Back again to Throwback Thursday and this time we’re going back to the start of one of the best trilogies in modern gaming, the game that made parents everywhere cry out in anguish, Mass Effect.

I might be exaggerating that first bit but how could I do a Mass Effect Throwback Thursday without mentioning the controversy that was stirred up from seeing three seconds of ass and insinuated sex between two video game characters.

Parents everywhere cried out screaming that this downfall would turn their kids into sexual deviants.  Because GTA turns you into a killer, Mass Effect into a sexual deviant, and Cooking Mama into a renegade kitchen tyrant with mild hallucinations.

We’ll get to the sexual adventures of Commander Shepard later, but I want to first go into a bit about Bioware from my perspective.

Mass Effect. Item management screen

I had not touched a Bioware game previous to picking up Mass Effect.  I’d not had anything that could run the Knights of the Old Republic games growing up and Dragon Age: Origins looked very slow to me.  It wasn’t my cup of tea.

Truth be told Mass Effect I waited a good year and a half to pick up.  There was all the hype and controversy surrounding this alleged scene where two video game characters had graphic and rough sex just didn’t float my boat.

When I did pick up Mass Effect I was mixed with a range of emotions and feelings.  The most prominent being “Why the hell are the elevators so damn slow.”

Joking aside I found the character creation of Mass Effect quite nice, it was hard to make a decent looking Shepard in the early days of characters creation.  I usually stuck with default Shepard for both genders.

The first thing I noticed was the scale of the lore and universe in this game.  Bioware had blown me away with it.  Most of it was insinuated and you didn’t get a clear glimpse at some cultures but you saw so many different races and species that existed from different planets.

Mass Effect. Commander Shepard trades shots with a Geth destroyer.

It introduced galactic politics but didn’t bog us down with a lot of narrative.  We didn’t need to know about every representative and the struggles of every race.  All we needed to know was that there’s a council of three who represent the most dominant species and humans want a place on it.

Commander *insert name here* Shepard is a human vying for a position in the Council’s secret service known as the Spectres, an honor being the first human to do so.  Of course there’s always more to it than that but the game doesn’t force you to swallow it’s giant narrative like an over sized jawbreaker.

Aside from the main story and quest you’re given everything can be discovered if you want it to be.  That’s a great system which makes the game feel so much bigger than it was.  Reading through the codex and finding a little about Turian history, or Asari physiology.  You could go and find side quests which would lead you back to interplanetary smuggling rings.

Bioware do story well, and they leave it up to the players to find that out for the most part.

But Throwback Thursday wouldn’t be complete without me looking at what I found to be mildly annoying about the game.

Well I suppose the first thing I should get back to is the hype around the sex scene.  I’m not kidding when I say that I heard all about this over the news, on the internet and from friends.  Everyone talked about how dirty the game was and how attractive Liara was.

Mass Effect. Commander Shepard observes a Reaper destroying a settlement.

Honestly when meeting her I found Ashley, Kaiden and Liara to be all pretty average.  Ashley was pretty enough for a video game character in 2007, Kaiden was alright and Liara was just a curious alien.

Even when pursuing the romance I found it to be flat when it came to just spamming the flirt option as many times as I could in one conversation.  Eventually, just before we went off to certain death on the final mission, they finally took the hint and came to the cabin.

What was it all for?  Underwear dry humping and a one second shot of ass.  Hardly anything worth writing home about.

But what else kind of sucked in Mass Effect?  The endless micromanaging system.

Something which seems to have been partially revived in Dragon Age: Inquisition, the micromanaging system in the first game wasn’t just what weapons and armor your party equipped. It went right down to the mods, what level the mods were, what effects your weapons and armor had.

It just felt so endless.  Like no matter how far into the mods I got I had to look through the endless list until eventually I found the toxic mod which did 2% more damage to organic lifeforms.

For those problems, and being incredibly dated, Mass Effect still does hold up though.

Mass Effect. Saren, a Turian Specre, prepares to shoot his friend Nihilus in the back, betraying him.

The gameplay is a bit stiff and the weapon play with infinite ammo but overheating weapons was a funny little mechanic, but ultimately was discarded in Mass Effect 2.

Where it shines though is the story.  This wasn’t a case of a game which stood up on it’s own and had absolutely no need for a sequel.  The universe, the story, the characters, they were all ripe for a sequel.

Mass Effect 2 felt like a much needed carry on to what Mass Effect started, and from this one space RPG was born one of the most recognizable heroes in modern gaming.

Were you a huge Mass Effect fan?  Which one was the best in the trilogy for you?  Let us know in the comments below.

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