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Flawed features from Mass Effect 1 (that we still kind of miss)

The inventory

What was wrong: It's easy to forget just how much of Mass Effect 1 was spent in the inventory screen. Practically every enemy you killed had some sort of present for you, whether it was a weapon mod or full suit of armor. If you were the compulsive RPG type, every battle would send you back to the menu screen to see if you picked up some new gear worth equipping. Even if you had more patience than that, eventually it would come time to pare down your one-man arsenal before you went over the 150-item limit.

Above: "Go on, guess where I’m carrying it"

With no categorization and minimal sorting, the selling interface was a major pain in the neck. Plus, if you were down on a planet and didn't remember what your crew up on the Normandy was geared with, there was no easy way to check if you were selling an upgrade. Sure, you could equip everyone at their lockers every time you were back on the ship and dump the rest to the quartermaster, but that meant spending more time with the true villain of Mass Effect: the tortuously slow elevator to the bottom decks.

For Mass Effect 2, the inventory was cut entirely. You choose which of your 2 or 3 standard guns to take on a mission when you leave the ship, and your armors stay up in your captain's quarters where they belong. The result is less time navigating menus, and more time hanging out with Garrus.

Above: Garrus wants to continue being bros, but you’re busy turning an armory into omni-gel

What was right: We definitely agree that menus are less fun than gunfights. But the reason the whole idea of RPG loot is still around is that there's just something primally satisfying about killing a guy, taking his stuff and wearing it yourself. That makes RPG players sound like psychotic loons, but we dare you to deny it with a straight face.

There's a nice little moment of satisfaction when you trawl through your cache and find a rare armor that's way better than what you've got. That feeling of increasing power isn't totally missing from Mass Effect 2, since you do find new guns from time to time, but there's fewer spikes in your capabilities that make you feel like you've turned a corner. There's also no anticipation of saving up for that sweet HMWSG shotgun you've had your eye on.

ME2 also lost some customization when it ditched weapon mods. A clever player in ME1 could substantially change how some of their weapons worked, like putting explosive ammo in a sniper rifle, thereby making it a personal rocket launcher.

Additionally, it was kind of nice to be able to customize your squadmates. At the very least, you got to enjoy speculating how the Sirta Foundation ever marketed a line of pink armor to the military.

Above: "We've moved beyond your primitive gender stereotyping in the future, so it's a total coincidence that I'm wearing this"

Unlimited ammo

What was wrong: Actually, we don't think there was really anything wrong with this one.

Unlimited ammo was a neat concept that worked well in the Mass Effect universe. Each gun had a block of metal stored in a mass-reducing field, and "bullets" were pieces of metal shaved off of that block and accelerated. One block would supply thousands of rounds, and the only limiting factor was overheating. Future tech at its best.

Above: "I know what you’re thinking: 'Did he fire six shots, or five?' Doesn’t actually matter, though"

What was right: The designers of Mass Effect 2 weren't quite happy with how the unlimited ammo scheme translated into gameplay. To make every shot feel important, they instituted a system of thermal clips, detachable heat sinks that act as ammo.

The in-game explanation for this is that thermal clips let soldiers fire faster by obviating the need to wait for weapon cooldowns. We can sort of buy that, but did they have to make the weapon USELESS without a clip? That definitely seems like a step backwards.

Even so, as a game mechanic, ammo isn't bad, exactly. We get why Bioware thought it would be better to make us conserve shots. It's more that, as sci-fi dorks, we're compelled to pick on inconsistencies in lore.

70 comments

  • LEGOMatrix - November 17, 2012 8:24 p.m.

    This article is spot on! I am currently watching my flatmate, a massive Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 fan, play through Mass Effect for the first time. It is a bit painful as he has no sense of direction and I get bored being his GPS (oh my god the Mako missions...). He is also a complete newbie to shooters and is playing it on piss-easy mode, and so has no use for changing the equipment. I figure by the time he finishes ME2 he'll be so in love with it he'll go back over ME1 on a harder setting.
  • RedOutlive. - March 22, 2012 2:26 p.m.

    The main problem of ME2 to me was exactly how BiowarEA decided to scrap all diversity of the game and replace it with cover based shooting, instead of trying to improve on what they had. The Mako was problematic but it could be improved, especially the steep mountain exploration part, instead everything was removed and simplified to the extreme... "Planet scanning" was a joke, the linear worlds became even more linear to the point it's not even useful to have a map, so the universe felt small. Plot was an utter joke. Combat is predictable with chest high wall placement, clearly trying to appeal to the casual shooter crowd. What a waste of a franchise
  • Darkhawk - March 22, 2012 10:20 a.m.

    "Oh, you say you're suspicious of letting Garrus on the ship? Hope you weren't real committed to surviving Virmire, lady" Haha so true.
  • Thoughtless - March 11, 2012 8:26 p.m.

    I agree with all of these things, the mako's thruster design is enough to drive a man to drink; but I believe space racism held it's proper place in the game, human nature always seems to work that way on it's own (ex:Aliens are new to me.....I hate aliens) also I'd say that the contact wars didn't help matters.
  • Vader999 - March 5, 2012 7:51 a.m.

