I Missed the Mass Effect Boat

I Missed the Mass Effect Boat

What’s this Mass Effect game everyone keeps talking about? I’ve never played it.

Surely by now you must all be aware of the fact that, yes, I did manage to miss the Mass Effect boat. And it wasn’t that I simply missed it by a few seconds where I could easily cast off in a dingy and row out to catch it. Not even close. Rather, in the grand scheme of things – and to keep the references relevant – the Mass Effect 3 boat has evolved into a Mercury class Battlestar and is hurtling through space towards distant galaxies and unimaginable discoveries while I sit festering in a puddle of primordial ooze back on Earth.

Mass Effect 3

That’s how much I missed the Mass Effect boat by.

Now, before I continue, I want to make one thing absolutely, positively clear: I am in no way, shape, or form out to belittle or cut down the good name of Mass Effect or anyone who partakes in a few leisurely evenings with it. Rather, I merely want to delve a bit further into my own mind as to how and why this game passed me by as well as how I feel looking back and if in fact I will ever get with the times, because lord knows I’ve been on the receiving end of the berating stick for quite some time now.

I think it’s important to mention that I do in fact thoroughly enjoy almost anything science fiction related, although I do prefer fantasy a bit more. I’ve obsessed over a wide variety of sci-fi novels involving intergalactic travel, aliens, and the sort while at the same time plowing through the entirety of Battlestar Galactica and other sci-fi shows with unbridled fervor. Therefore, it cannot be said that the setting of Mass Effect didn’t appeal to me.

Another common response I’ve heard is that I’m simply not into RPGs. Well, I wish that were the case, but a vast majority of my absurd game collection consists of RPGs. My retro collection has been whittled down to almost exclusive include RPGs. Granted, Mass Effect is a different style of RPG, its an RPG nevertheless and I should have been all over it like lip hair on grandma.

I was racking my brain the other day trying to remember what other games came out around the same time that the original Mass Effect came out as those may have been the deciding factor for me taking a pass on the series. After all, at the time I was in the midst of my college years barely scraping enough money together to buy beer and tacos. If the plasma center would have let me donate every day for 8 hours a day, I would have!

Unfortunately, upon looking back at the stellar year that was 2007, I came to the harsh realization that hardly anything worthy of diverting my attention had come out. Now, I can tell you that I was more than likely just tying up any loose ends in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, thoroughly waggling my Wiimote with Super Mario Galaxy, and more than likely still obsessing over Halo 3, while at the same managing to avoid Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (we’ll talk about that one later) and growing increasingly more disgusted with the repetitiveness of the first Assassin’s Creed.

Therefore, it sounds like the timing was perfect, but for some reason I still refused to pick this game up.

So what could it possible have been that kept me from enjoying what is clearly becoming one of gaming’s most revered franchises? I wrote an article awhile back where I revealed some of the games I didn’t play and the stupid reasons why, but in there I only mentioned that Mass Effect was one such title and refrained from actually revealing any true reasons. Well, as has become quite clear to me, that excuse doesn’t quite cut it anymore.

My first experience with Mass Effect came in the form of a few evenings spent watching a roommate play and those few nights are the only plausible excuse I can think of as to why I made the choice I did. Mind you, I have absolutely no frame of reference so my description is going to be about as accurate as a blind trap shooting contest.

All I remember is spending hours watching him bounce around from planet to planet and this ATV-looking contraption with far more wheels than were obviously necessarily that looked like it handled about as well as one of Helen Keller’s cars after a day on the road. I saw the occasional tidbit of combat, but the vast majority was spent awkwardly ambling over mountains with no obvious destination in mind for hours on end. At the time, this scenario was the exact formula needed to concoct the dreaded ‘video game anti-boner.’

Mass Effect 1 Mako

This piece of shit.

I was so turned off by what I saw, despite the hoards of praise the title was getting as well as the engaging conversations my roommates would never shut up about, that I simply returned to my current mistress known as Oblivion.

