Mass Effect was a brilliant Xbox 360 exclusive. A sprawling, space based, role playing game filled with aliens, space ships, genocide and hot, naked, blue chicks. Mass Effect was also a video game I was very late in playing. I picked it up way after the slue of ‘game of the year’ awards it won. It only cost me five pounds, but it was money well spent. I clocked up at least 30 hours on my first play through, visiting every planet, following through on every side mission, and spending my time completely soaking in the atmosphere of the universe Bioware had created. If you haven’t played the first and plan to, I wouldn’t read this entry. It’s Spoilerific.
Mass Effect 2 was released early last year, again an Xbox 360 exclusive, and managed to follow suit in being a fantastic and utterly compelling video game to play. It was nigh on perfect. I probably hit about fifty hours plus this time round, as I wanted to ingest absolutely everything Bioware had to offer. A year later, and Mass Effect 2 is making it’s debut on the Playstation 3. One of the best series of games this generation, has jumped from an exclusive, to a multi-platform game. That’s amazing in it’s own right, but what’s strange is that only Mass Effect 2 and the finale, Mass Effect 3, are going to be released on the PS3. To an avid player like myself, this seems like such a waste. Obviously the process of porting a five year old game must seem like too much hard work, but I feel the PS3 players of ME2 will be at a major loss when it comes to moral choices, and enjoyment of the universe the game is set in.
Mass Effect forced you to make some incredibly difficult choices. You had to choose which squad member of yours would die trying to detonate a nuclear device. You had to decided whether to kill a companion, or wipe out ever being able to find a cure for his race threatening disease. You had to choose whether or not to release a queen of a species that started a war which cost hundreds of thousands of lives, or be the bringer of death and take that entire species to extinction. There were love interests you could choose between, both straight and gay, and there was a huge choice in whether or not you would save a galactic council of strange species that spent your play through hampering your every move, or let them die and risk having an entire universe blaming yours truly as humanity can take over in their absence.
These choices meant something to me. They affected a universe that I wanted to save. A universe that I wanted to see more of. Your game save from ME1 could be imported into ME2, and the choices you made in your play through, would be continued as canon in the second game. If you saved the council, they would still be alive. If you killed them, then they’re toast for the entirety of the new game. It’s the first time I’ve seen this done with such gusto. Knowing that a choice in the first game could affect the outcome in the third meant that players really had to labour over what would be best for their universe. Every piece of dialogue became important. The galaxy, nay, the universe was at risk! What I don’t understand is how the PS3 players of ME2 will begin to care about the characters as much as I did.
In the absence of the first game on the PS3 system, Bioware created an interactive comic book. A comic book made by Dark Star comics no less! This interactive comic book would present you with the same moral choices from the first game, but in a quick ten minute succession. This left you a game to play, just as if you had imported a save from the original Xbox 360 game. A genius idea, but one with a drawback. How can you reduce something in which most people spent at least 20 hours of time on, into a fifteen minute interactive adventure. You can’t. Eurogamer have been nice enough to put the entire interactive comic online in the form of a clickable adventure. If you have a spare ten minutes, I would love for you to go through it, and post what choices you made, as they seem to way heavily to one outcome. An outcome that was different to the one I ended up with. Here’s a link; Mass Effect’s Interactive Comic Walkthrough
This comic, while flashy, was strange. One thing I noticed was that the Racchni queen in the game was described completely different to the one in the comic. This queen had been captured, and forced to give birth to soldiers. They were crazy, and not capable of doing anything other than fight. The Racchni Queen controls the entire race through telepathy, but these animals were an entirely new breed. I emphasised with her during my play through, and I let the Queen live. It was the right thing to do. In the comic however, she’s portrayed in a strange light, and not as I remember from the game. It seems Bioware have played heavily on tipping the scales in favour of a certain choice. In fact, I found most choices were being pushed to having a favourable option, one that would create a ‘canon’ game for the new player. These choices were definitely not the ones I decided to opt for after hours of deliberation, and it seems ME1 has not been given a respectful showing. Another fact of importance, is that the gay relationship available to the male version of Commander Shepard seems to have been removed. I don’t know why that is, but I’m sure some people would be upset about that.
It’s a shame, as PS3 players will miss out on important back stories, and beautiful dialogue from the first game. The characters will obviously be lacking back story, and that all important link an original player will have to them. Players will miss out on the citadel! Being in awe of it’s size and collection of new races was one of the most amazing things about ME1. The new player will never know what Cerberus really got up to on abandoned planets, nor feel anything for the loss of a comrade on Virmire. These choices the players are forced to choose between won’t mean that much, and this is truly a blot on an otherwise fantastic opportunity to play a tremendous video game epic. The knowledge and back story would, of course, be impossible to implement in anything other than a direct port of Mass Effect to the PS3, but I still think the lack of just that, leaves PS3 players of ME2 at a disadvantage. Commander Shepard would be disgraced.
Please, if you plan to play through Mass Effect 2 on the PS3, do yourself a favour and buy the PC version of Mass Effect 1. You will understand so much more about the universe you plan to save, and will understand the relationships of your characters more than you could if you skip it. The fact Mass Effect 2 is being released for a new platform of people to enjoy, is a great thing, and while I may have been quite harsh on the interactive comic, it still means new players will get to fall in love with the Mass Effect universe as I have. Mass Effect 2 is a brilliant game, one that’s definitely worthy of playing, but if you have the chance, don’t go into the game half blind. You’ll miss out on what makes the series special, and your experience, while fun, won’t be the same.