Mass Effect Trilogy Overview 2
Earlier this year I played through the Mass Effect trilogy for the first time and found myself falling in love with the series. I gave the trilogy an overview and have since then played through all three games a few more times, firmly placing it as one of my favorite game trilogies. I just finished playing through the trilogy again but this time it was a little different for me.
Before, I had been playing the individual games on the Xbox 360 with no DLC add-ons. This time, I was playing the Playstation 3 version of the trilogy collection that Bioware released around this time last year. In addition to playing it on a different console, I also got to play a bunch of DLC I had never played before.
What I am going to do now is just go over some of the technical differences of the PS3 and Xbox versions of these great games and a brief overview of some of the DLC including (and not included) in the collection. For a slightly more detailed look at the games themselves and my impressions of them, refer to my series overview.
MASS EFFECT (2007)
It’s important to note that the first Mass Effect was originally an Xbox exclusive. The version included in the PS3 trilogy collection is a port and not the best port. Things start out with a 30 minute long installation screen. The studio Edge of Reality was responsible for porting this over to the PS3 and if you’ve played it on Xbox, it’s pretty obvious it was a port. The biggest problem with this game is the load times. Actually, all the PS3 versions of the Mass Effect games have long load times but ME1 has it the worst. The first Mass Effect was already a slow paced, clunky game and these load screens make it even more painful to play through. The thing that bugs me the most is the 3 to 4 minutes it takes to load up where you left off after pressing start at the title screen.
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There is now a brief loading screen between opening and exiting the galaxy map. This gets annoying if you have to switch between the map and your journal to figure out where in the galaxy you’re supposed to be going. The Xbox version also had long loading screens but the long load times could be reduced by installing the disc to the hard drive With the PS3, you do not have this option. The glitches and frame rate issues that were present in the Xbox version are still here and seem to get worse one third of the way through the game.
With wonky animations during cut scenes, texture pop-in, and character models that just disappear during conversation scenes, it’s clear they were interested in just getting this onto the Playstation, not improving the game.
Though, things seem improved during the final mission which ran smoothly, for the most part. There is the inclusion of the Falling Sky DLC mission which will add another 45 minutes to an hour to the overall gameplay but was a pretty run of the mill mission to me. Other than introducing the Batarians, it didn’t really impress me. Overall, this version of ME1 is a step down from the original but is still playable and required if you plan on doing a full run of the trilogy. While technically the worst Mass Effect game, it does require a play through since many of the decisions made in this game will impact the rest of the series greatly. I did not get a patch for this game, so maybe a patch would have fixed some of these issues, but I’ll talk about patches in a minute.
MASS EFFECT 2 (2010)
After playing through ME1, Mass Effect 2 is like a breath of fresh air, as in I’m always excited to play ME2 fallowing a play through of the first game because I know how much better the sequel is.
First we get an installation screen but it only takes around 15 minutes to install this time. I start the game up and run into the first problem: no ME1 character import option so there is no continuing with your previous character. A patch is required to fix this. Thankfully, it is a very small patch but you would think they would have fixed this on the disc before releasing this game as a part of a trilogy collection. I know that the original PS3 release of Mass Effect 2 didn’t include the character import option since ME1 had not been released on the system at the time, but you’d think they would have fixed that before releasing this grand collection which includes the first game.
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An example of game companies relying too heavily on patches and the internet. Anyway, the game itself functions just as well as its Xbox counterpart with the exception of the loading screens. They are pretty damn long at times, especially when moving between decks of the Normandy. To be fair, the Xbox version had the same problem but, once again, this could be corrected with a disc installation, something the PS3 cannot do. On the flip side, the PS3 versions of ME2 and 3 are on one disc, unlike the Xbox versions. So there is no having to swap out discs. Ahhh.. The wonders of Bluray.
This version of ME2 does include a good amount of DLC including the ‘Overlord’, ‘Lair of the Shadow Broker’, and ‘Kasumi’ expansions.
