Many times I’m playing an older game and having such a great time with it I can’t wait to talk about it. But if it’s not a current release I feel people will say “yeh mat, we all knew Mass Effect was great back in 2007″. But recently I was in a fancy bathroom that had decorative stones saying something about not caring what people think, so the Backlog Diaries are here (name subject to change). Sometimes I’ll talk about a game I’ve finished, but other times such as this, I’ll be giving my impressions of what I’ve played so far. Mass Effect is big.

There will be spoilers since everyone knew how damn great this was way back in 2007.

My first experience with Shepard and crew came just last year as I started with Mass Effect 2 and friggin loved it. It felt like the best parts of Star Wars and Star Trek. It was a wonderful evolution of Bioware’s incredible Knights of the Old Republic, but this time it had shooting! I had found a great guide on how to built a powerful short range beast of a Vanguard and thoroughly enjoyed warping into baddies faces and blasting them away. The story hit home even though I was meeting these characters for the first time and I couldn’t wait to play more.

I had heard the naysayers about Mass Effect 1’s combat but decided to start there before playing the third entry to get the full experience. Boy they weren’t kidding about that combat. It’s clunky and punishingly difficult. I went with a short-range build again and I can tell that was a horrible mistake. The aiming reticule is the size of the normandy and it’s fairly difficult to get close before falling in a hailstorm of enemy fire. One battle had me so frustrated I had to take a break for a few weeks. I finally returned after deciding to swallow my pride and put the difficulty on easy.

What a difference that made! Now I can run through the battles like Indiana Jane (femShep voice acting does it for me) blasting baddies in the face like the badass Specter I just became. The battles are now a short diversion of mindless bullet-spewing fun in between the more important moments of this massive game.

And what a game it is. This must have blown some minds back in 2007. I was a PS3 guy back then so I could only look on with envy. But even in 2016 the universe Bioware has created is very impressive. The best sci-fi feels lived in and Mass Effect definitely succeeds in that regard. The premise that humans have recently discovered space travel and are the new race on the block trying to earn respect is a brilliant switch from the usual ‘we’re the best!’ stories.

The voice acting is superb, the interactions feel great, and the game drips atmosphere. The environments are large and beautifully realized. I especially loved the Citadel tower and the first few times I landed on a new planet. It was a bit strange to drive the clunky Mako around but I definitely appreciated the feeling of exploring a dusty, mountainous, planetscape. When the first space monster leapt up from the ground I was reminded of discovering the gigantic Sand Snake of Final Fantasy VII. Sure the driving and combat isn’t super refined and I can definitely see it getting tedious several dozen planets in, but so far I dig it.

I was also quite surprised at how much more of an RPG it was compared to the second game. Experience points are given for just about everything and there’s plenty of choice whether you’re leveling your character or deciding which part of the galaxy to explore next. The journey to complete my first plot-point after becoming Captain was wonderfully open-ended. I chose which plot-point to chase first and given only a rough indication of where the desired NPC was located. It took several fruitless planet scans and landings before I stumbled upon paydirt. This is a welcome change from the often intrusive hand-holding of many modern games that are less challenging, and more inevitable.

This is where I leave you as I’m currently still on that first major planet, searching for that certain NPC that my character will eventually sleep with according to the sequel. I’m excited to view their first encounters as a romance prequel of sorts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my experience as much as I’ve enjoyed telling you all about it. This series will see regular postings as there are far too many classic games I still need to sink my teeth into.

Bye for now.

Any thoughts or tips on Mass Effect 1 or the series as a whole? How about great classics you’ve recently gone through that still hold up? Let us know yo.

 

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