Just before the holidays I found Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, from BioWare, in the “bargain” bin and bought them without hesitation. I was actually waiting for them to get a discount, because I’m more into Sword and Sorcery then Guns and Lasers. The game didn’t attract me that much. So with them in my hand, I could finally see what they were like. I had the time to play both back to back over my vacation, so I decided to do a comparitive review as opposed to a full review of both games.
The Mass Effect series can be summarized with “Play Shepard, the Savior of the Galaxy”. Of course, you can be a jerk that saves the galaxy or a good Samaritan, but the main point can’t be changed. I love to call them interactive movies.
Mass Effect 1
The first point that comes to mind when thinking about ME1 is that it lacks diversity in term of how it looks: armors are just re-skin, “dungeons” that aren’t part of the main quest, it has the same 2 or 3 layouts where only the box placement is slightly different, planets lack vegetation, etc. It’s a monotonous world. It’s not entertaining to travel in it. Aside from these flaws, the story is O.K., typical BioWare quests and story, but the rendition is good. Although, the game only picks up it’s pace when you are 2/3 into the main quests. The rest feel a bit like filler, mostly because you only interact with the “villain” at the beginning and the end of the game, he’s totally absent form the middle. Also, despite the classes having special abilities, you will spend most of your time using guns.
Mass Effect 2
I love the sequel beginning, I’m never tired of seeing it, it’s just so beautiful. Also, ME2 “fix” a few problem that were present in ME1, the monotonous designs are gone, the story is better paced, classes abilities can be used more frequently and offer better results, armor can now look unique. But all these happen at a cost. The inventory system is gone, classes have less abilities to raise, etc. The game feels more like a shooter than a RPG, it is also a lot more linear then the first game. Most areas are just mission maps and every time you finish a mission you are back to your ship with a loading screen. As far as the story goes, I find the “go recruit teammates” for a special mission a bit drab, you don’t have the time to “know” the last recruited members that much before the big ending and in some places the feeling of urgency is lost. Also, the last mission feels a bit rushed. Finally, the companions are rather well executed, they all have unique personalities and look.
In conclusion, I would say that Mass Effect 2 was the better game, more entertaining, less running around with nothing to do, but both games are flawed in their own way. I also believe that playing them back to back gave me a better experience, choices from the first game get carried over the second and with a few days between each I actually knew who was whom. As opposed to waiting a few years and you go: “Who’s that?”.