A few years ago, if you and I were to sit down and chat about our favorite games and gaming companies, my answer would be along these lines: Square Enix and Final Fantasy. Capcom and Resident Evil. Final Fantasy VII was specifically what opened me up to a world beyond my Super Nintendo and GameBoy color, showing me more and more brilliance in the world of gaming. I was a die hard Square girl. And I still am, don't get me wrong. But in late 2008, everything changed.
My husband, who back then was just my boyfriend, and a mutual friend of ours, were all hanging out one evening, when they put in a game called Mass Effect by Bioware. I'd seen the company's name before from my past playings of Jade Empire and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I enjoyed both, so I was no stranger to Bioware. I was, however, unprepared for the way this game series would end up effecting me. Call me over dramatic or theatrical, but for you Poppers out there who have played these games, you understand why I talk this way. Bioware didn't just create a story. They created a universe, a world beyond our own, with characters the fanbase could not help but fall in love with so deeply that they cared for them, regardless that they were nothing more than fictional.
A quick summary for those who are unfamiliar with the title. The game focuses on the protagonist, Commander Shepard, and his/her quest to stop the rogue 'Spectre' (an elite group of agents selected from a number of different species entrusted with extraordinary authority, including the power of life or death over the inhabitants of the galaxy, in order to preserve galactic stability by whatever means necessary) Saren Arterius. During the pursuit of Saren, Shepard learns of a far greater threat looming in the background. This threat continues in different forms that span across all 3 games. The games rely heavily on the choices you make, changing the outcome in different ways - an amazing aspect for replay value. You can choose to make choices of a Paragon or Renegade nature, or a mixture of both. You establish close relationships with your crew, some going even further into the form of a love interest. These relationships were staggering, and I very quickly came to care for the characters just as much as my Shepard did.
|Here she is. My Shepard. Spacer, War Hero, Inflitrator.|
Mass Effect was a phenomenal game. Mass Effect 2 was even better. They kept what we loved about the first one, and tweaked a few things that got on our nerves, improving the entire experience ten fold. The characters we loved were back, and more were added to the docket to keep the list of adoration growing. New romance options opened up, two of them quickly becoming the more popular options among fans, and the emotional attachment continued to deepen. The story of your Shepard continued. Bioware continued to blow me away with the amazing stories and options, and I fell deeper into this universe.
Mass Effect 3 was finally released a few months ago, in the beginning of March. Take Earth back was the slogan. The largest of wars was finally going to take place. This game tapped on my shoulder from behind and really made me realize how much I cared for the characters I'd been interacting with for the past 4 years. I've never been so invested in a series as I have been with Mass Effect. The finale of the series made me cry harder than any game ever has made me cry.
Now that I have beaten Mass Effect 3, it allows me to sit back and really take everything in. And here's my what my instinct tells me. This series is one of the best I've ever played, and no one writes characters and relationships that mean so much to me as Bioware has. This game has also infamously made its' way across the internet as having one of the shittiest endings in a long time. Avoiding spoilers, here is my take (as unpopular as I have found it to be). The ending did not bother me. The way they went about it did not piss me off. I do have many unanswered questions, but I have faith that Bioware will answer them with DLC. So I remain patient.
What I found most interesting was the way my feelings and reactions changed from seeing my husband beat the game, to when I beat the game. When he beat it, I felt rather indifferent. I sat there, let it sink in, and found myself saying "Okay.", and went on my way. When I beat it, though... I cried hard. I surprised myself by how upset I was. And I realized why. I was watching the end of my Shepard's story. Kerry Shepard, we had been through so much together, and here it was coming to close. And even now, as I sit here typing this, I miss her so much. Yeah, I know, I can go back and play through again. This isn't the end of ends. But it ended. And that hit hard.
(and I realize how big of a nerd I am saying stuff like this)
Say what you will, but people cannot deny what a phenomenal job Bioware did with this universe. Even those who HATED the end of Mass Effect 3 can't ignore that they had one of the best journeys of their lives. And to those who have yet to pick the series up, please do so. I swear that you will have the time of your life.
|Come now, I couldn't go the whole post without a picture of my favorite pairing in the entire universe!|
Garrus and Shepard forever <3