N7 Day: Looking Back at Mass Effect

Ron Whitaker — First Time with Mass Effect

I remember my very first Mass Effect experience. I was skeptical, simply because I like to play my RPGs on the PC. But everyone was telling me how great this Xbox 360 game was going to be, so I decided to give it a try (the Bioware logo didn’t hurt). Hours later, I was enthralled. I just couldn’t get enough of the sci-fi epic that Bioware had crafted. Despite endless hours spent riding elevators or driving the Mako, my enthusiasm for the game never wavered.

The original Mass Effect nailed so many things about an action-RPG. It’s a quality game that really hasn’t been equaled since. In honor of N7 day, maybe we should all go back and give it one more playthrough.

Phil Hornshaw — Welcome to the Universe

There was a phenomenal moment during the course of the original Mass Effect when I got a glimpse of the enormity of the thing BioWare had created, and my metaphorical jaw hit the floor as I was spellbound at its simple (and literal) awesomeness.

The first was the Normandy’s arrival at the Citadel. Up to now, we’ve spent time with the Normandy, and we’ve dropped by Eden Prime — a relatively Earth-like planet. We got a mere glimpse of Sovereign during that mission and encountered Geth ground troops: all of it somewhat strange, but nothing especially other-worldly. Even the Normandy is interesting without being enormous or vastly different than anything players and sci-fi fans had encountered in other games or media.

And then we hit the Citadel. The music comes up and we see for the first time how truly small we really are. The universe is a vast place, but space is impersonal; here is a hub of civilization that’s simply enormous. The galaxy exists beyond we humans, this we know at the outset of Mass Effect, but we don’t understand the implications of that statement until this very moment. We are but a small member of a community, and that community doesn’t need us.

Mass Effect was remarkable in a lot of ways, but one of the biggest for me was the way it treated humanity not as the center of existence, but a mere additive to it. There aren’t many other highly visible sci-fi properties that take that approach: in Star Trek, humans are partner race in the United Federation of Planets; in Star Wars, they are the most numerous and powerful race in the known galaxy. It’s rare that you see a property buck that tradition.

What I felt upon my first arrival at the Citadel was a sense of being humbled. That Mass Effect later moved into the realm of “humans as pivotal to the universe” was kind of upsetting to me, because things felt so much more real, so much more honest, during that first docking with the enormous space station, and I realized how small I really was in the game’s world.

We’d like to hear from you about your Mass Effect experiences — are you firing up the trilogy for this N7 Day? Were there moments that grabbed you as being something special? Can you enjoy the games, or are you still hung up on the ending? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him, Ross Lincoln, Ron Whitaker and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw, @rossalincoln, @ffronw and @gamefrontcom.

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8 Comments on N7 Day: Looking Back at Mass Effect

JawaEsteban

On November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I got into the trilogy in odd order, my first entry was actually ME2. I ended up getting so hooked by ME2 that I bought ME1, and loved that as well. Having no prior experience with the Mass Effect universe, I have to say that the opening sequence for ME2 will always be the standout for me. Up until then, I had never seen the title character get killed-off in the first minutes in a game. Just a great piece of story, it was all over for me after that. Totally hooked.

Although ME3 has been banished from my hard drive (indeed, banished from my house, back to gamestop) , I was thinking about doing another ME2 run. Just for old times sake. There’s no such thing as too much Miranda.

RCY

On November 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm

wow ,you just described my 1s time experince with the Mass Effect series. That opening og Mass effect 2, strong stuff.

john

On November 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

First experience with Mass Effect was a demo of ME2. Had quit WoW, finished Starcraft 2 several times, and was looking for a new game to play. Two friends of mine were talking a lot about this awesome game they were playing, so I gave a go to the demo – enjoyed it a lot. A few days later, found ME1 and ME2 at my local game store, 9 euros each. Bought both and started to play the first one, to be propperly introduced to the story. By the time Shepard reaches the Citadel, I was already completely hooked.

Best moments? Every moment involving Tali and Wrex on the first game (Wrex’s sense of humour kills me); the suicide mission of the second game (that was so awesome); and the last Tuchanka and Rannoch missions on the third game.

I still find it hard to believe Bioware screwed things up as they did. Tried a second complete playthrough after the Extended Cut released, but lost the interest after the Rannoch missions and moved to The Witcher instead.

R.J.

On November 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

For whatever reason I had been avoiding the series, and I don’t have much of a reason. However, I was really into Dragon Age: Origins, and after I finished that I couldn’t wait for the next DA game to get more Bioware. I got ME1 and ME2 and just tore through them. There was something special there, namely the characters and the sense that other stuff was actually happening, even if I wasn’t participating directly. The sad part is that practically as quickly as Bioware made me fall for them, they turned me away as well.

