Some thoughts on Mass Effect from Someone Who’s Never Played it

Needs some Iron Maiden playing in the background.

I haven’t played any of the games in the Mass Effect series (though I do own the first and second entries for PC now) but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt the effect of the hype for the series (as well as some of the recent hate for the third entry.)  The universe of Mass Effect is enormous, so it’s been very difficult to stop myself from spoiling some of the series key highlights and plot twists.  I’ve even gone ahead and watched each of the endings to Mass Effect 3 since there’s been so much controversy.  The way I’m looking at it, it’s going to take me a good long time before I can legitimately complete these games and that if simply viewing the game’s story spoils the experience of playing it then I’ll be glad I didn’t invest myself in it too heavily.

In any case, my initial reaction to the game’s endings were “What’s the big deal?”  It’s hard to understand why there would be so much outrage at what seems to be a very thoughtful conclusion to the series.  But then again, I didn’t invest hundreds of hours and make dozens of decisions to try and shape the game’s outcome.  The game’s director makes no apology for it, and explicitly states that it was supposed to be memorable (implicitly saying that it’s irrelevant whether you feel good about it or not.)  It’s been roundly agreed upon that it satisfies this goal, and I concur with the sentiment.  It is a memorable story, but is that beside the point?  Stories can be told any number of ways, most of which don’t require hours and hours of work on the audience’s part to consume.  No matter how satisfying the story may be, if I can enjoy it just as well by watching it on Youtube and the work to complete the trilogy does nothing more that a book or movie could do better then it hasn’t met its potential as a game.

So now when I think about the ending to Mass Effect 3, I wonder “Why should I play that when I could watch Star Trek instead?” and I start to understand why people are upset with it.  They are still games that I want to play but I’ve adjusted my expectations.


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