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Old 03-12-2012, 11:30 AM   #1
Ink Asylum
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The Mass Effect Trilogy [SPOILERS]

Now that the 5 year journy has come to an end, I thought we could use a thread to discuss the Mass Effect trilogy as a whole.

What worked? What didn't? Which game is your favorite and why?

Discuss characters, plot, and gameplay. Weigh in on the marketing strategies. Hypothesize about the future of the series.

If it's Mass Effect related it's on topic. No spoiler tags required to facilitate discussion, especially for the main three titles, but if you think you're mentioning something worth hiding, feel free to use them. If you don't want any plot spoilers, including ones from alternate paths through the game or the tie-in novels and comics, tread carefully.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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What worked in ME 1-2 was the feeling of continuity for the characters and having a team, even if they continued to break the team up each game. Also they still made you feel like you were going to have some kind of impact and that you could succeed and that Paragon/Renegade mattered.

Other than that it has all been said in the other threads about how I now feel.
I am not interested in a prequel due to ME3's ending. I am really not interested at all in the universe now. Not much left to be interested in, in my opinion.

Sound tracks in ME1 were my favorite above and beyond 2-3.

Went from number 1 game series of my entire life to some kind of almost retconned mess. Not much more to say now sadly.

Favorite Character is either Zaeed or Wrex.
Most Improved was Ashley.
Favorite Mission. ME1 end mission.

Rating: ME1 than ME2.........................ME3.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:37 AM   #3
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It's a toss up. ME1 had a lot of rough edges and a kind of derpy ending, but ME2 had some problems as well.

I will say that my favorite part, overall, was taking Legion along on Tali's Recruitment and Loyalty mission.

I still hate that they got rid of the heat mechanic and went with thermal clips. It's a small thing, but I missed it the entire time I played ME2 and 3.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:45 AM   #4
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I will say that my favorite part, overall, was taking Legion along on Tali's Recruitment and Loyalty mission.
You know, with all the times I've played ME2 I still have yet to do that. I'm always worried about Tali's lack of loyalty meaning she'll end up dying. I'm sure I could crunch the numbers to ensure her survival. I'll have to do that next time I play through.

There's a lot of cut content regarding Legion, as it looks like originally you'd be able to get him fairly early as opposed to right before the final mission.

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I still hate that they got rid of the heat mechanic and went with thermal clips. It's a small thing, but I missed it the entire time I played ME2 and 3.
Agreed. It meant approaching your guns in a different manner. You could slow down your shots as your gun got really hot so you could keep firing without having to take a long pause to cool down.

I think they could have incorporated the heat sinks without completely abandoning the cooldown mechanic. Like a gun would take ten seconds to cool down if it completely overheats, but you can interrupt that by taking two seconds to spend a heat sink.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:51 AM   #5
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Agreed. It meant approaching your guns in a different manner. You could slow down your shots as your gun got really hot so you could keep firing without having to take a long pause to cool down.
The *TUNG-beep beep beep beep* of a HE-round Mantis Sniper Rifle is a genuinely nostalgic sound for me.
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I think they could have incorporated the heat sinks without completely abandoning the cooldown mechanic. Like a gun would take ten seconds to cool down if it completely overheats, but you can interrupt that by taking two seconds to spend a heat sink.
Yeah, it was just a very bland system that replaced an interesting one.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:49 AM   #6
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For me the two highpoints were first:
The suicide mission. It was on edge the entire time, and I felt so triumphant at the end of it. The human reaper fetus didn't bother me, I found it to be the best ending sequence to any game I've played.

The second highpoint was the genophage resolution in ME3. They tell you about the choice way in advance so you think about it for the whole mission and the female Krogan keeps asking what's troubling you. Then when it comes down to it, you actually have to shoot (an extremely upset) Mordin yourself. You get to witness a drawn out death sequence that's hard to watch, and after that you have to listen to all the praise for something you didn't do from people you betrayed. It's the only time in a videogame that I felt exactly what my character on screen was feeling.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:51 AM   #7
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For me the two highpoints were first:
The suicide mission. It was on edge the entire time, and I felt so triumphant at the end of it. The human reaper fetus didn't bother me, I found it to be the best ending sequence to any game I've played.

The second highpoint was the genophage resolution in ME3. They tell you about the choice way in advance so you think about it for the whole mission and the female Krogan keeps asking what's troubling you. Then when it comes down to it, you actually have to shoot (an extremely upset) Mordin yourself. You get to witness a drawn out death sequence that's hard to watch, and after that you have to listen to all the praise for something you didn't do from people you betrayed. It's the only time in a videogame that I felt exactly what my character on screen was feeling.
Wow I just had Mordin ignore the boobytrap and then perform the fix himself. Weird. No shooting. That would have sucked.

