Mass Effect Saga: A Gamer's Reflection On The Series
Choosing a favorite game is no easy task for any gamer. What one person considers valid as the qualifications for this could be completely different to another. There are a lot of universal themes in games which reflect our world in reality. These are the same themes which connect us as human beings; they are the things that live in the heart of each of us. Love, hope, fear, anger... and all the drama of surviving whatever life has set before us. Yet, beyond these generalizations, is the individual. The flesh in between the skin and bones. What it is that makes up who we are.
When it comes to choosing a game, it's something that often reflects our personality. So join me, for a moment here, in taking a deeper look at the person (and his game qualifications) of whom this article now features: Nicholas Klastava.
Nick, besides being a good friend of mine, is as you well expected a pretty big gamer. He's 31 years old, married, and is a software engineer for the government. So you can bet he's also a pretty smart guy. If you need advice on anything from running a marathon to video games, meetings with generals in Switzerland, or whether nerd or geek is an acceptable term (it's geek by the way), he's your man.
When I asked him what game he would choose as his favorite, he answered with the Mass Effect series. For all you little nuggets out there, Mass Effect had three games starting in 2007 and ending in 2012. Below is the interview I had with Nick via email about the series.
Editor's Note: There may be one or two questions that might need a spoiler warning, so proceed to read carefully. I have added a note by the question I thought it necessary for.
How long have you been playing games for?
Nick: "About 20 years give or take."
What parts of video games do you enjoy most when playing (game play, graphics, genre, storyline, just the parts of it that really drive you to play games)?
Nick: "I love great stories that really get me vested, I love co-op games where I can play with someone."
What platform did you play the game [Mass Effect] on?
Nick: "I played it on PC."
What about the game(s) do you like that made you choose it, and what sets it apart from other games?
Nick: "I loved the role playing aspect of Mass Effect, I only started playing the series when ME3 was announced because I loved the idea of a continuing story. While playing I loved how every choice I made made a difference in how the game played out in each of the games."
What was your character's background story, sex, name, and class?
Nick: "My character was a male Soldier named Gorefist [Shepard]. In the first game he didn't really get too involved with any of his "ship mates" but in the second game he very much perused the interests of Miranda Lawson. Otherwise I very much tried to side on the side of good unless I felt being evil would lead to an easier boss fight haha. I remember I choose to save the council but all through the third game I wish I would have just let them die."
Did you alter your character's appearance?
Nick: "I did not alter my character too much, I really just wanted to get playing when I first started and didn't realize my character would stay with me for all 3 games until most of the way through ME1."
Is character customization an important feature in a game to you or doesn't it matter?
"My games, the characters lack the ability to wear glasses, which is inexcusable! I usually don't spend much time on it."
Did you import your character from Mass Effect to ME2 (and likewise from ME2 to ME3)?
Nick: "I most certainty did and it was by far my favorite part of the entire game series."
In general, did you follow a paragon or renegade pattern when prompted to respond to NPCs?
Nick: "I was very much on the paragon side of things, as I said once in a while I would earn some renegade points to make things easier."
Did you pursue a love interest, and if so who?
Nick: "Miranda Lawson, whose voice was of Sarah Walker from one of my favorite shows of all time Chuck!"
Did you explore other parts and missions of the game, or did you just play what was was needed to complete them?
Nick: "In each game I explored everything that was possible. I remember flying to each planet and droppings off on my 4 wheeler to explore any distress calls, and in ME3 mining every planet I could to get every possible ship upgrade. I enjoyed leveling my characters as far as the game would let me. It's the same strategy I always employed in Final Fantasy games. In between new zones just leveling up until I couldn't take it anymore and moving on."
Other than the protagonist, who was your favorite character?
Nick: "Garrus is the best character in the game by far. I wish I could just play as him!"
Do you feel there were differences between the games in the series, and if so, how? (SPOILER ALERT!)
Nick: "There were definitely many differences between the games in the series. I only played the 3rd one when it came out and played the first 2, 2 + years after being released. As the game went to each game in the series, the way experience points and leveling changed which wasn't a big deal. I think [those were] the main differences and bioware did a great job of making you feel how the world was during each game. As the first one starts a battle is coming and things are slowly moving a long, and you aren't even sure who the villain is. In the second ME you are introduced to Cereberus and the whole time you just have this feeling about that but you continue a long because you know about the reapers. But you can sense the world is in trouble everywhere, as the third game is just panic everywhere, from being on Earth in the opening scene, to just flying your ship around the reapers appearing to chase you down and kill you. Each game perfectly mimic-ed what was going on in the world and the battle you had to overcome."
A lot of fans were angry with the ending of ME3. What are your thoughts on it?
Nick: "To be honest I didn't care. I remember being at PAX East a couple months after it and finding hundreds of angry people who I talked with. And reading the forums post game was just crazy, I tried to stay away from a lot of that but enjoyed it every once in a while for a good laugh. To me I think the series was summed up how I wanted it to be. I made all the choices I wanted at the end, and for me going back and talking to all the characters post saving the world I probably wouldn't have wanted to do. I know the ending had some major flaws in the story but to be able to pick up a game and have every decision I make from the first game still matter in the third game and keep running into my favorite characters and have them impact the third game was perfect for me.
Just the way the reapers started in game one while you dealt with another villain to the 3rd game when they attack Earth and you feel throughout the game that you have no hope against them to the very last battle on Earth. It really was a great ending in my opinion."
Which game of the series was your favorite and least favorite?
Nick: "ME3 was by far my favorite, I didn't get into the whole I hate the ending debate, I was quite fine with the ending of the series and to be completely honest I never went back to play the "new ending" that Bioware released. I did dislike the having to play multiplayer to get the best ending but multiplayer was fun.
ME1 was my least favorite. The game took a while to grip me and pull me in, and I knew there were 2 more games coming, but I just felt I didn't get pulled in from the very beginning. As the first game went on and the ending came I was very much loving every moment of it and couldn't put it down. But ME2 and ME3 had me from the beginning to end."
Would you play the next ME game?
Nick: "Knowing that it will not have Sheppard as a main character is fine to me, I will definitely play the next one as long as we are still in the same world and we can meet some of our old characters. To be honest I have not read much about the next ME game to date."
Anything else you would like to add about the game?
Nick: "I just want to add I never thought I would be a fan of the shooter type RPG's, as I am usually pretty poor at playing shooter games. I fell in love with that portion of games and it has opened up a ton more that I am now willing to play. Also it's quite sad but I tended to stay away from a lot of space type games as it just doesn't interest me, but once I finish the ME series the first thing I did next was to watch the entire Battlestar Gallactica series. Without this game showing me how much fun all these types of games can be not sure I would have watched BSG."
Any other current or future games you are looking forward to?
Nick: "I am looking forward to FF13 X-3(or whatever it is called, ugh I know I don't know why just want to finish it) FF14, and FF15, the next ME game, AC4, Watchdogs, Destiny. Still need to finish AC3 and still once in a while dabble in LOTRO. Man that sounds like a lot of games."