Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mother Gamer Plays The Mass Effect Trilogy Part 1: Mass Effect

Before you say anything, I know. How is it that I have never played the Mass Effect games especially with my love of science fiction and hugely epic adventures in space? I just never got around to it, but when I saw that the Mass Effect Trilogy was for sale I decided to pick it up and give it a try. This is part one of the Mother Gamer Mass Effect posts. I started of course at the beginning with the first game, Mass Effect.

The character designs were easy to navigate (I chose to play as a female Shepard and chose the Infiltrator class) although I noticed that Bioware seems to really like several different shades of super short hair or bald much like in Dragon Age. Either way, there were a lot of choices and I found something I liked and then started the game.

Shepard, ready to save the galaxy. 

I found the story interesting right from the start. It hooks you in really well with the first mission and the introduction of a sentient artificial intelligence known as the Geth who attack Shepard and company during said mission. The story goes from there with a lot of interesting side quests to go along with the main missions.

There's a lot to see and do in Mass Effect and I enjoyed exploring all of it. One of the places I quite liked was the Citadel which showcased a variety of different alien species and cultures. I exhausted all the conversation options learning about all of them. I found the Elcor particularly interesting in their speech and mannerisms. The Hanar which look like jellyfish were also pretty cool.

Just a few of the cool aliens. 

Shepard's team is pretty varied too with humans and aliens. You can only have three in a party which isn't so bad, but I wished I could have a team of four. I liked having Wrex and Tali in my party because they were great in heavy combat situations and I found them to be intriguing complex characters, especially with Wrex. You do have the opportunity to explore a romance among a few of your team members as well (I chose Kaidan) and it adds a little extra fun to the story. It does have conversation choices as you talk to your companions and other people setting you on your path to Paragon or Renegade. I went the Paragon route for this play through.

Shepard teams up with Wrex and Tali.

The menu navigation is easy and the battle controls are easy to handle also. I had issues with the aiming aspect when firing a weapon, but upgrading Shepard's accuracy fixed that fairly easily. Upgrading skills for Shepard and companions is nice and easy to do. You can also add upgrades to your armor and weapons which is easy to do and helpful as well.  It killed me that a couple of times the game would drop a frame rate and freeze causing me to have to turn off the PS3 and reboot the system. There was also an odd glitch where a party member died and disappeared from my party altogether leaving me with a just two party members team. I asked one of my friends about this and they expressed surprise because apparently that was a glitch that happened in the original release of the game. Honestly, that irritated me a lot. It's the trilogy and while it's cool that I can play all three games like this why wouldn't you at least fix the known glitches instead of releasing it with the same exact glitches? It smacks of incompetence and a bit of greed.

That wasn't the only thing that bothered me. The hacking mini game drove me up the damn wall. It was like a game of Simon Says on crazy adrenaline and if I didn't hit the buttons right as they lit up or didn't move fast enough, I failed. It got so bad to the point that I would save my game before attempting it and then swear a lot when I would have to reload the last save and try again. It does give you the option of bypassing it with an item known as omnigel which is convenient if you have enough of it. However, it is ridiculous how difficult that mini game was and I said all kinds of mean and nasty swear words while trying to do it. And then we have the Mako. 

The Mako or as I called it, the paper tank. 

For driving around and exploring all the awesome planets, the Mako is great. It was cool to go look around at all the different environments, survey minerals, and scan things. When it came to battles with Geth, Thresher Maws, and rapid fire turrets it really sucked to the point of frustration. I took to calling the Mako the paper tank because it could not take a hit at all and driving it while trying to fire missiles and weapons felt awkward and cumbersome. Battles in the Mako made me groan in agony and I just did my best to get through it. I got pretty adept at driving in circles around enemies and even running them over to try and level the field. It could have been great and the controls could have been more streamlined to make it an amazing fighting machine. Instead it was a giant brick only good for holding up that wonky corner of your bookshelf.

Those issues aside, the thing that Mass Effect really has going for it is the story. It has a plot that I felt was great because it had interesting characters and explored some very cool ideas with all the alien races and even had an intriguing history about an ancient alien race. It is obvious with the story telling that they did intend this to be a trilogy because while it ties up a lot of the other hanging threads, it leaves the big one open for a continuation in the next game naturally. 

Considering how old the game is, the environments and character designs look great. I loved exploring space and scanning all the different planets and reading all the factoids about each one. It showed that a lot of thought went into each one. I couldn't land on all the planets, (some of them couldn't support life at all such as a gas planet) but the ones I could were a lot of fun to explore as I did the main missions and the side quests. There's two DLC missions included in the first game that are fun to play also. 

Enjoying the view on Luna. 

Overall, I enjoyed playing the first Mass Effect. I liked Shepard and I liked Shepard's companions and learning about them and who they were. I loved the story and really got into it which says a lot for how good the writing is. The voice acting wasn't terrible and I did chuckle when I recognized Seth Green's voice as Joker. I liked Joker a lot and found him to be funny and smart. He really is a fantastic pilot. The combat on foot was alright and manageable. The combat in the Mako drove me up the wall and the hacking mini game really sucked. That being said, I think Mass Effect is a solid game and I did have fun playing it because of the great story and because of the story driven character development. It's definitely worth playing through at least once. Now, I'm off to start Mass Effect 2!

*Mass Effect Trilogy is playable on: PS3, Xbox360 and PC

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