Wot I’m Playing : Mass Effect 1

I was looking for a game to fufill my urge for action/RPG games, and to get me ready for the phenomenon of “Four in February” (where you try to finish four games from your backlog in February).. and I decided to go back to the first game in the Mass Effect series. And it’s like welcoming back an old friend.

Welcome back, Commander Shepard.
Welcome back, Commander Shepard.

For those of you who have lived under a rock for the last nine years (side note: Has it really been that long? Damn)… Mass Effect, originally released in 2007. was the first game in what turned out to be a trilogy of best-selling science fiction games, featuring you as the eponymous Commander Shepard, being nominated for membership as a Spectre, the Council’s elite troubleshooters, sent to investigate a mysterious Prothean beacon on the human colony of Eden Prime, when things go wrong. Things always go wrong, don’t they? Soon, you are dropped, neck-deep into a situation that not only imperils those on Eden Prime, but all of humanity, and indeed, all organic life in the Universe.

How did they do it? Well, first off, the games are absolutely gorgeous. While early games in the series had long loading times, the games screamed atmosphere. Most games of the type had humanity as a dominant force in the galaxy, here, humanity is taking their tentative steps into a larger universe. They’ve been pushing for representation on the Council, and having a successful Spectre would be a big step towards that goal. All the main human races are generally humanoid, which I’m sure saved money on building the files, but they were differentiated well, each having its own niche in the Council.

The graphics are nearly a decade old at this point, but they are still.. well.. if they are this good, hopefully Bioware at some point goes  back and uprezzes stuff for new-gen systems (a re-release of Mass Effect Trilogy is expected for next generation systems, but nothing official has come out).. but the game play again is very evocative. While later games changed the system to be more focused on the action side of things (making it a cover shooter with RPG tendencies), and the first game came with a clunky inventory system, this game is still amazing. And when you consider the choices you make in this game will have ripple effects, not only in Mass Effect 2, but the final game of the initial trilogy.. and these ripples aren’t exactly small.. (considering at least two characters you meet in Mass Effect 1 can DIE, just think of the effort that went into future games that people wouldn’t even see, and let’s not even talk about the “suicide mission” in Mass Effect 2.. yet)

So anyway, back to saving the universe, being a paragon (except for that one annoying reporter, of course) and generally being BIG DAMN HEROES.