There aren’t a lot of games I play any more these days. Part of that's because I don't have a lot of time on my hands; part of that's because I don't have a lot of cash on my hands; part of that's because I've come up to some spots in games I want to finish first that I'm finding difficult to get past.
But there's one series I've basically always enjoyed, and I'm now playing through again. And that's the Mass Effect series.
For those that aren't at all familiar with it (:P), it's a spage-age action RPG. But it's also very heavily story-oriented; and that, I suppose, is what I like so much about it. It presents you with difficult choices; choices that have a real implication on your game, and in the latter games as well. Choices that will have a real implication on your characters, and whether they will all survive or not.
It's not just a point-and-shoot game that you fudge through. If you want, you could probably make it like that. Set it on the easiest settings, skip through the dialog and cutscenes, click any conversation choices that will cut it short. But that won't give you the best Mass Effect experience. If you want something like that, go play Halo. This game isn't for you.
This game will make you choose between destroying the last creature of an entire race that used to mercilessly destroy you, or accept their claim that they did not know what they were doing. This game will make you choose whether or not you shoot your teammate who's endangering your mission, or put effort into sticking him back on track. This game will make you choose between one of your squad members, and another one. And the one you didn't choose gets killed.
And that's just in the first game.
In the third game you're making the really tough decisions almost straight away. Like whether to cure the sickness of a whole race and guarantee their allegiance, or only pretend to and gain the allegiance of another's that originally caused the sickness. Both races are ridiculously invaluable.
This game makes you really think. About the choices that you make, and the impact that they have. And if you don't think, then you learn pretty quickly. And you shape your character. You can make them into an all-guns-blazing, no-nonsense hard-as-nails war hero. You can make them into someone with awesome tech skills and sabotage everything, or having these super abilities that can throw people around the room. You can make them into someone who cares, and will always try and get everyone out alive and well.
You can equip them with every single upgrade, weapon and armour available, or decide to spend your resources elsewhere. You can spend all your time looking for every little hidden item, every single achievement, or just play through the game as you go.
Often, as you can imagine, the characters people end up making will largely reflect on the people playing them.
Of course, there are downsides to the game. I'm playing through the first game at the moment, and I'm remembering how annoying I found all that driving around. (I'm also loving unlimited ammo while I have it ;D ) In the second one, I'll be finding that mining mini-game annoying. Just the kind of stuff that you can spend half an hour on and have absolutely nothing happen in terms of story or action. More the former for me, but even the latter would have been nice at that point. Just not a fan of the grinding.
But, by and large, there's a good reason that I'm re-playing it through. I mean, I'm doing it just because I heard that it plays differently in the third game if you stay with the same girl throughout the series. Originally, I went with the human one in ME1 and then the different human in ME2, because the first one isn't even there. I didn't even realise that you could stick with her. This time, I'm planning to go through ME1 without anyone, then stick with the second girl.
But I'm playing through all three again - just to get material that I won't begin to see until the third game. That should tell you enough about the game, really. Or maybe me. Potato, Potahto.
Either way, this series remains my favourite story game ever. And I haven't even mentioned technical aspects like graphics, music, SFX, or anything like that. (They're all amazing.)
But I suppose I just wanted to write something in memory of a trilogy of games that I'm really going to remember, and that I really enjoyed. And I know that a lot of other people really did as well.