A return to where it all began in Mass Effect

playing mass effect one more time

With 2012 coming to a close, there’s naturally a whole bunch of “game of the year” talk, with Mass Effect 3 popping up in various ways and categories. Some are for it, some are against it, some loathe its very existence, and some, like me, still haven’t even played it. More on that topic later this month. Regardless, the third entry in the franchise–and the Shepard trilogy–certainly created a response. Loyal fans were disappointed, new players felt confused, some players were pleased nonetheless, a cut devoted themselves to the multiplayer only, some grew angry, some took anti-depressants, some began to eat more junk food, and so on.

So, what am I doing to get in on all of this hot discussion? Playing through the original Mass Effect for a second time…duh.

Earlier this year, I finally took a Big Boy step forward and experienced Mass Effect 2, which was long overdue. Overall, I was not wowed with Shepard’s second adventure, finding the recruiting of crew members to be more akin to checking off a list, but still enjoying all the lore and dialogue and even the scanning mechanic. But I felt a disconnect, probably because it had been so long since I played the original game, as well as that I was unhappy in a number of choices I had previously made. Sure, I could’ve just started fresh in Mass Effect 2, selecting a bunch of choices then and there, but that didn’t feel genuine. And with all the talk about where Shepard started and where Shepard ended, I’ve been itching to go back and remember.

Now, according to my Achievements list, I first completed Mass Effect in May 2009. I dipped back into it some seven months later, continuing on a second playthrough with my first created Shepard with hopes of, I guess, seeing more and hitting that magical Level 60. Think I upped the difficulty level, too, which really built up a wall between me and progress. However, I really wanted to start fresh, and so I constructed my first female Shepard, gave her some pretty red hair, a mean scowl, a whatever background story, and labeled her as an Infiltrator to mix things up. So far, the class has been a little tough to learn, especially since using sniper rifles is extremely difficult from the get-go, with instability a key factor in my missing many headshots. It’s a weapon I’d like to get really good at sooner than later, letting my teammates (Garrus and Wrex) move in with assault rifles and shotguns and special abilities while I hang back and pick off the stragglers.

I’m playing Mass Effect for a second time slowly, mostly because I missed a ton of content my first time through. Think I was just rushing overall. I know this because I didn’t unlock any of the Achievements for experiencing most of the game with X and Y, as well as the one for just seeing a majority of the game. I know for a fact I skipped nearly all the missions on the Citadel, more excited to get out in space and visit alien planets. This time, I’ve spent a majority of my playthrough on the Citadel, running around and solving problems for quest givers. Can’t seem to find two Keepers though. Only just became a Spectre and started exploring the galaxy; I’m staying away from the main storyline planets for now, taking the uncontrollable Mako around on undiscovered planets for side missions and such.

Part of the “playing it slow” tactic has also earned me a new Achievement, one I initially missed on my first playthrough. See here:

mass effect scholar ach
Scholar (25G): Find all primary Alien: Council Races, Extinct Races and Non-Council Races codex entries

To end for now, Mass Effect has some of the greatest music and most infuriating music this side of the biz. The title screen and galaxy map tunes are beautifully calming, and the chomping, dark-as-space riff that plays when you die is just adding salt to your open wounds. I’ve already heard it three or four times, and I never want to hear it again, but know that I will continue to. Technically, it’s pretty rough, hitching up constantly on the Xbox 360 and with lots of mid-level loading and sketchy framerates. That’s still all pretty excusable when you get to have a fantastically written conversation with someone, playing both the good and evil side of things, and learning everything you can in one big gulp.

I’ll be back if any more thoughts come to mind for Mass Effect, and you can probably expect me to play Mass Effect 3 some time in 2013.

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