Best Games - Mass Effect (1, 2, and 3)
Games are games and movies are movie and books are books. They all work themselves into you. They all occupy different pockets of memory. Just like a song will bring me back to some specific moment, recalling a passage in a book or a sequence in a movie will set my feet in the past. Games are usually a little different, though.
Games aren’t a moment in time. A snapshot. Games are an era.
It’s partially about time. Games take a lot longer than a movie or a handful of pages to do their work. The emotional impact that etches itself into your memory takes a little longer. Occasionally, a lot longer.
I can only really compare Mass Effect to Star Trek. And it’s not for the obvious reasons. The apparent ones. That both are space faring adventures, or that both have a rich fictional history with memorable personalities from a variety of alien races. No, it’s not that. They are similar in the way that they burrowed their way into me. Slowly. Bit by bit. Scene by scene. Idea by idea.
There is no single scene that I can point to, and say ‘there, that’s Mass Effect’. There is no single combat encounter. There is no dialog sequence or character interaction. Mass Effect is the entire trilogy. All of its triumphs and fumbles. All of its strengths and failings.
I know things about Turian and Quarian Biology that will never help me in life. I can tell you the difference between a Salarian and Krogan and the complicated history of their people. This isn’t the sort of information that you casually accumulate. This is the sort of thing that you need to seek out. It needs to be reinforced over hours and hours of play time. You need to want to know this stuff. And I did. Still do.
With the singular exception of Metal Gear, I don’t think that any game series has the depth and detail that is woven into Mass Effect. None of them have spent the time. None are as cohesive. I could be wrong. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have played a lot of games. Frankly, nothing I’ve seen comes close.
Star Trek had many decades, hundreds of hours, three full, human, generations to develop its lore. Mass Effect did something similar in about a hundred hours over five years. Impressive, really, when you think about it.
I could attempt to list of great moments or characters in Mass Effect, but that’s not how they are structured in my memory. It isn’t moments. It isn’t single images. There was a time when I thought a lot about Mass Effect. An era. It is a game series tied to a time in my life. I suspect it’s similar for a lot of other people who played it. People who know, will know. For everyone else, I think I can only offer, You should play Mass Effect.
It’s one of the best games.