Overlord was interesting but felt too quite as Shepard and that scientist guy are the only ones who actually have lines during the mission. I missed hearing some banter from my team mates. It did have some interesting platforming segments using the Hammerhead vehicle but was overall just an okay mission. Lair of the Shadow Broker, on the other hand, was awesome! It features one of my favorite characters, Liara (also my Shepard’s love interest) and gives her a much bigger role in Mass Effect 2 which is absent in the standard version of the game. The addition of the new crew member Kasumi, the thief, is fun. Her loyalty mission is neat with you acting like a spy at a fancy dinner party to break into a vault. I do wish there was more crew interaction with Kasumi. Once she becomes a crew member, no one else in the crew ever really talks about her or acknowledges her but she is fun to go talk to. I was thrilled to complete the final suicide mission without losing any of my crew members. This was the first time I was able to pull this off and it does have major impacts on what happens in ME3, so you want to keep them alive. Overall, this version of ME2 is better than the Xbox version with all the extra content and is definitely the best Mass Effect game overall from beginning to end.
MASS EFFECT 3 (2012)
The ever so controversial Mass Effect 3 is the same in this collection as it is if you were buying the game by itself. By that, I mean it comes with no extras or DLC. That includes the day one DLC ‘From the Ashes’ which adds another character to your crew. You still have to download him separately and it’s not free. Because I wanted a different experience this time, I went ahead and downloaded the expansion with Javik, the Leviathan DLC pack, and the extended cut of the game’s controversial ending. The only technical issue the game has is the long load times that ME2 had but it also feels like loading screens happen more often.
You would think that they would have at least included the Javik DLC but nope, they still want to get that $9.99 out of you.
I can understand not having other DLC for ME3 on this version of the game, but Javik should have been on there and should have just been on the disc at the game’s original release. EA wanting your money and forcing a multiplayer mode on you. The Leviathan DLC was interesting as it explores the actual origin of The Reapers but I feel it should have had a bigger impact on the rest of the game. After you complete the mission, it only gets briefly mentioned again during the final part of the game, which brings me to the expanded ending.
The original ending to Mass Effect 3 is probably one of the most disappointing and controversial endings in video game history. There is so much build up over the course of the three games and it just completely drops the ball within the last 10 minutes. With a sudden and poorly explained ending, plot holes, no explanation as to what happens to your crew, and having three choices all leading to the same ending with the only differences being a blue, green, or red explosion, it left many fans wondering what the hell happened. Naturally, Bioware felt a HUGE backlash from the Mass Effect community, forming a petition demanding a new and better ending to the game. Well, they got it! The extended cut was designed to fill in a few of the plot holes and give more closure to the game. Does it succeed?
Personally, I’m perfectly okay with the the extended cut ending.
There is no new gameplay but does add more cut scenes and conversation pieces here and there. I like the added cut scene during the approach to the teleportation beam that shows just where your team goes before you go to the Citadel. The conversation you have with the star child thing does a better job explaining certain big questions of the series and there are more subjects to talk about. It still has the three different color explosions but there are some more scenes added in to show the effect of the explosion and the Normandy’s escape. It is then followed by a slide show and a narration of the aftermath as well as a touching scene of the Normandy’s crew remembering Commander Shepard. There are slight differences in the three endings and a fourth bad ending you get if you decide to shoot the star child, so don’t do that.
Of course, not everyone was pleased with this new ending but I have a feeling this would be the case with no matter what Bioware did. Even if they gave it a completely new ending, people would have still complained.
Could the ending have been better? Yes. They should have had a better ending in the first place like a boss battle against Harbinger or The Illusive Man or have the final mission use all your crew members like the last mission in Mass Effect 2.
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There are still several minor plot holes that do add up and are probably never going to be touched. But I say this is much better than what we had and it’s clear Bioware is done with trying to please the masses.
The extended cut gives proper closure to what happens after the final battle for Earth and what happens with your crew. That’s enough to please me, honestly. It doesn’t fix everything but we should be glad that Bioware actually listened to their fans and made this happen. This DLC ending is free by the way. If they really wanted to be jerks about it, they would have tacked another $9.99 to this game. To me, the Mass Effect trilogy now has a satisfactory conclusion.
What is next for Mass Effect? We know that Bioware is working the next chapter of the series but it will probably have little to nothing to do with this trilogy. As for the trilogy collection itself, the inclusion of some DLC is nice but overall, it’s not a complete collection, especially when it comes to ME3. I do hope that there is a complete trilogy release in the future with ALL the DLC for all the games. A re-release on the next-gen platforms? Maybe around the time of release for the next Mass Effect game? One can hope.