Roy Batty

On November 8, 2012 at 6:27 am

I admit I got ME1 (PC) because of the negative press (“Sexbox”) which I knew was more than likely false (but one can always hope!). I loved the soundtrack and even though the story took elements from many different “mainstream” sci-fi, ME redressed these elements well without much outright plagiarism (mostly homage’s). I also liked the RPG aspects and the fact that you could play the game over and over and still not catch ever scenario possible.

I also admit that when they made Tali an LI I was not expecting it. I considered her a wallflower in ME1 (just a prop to introduce the Jews in space…err the Quarians – I guess the Bioware guys were Mel Brooks fans too). Needless to say this led to several more play-throughs of ME1. I felt that this was highly devious of Bioware…and I loved it (you knew they game was playing mind games but this was a new level…little did I realize :P ).

I also admit I did not like ME2 as much as ME1 in that it removed much of the RPG elements and I also thought the soundtrack was weaker than ME1 (but at least the story was still good”). In ME3 I liked the Rannoch and Tuchanka sequences best I especially like the Shai-Hulud (um I mean Kalros) vs. the reaper motif…reminded me of Mothra vs. Godzilla or Megatron vs. Grimlock for that matter. It would have been epic to see Harbinger vs. Godzilla.

First Play-through Character: “Malcolm” Shepard (Made him look like badass Malcolm from UT).
Best Character Play-through: Fenix Shepard (Fenix taken from StarCraft) – No LI in ME1 – Made him look Hispanic/Mexican – when showed to my nephew he said: “hey he looks Latino” (Damn I’m good!)

Favorite lines from ME1 (paraphrased):
In the elevator with Wrex and Tali…
Wrex: So Tali do the Quarians ever talk about how they unleashed the Geth and lost their homeworld?
Tali: No. Do the Krogan ever talk about starting a foolish war with the Turians and getting sterilized in the process?
Wrex: All the time.

Favorite lines from ME2: Mordin singing (must have replayed it 50 times)
Favorite character in the series: Legion (hey I am a technology guy)
Favorite LI: Tali
Favorite class: Infiltrator (I am a sneaky bastard and love to plan amusing deaths for my enemies)

Greatest disappointment with ME2:
That the LI with Ashley was not re-established in a DLC (like that of Liara)
Loss of RPG elements

Greatest disappointments with ME3:
The Ending :P
The incomplete LI story arc (Thanks for letting me use you like a doormat but I have to go and die now)
The disappointing LI story arcs with Miranda and Jack
Ashley’s Character is exceedingly shallow – no change from ME1/2 even though you could in essence “turn” her from the dark side in ME1 just like Morrigan in DAO.

Greatest moments in ME3:
Legion’s “death” (outstanding)
Mordin’s death (handled very well)

…And I’ll miss you most of all Scarecrow! :P

Disappointed J

On November 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

My first introduction to Mass Effect came from a magazine. Pretty sure it was OXM, but it might have been EGM. I had a 360 at the time, and was a huge Halo geek. When I saw Mass Effect in preview, I knew I would want it, eve if it seemed a bit… different. I bought it not long after it came out, and was hooked forever. I’ve written grad papers on Mass Effect, fought over the ending, paid way too much money for silly stuff, and put WAY too much time into the ME3 multiplayer. Amazing games, and even though I’m upset about the ending, I still love it.

Mr Glassback

On November 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

It was the entire ending to M.E 2 that I loved. The realisation that all my tedious planet mining, all the expensive and seemingly useless ship upgrades and loyalty quests actually made a difference to how effective I would be in the final battle. Replaying it again and again to get my entire crew through alive.
After M.E 2′s ending, I couldn’t wait to see what they could do with the ending of M.E 3…
Oh, and Liaras out of body goodbye in M.E 3 was pretty sweet.

S

On November 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Ah, Mass Effect. I discovered the series my last year of law school. I was heartbroken over the death of one of my closest friends and a little terrified of leaving the safety of school during an awful economy in which my industry had largely collapsed. I was looking for a good distraction and realized I hadn’t had the time to play an RPG in years. I asked for recommendations and immediately people started shouting “Mass Effect!” at me. I was skeptical because I tended to be more of the daggers and dragons RPG-player than a shooter fan, but I got an xbox and the game, and from the moment I stepped Commander Shepard out onto the Citadel, I was hooked. I’ll never forget the wonder of seeing and talking with an Elcor, or meeting that badass dinosaurbirdman who needed your help with an investigation.

While Mass Effect 1 is my sentimental favorite, Mass Effect 2 struck the best balance. The story overall seemed less compelling than the first, but The Illusive Man was a great ally/villain, and the Suicide Mission is easily one of the best end runs of a game I’ve ever experienced. It also capitilized marvelously on all the characters and things I had come to love in the first. I could feel a lump in my throat when Joker revealed the newly rebuilt Normandy, and I was elated when Archangel turned out to be Garrus.

The third was definitely my least favorite, but the ending aside, it did do a lot of things right. Both the Krogan/Mordin storyline and the Quarian/Geth mission wrapped up nicely and were extremely compelling. Fitting and memorable ends.