But I did try to show the kid at the end of ME3 like 11 times.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:53 AM   #8
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Wow I just had Mordin ignore the boobytrap and then perform the fix himself. Weird. No shooting. That would have sucked.

But I did try to show the kid at the end of ME3 like 11 times.
I felt that getting the Salarians' support was more important than Shepard's friendships =[
The game screws you over though because you get it anyway if Thane lives (otherwise I think Kirrahe shows up), so it was all unnecessary.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:01 PM   #9
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I felt that getting the Salarians' support was more important than Shepard's friendships =[
The game screws you over though because you get it anyway if Thane lives (otherwise I think Kirrahe shows up), so it was all unnecessary.
There's a number of choices that can effect those scenes. If Wrex died in ME1 (leaving his less reasonable brother Wreav in charge), and you didn't save the genophage cure data in ME2 (meaning Eve dies due to complications), and you sabotage the cure you can actually save Mordin's life. I haven't played the scene, but I'd assume that without either leader's tempering influence over their race Mordin will concur that the Krogan will become a dangerous threat if cured.

Also, if both Thane and Kirrahe are dead (Kirrahe dies on Virmire if you don't help his team), Kai Leng will actually succeed at assassinating the Salarian ambassador.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:59 PM   #10
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I felt that getting the Salarians' support was more important than Shepard's friendships =[
The game screws you over though because you get it anyway if Thane lives (otherwise I think Kirrahe shows up), so it was all unnecessary.
By the time you win...every single thing you do or have ever done was pretty much...unnecessary. That's what is killing my soul
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:15 PM   #11
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Thinking back on it. Most of the story elements I hated could all be traced back to Sovereign. They built the Reapers up way too much. There wasn't any way to resolve the series without a lame plot device like the Crucible.

I mean, even with all those fleets sitting there, Sovereign was still able to completely shrug off everything until you killed Saren and "sent a corrupting signal" or some stupid shit back to Sovereign.

The Reapers relied on so much subterfuge and cunning for no reason at all. They were always capable of completely steamrolling everyone else at any time. I can understand the Citadel strategy, it's just efficient, but the rest of the stuff? The Geth, the Rachni, the Collectors etc. All of that was just completely wasted. The Reapers should have been powerful, but weak enough for all that stuff to matter. All the subterfuge just looks like needless showmanship when the Reapers are as powerful as the game portrays them.

With all three games behind me. I actually get the impression that the Reapers are mentally handicapped. Like an entire race of Narcissists. They were just programmed to think they are intelligent but in reality they're fusion powered Roombas.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:54 AM   #12
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:01 PM   #13
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This.

Rating: ME 1 > ME 2 > ME 3 before the final mission > ME 3's last 10 minutes.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:24 PM   #14
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The trilogy was definitely an experiment in mixing the choice-driven RPG with blockbuster production values. With the final game released my judgment is that they succeeded more than they failed, but in the end proved that we haven't yet reached the point where a game can produce truly cinematic scenes without sacrificing some of the impact of player decisions.

When it comes to traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, where the only narrative limit is the gamemaster's imagination and story-telling skill, great GMs can react fluidly to anything their players do while still telling a compelling story. Poor GMs often restrict player choices and make them feel like they're nothing more than pawns in whatever story the GM wants to tell.

Mass Effect, as a GM, is somewhere between the two. It has a story it wants to tell, and numerous set pieces it wants to bring you through, but it's able to take your decisions and incorporate them into the world enough that you feel more impactful than you actually are. It's smoke and mirrors, but done in an effective way that is rare in video games.

If you had Mass Effect as a GM you'd probably never figure out that you'd been railroaded, although there are some parts that are more obvious than others (Rachni). It's only because you can play through the campaign multiple times and compare notes with other players that the rigidity of the plot is revealed.

I can understand the frustration of people who feel they've been misled. As for myself, after discovering the game's hard limits, I realize that until game companies are able to produce a true RPG experience I actually enjoy this kind of hidden railroad. There were enough real decisions that my Mass Effect story is a personal experience, while the heavily produced but firm story points provide a cinematic punch that enhances the emotional impact.

It's not the pinnacle of what video games can deliver, but I think it's a good example of what's possible with the current limits of technology and budget. As it stands, it's a good stepping-stone toward what will hopefully be games in future generations which can offer more freedom while still retaining blockbuster appearances.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:26 PM   #15
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Tough questions.

