a lot of people, we've been getting ready for Mass Effect 3 by spending the
last couple weeks replaying the first two titles in the trilogy. (Possibly also
like a lot of people, some of us are rebuilding save files we foolishly
Above: This time, I'll wear that OTHER suit of space armor to the club!
back to back, it's striking how much better the series got between
installments. The original Mass Effect is still a groundbreaking classic, but
there are a lot of things that are tough to take on the second or third
playthrough. For every awesome set-piece, like the zero-G battle up the side of
the Citadel Tower, there's a boring grind, like humping the Mako around planets
looking for rocks to tag.
sequel abandoned many of these problematic mechanics rather than fixing them,
and it's a much better game for it. Mass Effect 2 is set-piece after set-piece,
all killer, no filler.
we can’t help but miss some of the features that got cut. Sure, ME2 was better
overall without them, but they weren’t ALL bad, and they brought something to
the feel of the game that we liked, however small.
are a few of the flawed features from Mass Effect 1 that had some positive
qualities. And just to prove we’re not nostalgic fanboys, we’ve also included some
early features that are probably better forgotten.
was wrong: The missing Mako might be the most noticeable difference
between Mass Effect 1 and 2. The rugged six-wheeled rover was an iconic part of
the first game; even the initial teaser trailer closed with Shepard dropping
the Mako into Geth-infested territory.
we could get it to fly, we could probably take Sovereign"
ME1, you got intimately familiar with the Mako throughout the game's campaign.
You might even say a little too
familiar. Depending on how many of the side quests you tried to complete, you
could spend hours driving it over fractal landscapes without anything
your response to that is "You could just NOT do the side quests,"
then we know the meaning of all the
words you're using, but we have no idea what you're talking about.
after time, you'll point yourself towards the nearest radar blip and inch up a
nearly vertical cliff wall, cursing whatever Alliance engineer decided the jump
thrusters should only point downwards. More often than not, you'd only be
rewarded with yet another downed probe and a few generic upgrade modules.
anyone's guess why the futuristic equivalents of NASA bundled weapon parts in
their space probes. Maybe it was a warning to anyone who found it. "See
this gun barrel? Excellent craftsmanship, isn't it? Maybe you'll think twice
about starting trouble, because there's more where that came from.")
was right: As slow and aggravating as the Mako could be, it was an
absolute powerhouse in a fight. There isn't anything comparable in the game. As
far as you're concerned as a player, the Mako is the most badass thing in the
known universe, narrowly edging out Thresher Maws. Get in the Mako, and a pack
of enemies that would rip you apart on foot suddenly become flaming ragdoll XP
it's not exactly "balanced," but there's something to be said for
letting balance take a backseat to power fantasy. Sniping fools with the Mako
cannon is just plain fun. And when the Normandy comes screaming out of the sky
on Ilos and spits the Mako out practically on top of Saren, you know he's got
good reason to run.
Above: Enh, it's just not the same, somehow
generally, there's a sense of exploration in Mass Effect 1 that isn't quite
there in the sequel. You can read about how a moon orbits a gas giant whose
upper atmosphere is populated by phosphorescent bacteria, then drop down and
see it up in the sky for yourself. Unlike ME2's linear (but fun!) N7 missions,
you never know what you're going to find when you drop the Mako planetside,
even if it usually is more crashed probes.
DLC for Mass Effect 2 introduced the Hammerhead, a hovering successor to the
Mako that mercifully lets you leap over cliffs with ease. But without planets
to explore freely or an XP and loot system that rewards you for kills, the
Hammerhead feels more like a taxi than a tank. Unlike the rock-solid Mako, it's
a prima donna that sounds klaxons and catches on fire after taking a few measly
Geth plasma bolts.
Above: Plus, anything that lets us live out our 3D
Moon Patrol fantasies can't be all bad