30 day mass effect challenge, day 2: in which I have a favorite game of the series …

Each of the three Mass Effect games have their charms, and I legitimately love playing them all. The first one is where it all begins, and you can start to see the relationships between your Shepard and their crew members develop; ME:2 is a solid sequel, with improved graphics and an equally engrossing storyline; and then ME: 3 finishes the saga with aplomb and has callbacks aplenty and an incredible soundtrack.

With that being said, though, ME:2 only edges out the other two by a hair. Like I said in yesterday’s post, it was the first I played, so I started with Wrex and the rachni dead, Udina was on the human-led Council, some guy named Kaiden was pissed at me for being dead and not immediately calling him, and everybody on the Citadel pretty much hated my guts because I had apparently let the Council die in the previous game (that I hadn’t played yet). That was just the hand I was dealt. I still loved playing the game, enough so that I decided to buy the first.

And this is where my love for ME2 was solidly established. After I was able to finish the first game, everything was different. I mean, Kaiden (or Ashley, I can’t remember who I saved) was still pissed at me, but I felt a deeper connection with the story now that I knew why Shep was such a big deal in the second game. I was also thrilled to see NPCs show back up – Rebekah and Michael arguing over whether or not to buy little Jacob immuno-boosters, Helena Blake inexplicably and delightfully now a social worker, Conrad Verner pretending to be me on Ilium, etc. – and seeing certain members of the old gang get back together had a much bigger impact than before. The second game did such a good job at expanding on relationships that were previously established, even among old team members like Liara and Wrex that were not on the new Normandy. Their stories were believable and relatable. Garrus becoming a vigilante made 100% sense, and Tali returning to her people was what she had been planning to do, anyway.

Now, the plot wasn’t as clean as the first game – or even the third, honestly – and it definitely suffered from Sequel Syndrome: they attempted to tell a standalone story with the Collectors, but there are a ton of unanswered questions (like … okay, what were the Collectors actually doing? Making a Reaper, fine, but all of the Reapers seem to look the same in the third game, so …). It was also significantly less of an RPG than ME1, although I was mainly fine with that, particularly since I didn’t have to roam all over planets with blah scenery in the Mako. In normal situations, I would pick an RPG over a FPS, but I feel like ME2 was a good blend of the two gaming styles. I wasn’t super upset about the RPG elements that ME2 took away, but I didn’t really care about weapon customization that much – the only customization that I really like is the medical exoskeleton that brought my health back up. Oh, and the flaming bullets. Those are cool.

To sum up, Mass Effect 2 is without a doubt my favorite of the trilogy, but only by a bit. Even though the other two games have their faults, they are still incredibly fun to play over and over again. I’ll get more into all three over the next now 28 days, and you’ll see how much I adore them. Because I’m gonna gush, and I will not apologize for that.

Art Credit: eTeknix

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