say old games FTW.

I’m going to try something made in 2010 next.


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