Mass Efflections: Introduction

In July of 2009, I wrote a piece about the “10 Best Video Games I’d Played.” It wasn’t a bad list, but four and a half years later, little would be recognizable.

Black Ops II has replaced Modern Warfare. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is up there somewhere now. I’ve played enough Operation: Flashpoints, Gears of Wars, Halos, and Batmans to know that only Fallout 3 and Eternal Darkness would remain on that list today.

There is one other similarity, though: A Mass Effect game would occupy the top spot. In fact, the Mass Effect series would occupy three of the top four spots, with only Bioshock: Infinite making me think twice about a sweep.

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My first Mass Effect playthrough was pretty predictable. I played as a male Shepard, making sure to go paragon on everything. My initial Shepard was super nice, as are pretty much all of my Action RPG characters.

I romanced Liara in Mass Effect. If I had to guess, I was drawn to her innocence in a cold, unforgiving universe. Or something like that. Sadly for her, I moved on to Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 because Yvonne Strahovski. I don’t think I need to explain more, although I’m sure I will later.

This time, the rules are simple: I am Commander Shepard. I make all the choices I would make in the spur of the moment. No pausing. No sitting around agonizing over decisions. I’ll use IGN’s walkthroughs to help make sure I don’t miss anything, but no cheating to get the results I want. If that means the Reapers cleanse the universe, then I guess I’d just make a shitty hero.

The only exceptions to this framework are in the pursuit of achievements I failed to earn the first time through. This means Garrus and my romance choice will be my official “away team” so I can earn the “ally” achievements in Mass Effect. It also means that I need to earn everyone’s trust in Mass Effect 2 and make sure my entire team survives the suicide mission. (Come on, Grunt. Those couple of bullets killed you?)

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It’s hard to explain what the Mass Effect series means to me. If I had to put it into words, I’d say that Mass Effect is my justification for enjoying video games. It’s the pinnacle video game storytelling, and as such, the finest argument that my hobby is art.

As such, I want to write about it. A lot. What better way to do so than to think about stuff as I’m playing them again.

Time to find out if I can hold the line.

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