If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you’ll recall that I bought the original Mass Effect many moons ago but was unable to play due to compatibility issues with Windows 7. This enraged me and nearly soured me on Bioware’s games permanently, but I did finally get around to playing the later games in the series.
I’m not sure why I wasn’t able to on the old computer. The fix I used was a little convoluted to execute, but it was not hard to find, and I can’t believe I wouldn’t have found it before. Maybe the fix to get it working on Windows 7 hadn’t been released yet when I looked the first time?
Anyway, the point is I was able to play through the original Mass Effect without issues.
I’m not quite sure how to rate this game. If I had to describe it in a word, it would be, “wonky.” Not bad, per se. Just wonky.
Firstly, the game reeks of “console port” in the worst way possible. It’s blatantly obvious the control scheme was not originally designed with the PC in mind, so it’s sloppy and awkward at the best of times.
There are also a lot of weird mechanics that just… don’t feel right. For instance, the overheat mechanic just feels weird in comparison to a more traditional reload option. And why the bloody hell does Shepard move so slowly?
The pacing is all over the map, too. Much of the character development and optional content is front-loaded onto the first half of the game. As a result, the early parts of the game feel too slow, and the last half feels too rushed.
Mass Effect does feel a bit more like a game, and not a “choose your adventure” novel, than the later installments, but not necessarily in a good way. The gameplay of later ME titles may be shallow and minimalistic, but at least it’s functional. Aside from the issues I’ve already mentioned, the original is bogged down by a lot of what I like to call “RPG BS.”
For instance, this time around, I rolled a class primarily based on fighting with a sniper rifle. But it took me until at least halfway through the game to train up my sniper rifle skill to the point where it was actually useful for anything.
I can’t believe idiotic mechanics like this ever existed in the first place, let alone that they didn’t die the death they so richly deserve back in the ’90s.
I do try to make allowances for the game’s age, but even so, there’s a lot about Mass Effect that just feels awkward and… indefinably wrong somehow.
It was disappointingly short, too. At least the later games were pretty meaty in the content they offered. I blew through this one in just a few days.
But don’t let all those complaints give you the impression I didn’t like the game. It still had a lot going for it. The story, while occasionally inconsistent, is pretty good, and it has all the great character development I’ve come to expect from the Mass Effect series.
I found it interesting to see how the characters had changed and evolved since the beginning. I’m inclined to say that Tali and Wrex changed the most as time went on, while Garrus changed the least. Shoot ’em all and let the spirits sort ’em out, eh, Garrus?
Liara actually displayed some personality this time around, even if it was just that of the blushing damsel in distress waiting to be swept off her feet by Shepard. She’s still easily the least interesting squad member, in my view.
Some missions suffered from pacing issues, but a few were very fun. The Virmire mission is definitely going down as one of the better moments from the entire trilogy.
This game feels a bit more organic than the later installments, too. The maps are a bit bigger and less linear, and I much prefer the elevator rides to endless load screens.
I’m going to do a full play-through of all three games in order, making all different choices this time around. I’ve only played one class and made mostly the same choices so far, so I’m going to try to be as different as possible this time. For instance, I’ve only ever played the later games with Ashley, so this time I chose to save Kaidan. Turns out he’s a pretty cool guy, but I still think I might like Ashley slightly better.
I feel like I should go full renegade this time since I only ever play paragon, but I just never enjoy being the bad guy. I also considered being a male Shepard this time around, but I still really dislike that guy’s voice acting. And it doesn’t really make much of a difference anyway. Male Shepard gets better romance options, but it’s not worth putting up with his monotone for three games.
I’ll probably do another post on my thoughts on the series as a whole once I complete the play through.
My latest article at ADANAI is Gamer Demographics Dispel Stereotypes.
Yes, girls do, in fact, play video games. In large numbers.