Curtis! You should totally play Mass Effect!

Dear Curtis,

I’m glad we could write this blog together. I have fun playing videogames, and so do you, and so I’m glad we joined forces to write about games. Coincidentally, it is actually your love of videogames that brings us here today. I heard you love them, particularly the high quality ones, and so I would like to point your attention to Mass Effect.

I know what you’re thinking: What year is it, 2007? Next you will be asking me if I have tried that new hit adventure game about the yellow-man named Pac. Ha, you think you are so funny, Curtis. But no, I know that Mass Effect came out a long time ago, and I know that there’s already a sequel out and that it’s supposed to be loads better, but for whatever reason, I never got into Mass Effect when it first released, and instead the disc just sat by my tv for two years.

Last week, upon hearing the great reviews of its sequel, I decided to give Mass Effect another go. I created a new character, and went about slowly saving the galaxy. I was sometimes bored, several times frustrated, but this article is about convincing you to play Mass Effect, so first I’m going to talk about why you’ll love it.

1. Star Trek – You like Star Trek, right? Like the aliens and the talking and the more aliens and the more talking. You know, the Star Trek. Of course you like Star Trek, you wear glasses, and I can tell by the way that you are successful in your adult life that you weren’t very popular in school. You probably knew someone who went to a Star Trek convention at some point in their life (me) or maybe you even went yourself. Well, let me tell you something, Mass Effect was made by an intergalactic corral of dudes (most-likely bearded D&D players) who just love Star Trek. There’s space action, there’s exploration, there’s a United Fucking Federation of Planets Thing, there’s making out with hot space alien chicks, Mass Effect has it all.

Here’s something you should accept, Curtis: There will never be a good Star Trek game. I know you’ve been holding out for that amazing Star Trek game, with Captain Kirk, and Data, and that Reading Rainbow guy with the thing over his eyes, but let me tell you something, that shit is never going to happen. If they did make it, it would suck, like all other Star Trek games have sucked. Mass Effect is a good Star Trek game, only, well, it doesn’t say Star Trek on the box.

2. The story is interesting! You get to make decisions and stuff! You can be a good guy or a bad guy! You can be a woman or a man! — Okay, these aren’t really new gameplay mechanics, and you’ve already played Bioware’s Dragon Age, so you’ve probably experienced all of this before, but I dug it. Some of the decisions may seem too black and white, but by the end of the game, you really feel like all of your tiny decisions mattered, and that the game came to a conclusion specific to the character you played, an ending crafted specifically for the decisions you made (in my case, I felt like an asshole).

3. Ummm, fuck. I thought there were more reasons why you should play this.

There are many things wrong with Mass Effect. MANY THINGS. The side missions, although presenting interesting stories, all contain very bland gameplay mechanics. There’s a Hummer thing that you have to futz around on while traversing these bland planets, and it sucks. The inventory system is clunky and you will pick up about 5,000 useless pieces of guns/armor/power-ups by the end of the game. You will spend a half-hour every four hours just re-equiping your dudes, which won’t really seem to change the gameplay, and then you’ll sell all the other useless junk you picked up, to get money you won’t use. You will occasionally die, and then curse the lame autosave function when you lose an hour of gameplay.

But you should still play Mass Effect. The story is interesting, the universe is amazing, and the fiction they’ve created, once you’re there for seven hours or so, you will never want to leave. Which—aww, fuck it.

Okay, you got me, the truth is, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO, CURTIS, but all I want to do is run out and buy Mass Effect 2 RIGHT NOW so that I can continue the adventures of James Tiberius Shepherd, and the only way I could think to stop myself from doing that was to write this article convincing you, Curtis Retherford, to play through the first one. But now I’ve gone and done that, and it’s still early in the day, and Target is still open. GODDAMN IT.

Adam Dorsey


5 responses to “Curtis! You should totally play Mass Effect!

  1. Curtis Retherford

    You know, I’ve been convinced for years that video game reviews weren’t targeted enough to the “Curtis Retherford” demographic.

    It’s about fucking time.

    • Curtis Retherford

      Also, I just added Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to my Steam wishlist. When they go one sale, I’m on that shit.

  2. Curtis Retherford

    Okay, so I have now played, and beat, Mass Effect 1.

    My thoughts:

    You are completely right. The inventory system sucks. Especially when selling items, there is no real logic to how items are displayed, so it is hard to know which items are worth keeping and which are worth selling. I also only used money to buy licenses, so I could buy things I don’t need to buy on the ship’s store, which I never used, or to buy expansions for medpacks and grenades.

    I didn’t realize I was near the end of the game until I was already near the end of the game. Probably for the best, because I ignored a fair amount of the sidequests. Usually I spend so much time on side quests I get bored with the game and do something else (I’m talking to you, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Dragon Ages: Origins), so I guess it’s good that I actually finished this game.

    The story is, indeed, good.

    However, the dialogue trees need work. I don’t like that the options for what you say aren’t what Shepherd actually says (pick “Wait here,” and Shepherd may deliver a line closer to “Look, just stay here, okay you son of a bitch?”), so some choices are a little ambiguous. I also accidentally clicked through identical bits of dialogue several times. Not fun.

    Also, because of the weird dialogue choices, my Shepherd (Jean Luc Shepherd) ended up knocking space-boots with Ashley. I was completely grossed out. I had made my Shepherd to be an older, bald guy, focused only on the mission. Just by being a nice guy, I found myself stuck in positions where my only options were between “Let’s make love,” or “Let’s fuck.”

    Overall, great. I’m glad I played it.

    Now on to Mass Effect 2.

  3. Supposedly, the inventory system was actually tweaked to be better on the PC, so imagine how bad it was for me.

    I did every side quest, which in retrospect may have been stupid, but I feel like I have such a better understanding of the world now. As for dialogue stuff, I agree with you that there should be more choices, but I kind of like how I just choose the mood and then my Shepherd says something along those lines. The alternative has Shepherd saying the same thing I just read, which isn’t what I’m looking for. That said, I hear things are improved in the sequel, with the ability to interrupt people, and sometimes just kill them mid-conversation.

    Also in the sequel, I guess they eliminate nearly all of the inventory, so that it doesn’t even need an inventory system. This may be good or bad, depending on your RPG-nature.

    Are you starting Mass Effect 2 right away? You might make me go pick it up today if that’s the case.


    –Love, Adam.

  4. Conversation options on the top align more towards “paragon” points; conversation options on the bottom align with “renegade”. If you see the words “Stay here”, and it’s on the bottom, you better believe Jacob Shepherd is going to tell that son of a bitch to just wait here.

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