First, I want to thank my friend Prism Elf for convincing me to start playing Mass Effect.  I freely admit that I shied away from the franchise because A) the title didn’t grab me, B) I tend to favor fantasy settings over sci-fi techno-babble, and C) it’s super-popular which always makes me wary of its quality.

Boy, was I wrong.

After playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, Bioware was in my good graces.  I love those games, the interactions, complex storylines, beautifully rendered locales, awesome battle sequences, and generally cinemagraphic feel that makes it more like participating in a movie than a shoot-em-up video game.  I actually didn’t realize that the Mass Effect Trilogy was created by Bioware until recently.  And after hearing Prism Elf rave about both Mass Effect and Dragon Age for at least two years (at least), I finally caved, went to GameStop, and parted with $40 in return for the trilogy package.  Alas, it came with no instruction manual, so I decided to wing it on Casual as a Soldier rather than messing around with a biotic character.  Biotics reminded me of Force users, but I wasn’t willing to over-complicate my first play-through.  I’m much better at just meleeing shit.

Thus, Kate Shepard was born:

Red hair, violet eyes, and a Roman nose. Hell yeah.

Red hair, violet eyes, and a Roman nose.
Hell yeah.

I was immediately sucked into the world of Mass Effect.  The mechanics are very similar to KOTOR, but the fighting is more like Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, which is a third-person shooter.  And, thanks to my recent experience playing HALO, the transition from my usual melee-focus wasn’t difficult.  I love games that reward exploration and goddamn there is a lot of text!  I spent over an hour one night just reading through my Codex entries, which compiles information about the world as you explore and talk to different characters, be they NPCs or members of your party.  In the words of one of my brothers, “Everyone you talk to is interesting!  Usually talking to a guard is the most boring thing ever in a game, but here, I want to invite him out for drinks!”

That kind of sums up my reaction to characters in Mass Effect.  The sheer scale and amount of detail present in every aspect shows the time and attention and care that was taken in assembling the game.  Every planet you visit, even if you don’t land, has a description, the A.U., rotation, size…it’s insane.  And I really love how the science of the world, the faster-than-light drives, the mass relays that allow inter-system travel, the weapons, element zero…it’s so well-thought out.  As a writer, I’ve been blown away.

Plus, I can see that the creators aren’t afraid to take some risks in this franchise.  There’s a moment towards the end of the game (if you’re a completionist like I am and have done pretty much everything else first) that was so emotionally charged…I dare not say any more.  And the beginning of Mass Effect 2….Bold.  Very, very bold.  ME2 looks like it will be a darker, grittier story than the one I just completed, but that’s okay.  Unlike so many other stories that take that root, I’m interested, nay eager to take those steps into a new side of the Mass Effect universe.  (Even if the ME2 controls are kind of wonky compared to ME1.)

I finished Mass Effect 1 on Friday, September 28, 2013.  Level 50, Soldier Class, with a total play time of 37 hours, 23 minutes.  On Monday, September 30, 2013 I began Mass Effect 2, importing my ME1 files and changing to Vanguard Class.

Let’s see where this journey takes me.




“Mass Effect (Female Shepard)” by TheJTizzle via Deviantart

Mass Effect title via

Screenshots of FemShep taken by me