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In Preparation For Mass Effect 3...

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It's been a long time since 2007, when Mass Effect was first released on the PC. Mass Effect re-invented the role playing game genre, and added a true sense of story telling, and character development. You really have to give Bioware credit, they sure know how to tell a story.


In preparation for the upcoming third game in the Mass Effect trilogy, I've been re-playing Mass Effect 1 and 2 from start to finish so that I have a fresh understanding of the plot for when the new game is released in March (3/6/12).


With the last two games fresh in my mind, I thought it would be prudent to write up a quick review for anyone who has not yet gotten into the series... I know it's not probable, but not impossible.


In Mass Effect, you play as Commander Shepard. You have the option of spelling out a first name, but it really isn't relevant, because "Shepard" is what everyone is going to call you. And you will learn to be Shepard, and Shepard will become a part of you. You can choose your gender at the start, which means that right off the start, you're going to end up playing Mass Effect at least twice...


Through intuitive and simple controls, you will seamlessly navigate through conversations with other people. How you handle those conversations will determine whether you are a bad-*bottom* renegade, or a peaceful paragon. Which, in combination with your gender, you're looking at playing Mass Effect now 4 times... Once good once bad as male, and once good and once bad as female.


Now obviously you don't HAVE to play the game 4 times, but you will have a slightly different game experience each way that you play....


Oh wait, I forgot that you also have multiple combat classes to choose from, whether you are going to be a tech/sniper, a close quarters engineer, or a telepathic biotic, etc... Now you are looking at even MORE replay potential. For my latest playthroughs, I am sticking to a male infiltrator/sniper/paragon. It's my standard character and it's what I am good at....


Oh and just one more thing.... Once you finish the game, there is a New Game+ mode, essentially giving you the ability to play through AGAIN, keeping all of your skills and stuff from the last playthrough... I personally found that in completing the game and finding all the sub-quests and areas through my first playthrough, this wasn't necessary and I was ready just to move on to Mass Effect 2...



Mass Effect 2... Now that is another matter entirely. Just when you get comfortable with Mass Effect 1, you then have the option of exporting your ME1 savegame into Mass Effect 2, which will remember all of your choices from the first game... So if someone on your crew died in the first game, they are still going to be dead in the second. This is unprecidented, and I can't think of any other video game series that has successfully done something like this to such detail. With Mass Effect 3 coming out, you will be able to continue your story by uploading your ME2 savegame, and thus it will remember all of THOSE choices as well...


Mass Effect 2 has an entirely new crew, which in other video games typically meant that half of them would be shallow and meaningless, but Bioware makes each crew member that you pick up memorable and deep in each their own separate way. You don't have to like them all, but they all have realistic back-stories, and you can't help but sympathizing with some of them. I love video games that actually make you CARE about a character NPC that you are working with... Half Life 2 did a great job at that with Alyx Vance.


The combat for both ME1 and ME2 is really intuitive and works well... The two games are slightly different with keyboard mapping, but overall both systems are well implemented once you get used to it.


The look and feel of ME1 is generally very ...blue. While ME2 is very ...red. The art team at Bioware definitely have deep themes they are going for... Will be interesting to see what template they go with in ME3...


The music in ME1 is more memorable to me, just because it sounds a LOT like the music from System Shock 2 (which I loved as well). ME2's music is much more intense, but not quite as memorable.


Graphics for both games are top notch. The characters' skins/textures are highly detailed, so when the camera zooms in on a face, you can see every pore.


The games themselves are surprisingly non-buggy. I don't think in the countless of hours of playtime I've ever had my computer crash while playing ME or ME2.


Let's hope they keep up with that quality standard when ME3 is released... I am TRULY hoping that it is not dumbed down for the xbox360, just because that console is as old or older than the first ME game in the series... Just wouldn't do the game justice to dumb it down like that.


Overall, I highly recommend these two games, and I will definitely be purchasing Mass Effect 3 when it comes out, just so I can finally see the exciting conclusion to this massive story arc.

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