I loved the first game and adored the second. The thing that really drew me to like this game was the world/story and design.
The first game has a few issues here and there looking at it now, but that game released on 2007. The world was filled with deep interesting lore, and the story was very easy to get into and interlace with. The first game gave you several choices that allowed to you impact certain parts of the story and make major decisions in the game.
Granted I am writing this after knowing very little about Mass Effect 3, and the controversial endings they released.
What I did like was how the first and second game worked well with each other.
The first game had a few interesting decisions, and looking at their impacts on the story I can say the game was built very nicely to create a good unique play experience. For example, if I had chosen to do something in the first game, it would have a fairly minor impact on the story in the second game. A few people live or die, its more for entertainment purposes. The second game allows you to make many more decisions that together shape the third game in a more important manner.
The other thing I noted is how easy it was to do this. Looking at this chart that depicts the choices made in the final chapter of Mass Effect 2, creating this chart is something I am very capable of doing. In fact most of the decisions are relatively simple. It just involves organisation and a knowledge of proper conversation mapping and decision mapping skills.
Why is it that the game was so fun even if it is easy to make choices during conversation/gameplay? I think it is because of the world.
Dragon Age allows the player to make some decisions in game. Fable allows for some decisions. What makes Mass Effect different? Polish.
The deep codex’s and the intergalactic theme with the superb story writing and characters. All these things come together so nicely to make a worthwhile game. Looking back at Dragon Age, I could not remember very many memorable characters. Fable has that witch lady and the rest of the game revolves around the character. I am not so egotistical to like myself that much.
Mass effect really knows how to write a good story with controversial decisions where the repercussions of those decisions are not so simple as black and white. In many games if you take the high road, you end up gaining the love of the people and loyalty. You take the bad road you end up with more power and wealth. Sometimes these choices are evident in ME, however there are many times when they really make you question your ethics and morality.
A good example *SPOILER* would be towards the end of Mass Effect. You acquire a member of a Networked Artificial Intelligent race of robots called the Geth created by another race known as the Quarians. The Geth crew member is known as Legion and the Quarian member of your crew is Tali. The Geth and the Quarians hate each other more then Pakistani’s and Indians, Jews and Natzi’s, Tom and Jerry combined. The Quarians lost a war to the Geth and are now forced to spend their lives in special suits to survive while flying in space in giant ships since they cant sustain life on other planets without their suits. What you have here is a disaster, two crew members hating each other that you have to calm down or pick a side.
Aside from the bickering, you are sent to special missions for each character. Legions mission involved you sneaking on a Geth ship and loading a virus into their network. The current virus turns the Geth into ‘heretics’ that only want to wage war on organic life. The two options you face are to blow up the station, or re-write the virus to integrate the ‘heretics’ with the rest of the Geth. In essence its like having the power to convert all Islamic humans to Christianity, because they cause war and believe in suicide bombing and the Christian humans are better for you. Or you could just nuke the home town of all the Islamic people.
This is one of the major and controversial decisions you have to make in the game. People assume that they are just stupid robots, but in reality they are so much more. They are an advanced sentient race that are self aware and can self improve.
Overall, I am excited to start Mass Effect 3 and find out the fate of Shepard and his crewmates. I can tell you that aside from all the controversy about the endings, this will be a great game. Even if the final outcome isn’t as player imposed as you would have hoped, the developers decided on that for a good reason. There is no point in playing a game that you know what will happen because you picked it. The greatness comes when someone designs a player experience and your input is taken into account for a result.
I think it would be more upsetting if they were 3 very black and white endings with one general ending. Even in Mass Effect 2 they hint that not every decision will be black and white, there will always be grey area. I hope the endings do have some polar opposites, but are filled wit grey area that make them very difficult to pick in between.