So, I seem unable to shut up about how much I like Mass Effect, and how great the ending is, and fuck everyone who didn’t like it. Well, maybe writing an overwrought blog post will fix that. Probably not, though. I’ll try to keep it short (har, har), and I’ll let you know before we hit spoiler territory.
Oh, also, because of how I relate to this game series (I really buy into the fiction), there’s going to be a ton of narrative infodump here. If you haven’t played the games, it’s going to read a lot like a kid who’s excited about something ruining it by telling you what happens in the most boringly enthusiastic manner. So, heads up.
What genre are we in, here?
I’m not going to point to the series as breaking any new ground. Mass Effect isn’t groundbreaking science fiction, and it isn’t about introducing new and unforeseen ideas into the genre discourse. It’s about taking classic genre themes and putting them into a really enjoyable, really satisfying, popular audience space opera package. In other words, Mass Effect is playing in roughly the same league as Star Wars.
It’s a role-playing game, motherfuckers. Roleplay it.
The story will look very different depending on how you played the game — what choices you made, what relationships you formed, and, more importantly, what fiction you built for yourself around those choices and those relationships.
That really matters in Mass Effect. It’s not the kind of RPG where you can just manage stats and chase points all day long. If you don’t build that additional layer of fiction between yourself and the character — if you don’t fucking roleplay at least a little — then you’re not going to get all that much out of these games.
This does mean, however, that my experience won’t be transferable to everyone else. I once heard a lecturer talk about Marx (at least, I think it was Marx), and he had to pause and clarify that when he talked about Marx, he was talking about his Marx — meaning his reading, his interpretation, his understanding of Marx. His Marx worked. His Marx was relevant. But not necessarily everyone else’s Marx. Similarly, my Mass Effect is fucking awesome. I can’t guarantee yours is.