Hello everyone! Now, I know this isn't a book series (unless you've read the comic books. If they're any good, please let me know). With Mass Effect Legendary Edition coming out this May, I thought it only appropriate to review this incredible game trilogy. While I have played it, I will no
t be counting Mass Effect Andromeda in my review. Unlike my previous blog posts, I'll make a concerted effort in trying not to spoil anything. If you never played Mass Effect before, I request you read the following blog post and consider buying it. The trilogy is one of the best video games I've ever played.
Story, Gameplay, and Setting:
First, which I'm sure all Mass Effect fans will agree with, the trilogy has a fantastic story, background information, setting, and characters. I never noticed the plot dragging on, and its swift and gripping pace will keep any player engaged. If you attempt a 100% playthrough, the 1st and 2nd Mass Effect can turn into a bit of a slog, but that doesn't detract from the elaborate story the creators wove throughout their work. Just be ready to spend hours on some repetitive side missions. However, many side missions and DLC are enjoyable and add great context and lore to the primary mission's content. Now, maybe I'm just a bit crazy, but I didn't mind mining for resources in Mass Effect 2. The jury is still out on that, however.
While the trilogy's ending was a significant downturn for many long-time fans, the game itself, especially with the Citadel DLC's addition, is an excellent conclusion. I'd argue that Mass Effect 1 and 2 had better final missions (well, technically second to last. Illos was my favorite mission in the first game), but the third game is an excellent conclusion to the trilogy if you can get over the pick your color ending. The extended cut vastly improved the ending, but that wasn't enough in many fan's eyes.
In terms of gameplay, the 1st game, while compared to its two sequels, is a little clunky. Melee was a pain to do, and aiming did have several issues. There's also the Mako, but I did find its wacky physics and bouncing around enjoyable. From what I've seen, the Legendary Edition will correct those issues. While there were some changes to combat between the second and third games, both were easy to understand and made the experience of fighting enemies and battling the Reapers even more enjoyable. A vast collection of weapons is at your disposal, along with tech and biotic powers. While I didn't use the function as much as I should have, in the last two games, you can place biotic, techs, or soldier powers on specific buttons on the controller to make the fighting more fluid and have an easy shortcut to your favorite abilities.
The setting of the three games takes place throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. A sprawling map with various planets to explore, the architecture, scenery, and general landscape prove a fascinating and beautiful journey for your adventure. Each world you visit is well designed and gives the player a fully immersive experience. The soundtrack adds much beauty to the atmosphere when exploring the fast reaches of space, the mysteries of the universe, and the legends of the Protheans, Reapers, and other ancient civilians.
Mass Effect comes with a vast collection of characters from a diverse array of alien species. For those not in the know-how, Mass Effect comes with its own alien races each having complex lore, culture, history, and backstories. When selecting your crew members, each race has a specific set they tend to be better at. For example, asari generally excel in biotics, quarians in tech, turians in soldier abilities, and salarians in sabotage.
One aspect that makes Mass Effect particularly enjoyable is the character customization. You can craft Shepherd to look how you desire, male or female, black, white, Asian Latino, or any other ethnicity. It's up to you how Shepherd will appear across the three games. While the Legendary Edition will standardize Shepherd's look, in the original trilogy, you could change how they looked, to some extent, across the three games.
Now, onto the juice and meat. Your companions and even some side characters are among the best done in all video games. While admittingly, some of them, such as Kaiden, Ashley, Jacob, and Miranda, can be a bit boring to some players (I really only found Kaiden boring. I didn't mind the other three, even if Ashley is a bit of a racist in the first game), characters such as Garrus, Tali, Liara, Thane, Jack, Wrex, and Javik are among the best in the series. Their personalities, character growths, story, and dynamics complement the world-building and show real growth and friendship to Shepherd. Their stories are their own, and each has their own wants and desires, not existing solely for Shepherd.
Another exciting and enjoyable aspect is the romance. For male, female, straight, or gay Shepherds, there are plenty of options out there. The romance arcs for Tali, Thane, Garrus, Liara, and Jack are well done and make you feel genuinely connected to those characters. More importantly, many of the love options feel real and genuine, not forced on you as many games do. They also open up aspects of the character's backstory and personality not fully seen unless they are romanced.
While the trilogy's ending was a bit underwhelming, I enjoyed the fear, terror, and mystery of the Reapers. An ancient machine race, they made thrilling and haunting antagonists against a whole galaxy. Their cycles of harvesting and exterminating advanced life made them all the more intriguing in figuring out why this race of sentient machine ships sought to cleanse the galaxy of advanced civilizations every 50,000 years.
If you couldn't tell from my assessment above, I love Mass Effect. The story, characters, gameplay, and lore are stellar and present a fantastic opportunity for any video game fan. An excellent part of the sci-fi genre, Mass Effect is a must-have for any gamer.
While the game offers a complex world, characters, and history, there was one downside. Most fans will know what I'm talking about. The ending. Since it's been hacked to death one million and one times across the internet, I won't complain too much about it, but most fans weren't happy with the chose your color ending. While the Extended Cut DLC increased the quality, many fans thought it was too little too late.
That aside, the gameplay aspects and story well make up for the controversial ending. With enjoyable, funny, and lore-intensive DLC such as Leviathan, Citadel, Arrival, and From Ashes, you won't mind the ending and feel the third game in itself was a spectacular conclusion to the trilogy.