Now that the entire trilogy has been released, I have no doubt many of us must have completed at least 1 playthrough of the latest installment and gotten to the ending.
In fact I did a complete playthrough – I started a new character in ME1, continued the story in ME2, and finished it in ME3. It feels a little different because this character doesn’t have a break of 2 years in between games – I knew exactly what happened in ME1 when I imported him into ME2, and ME3. To me it’s like watching a trilogy movie all in one go.
What I can say is, after playing through again with a new Commander Shepard, I have a few thoughts.
The most RPG-feel of all the 3 games. You literally can go ANYWHERE, land on most of the planets. This is akin to traditional RPGs where you can enter any town and just walk around. In ME2 it became that you have to scan every planet to find “resources” to build your improvements for your weapons/armour/ship. Not the same thing to me.
You have a multitude of WEAPONS and ARMOUR to select. You can mod your armour and weapons to give different bonuses or effects!
This is sadly missing in ME2, but it made a comeback (somewhat) in ME3. In ME2, if I remember right, I only had a choice of THREE (3) assault rifles – Avenger, Vindicator, and Revenant (if I picked that up in the Collecter ship) as an example. I only had a choice of TWO (2) pistols – Predator and Carniflex. You get the idea. ME2 seemed to be more of an adventure story narrative than an RPG.
By the way, I had completely forgotten that we don’t need to “reload” our weapons in ME1 – I kept hitting “R” key between shots and kept throwing grenades out… doh!
Mass Effect 2:
Best story-telling in my opinion. The game starts off very dramatically with Normandy under attack, and the heart-tugging scene where Joker refuses to abandon ship and Shepard dies. Throughout the game when his friends realise he’s been brought back, you can actually see the conflict within them, to either be loyal to their friend or to be suspicious of who Commander Shepard is “working for”.
Plus, all the DLCs that Bioware has put out over the years for ME2 has made it, im my opinion, the best game in the series by far.
However, in ME2, the RPG-feel was lost. As mentioned above, I had very limited choice of weapons and armour. The differences in performance/protection of the weapons and armour aren’t even apparent to me, or not much anyway. No matter which class of Shepard I play, all the fights play out almost the same way – a lot of shooting plus a little biotics here and there.
This game is also where weapons went back to the “limited ammunition” style of needing you to reload. Of course, in the future, we don’t need bullets – we need heatsinks! Each time you use up a heatsink (a thermal clip), you eject it and pop a new one in to continue firing.
Mass Effect 3:
Sucky ending aside (personally, I didn’t think the ending sucked. Puzzling, maybe, but not “sucked”), ME3 tried to bring back some RPG elements. Now I get my choices of weapons back, and the differences in accuracy/damage is rather apparent. Using a Paladin pistol (the 190,000 credit white one) kills a mob faster than a Predator. The Valkyrie takes down a mob faster than the Avenger. Accuracy also plays a part here, because most times I aim for the head, but I don’t use scopes. Hence, I can say my favourite assault rifles would be the Valkyrie and the Mattlock followed very closely by the Vindicator.
Armour choices have been expanded, and I think ME3 finally managed a nice blend of action/RPG elements into the game. They even put in the “encumbrance” limit that is present in other RPG games. Only that in ME3, if you had carried your full complement of weapons as you did in ME1 and ME2, your biotic/tech powers would recharge oh-so-slowly. Actually I don’t see why being weighed down with weapons should slow your power recharging. In fact I don’t see why they should implement this game mechanic at all since in the previous 2 games, you had always carried all your weapons with you – pistol, shotgun, submachine gun, sniper rifle plus assault rifle. In ME2, you even get one HEAVY WEAPON to add to that list. And you did fine!
Mass Effect 2 is, in my opinion, the best game in the series, even without all the DLCs to expand the story. In fact I am re-playing ME2 right now, by importing my Shepards again from my previous playthrough of ME2.