It's Not A Space Game

Ok. I get it.

I now understand why people went nutso over Mass Effect. This is one of those games that has the Star Wars/Godfather syndrome where the second movie is the best. ME2 is better then the first one. By far. I’ve been tinkering with it in-between dye sessions with fabric. There’s only so much space on the floor so I need something to occupy my time.

*surfs* I can get ME2, 3, and Fallout: New Vegas for $30 with free shipping? Done.

I was still hesitant to play after seeing the chaos that ensued with ME3. Even the wiki overview made me depressed. My main character is going to die and so are some of my comrades. That blows. But anytime I brought it up, I was told that I had to play. I wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend it until I experienced it. So I am.

30 hours into it, and I get it.

I was forced to go to the Collector’s ship for research and salvage. I still had one person left on my dossier to get. The Engineer: Tali. My girl. Yes I’m playing femShep but she’s still my girl! I was unhappy. Really unhappy. The type of fearful unhappy that I was going to be stuck on this course of pushing through to the end of the game with no way out and wouldn’t get my Tali. Of course a quick walkthrough glance and I realized I would be fine as long as I didn’t go directly to the Omega Relay, but with that twinge of pain and self-loathing I started to understand.

Mass Effect isn’t a game about saving the universe but about defying the impossible. The relationships (which borderlines insanity rather than impossibility) that you build with your team are quite incredible. The political and social dynamics are far beyond the norm, but at the same time feel very real. These computer generated characters have a spark about them that compels us to keep going. We want to see their personal missions through.

I’m seeing Mass Effect as less of a shooter with gusto and more of Lord of the Rings meets Star Trek. It’s about the journey, not the final destination. The thing that makes LoTR so grand in scale is the stories of the adventurers. We care about them in ways we normally wouldn’t for fictional beings. They have lives beyond the paper and the movie screen. We care about who they are, their past, their future, and how they will become a team as their quest continues. Star Trek is much like that, but from a more forced peaceful “hey everyone has to get along because we said so” type of momentum that Mass Effect picked up on. But Star Trek really was about the characters, not the missions. The missions were pretty subpar. Go here, Kirk tries to charm that alien, blow something up, lesson learned, next quest! The episodes and movies that had an impact were the character-centric ones where we learned about Spock’s history, the Klingon’s, and Quark’s completely backward pensive need for money.

ME also has Collectors, which are basically drummed down Borgs. Obvious connection. By the way did anyone else see the planet Kobayashi and started giggling like an 8-year-old Pokémon fan, or was that just me?

That’s how I see Mass Effect 2 playing out. I don’t care what the end of the game holds for me. I’m having more fun learning about these characters, exploring their stories, and watching as they interact. Even Joker has grown on me. He was annoying in the first game. I think the near death experience made him more of a wise-ass. However I do miss the random dialogue exchanged between characters as you’re walking around, or being able to talk to them after a fight. You get some staged moments, but outside of the Collector’s ship it’s been a feature that I miss. Random elevator banter, away!