I missed out on the Mass Effect games when they came out in 2007-2012, so I did not quite understand the hype when the Legendary Edition was announced. However, I decided to give it a try, and boy, am I glad I did.
Mass Effect 1
Coming straight from playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, I found the first Mass Effect game to be a recognizably Bioware creation, but it felt a little older and less polished. Those thoughts soon vanished, though, as I immersed myself in becoming the indefatigable Commander Shepard. The linear story line was a welcome reprieve from getting lost in open-world games, and I enjoyed landing on planets and driving around in the Mako. The villain was pretty cool, in that I was never quite sure if he was the real villain, or if someone (or something) else was pulling the strings. Alien companions like Urdnot Wrex and Garrus Vakarian were interesting, and the alien races had a history and culture that made me want to learn more about them. I also really enjoyed the mix of shooting and using biotic abilities to defeat enemies. By the end of the game, the Normandy felt like home, and I felt like a hero.
Mass Effect 2
What an opening! Events did not transpire in the direction I expected. This Mass Effect is action-packed. You have a whole bunch of companions to choose from (they hang out on the ship, and you decide who goes on missions with you), and each has a quest line specific to them. The characters are well-written, and lines between villains and heroes are sometimes blurred. As Commander Shepard, you have to make some difficult choices. The threat hinted at in the first game becomes much more fleshed out, creating a sense of urgency. However, I still found myself doing each and every one of the side missions, because everything was just so enjoyable. The guns, tech and biotic abilities are categorized slightly differently from ME1, but they felt great from the start.
One of the most well-known aspects of the Mass Effect games is, of course, the romancing options. While flirting dialogue can be very cringey at times, it did allow me the pure joy of seeing Commander Shepard navigating the obstacles to dating a spikey alien (#Garrus4life). This game ends with probably one of the coolest final missions in video games, ever, and it is easy to see why this is a massive fan favourite.
The one thing that I found a little meh, was having to scan the planets for resources. This did not really add to the game in any positive way. At least you only have to scan a few to have enough resources for the rest of the game – no need to scan every single solar system.
Mass Effect 3
The finale. By this time, I was massively invested in saving the galaxy. Things start going to s@#* all over, and as Commander Shepard, I raced around trying to prevent calamity. I absolutely loved how choices you made in Mass Effect 1 and 2 had real consequences here (anything from talking to a random NPC or saving a companion’s life). Your companions come and go as dictated by the story, so it feels as though you have slightly fewer options, but this is a full-out war, so sacrifices have to be made. Travelling to different systems is more stressful as well. The scanning system was adapted to randomly scanning for fuel/resources when in a star system, but since this attracted enemies and you had to come back later, I got a little frustrated and ended up downloading a cheat sheet on exactly where to scan to get all the resources, to satisfy my inner completionist.
The moment-to-moment gameplay was still super enjoyable, and I loved popping a biotic ability to float enemies into the air, then picking them off with my favourite firearm. I chose to continue the romance I started in ME2 (because Garrus), and I’m not gonna lie, there was a moment near the end of the game where I might have shed a tear or two.
I am aware that many Mass Effect fans were disappointed by the ending, but honestly, I did not mind it that much. After all the destruction wreaked on the galaxy, I felt that any ending that preserved any semblance of life, was more than could be hoped for. And a slightly anticlimactic ending did not take away from all the hours of unadulterated gaming bliss that I experienced.
Regarding the DLC missions, I rarely knew when I was playing DLC since I never played the original games. But in my books, the more Mass Effect, the better! Especially in ME3, the DLC provided a nice respite from the main story, brought in some humour, and focused the attention on some smaller plots going on behind the scenes.
Final verdict: if you played these when they came out, play them again. They still hold up. If you haven’t played them before, and you think you might enjoy being a general badass that saves an entire galaxy while making lifelong friends along the way, PLAY MASS EFFECT!
I am Commander Shepard, and this is my favourite store in the Citadel.
Last Updated: July 26, 2021