When it comes to video game stories I strongly believe that the Mass Effect trilogy tells one of the most amazing and ambitious stories in all of video game history. It is for that reason I leaped at the chance to buy a remake of the series all on one disc to revisit the series I enjoyed almost 10 years ago. With the new version comes some new tweaks to improve the game and all of the DLC that I never got a chance to play when I played the original versions. With that I was more than eager to dive into this game again and see all that I didn’t see all those years ago. For this review I will break everything down to each individual game and do an overall review of each title.
Mass Effect 1:
The story of Mass Effect 1 starts off strong by introducing several enjoyable characters such as Wrex, Tali and Garrus and presenting the core threat of the game which is the reapers. As your character, Shepard, goes through the galaxy to try and find evidence of the Reapers to convince others to help and resolving threats along the way we really get into the main reason this series is great. Throughout the game’s main and side stories you make decisions that can have small to large impacts on the rest of the series which makes each playthrough a very unique experience. It really puts an emphasis on how important the side quests are and how detrimental it can be to just go through the game’s main story to get to the ending as soon as possible. These missions and these characters are all amazing and the visuals have improved from the original version to look more like that of Mass Effect 2 and 3, plus the missions that involve the Mako are a little more bearable as the controls for the vehicle are much easier to work with.
With that being said some of the flaws of Mass Effect 1’s original release are still very much included in this game. When it comes to the side quests you have two main problems. The first is that the layout of the side quests are all almost exactly the same as far as building structures and it makes these quests feel rather repetitive. The second problem adds to that because while the Mako is easier to control it’s still far from enjoyable as the sheer number of tasks that require you to drive the Mako is massive and it gets old fast going around empty planets from one end to the other looking for buildings and items. Like all games you have a romance option but the choices are honestly slim in this game. For male Shepard you have Ashley who hates aliens with a passion and makes her hard to listen to and Female Shepard has Kaiden who is honestly just boring. Both Shepards can romance Liara who is by far a much better character which makes her a clear choice but since I romanced her in my last playthrough I picked a different character this time around for a new experience. Overall it’s still the amazing game that I remembered and provides a lot to do that sets up the foundation for your experiences in the rest of the trilogy but I also now remember why it was the only game in the trilogy I did not replay until now.
Mass Effect 2:
Mass Effect 2 was my personal favorite of the series. In this game you are still trying to prevent the threat of the Reapers; however, now you must do so with an organization that was a thorn at your side during the side quests of the first game. Furthermore what I like about this game is you get to see how decisions from the first game impact your story while also making new decisions that will further impact the rest of the trilogy. The game features the largest cast of characters in the trilogy which is great but also makes the time between missions long as you go to talk to each member of your crew to see if they have anything new to say, but while a long process it’s also a very enjoyable one as the characters, much like the other games, are all very entertaining and fun to talk to. This version had quite a bit of DLC that I got to experience for the first time such as the new characters Zaheed and Kasumi. Now I’ll be honest I didn’t like Zaheed but I did like how he presented a different perspective than a lot of the characters in your crew. Kasumi however I liked a lot and it’s a shame she wasn’t a character you could romance in the games. This game is more character focused as you really see a lot more of each character’s story and it’s one of the reasons I like this game above the others. The gameplay is much easier to work with than the first game as some controls now have handy button shortcuts and the weapons function more like traditional shooters. The story is still amazing and the variation of the level layouts and the lack of the Mako made each mission feel unique and enjoyable. Also this game gives you a lot more characters to romance which actually makes the choice tough since it has a better selection. Overall this took some of the few flaws of the first game and did a lot to resolve them to make what I consider to be the best part of the Mass Effect trilogy.
Mass Effect 3:
This is my second favorite game of the trilogy with the first game being at the bottom for me. It still fixes a lot of the problems in the first game and has some of the best gameplay as the gun controls felt easier for me for some reason. The problem with this game though is the missions take a pretty significant dive. A lot of the missions are great where you go and recruit the characters you bonded with for the final fight with the Reapers and those missions are great; however, in order to give the players as much to do as there was in the previous two games you got a lot of missions where you go and find stuff randomly in the galaxy to report back to the citadel with to increase your readiness score for the final fight with the Reapers. This part is boring, but it’s a much shorter process than the boring missions you had in the first game with the Mako so it was bearable and this problem is very specific to a few of the side quests where as the rest of the side quests were amazing resolutions to the stories you were creating with the first two games. Finding out what happens to each character was a really fun experience and all these exciting revelations makes all of the great and even the not so great parts of the game worth every second spent on them. The new character Javik is interesting and it’s nice to see experiences from how his race lost the fight with the Reapers 50,000 years prior to the events of the trilogy. Overall it’s a really fun game, the side quests provide amazing and sometimes tear jerking resolutions to the characters you bonded with over the course of the trilogy, but because it is the end some of the side quests didn’t have as much story to them as their only purpose was to find random items to help with the final battle and this process got old.
Now I’ll talk about the ending since it’s pretty controversial. I didn’t hate the ending, but I also didn’t love it. The series emphasizes choices that drastically alter what happens during the game, and you’re presented with four choices at the end of the trilogy; however, three of those choices were just way too similar to me. One was significantly different but it honestly isn’t a satisfying ending in my opinion. The other three endings do provide a nice resolution to Shepard’s story and it is a solid ending but when you present a choice then I want to see some actual value being making a choice that I honestly didn’t see here because of the similarities. So it is a good ending but when the rest of the game does the need to make a choice a whole lot better I can’t help but notice this and be a bit disappointed by it. I did like how this extended ending showed what happened to your characters and it was nice to see the end of their stories. I do wish we got to see more extended results of what happened with the species of all the aliens we impacted throughout the course of the series. You make massive choices that literally alter the cultures of multiple races and I would have loved to see the results of those choices, but still it’s honestly a good ending it just happens to be in a good ending in a masterpiece of a story and for that reason fails to compare to the rest of the game.
So overall I was really happy to get back into this series and make new choices and see new results with characters that I am deeply attached to. It was a fun experience and I am really happy I got this series again and loved how much the DLC added to the game and made more character development to already well developed characters. Regardless of if you have played the games a lot or not at all I think this series is well worth going through again all in one disc.