Mass Effect 2 couldn’t have come at a worse time as I was still in midst of a passionate love affair with Demon’s Souls and couldn’t be bothered with anything else at the time. Also, knowing I missed the first part kind of soured any possible ambitions I may have had to catch the boat. I’ll admit that in the years since, I could have easily gotten over my preconceived notions and given it a whirl, but in the time since, so many wonderfully time-consuming games have come out that I really didn’t find myself willing to delve into my backlog too deeply.

Mass Effect 3 is squarely out (at least it is in the western world), the internet is abuzz with everything related to the series, and everyone I know and work with is firmly entrenched in an effort to restore peace to the galaxy, but here I sit, still playing Skyrim.

A few weeks back I decided to give the series the benefit of the doubt and take the ME3 demo for a whirl. My initial thoughts brought back a rush of feelings from 2007. Something along the lines of, ‘OK, what’s the big deal?’

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer with Eric and Dan

The visuals were sub par, the voice acting was alright, the character models were downright scary, the combat is (or has at least evolved into) stale and generic and certainly not made any more enjoyable by the clunky controls and confusing interface. I will admit that in the time since, I have I played a good few third person cover-based shooters and learned to enjoy the controls, so I can forgive those and say that in their realm they seem to function as could be expected.

As I’m sure you can guess, those comments earned me more than enough flak to fight the next world war with, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and believe I have come to a conclusion that may or may not sit well with you all, but here it is.

Mass Effect really isn’t that great of a game in the traditional sense of video games.

Ooooh!!! Controversial! Get Him

I know, I know, I’m not speaking directly from experience, but I am an avid player of Bioware games and seeing as how Mass Effect is essentially Dragon Age in space, I can draw a few solid conclusions. I played the bajesus out of Dragon Age: Origins and when I got to the end, I looked back at my experience and thought to myself ‘what the hell was that?’ I wasn’t sure if I had been pleasured beyond my physical limits or if I had been blindfolded, seduced by an erotic voice, and led nearly naked through a patch of cacti, urged to continue on by the promise of something good to come only to finally be greeted by a 400lb dude holding old Big Mac’s under his armpits and asking me if I wanted to join him for dinner.

My thought process was that if Dragon Age was built off the success of Mass Effect and the two were similar in concept and execution, then surely Dragon Age must be an improvement. And if that game was an improvement, I would hate to see what it improved upon.

Now, you may be wondering why I even bothered to finish Dragon Age: Origins at all if I hated it that much. That’s where my thoughts on Mass Effect come in. The only real thing keeping me going through the entire game was the story and the characters within. I understand it wasn’t the best story or the most engaging characters, but in the heirarchy of genres, fantasy ranks #1 with me.

I think Mass Effect suffers something quite similar to its Dragon Age cousin in that it really isn’t the most polished game on the market or that it even contains any sort of revolutionary game play, but what it lacks in those departments it certainly appears to make up for with stellar narratives and mind-blowing character development. The people I hear talk about Mass Effect appear to be mere moments away from drinking the kool-aid, if they haven’t already. They are that obsessed. I can imagine it’s what I was/am like when I waffle on about Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls and then entire Elder Scrolls series.

That got me thinking about Skyrim. I gave that game a perfect score, something I rarely do, and that game was rife with bugs, errors, glitches, and shortcomings, yet I believe a game should be judged on the things it does right and if it manages to blast the lid off the gaming world with everything it does right, then those downfalls, regardless of how severe, can more than likely be forgiven.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s obvious that people are caught up in the hype of Mass Effect, and frankly, if I were a fan of the series I’m sure I would right there with everyone singing its praises. However, from an outside perspective, things aren’t always as clear as you would hope them to be, but I am starting to see why this game so wildly successful. People love their Commander Shepard and as with any story spanning half a decade, people what to see how it all ends.

So my epiphany means I’m going to rush out and buy all three titles and have a good plow through the universe, right? Probably not.

I’ve discovered that first of all, these types of games rarely age well, and second of all, this series is obviously best enjoyed in its heyday with like-minded individuals with whom to share the adventure. As it stands, by the time I got around to thoroughly experience everything both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 have to offer, the hype for Mass Effect 3 will have come and gone and everyone will be on to bigger and better things.

I know, that really isn’t the best excuse, but it’s all I could come up with. That, and I’m still playing Skyrim.

Skyrim Bacon Hat

Comments are closed.