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Default Mass Effect - Revisiting the Series

April 21st, 2013, 14:14
Moarpowah has an editorial on replaying Mass Effect 1, and comparing the series changes.
While I’ll try to keep this as objective as possible, a few points should be clarified before I begin. 1. Mass Effect is my favorite game series period. Well, maybe it’s tied with KotOR. 2. Mass Effect 2 was, and still is, my favorite in the series. And 3. Despite some disappointment with the direction and mechanics in Mass Effect 3, it, and its ending, did not ruin the series for me. It’s still a series with a lot of power, personality, and emotion. What that out of the way, let’s take a long, hard look at some points I collected and carried whilst entrenched in the Milky Way.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, but I really do think that the inherent changes to the Mass Effect formula by the second game were positive and necessary. While the first game had its head in the right place, it just doesn’t have the direction necessary to pull it off. I would expect a world that rich and deep to have a cinematic quality to match. There were a surprising moment in a specific side mission when I encountered a strange Prothean ruin that, when approached, fed me a four page long description of a hallucination Shepard is given after touching it.

While the description itself was fascinating (a lengthy exploration of the Prothean interaction with cavemen), I was just so blown away that the designers felt the need to give me this amazing story through text. In later Mass Effects, this would, of course, be given a beautiful cinematic, maybe even a playable sequence. Reading it in a text blob seemed so antiquated it hurt.
In addition, the combat is so stagnant and choppy that part of me is glad that they seriously reworked that whole aspect of the game by the time that ME2 rolled around. While I was dissatisfied with how action oriented ME3 was overall, I thought ME2 found a nice balance.

Again, I want to reassert that I absolutely love this game. It was, after all, one of the first current gen games I’d ever played, and absolutely brings back similar emotional feelings that came from playing Knights of the Old Republic back when I was much younger and more impressionable. This is, after all, a pretty old game by now, and it’s nice to see that there’s constant evolution in the RPG genre.
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Last edited by Couchpotato; April 21st, 2013 at 17:32.
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April 21st, 2013, 14:14
Somehow I got angry with the reviewer, possibly because he is playing everything on PS3, unfair of me ;-)

He have some points, as on the sense of wonder the first game evokes, but

The below quote just gets to me

Whats worse is that the game can be unfairly challenging if you’re not a soldier class. I tried playing on veteran level as an infiltrator, and some enemy encounters simply cannot be won with just a pistol and sniper rifle, at least at that difficulty level.
I'm a sloppy player and seldom play on anything else but normal, don't like reloading.
But ME1 is one of the few games where I actually played on hardcore the last playthrough.

His statement above is beyond ignorant, especially considering that its not his first play through. Pistol is THE most efficient weapon. You don't need anything else except for flavor (and that is one of the bad points of ME1)

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April 21st, 2013, 15:59
I agree, Mass Effect was never unfairly challenging. And especially with the right weapon mods, sniper rifle could be real entertaining. And somewhat easy, even on hardcore.
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April 21st, 2013, 16:10
For the most part I agree with the reviewer. ME is my favorite game series ever, and ME2 was arguably the best game I've ever played, all things considered.

That said, I would have liked to see ME3 be more of a mix of ME1/2. It wasn't. Exploration was basically disregarded in favor of the shooter mechanic. To me, that's kind of sad as ME1, despite its flaws, was brilliant.

I also wonder why this dude chose PS3 as his platform of choice? Welcome to 2006!
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April 21st, 2013, 20:41
I'm not going to say that Mass Effect 2 and 3 are bad games, because they are not, but I didn't like the direction they took at all. What initially made the Mass Effect series special was that it was an RPG first and a shooter second. In 2 and 3 that was reversed and they ended up being more like action adventure games.

That is not to say that 1 was without it's problems, but they took the streamlining way too far. All 1 really needed was a fix to the inventory, performance issues, and feedback to the player.

2 and 3 just barely kept any RPG elements (other then dialogue trees which are not RPG defining imho). Moreover it made some big mistakes with things like planet scanning which was lame and a big step back from exploring with the mako (which wasn't perfect either but alot better then scanning).
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April 21st, 2013, 21:55
I would expect a world that rich and deep to have a cinematic quality to match…
I was just so blown away that the designers felt the need to give me this amazing story through text. In later Mass Effects, this would, of course, be given a beautiful cinematic, maybe even a playable sequence. Reading it in a text blob seemed so antiquated it hurt.
All I can say is GTFO. I'd gladly take the antiquated story through text over awsum cinematics. Cutscenes/Cinematics should be kept to an absolute minimum(as their creation/implementation cost is often exorbitantly high, are limiting with respect to variability and hamper player agency), instead focus on gameplay.
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April 21st, 2013, 22:55
I completely disagree with almost everything he says. For me, ME2 was a step backwards from ME1 in nearly every way. I had to force myself just to finish ME2, and I didn't enjoy it much at all.
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April 21st, 2013, 23:03
ME1 is one my best gaming experiences ever. It's probably the tightest game story I've ever played. Plotting, characters and dialogue were great. I still think if there is one game that should be turned into a movie, it's this one.

I didn't finish ME2. The story was really fragmented, and centered mainly in getting companions. Which was a pretty weird story choice, if you ask me. There is not much forward-momentum in the story, when all you do is hire people to take part in your quest. The sub-quests were enjoyable, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

Once I went through the wormhole to enter end-game sequence, I had lost interest.
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April 21st, 2013, 23:25
Mass Effect 1 was excellent, the second required effort to play, and the third I deleted and got a refund for. It's sad when the best was first, but there it is, imo the best thing to do about this series is the same thing I'd suggest for the DA series….enjoy the firsts, and then quickly find something else to play, avoid the sequels at all costs.