ME1 was like an epic sci-fi movie. Are you ever going to really forget charging the Mako down that tunnel to hit the Conduit and crash-bang into the Citadel? I'm not. Not to mention that during the epic sci-fi movie ending you're still making decisions. (Save council, let em die, etc). How about the fact you can literally talk Saren into shooting himself? How many games does that happen in (besides ME3).

ME2 was my least favorite I think. Love the characters though. Cerberus was a nice little plot, but it didn't seem like I was actually careening to an epic sci-fi ending the whole time. You knew what was coming and had to spend too much time doing loyalty missions and recruiting. Wait...that was pretty much the whole game. It was certainly not bad by any means.

ME3 is completely 100% amazing and everything I hoped for until the rise up to meet God Child of The Reapers. Everything before that point I count as the best game of the trilogy. And I'm firmly in the camp that hopes Bioware does something to change/expand the ending.

I have been reading there are hints of an expansion, such as a producer saying 'if you knew what we were planning, you'd keep your copy of ME3 forever', which seem like an odd thing to say in a few different ways. So they're planning something, could be Omega DLC, could be MP stuff, maybe, maybe there's a chance that it's an actual Expansion, like Dragon Age had Awakening. Refer to the 'best' ending in ME3 (Spoilers?). All that weird shit happens at the end which is completely unsatisfactory, but if you have a high enough score and pulled off a certain thing (not letting Anderson die), and choosing to Destroy, you get a 9-ish second clip of Shepard (in his/her N7 armor, which was strangely missing at the end)..buried in rubble (from where? if the Citadel explodes, I highly doubt Shepard isn't vaporized). Then he/she takes a breath. The scenery around Shepard in that clip practically screams that he/she is still lying in the spot they were hit with the Reaper beam. Theory is that the 'ending' was Harbinger trying to indoctrinate Shepard. Which makes sense sort of. He says more than once that choosing to 'Destroy' is bad bad, you don't want to kill the Geth do you? That's not nice. Or EDI? Tsk tsk. But if you choose a different one, Shepard literally dissolves into a husk before, well, dissolving.

Probably just wishful thinking. But my trilogy list:

ME3 (without last part) > ME1 > ME2
or
ME1 > ME3 (with 'end') > ME2
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #16
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Tough questions.

ME1 was like an epic sci-fi movie. Are you ever going to really forget charging the Mako down that tunnel to hit the Conduit and crash-bang into the Citadel? I'm not. Not to mention that during the epic sci-fi movie ending you're still making decisions. (Save council, let em die, etc). How about the fact you can literally talk Saren into shooting himself? How many games does that happen in (besides ME3).
Me 1 was my favorite for exactly the reasons you state here.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:34 PM   #17
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ME1 was like an epic sci-fi movie.

ME2 was my least favorite I think. Love the characters though. Cerberus was a nice little plot, but it didn't seem like I was actually careening to an epic sci-fi ending the whole time. You knew what was coming and had to spend too much time doing loyalty missions and recruiting. Wait...that was pretty much the whole game. It was certainly not bad by any means.

ME3 is completely 100% amazing and everything I hoped for until the rise up to meet God Child of The Reapers. Everything before that point I count as the best game of the trilogy.
You've pretty much summed up my thoughts on comparing the three games.

ME3 is the best game. ME1 has the best story.

ME3 minimizes the tedious aspects of the previous two games and keeps the tension flowing from setpiece to setpiece to make a remarkably cinematic and exciting game.

ME1 managed to tell a complete and compelling story despite having the weakest engine of the three and having to do the heavy lifting of setting up the world as well.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:32 PM   #18
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Ink, I think they definitely succeeded in most ways. People can criticize the games for not being interactive enough, or not being able to shape the story enough (which are valid criticisms), but at least for me the level of interactivity you do have does add a lot to the experience. I don't think total interactivity and freedom of choice is something to strive for in a game that wants to tell a somewhat predefined story.

The proof is in the pudding, people get really attached to their Shepards. There's still room to improve it (Witcher 2 is better in a lot of areas), but I don't think this type of interactive storytelling is in need of a revolutionary leap, unlike what someone like Peter Molyneux might have you believe.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:39 PM   #19
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I'm glad we can agree on some points. The kinds of revolutionary leaps I'm thinking of are ones that will make it easier or cheaper to produce the wide range of scenes necessary to cater to more impactful choices without sacrificing quality.

You could certainly program a game today that does allow for more consequential decision-making, but that often means you can't produce the unique and well-produced voices and animation of a game as large as Mass Effect.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:52 PM   #20
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They did it with Dragon Age: Origins. You got a nice long reveal...sort of..of your decisions at the end. Sure it was text-based, but better than the 'end' of Mass Effect 3. It seemed terribly rushed.
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