Ok, so if you listened to the first podcast and noticed my gamertag, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m a big Mass Effect fan. If I’m honest, I’m not completely sure what the main reason is that drags me into that universe for hours on end.
I really enjoy the writing of Drew Karpyshyn, who wrote the Darth Bane Trilogy, easily my favourite Star Wars literature that I’ve read, and was heavily involved in the creation of this masterpiece. The Mass Effect series is easily up there as one of the most immersive stories in video gaming so that must surely be part of it. The way the story branches off and you feel that you are making an impact in the world instead of following a pre-conceived plot. Granted, in some instances you are, but you have to make some tough decisions, for good or bad, which, ultimately, make you care about the characters that you meet and interact with along the way.
Maybe it’s the fact that over the two games released so far, my game has turned out different to Al’s. We’ve had different characters die, different missions to follow and as a result of that different outcomes and experiences. He has tried to be good and follow the Paragon route, whereas I have gone along the Renegade route, not on purpose but there would appear to be a darker side to me that comes out in video games!
Could it be the RPG / shooter nature of the first game? The way that you can pick up a newly acquired item and then spend five minutes deciding whether you should equip or sell it. The way that you control and customise your mini-squad to be best suited to take on your enemies, to level their abilities so that they are in tune with yours. The second game unfortunately simplified this to such a degree that it was easy enough to upgrade everything, you just had to fly about in the Normandy ridding planets of their essential minerals in order to be able to research the item fully.
Was it the graphics and the sound? Again, easily up there in both of those categories. I did play this on the PC, so the graphics were nice and shiny at maximum resolution and the crisp audio was deeply immersive.
Ultimately as much as I think about it, it’s not just one thing that pulls me in but a combination of the above and so much more.
The one thing that I can be sure of is that since I’ve completed the second Mass Effect, I haven’t wanted to take that leap of faith into any other of the big games that I haven’t played yet. I’ve got Bioshock, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Half Life, Uncharted, Dragon Age, the original SW:TOR and GTA: San Andreas waiting there, begging to be played for the first time.
My brain doesn’t seem to want to let go, it’s as if it’s in video game mourning. It’s the same as when I completed the first Mass Effect, GTA: Vice City, Borderlands and all of the games that have really meant something to me, knowing that I won’t be going through that experience again.
I’ve never figured out a way of quickly getting over this gaming hangover, it’s not something that seems to be easily cured. However, if it’s anything like the previous ones have been it’ll be at least a few weeks of playing light hearted and non-braincell-consuming iPhone or XBLA games before I start to get that pulse in my brain that tells me it’s time to set off on another gaming adventure.
The thing is, if it’s like this now, having completed the second one, knowing that there’s a third one only half a year away, what’s it going to be like when I complete that one, the end of the trilogy, with no more Mass Effect to follow?!