You know, with all of the missions that Shepard and Company go on throughout the Mass Effect series, you’d think that picking just one as your favorite would be a daunting, near impossible task. For me, however, this was not the case. Of course, I did decide that I was going to choose one mission from each game, but that’s because I’m ornery. I’ll try to keep them short, but for ME3, you’re going to have to give me a little leeway because I love it so much. Anyway, here you go:
Out of all the main missions in the first game, Virmire was one of the more action-oriented ones. With Therum, Feros, and Noveria, there was a lot of walking around and talking to people before you got into the meat of the operation, but with Virmire, you set down in the Mako and automatically start fighting geth. But then the pacing doesn’t really slow down, even if you aren’t shooting at things. The confrontation with Wrex is tense, you face off with Saren for the first time, you get to see what indoctrination truly does to thralls, and finally, it’s revealed that Sovereign is a sentient creature, a Reaper, and claims to be the “vanguard of your destruction.” There is just so much that happens and really does shape the rest of the game.
Mass Effect 2
The final mission on the Collector base was quite legitimately one of the perfect end runs of any game I’ve ever played. Actually planning the assault by selecting certain crew members for particular tasks was such a great change from the first game, where basically everybody else was just waiting back on the Normandy while three people (???) went after Saren and his geth minions. Throughout the entire mission, I was worried that one of my comrades would die in the battle, and at every cutscene, I found myself holding my breath, hoping they’d survive. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and restarted the mission so I could get a perfect run with my entire team coming back with me. The only meh part was the final fight with the human Reaper, since it was exceptionally repetitive, but after that, I got to blow the Collector base sky high (I only kept it intact for Cerberus research in one playthrough), pissing off Harbinger in the process. If it felt emotions, I guess. All in all, though, a superb mission.
Mass Effect 3
I was so emotionally invested in the future of the krogan, especially after the introduction of Bakara, and seeing their ancient past and hopeful future that it was almost worth Mordin dying. I SAID ALMOST.
Normally, exploring areas in a game like Mass Effect is boring, but the krogan ruins (plus the green plants!!) made it nearly impossible not to waste time looking at the architecture and symbols painted on the walls. Whoever designed their artistic style was downright brilliant: it captured the blunt, yet gracefully simplistic nature of the krogan, matching perfectly with their view of the universe. Being immersed in what they once were – a noble, hopeful people – gave me the full ability to believe that they could achieve that again, now that the genophage was cured.
(Note: the only time I didn’t cure the genophage was when I started a Mass Effect 3 game without importing from the second, and every other playthrough of mine had me helping the krogan, even when I was playing as a renegade. I just could. not. do. it.)
The actual combat was a lot of fun, too, especially considering the dialogue between Mordin and Wrex:
MORDIN: Thresher maw getting closer!
WREX: Tell me something I don’t know!
MORDIN: Metal in truck excellent iron supplement for maw’s diet!
Dodging Reaper claws and brutes isn’t necessarily the easiest, but I found that, if you just dash through them (avoiding the dark shadows of the claws and not really caring if your squadmates are functioning, of course), it’s fairly quick work, if you’re not playing on a higher difficulty. Then you get to kill your first Reaper in the game! And it is, indeed, such a spectacle for the krogan to recount for generations to come, including the part where Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws, wrestles the squealing Reaper into the ground. Unfortunately, Mordin sacrifices himself, in what may possibly one of the most moving cutscenes in history, to save the people he had afflicted with a genetic curse. Sigh. Following your harrowing victory, you get to bond with Wrex and Bakara (who finally reveals her true name to you), and the story progresses.
A big part of why this was my favorite mission is because it didn’t just start in Mass Effect 3. From the moment you decide on Virmire to spare or kill Wrex, the krogan redemption or demise has begun. Through your friendship with Wrex, you begin to see the krogan as people, not mindless hulks of violence (even though they’d probably prefer that description), and in the second game, you discover the fruits of your labor, finding Wrex is trying to unite the clans at least somewhat peacefully. There’s a glimmer of hope that they can rise above the animals they’ve been made out to be. Of course, by the time you get to the third game, the stage has been set, and finally witnessing the release of the krogan from over a century of punishment is one of the most beautiful moments in gaming history. Makes me tear up a little, actually.
Art Credit: eTeknix