I first played through the Mass Effect trilogy in the summer of 2014, and it’s one of a very few series that I have enjoyed enough to let me play all of the entries back-to-back-to-back without needing any breaks. I didn’t have any of the DLC at the time, however, so I’ve always been a little curious about how things would be changed and whether the things I’d been confused by in Mass Effect 3 might make more sense after playing through those extra story bits.
For the record: The opening to Mass Effect 3 ALONE makes way more sense if you’ve played the “Arrival” DLC for ME2. I will not say anything else nice about the “Arrival” DLC, because I had a hard time extracting any fun from the “game” parts of it that were inconveniently sandwiched between the cutscenes. It may just be the particular class I was playing in ME2, but there was an awful lot of “Arrival” that is just the slow wearing-down of rooms full of swarms of enemies with flamethrowers and rocket launchers and it just gets kind of tedious after a couple of rooms-full.
But I digress, and as I opened this post by implying that I had a heretical opinion about Mass Effect 2, it’s probably best that I get around to it:
Mass Effect is better than its sequel. Yes, really.
ME2 does have some really good characters, and possibly the best single character MOMENT in the series – Legion’s introduction – but it also felt like the designers took complaints about the original game’s complexity far too seriously. Skill trees are reduced to a bare handful of skills, combat no longer gives experience or gear, looting lockers and boxes gives a monotonous stream of credits rather than exciting randomized loot pinatas, the goofy fun of driving around planets in the Mako and reveling in its sheer disregard for gravity is replaced with endless planet scanning, and the occasionally-frustrating hacking minigame from ME1 is replaced with your choice of one of two minigames that are practically impossible to fail – but they NEED to be impossible to fail, because the level designers loved to stick the “bypass” minigame on doors that MUST be opened for story reasons, as opposed to only doors that lead to optional areas.
Oh, and the final boss is just silly in context. Normally, I would LOVE the 80s-heavy-metal-album-cover aesthetic, but in this universe? It feels like the last boss fight from a forgotten 16-bit shooter.
Actually, I haven’t played all of the Contra games. It might actually BE a boss fight from one of those.
I’m not going to say anything silly here, like claiming that ME2 is a BAD game in any respect. It has a lot of highlights.
Miranda alone has a LOT of highlights.
BUT. The first game was better, and anyone who wants to join my cult can pick up a flyer from the card table near the door.
Meanwhile, I am on to Mass Effect 3. I’m particularly looking forward to “Leviathan” and “Citadel”, which I didn’t get to see the last time, and I may even try the multiplayer if anyone is still playing it.