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April 22nd, 2013, 06:50
I enjoyed both ME1 and ME2 but for very different reasons. Personally, I can't decide which one was better. I played ME2 first then ME1. I have to say, ME2 was really easy to get in to. Story was not really there, but I loved the writings on Shepard + companions. ME1 on the other hand, was really hard to get into initially. The horror of inventory system + really boring companions (Garrus was like wtf for me in ME1) made me quit first time without finishing the game. A few months later, I gave it another go and fell in love with the story. Based on this, I was very keen with ME3 and got horribly disappointed. I don't know what it is about ME3, but I just can't get into it. I'm particularly hating the fact that it's overly dramatic and emotional. I gave it a break thinking maybe I need time to get back into it - just like I did with ME1. But nope, no luck. Still hating it.

Anyway, back to topic. While I think both ME1 and 2 are good games, it is really no where near my favourite game nor the best game series. It all boils down to personal taste… but I think it just wasn't polished enough nor enough content (especially ME2) was there to be *best game series*.

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April 22nd, 2013, 09:44
I recently replayed ME1-ME3 myself, all DLCs included. Personally, I consider ME1 the best, followed by ME3 and then 2. The problem with ME2 is that the story just doesn't add up. It makes no sense.

Spoiler – ME2 story makes no sense

Anyway, I do enjoy 80% of the game - the 80% that happens to be in the middle, where you gather companions and do quests all across the galaxy. It's fun, and the companions are rather interesting. However, the combat system is way too repetitive compared to ME1 or ME3, as every single fight is all about sitting behind a crate, trying to headshot stuff. The only way to make it interesting is to play a Vanguard, which is very risky, but also a lot of fun.

Bottom line: ME1 > ME3 > ME2 for me personally, mainly due to the fact that story is very important to me, but also because I find ME2 a bit too repetitive.

Edit: The thing I really liked about the story in ME1 was the "wow" effect it had back then. So many unknowns, such a cool, new sci-fi setting. Exploring the galaxy, facing all sorts of aliens like the Thorian and Rachni. All topped off with a story that really felt right, and left us with a lot of questions regarding the reapers and how to stop them.
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April 22nd, 2013, 09:57
KotOR > ME > ME2 > ME3

Yes, I consider Mass Effect to be a spiritual KotOR sequel in terms of almost everything except the Star Wars setting.

Mass Effect was wonderful as a cinematic RPG-light action adventure, but it sucked in terms of mechanics. Mass Effect 2 removed the few interesting RPG mechanics in ME and replaced them with streamlined straight-up cover shooter gameplay. Mass Effect 3 played and felt like a designed-by-committee experience. In theory, the changes were for the better - but the end result was a half-assed game with a HUGE emphasis on shooting over exploration. No soul was left.
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April 22nd, 2013, 18:16
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Edit: The thing I really liked about the story in ME1 was the "wow" effect it had back then. So many unknowns, such a cool, new sci-fi setting. Exploring the galaxy, facing all sorts of aliens like the Thorian and Rachni. All topped off with a story that really felt right, and left us with a lot of questions regarding the reapers and how to stop them.
Maylander, I think that's what I found special about ME1 when it initially launched. It had more of the "wow" factor going for it. You explored different planets through the galaxy map (which was very intriguing, I thought), learned of alien races, learned where each race stands politically and under military influence, etc. Entering the Presidium was a real joy for me because of the time I spent asking people questions and learning of background and history.

I didn't feel that with ME2 at all. In fact, I was quite put off by it. The focus of combat was definitely there, and I kept an open eye for the story and setting, and my interest began to wane. When ME3 was announced and I had seen a few gameplay videos, I was heavily disinterested. I never got around to playing ME3, and even when I think of it now, I don't feel a desire to jump into it. Odd how much has changed for the series over the years.
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April 23rd, 2013, 12:57
Bioware, with their Mass effect franchise, detain THE sci fi franchise of these days in video gaming.
Bioware made history. Once again confirmed by this thread.
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April 24th, 2013, 07:04
"detain"? wtf

anyway, what a relief it is to come to this site and find a lot of people playing with their brains on. the linked-to reviewer obviously fails to understand much if he finds pistol somehow deficient in ME 1. I agree with most of ya, ME 1 was the best in spite of some UI annoyances and comparative lack of polish, because so much seemed exciting and new (even the biotic and tech powers, which, despite getting better balanced in later iterations, also felt more and more boring). The story was absolutely brilliant, asked some tough questions by the end, and promised to ask a bunch more difficult ones later in the series. This is probably my biggest disappointment with the series progression. ME 1 is a legitimate work of art, because it makes us question our beliefs. The latter two aren't terrible games - they have pretty fun gameplay and some very nice moments in character voice acting. They simply completely shy away from the tough questions. C&C becomes "who's your favorite party member" and it only speaks to the shallowness of modern RPGs that these are considered fairly deep. ME 1 raised the AAA game writing bar, and the sequels just did what sequels so often do - focus on superficialities and completely miss the point.
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April 24th, 2013, 09:20
ME 1 is a legitimate work of art, because it makes us question our beliefs.
Indeed video games or more exactly reading reports on video games by gamers leads to question your beliefs.
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April 24th, 2013, 13:21
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
KotOR > ME > ME2 > ME3

Yes, I consider Mass Effect to be a spiritual KotOR sequel in terms of almost everything except the Star Wars setting.
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THIS!

Having just done another run through KotOR and fiddling in Mass Effect again, I totally agree!

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