Ha! Ha! This should have been done a week ago. I suck.
BioWare / Microsoft | Xbox 360 | RPG
I started writing about Mass Effect, but then it blossomed into a long, rambling thing that couldn’t fit in this space, so I guess it’s its own article now. Actually, the article is mostly just digression. And here you thought I’d outgrown that crap.
But of course, certain traditions must be observed:
If Mass Effect were music, it would be a rock opera. Big, grandiose, full of itself, alternately pretentious and preposterous… and wholly fantastic, if you can accept the blemishes as mere character flaws and simply appreciate its glorious fusion of narrative and rocking out. That Commander Shepard sure plays a mean pinball.
Few games in recent memory have drawn me in as deeply as Mass Effect. Yeah, it has problems. Yeah, the combat mechanics took a few hours to nail down. Yeah, I wanted to claw out my eyeballs after tooling around the 20th shiny rocky landscape in an excessively bouncy vehicle. But the game universe, the characters, the visuals, the shockingly smooth narrative presentation — they all more than made up for the long elevator rides and bumpy framerates and the fact that half my crew consisted of boring ciphers. I particularly liked the role that humanity played in the game: rather than being an all-conquering purveyor of pure awesome or a mewling, helpless victim of cosmic bullying, the human race is roughly on par with its CETI peers and maintains an uneasy (but not completely unfriendly) relationship with them. Also, being briefed on mission objectives by Lance Henriksen is totally sweet.
Is Mass Effect a better game, objectively speaking, than something like BioShock or Halo 3? Probably not. But it offered me the freedom of choice that BioShock merely gave lip service to, and it fleshed out its vast intergalactic world in a far more satisfying way than Halo. The end result was a game that made me a part of something big, yet let me feel like I was actually in control — like the decisions I made mattered. Being a galactic goody-goody has never been more satisfying.