I finally finished the first mass effect, a game with a legendary reputation that many hold up as one of the greatest of all time. Before playing the legendary edition I’d never played a Mass Effect game. It’s a third person cover shooter RPG in space which sounds like a promising idea.
I wrote a piece about my initial impressions of the game and although it was a bit of a boring start it looked good going forward.
The gunplay became more run and gun than cover shooter unless I was against a particularly powerful enemy. Most of the enemies were just cannon fodder to give the player something to do but some enemies had abilities which made combat more interesting and some of them had a lot of health and could kill me in one hit so strategy did come into combat sometimes. You constantly have AI companions if you wish and they come with their own weapons and abilities which ensures it’s never too hard. The best thing is that the guns use a heat system in this game, I didn’t have to spend my time hunting bullets which meant the flow of combat was actually pretty good.
The AI was often stupid and sometimes broken. The enemies sometimes just stopped doing anything, sometimes they would give away an advantageous position (because video game) but more often it was companions that caught my attention. The companions would often run into my line of fire or use abilities at bad times (it can my done manually but micromanaging AI didn’t sound fun). The companions could be interesting and did have their own side missions and stories that I just didn’t bother with because of my irritation with the game.
I was irritated with the game almost from the very start. Every level started to feel like a bit of a maze. There are abilities that can just make your guns stop working. And so much of the voice acting sounds very dull.
I was also annoyed by the way role play works in the game; chose a speech option and the character won’t say exactly what you clicked on. Fallout 4 and Dragon Age 2 are both great games that suffer from similar problems in their speech systems and although not game breaking it does damage the illusion that the player has any real control.
The Mako was the worst thing I’ve encountered since Arkham Knight’s Batmobile. It wasn’t too bad in short A to B gameplay sections but I soon found myself dreading any level where it had any importance. The thing just didn’t feel satisfying to drive and seemed to be rammed into the game just to get some use out of it.
Plot wise, this game was impressive. Racist politicians refuse to fight the enemy within so one person has to assemble a team and go planet to planet resolving issues until the big bad can finally be brought down. It was more believable than what a lot of games do and there was a decent amount of lore to get you into the universe and every area had its own sub-plot that added together to create the larger story.
Overall, I didn’t like Mass Effect. I think I could have liked it had the maps been easier to navigate and had the Citadel area been more interesting but playing on normal difficulty made it feel too easy to just run and gun and I felt little motivation to do anything with the companions whose combat styles were too similar for my liking. I also wish the Mako didn’t exist. But the interesting idea for the story and how I could kill a companion when we disagreed left me wanting to at least try the sequels before giving up on the series completely. I have a respect for the game design but I didn’t find it fun.