Mass Effect: From the Beginning (Again)

As I mentioned in last week's post, with the Mass Effect extended cut now out (and played through multiple times), I wanted to go back and play the entire series from the beginning. So I did.

No, I'm not done yet, not even close, but I have started my complete Mass Effect replay. I wanted this experience to be different, so I made different choices right from the beginning. Or, at least, I tried to.

My original Shepard was female, Earth-born and a sole survivor (the latter two being character choices made at the beginning of the series that drive dialogue). This time I forced myself to play as BroShep, with the spacer/war hero background. I also went soldier instead of adept, which turns the game into much more of a shooter than an RPG combat game.

Really, though, as I've played through, I find myself making a lot of the same choices I made the first time around, except in specific cases where I force myself to do something different. One of those "forced" choices was going to be to have Ashley be my romantic encounter instead of Liara, but then I got Liara on the ship and now I'm conflicted. We'll see how that goes.

So far I'm only about 12 hours of gameplay into this playthrough, and I'm remembering just how grand in scope the original "Mass Effect" was. If you do all the side missions and have all the side conversations with your crew, the game really can take FOREVER. I've tried my best to zip through the conversations (while still having all of them), but it's a grind. Still, there are some great moments, particularly when it comes to meeting a character again for the first time.

I could go on and on, but I'll save that for when I'm further along. For now, I'll just share some quick thoughts.

- I tried to make my BroShep (pictured above) look like Spike (James Marsters) from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". I even named him Spike, though no one uses his first name throughout the series. It's not a perfect likeness, but it's as close as I could get using ME1's clunky character creator.

- Speaking of clunky, I'd forgotten how much the controls were kind of a mess for this game. Only one power can be mapped? There's no dedicated "cover" button? Grenades are triggered with the BACK button?! So glad they improved this with each subsequent release.

- Man, Ashley was really racist... or "speciesist", I guess. That's also making me rethink the whole "romance Ashley" thing.

- I hated surveying in ME2, but driving around in the Mako to survey minerals for the Alliance is just as tedious. I'm trying to knock that out as early as possible so I can stop caring about it once the story picks up.

- The inventory system was just as bad as I remembered it. I'm honestly just trying to get through the game with the guns I find and selling everything extra. I'm also limiting who I bring in my party most of the time, so I don't have to worry about so much extra equipment.

- Oh, speaking of party formation, there was one moment when I couldn't open a locker (the dreaded "SKILL TOO LOW"), and I tried to switch to one of my other party members to do it, forgetting that was a KoToR mechanic, not a Mass Effect one. Whoops.

- Seriously, fuck the Mako.