    I actually hunted down Thresher Maws with the Mako. And I did have a Spectre-gear level 10 sniper rifle with lv. 10 explosive rounds, and I used that to take down the biggest Geth units with ease; I can take down a colossus with my hands tied in that game, since I also gave my assault riflemen (Wrex and Garrus) lv. 10 Frictionless materials and inferno ammo, giving them unlimited ammo and the ability to turn robots into energy sakura leaves. Or sometimes I arm their assault rifles with explosive ammo too, turning any would-be attacker into flames.
  • Tom_Traubert - March 4, 2012 2:04 a.m.

    "Blatant discrimination against the fat-fingered and/or drunk." Preach it, brother.
  • Ravenbom - March 2, 2012 6:30 p.m.

    Yeah, I miss the unlimited ammo and hate the inconsistency in the lore. BUT, as much as I miss it I recognize that the 2nd game is better without it. Sucks being a sniper though because one shot is a whole clip. I'm so with you on the everything we don't miss. The stingy auto saves was nearly unforgivable.
  • Ravenbom - March 3, 2012 10:16 a.m.

    I've gone through ME1 and now ME2 in anticipation of ME3 and one thing I'm really missing is the map in combat sections of ME2. Once again, I recognize that it plays better and more tense without a map but it's always odd to play an RPG without a map.
  • pin316 - March 2, 2012 12:36 a.m.

    the thing about some of your points is that the game made them irrelevant in various ways: 1) The whole inventory thing - the feeling of getting cool shit was only really valid first time around...for subsequent playthroughs you don't really care as; a) you know that you'll never be short of gear as it's frickin eerywhere, b) you don't care about weapons as you sell everything immediately to buy spectre stuff as it's impossible to not have the achievement that means it's stocked, c) there are no rare armors/weapons - it's stupidly easy to get the best ones as anyone who has thought 'really, another turian colossus armour, isn't that like 10 now' will testify 2) The mako combat awesomeness was completely nullified by the fact that the game takes away 50% of yourenemy kill xo for killing them with the make, turningg it into an uncredibly frustrating exercise in driving until you see a red dot, get out, shoot, get back in, drive to next red dot, hope mako isn't shot whilst your outsisde so you die when you get back in it 3) I didn't mind the button minigame, i did mind the bug that was never fixed where istead of varying between a 3,5 or 7 button sequence depending on difficulty the game just picked up the first one you did eeach time after laucnhing the game, and then got stuck on that difficulty until you turned it off
  • vortigauntSKUL - March 1, 2012 9:02 p.m.

    "Enemy is everywhere!"
  • PleaseSitDownICannotSee - March 1, 2012 8:22 p.m.

    I liked the music in ME1 a lot more than ME2. The first game really nailed the feeling of a futuristic/cold space vibe. ME2 has good music but something about the music in the first game (especially the wards music in the citadel) was just so much better.
  • snipes101 - March 6, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    I totally agree. The second game's soundtrack had an almost orchestral property to it while the first was for more electronic. Hell I still listen to the first game's soundtrack from time to time.
  • mothbanquet - March 12, 2012 7:25 a.m.

    Indeed, felt much more futuristic. ME2's soundtrack was 'less sci-fi, more opera'. And not in a good way.
  • ArmTheBomb - March 1, 2012 6:21 p.m.

    Wait, what's so wrong about space racism? That's what gave Ashley her character. It was also satisfying to change her outlook on aliens as the game progressed, it's what made her at all interesting.
  • Technomancer - March 1, 2012 5:33 p.m.

    The biggest plot hole with the heat sinks, was how did they manage to get everywhere, even the most obscure backwater planet, in just 2 years? That's not even counting the time it would have taken to study the Geth weapons and then develop the heat sinks. Then there's the biggest flaw, Jacob's Loyalty mission, the Hugo Gernsback crashed 10 years ago, how is it that they have the heat sinks there too?
  • BazyLastard - March 1, 2012 4 p.m.

    And about the inventory system, I'm playing through again right now and honestly if they just added a few sort options, heck even alphabetical, it would eliminate 90% of the frustration. "Do I sell this Incendiary Shots III" ammo mod? Let me scroll down and see if I have Incendiary Shots IV or V yet." Or by item type.
  • BazyLastard - March 1, 2012 3:57 p.m.

    Playing on the Xbox 360, it always cracked me up that the Alliance Fleet's most advanced ship had, apparently, the very first elevator invented. Every time I took it, I wish the stairs had gone all the way to the bottom level. However, when I played it on PC, the Normandy's elevator was much, much faster. Stairs still would have been better.
  • darkrider105 - March 1, 2012 3:32 p.m.

    I have to say that I loved the elevators in mass effect. If you could shortened the load times and just have dialogue between team mates or updates on what going on in the universe than I would welcome it back
  • winner2 - March 1, 2012 2:25 p.m.

    You read my mind with that last caption GR
  • mwe12 - March 1, 2012 1:41 p.m.

    that creepy smile....... (page 2)

Showing 1-20 of 70 comments

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