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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:40 am 

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 4219
So I wanted to replay the Mass Effect trilogy but decided against replaying ME as it's combat is a little lacking. So, I'll start with Mass Effect 2. Except, I loaned it to a buddy as, at the time, I had EA access so had digital rights to play it. So I could no longer play it, so I just played ME3. And it was great. Then I got ME2 back off my buddy. Again, I fancied it but couldn't really be bothered with ME so just re-imported my FemShep from my 2016 run. I did this despite knowing I wanted to do something other than my paragon FemShep Solider with Liara or Garrus romance. Finished it. Then decided I really did want to go BroShep so ended up starting Mass Effect completely over and did a trilogy run. So yeah, 3-2-1-2-3 was my play route.

Further, I hadn't done any runs on the hardest difficulty setting since my initial runs of ME2 and ME3 and ME on a new game + many years ago, so I hit up some Insanity. I'm basically now going to review games that I'm fairly sure everyone knows I already adore and absolutely venerate. To sum up in advance, I like these 3 games, a lot.

I forgot how good Mass Effect was. I was a little put off playing it again because the elevator/lift load times are a bit annoying and it doesn't have the same amount of constant emotional payoffs that the third games does. Add in the slightly questionable combat and I thought I'd be bored. I wasn't. My last playthrough was 2016 (iirc, when these 3 games went backwards compatible or thereabouts). I did a near 100% run. Insanity is easiest on this game due to the powers having individual cooldowns, and after a point you can be shooting your rifle constantly while healing almost instantly. Did a 100% run, or as close as I was really able to. I had forgotten just how awful Pinnacle Station was as a DLC. Pointless really. It's interesting how different this game does feel. There is a far stronger team human vs team alien feel to this than even in ME2, where you work for an exclusively pro-human group. And Tali's voice acting is a bit different.

Mass Effect 2. I struggled on Insanity a lot when first playing this back at release. It took me actually until half way through Insanity on ME3 to realise you really should use squad powers tactically. In addition, energy drain as a bonus power is phenomenally useful, though a couple of other powers might have worked for my Soldier Shep. I was astounded at how easy this was. I counted 5 total deaths that weren't just "being stupid" deaths from running ahead and being foolish. I doubt any level had less than 5 deaths on my original run. Missions against the Geth were especially easy. Only the Collectors really pose any kind of issue. I do have some criticisms. Enemies do so much damage and can push up so fast that your lack of mobility really is an issue. I feel it's somewhat unfair. If you have your back against the wall, you can defend ludicrously easy. Rushing you is really the only way to win. The mobility thing blew my mind, as I remembered it being closer to ME3 where movement and cover to cover movement was implemented far better. I still feel ammo was overly limited, commonly running low at the end of fights though mitigated a lot by using squad powers properly. This was a huge stepping stone for me on my original run, I was also surprised as the lack of Tech Blasts. Warp to detonate biotics was included in this game and I thought all the tech blasts and biotic explosions were in this game. I also take issue with the final mission. If Garrus leads the second squad he needs to be loyal to survive but Miranda doesn't. I'm a little bias because I love Garrus as a character but he's a proven leader, only lost his team due to an insider screwing them over. The final mission is up there on my list of best ever videogame levels. If you skip scenes, at least on Xbox One BC version, it can really mess with scenes. Don't recall this from Xbox 360 but I'm not sure how many times I replayed ME2 on 360 skipping scenes (something I only do when I remember a scene well, like playing ME2 twice recently).

Then ME3. It's in contention for the game I love the most, though I wouldn't love it as much in isolation as part of it is the development of characters and settings over the trilogy. Again, the bonus power - Energy Drain for me, again - makes the game a lot easier. However, as I'd played a boatload of ME3 multiplayer and had learned the benefit of tech blasts, I pretty much just used a combination of Incendiary Ammo and Concussive blast to fire explosion EVERYTHING. On my original run, once I had learned to use squad powers, it was Garrus to overload shields, Liara to stasis and a headshot from Shepard with a gigantic sniper rifle. Slow, but very consistent and effective. Fire explosions were much quicker, and Shep getting energy drain as a bonus power also paid off. Ammo still an issue, but I switched to using just the Prothean Particle Rifle to avoid that issue and for quick cooldown. this made insanity difficulty pretty simple. However, some issues I do take with the game. I adore the Citadel DLC, and it worked superbly as a DLC released months after the main game as a final farewell to our squad. It's poignant in places, it's also rather goofy too. It just feels a bit jarring to play it during the main game, especially if you do it right before the endgame. Thessia has fallen and the galaxy is f**ked, you've had your first real defeat and it's the big gut punch before the comeback and you end up in a slightly jovial adventure. I love the DLC but it can be a little odd. More importantly, in ME and ME2 any sidequests can be handed in at any point before the end of the game (or after actually in ME2). ME3 introduces the ability to fail these. It makes sense, but I don't think it was a sensible gameplay thing. I feel like giving us 2 games of training in the opposite then switching it was a poor plan. The London mission at the end, between stepping foot back on Earth until the end of the mission is superb too. I'd put it on my list of best levels too. However, when Bioware altered the ending because everyone apart from me hated it, they have your squad get picked up from in front of the reaper. Your ship flies down, and lingers for far too long while you say an emotional goodbye if your romantic partner is there. It really breaks with the logic of the plot at that point. That said, I do love the addition of refusing to use the catalyst dooming everyone to brutal extinction at the hands of the Reapers. It's a war against unstoppable killing machines, the unstoppable killing machines should win. Getting as far as you did involved beating ludicrous odds. I really dig it as an ending that your Shep is known in the future thanks to Liara's beacons and you motivate the destruction of the reapers and breaking of the cycle but it wasn't possible in your lifetime. I
think Shep would take that deal.
Also, I know I'm a little bias to FemShep over BroShep but I really felt it this time having to listen to Mark Meer. It's not that he's bad, it's not the acting so much as I just prefer Jennifer Hale's voice. The exception being the final lines of Citadel DLC and the final lines of the game if you refuse to use the catalyst, I do feel she packs a lot of subtle emotion into them brilliantly.

On a more personal note, these games hit me hard. I've been gaming as probably my primary hobby/passtime for about 20 years now but I get very little out of it these days. It's difficult to explain how much effort it takes sometimes to play a game. Often, I feel it's more like a chore and better than just staring at the wall. It's symptomatic of a bunch of other issues I have in my life how little enjoyment I get out of most games. Even the games I have loved in the last few years - Walking Dead S2, Life is Strange and the like haven't quite left me truly escape the way I used to. The closest I've come was back in the spring when I played throught he Ezio Collection of Assassin's Creed games. But playing these 3 Mass Effect games either re-ignited that spark within me or let me feel it again the way I used to, Let me forget the miserable, monotony of my life and let me truly experience something, let me go along for the ride. I feel like I felt the way I used to when I'd play games and reminded me somewhat of why I fell in love with gaming. Maybe that's silly and overly emotional but in my head to feel that way was beautiful.

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