One month onboard the Normandycomments powered by Disqus
Posted on Monday, December 2 2013 @ 00:11:34 Eastern
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Warning: This blog entry may contain spoilers about the Mass Effect trilogy.
About four weeks ago I was bored, really bored. It was a Saturday night and like the loser that I am I was at home bored. I had recently finished Batman: Arkham Origins and wanted to play something else. I couldn't play anything on my PS3, because my brother and his girlfriend were using my TV to watch stuff off Netflix. I rummaged through my old PC games and curiously, I pulled out the first Mass Effect.
I first played Mass Effect back in 2010, a little late considering it came out in 2007. With little knowledge about the game, other than the fact it's an RPG developed by Bioware, I bought Mass Effect on a whim for like... twenty bucks. Nowadays, I would honestly consider Mass Effect to be my favourite video game franchise.
I have finished all the Mass Effect games before, but it was over a period of time. I didn't play Mass Effect 2 until a couple of months after I finished the first one and then I waited over a year for a chance to play Mass Effect 3. Overall, it's an emotional experience and a lot of people won't disagree with that, but what would the emotion be like if played over a shorter period of time and not having to wait? So, I made John Shepard, Earthborn Alliance Navy Commander and Soldier, the Sole Survivor of a mission gone terribly wrong.
As much as I love Mass Effect's storyline and dialog, I forgot how clunky the game feels and how static the cut scenes can be and oh my God the Mako vehicle segments suck hardcore.
When I finished Mass Effect, I immediately began to install Mass Effect 2. Because I wanted the best storyline experience I felt possible, I also purchased and installed all storyline related DLC for both Mass Effect 2 and 3. Following the Paragon path of the first game, I decided to try and remain on Paragon the entire time. I basically wanted to do what I felt was the right thing.
I forgot how much better Mass Effect 2 feels compared to 3. Being able to vault over cover, having simpler but more effective shooting and melee mechanics, a simpler and more streamlined skill and item system... a lot of people disagreed with Mass Effect 2 feeling it was more shooter and less RPG, but I certainly approved and appreciated this new formula.
I also appreciated Mass Effect's 2 much darker storyline. The first game had a great plot, don't get me wrong, but Mass Effect 2 felt so much more intense. It wasn't about just completing a mission; it was about survival. In the first game, Shepard and the Normandy crew were chasing a rogue Spectre all over the galaxy in order to stop him, while Mass Effect 2 is about fighting a very dangerous group who is barely seen, let alone known by the galaxy, diving into a mission that has such low chances of survival, it's deemed as suicide. Well... Shepard's entire squad survived. The entire Normandy crew survived.
Even though the main storyline of Mass Effect 2 was finished, I still had the storyline DLC to do, such as Overlord and Arrival. I've never played Arrival before, so completing Arrival to me felt like the real conclusion of Mass Effect 2 and makes the beginning of Mass Effect 3 makes a little more sense to me. Once Arrival was done, I immediately installed Mass Effect 3 as well as all accompanying storyline DLC, some of which I have never played before, such as the Citadel and the Extended Cut. I was looking forward to the Extended Cut because, like many fans, the original ending left me with mixed feelings. The Extended Cut is in my opinion how the game should truly end.
To me, Mass Effect 3 is definetely the most fun to play out of the three. The combat system is enhanced slightly, being able to vault over cover without hiding behind it to begin with, extra melee attacks, being able to jump and roll around. It feels a lot of fun to play. The graphics are certainly a lot better, I love the sheen and shine off Shepard's armour.
The Citadel DLC was amazing. Quite possibly the best DLC I have ever played for any game, period. For my playthrough I decided to save the Citadel DLC until the very end, right before the second final mission, which is storming the Illusive Man's base. The Citadel DLC is very well-written, funny and really provides emotional closure for you and the characters. To me, this seemed like the perfect way to in a sense, round things up, the calm before the storm. Storming the Illusive Man's base is a one-way trip, as once that's done, it's time for the final battle on Earth and from there, there's no going back.
It was the finale onboard the Citadel with the Catalyst that got me the most. I chose the "green" ending, the synthesis ending. Seeing Shepard run toward the chasm before leaping inside without a second thought, his body slowly tearing away with his energy becoming part of the Crucible's energy. Shepard's memories flashing to those who have sacrificed themselves in the Reaper war, then to his friends and comrades and finally his loved one. You then see the crew of the Normandy, the ship's pilot Joker frantically at the controls before one of the crew members takes him by the shoulder and says, "We have to go". Joker clearly doesn't want to, he doesn't want to leave Shepard behind, but he's got no choice, "Damn it." he mutters, before flying the Normandy away from the activated Crucible.
Those last words, "Damn it", was the biggest hit to me. Because those words meant that it was all over. This was the end.
Not to stray too far off topic, but I feel kind of stupid for being so emotionally invested in a video game. In all fairness, though, people may react in a similar manner to watching movies, television shows, reading a book or listening to music. All those forms of media have the potential to reach out to people, pull them in and really create some feelings in that person, to make them feel emotion about the story, which I think is a very beautiful thing.
I discussed this briefly with Daniel over the forums, but the Mass Effect series is very emotional. You invest so much time in learning the personalities of other characters as you get to know them, you explore strange, brilliant and imaginative worlds and cultures and you do so much for the galaxy, or yourself if you choose such a path. That's the beauty of the series; while it is Shepard's story, it's essentially your story. My playthrough may be considered boring to some or even most, but to me it felt right and it was the story I wanted to hear. The people around you, the galaxy itself and the overall storyline takes new shape and form depending on your actions and decisions. Seeing it all come to a close, seeing it all finish, seeing an end to Shepard's journey, to your journey, it's very emotional.
It took me four weeks to play the entire Mass Effect trilogy. I played mostly on the nights of a weekend (Friday and Saturday nights) with a couple of hours in between throughout the week. It may just be a video game but to me it felt like so much more. It's story, a journey of great and epic proportion, with brilliantly realized and written characters, a unique and huge universe and so much to see and do. Seeing it all come to an end makes me happy, but at the same time makes me kind of sad, in more ways than one. Still, playing the Mass Effect trilogy and only the Mass Effect trilogy from start to finish over a month? I don't regret it. It was worth it.
I can't wait for the next installment of Mass Effect, even if Shepard will have nothing to do with it. I'd love to cosplay as Shepard one day, but I would probably look like an idiot.
The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on November 28, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan