Backlogged - "Mass Effect"


Largely, I've been an asshole about the Mass Effect games. This is mainly because I tried to play the first one two or three times as a teen, both times quitting a few hours in. It felt like nothing special, nothing that I hadn't seen before in a game. And after all, if I wanted to play an RPG, I'd just go to play one of my superior Japanese games because I was a little shitlord when it came to video games, and a bit of a weeb. I mean, I still am, but... less of both, I guess. I don't know. Moving on.

Point is, I happened across the Mass Effect trilogy set sometime last year and decided to bite, because hey, maybe I'd finally play 'em and like 'em. But it sat on my shelf for, well, a year, until last week when I decided that Destiny was overhyped hokum and decided to focus on a different kind of outer space tale. You know. An actual good one, albeit one without the warm dulcet tones of Peter Dinklage's voice. Last week, I started with the first one. Now? I'm roughly halfway through Mass Effect 3. And you get to read my incredibly late opinions on all three, starting with this first entry.

Lucky you, huh?


To be blunt, I'm a bit taken with the Mass Effect series as a whole right now. Especially with the god-tier game that is the sequel. But I'll have to wait a post before I talk about that one. Rest assured, the first one is nothing to sneeze at. It's ambitious. It's fun. It has a great story. It has some amazing characters. Also, it's fucking broken and dated and somewhat awful in way more ways than one. But surprisingly? That works to its advantage.

See, too many games nowadays have layers upon layers of polish. They're bug-tested, focus-tested, casual-tested to be absolutely "flawless." That is to say, people control like people, vehicles control like vehicles, stuff works like stuff looks like it should work. Not to say games like that are bad, not at all, but sometimes, I want some unintentional silliness with my gaming. And that's why Mass Effect is so freaking great. It has a fantastic fucking story filled with complex characters and a scope that's impressive seven years later, yes. But it also has hilarious camera glitches, bizarre control fuck-ups, a horrible physics engine, and a laughably bad AI system. And the Mako. The fucking Mako.

I rest my case.
So, yes, Mass Effect is dated to high hell. My ladyfriend actually joked that it felt dated when it when came out, and comparing it against other games in 2007, I totally agree. But see, a game being silly and broken isn't inherently bad. I mean, look at Dark Souls. That game has "horrible" physics, unpatched bugs, and god-knows-how-many other flaws, yet in my opinion, it's one of the best games made in the past decade or so for how well . And so is Mass Effect, for totally different reasons. 

Aside from the unintentional comedy, BioWare's space opera is something truly special. It's one of the only games I've played where my choices have actual weight, and can seriously screw things up later on down the line, or totally work in my favor. The narrative itself is a fine tapestry of excellent writing, deep characterization, rich world lore... it's all so well-done that players owe it to themselves to really dive into it. The supplementary story bits help elevate the game to a level I often forget games can reach, thanks to the recent influx of AAA drivel with absolutely no substance. Games like... wait, did I already talk about Destiny in this post? Shit, I did. Oh well. Yeah, games like Destiny make me forget how truly great video games can be sometimes. And then something like Mass Effect comes and reminds me again. So, thanks, BioWare.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Mass Effect is broken and janky. But it's also a fantastic hybrid of shooting, role-playing, decision-making, and a few other things thrown in here and there. It starts off rough, but in the end, I look back on my time with it fondly. It's a game that'll make you laugh, make you cry (I did, anyway,) and make you pissed off at yourself for making a bad decision. But most importantly? It will make you think on top of giving you one hell of a ride? I regret not finishing it until now, because in my opinion, it's truly a fantastic game.

But you know what's a better game? The sequel. Tune in next time, folks.

Comments

  1. Stumbled upon your blog while doing research on a Q&A from Hideki Kamiya (Bayonetta and DMC fame). This post caught my eye, and I had to stop and giggle at your comments about the Mako. Best and worse times in that game are with the Mako.

    I did the backlogging with Mass Effect roughly 2 years ago. It was a struggle to get through the first game at initial release, and if it weren't for the crap games in 2012, I probably would have postponed it again. That first game is a technical challenge to get through, that sometimes do not overcome the enjoyable story arc. ME2 makes up for it. http://the-geek-spot.blogspot.com/search/label/let%27s%20play%20mass%20effect

    Keep at it with the blog. I'm curious to see what else you come up with.

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    Replies
    1. So, I didn't get notified about this comment at all and just now saw it. Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, the Mako was amazing but patently terrible at the same time.

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