written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
As many of my friends and family already know, one of my favorite games series of all time is the Mass Effect trilogy, while the amount of times I've powered through the campaign on the first Mass Effect can be counted on one hand (at the moment at least), I have played Mass Effect 2 and 3 so much that my complete play throughs span the double digits. Regardless of how I practically memorized the story, I still found enjoyment playing.
It's like how I can never get tired of watching Star Wars and definitely can watch Return of the Jedi multiple times. For me, Mass Effect games accomplish that same feeling... hence why I was so very compelled to sound off on my Top 5 moments from the Mass Effect trilogy.
Before this point, you still though that Saren was the primary antagonist of Mass Effect, that is until the grand scope of this space opera opens up to feature the Reapers... a sentient machine capable of wiping out all existence... as the true antagonists of the over arching story. This point gave Shepard's journey true meaning and made you (the player) realize that this war is far from over... and what you thought was an uprising from the Geth and a rogue Spectre, turns out to be just a cog in the overall machine that is the Reaper's purpose.
Afterlife and Omega
The first port you have the esteemed privilege to tackle in Mass Effect 2 is Omega. While much of your ports in the first game sat within Citadel space, the Terminus system is something completely different all together. This, coupled with the obviously darker tone of the Mass Effect Trilogy's second act make the moment you first set foot on this station all the more ominous. As the player, the whole station felt like either a constant reminder of whether you'll succumb to your baser instincts as renegade... or resist the tempation to bust a cap in an alien's ass and stick to your paragon code.
The stark contrast Omega had to the Citadel made this space station all the more interesting... plus, being run by the de-facto but highly capable Aria T'Loak made exploring the hive of villainy all the more sweet.
The finality of who you choose to let live or die, this choice you were forced to many back in the first game echoed from the moment of the explosion to the final scene of the third act. While mounting an attack on Virmire, after tangoing with Saren on his sweet ass hoover-board thing. Shepard is faced with the difficult choice of saving either Kaiden Alenko or Ashley Williams. There is literally no way to save them both and this choice is one that haunts Shepard through the entire trilogy.
This feeling of helplessness and tackling the grief and regret of letting a comrade die echo not just to the character but also to the player. It's rare when a game can do this, sure characters you care about have died in other games... but a death like this linked to the choices made by YOUR Shepard made the inevitable all the heavier.
Right before your final battle, Shepard and company launch a final attack on Harbinger, the primary antagonist of Mass Effect 3. This scene full of "OORAH" bravado is further contrasted with the dejected feeling of what you're faced with after Harbinger blasts Shepard and company. The dead seemingly number a figure too big to ponder without affecting your sanity and our hero is left broken and merely a shell of the soldier he or she once was.
While the epic nature of this last ditch attempt will always be one of my favorite memories of the game... the outcome of it seems to harken the feelings of absolute helplessness... one reminiscent of that touch decision you were faced with on Virmire. The juxtoposition of it was one reason this moment is one I can never forget... even after the credits roll.
Bringing the Fight to the Collectors
The primary antagonists of Mass Effect 2 were a race of shadowly insect like aliens known only as The Collectors. While the events of raiding the Collector ship sit high on my list... and if I had picked 6 or more moments I would have named that as one of them, but the final climactic battle against the former Protheons was one to be remembered, after the attack on the Normandy that left only Joker behind to pick up the pieces... Shepard and company launch an attack through the Omega-4 Relay to bring the thunder right to beasts who took Shep's crew.
Upon reaching, you learn why The Collectors were harvesting humans from colonies in Terminus space. They were working for the Reapers and were reducing the humans they harvested into pure organic matter to create a Human-Reaper. This was also one of the first indications of who the Reapers were... they took the form of the races they subjugated, they did it to the Protheons, they did it to Leviathan (confirmed in ME3) and they were doing it to humans.
I was more than happy to unload all manner of military might on The Collectors. The reason this mission was so memorable was because depending on how ready you made your ship and the relationships you cultivated with your crew, you could possibly walk away with everyone surviving the suicide mission, be left the sole survivor, or you could be complete your mission but losing your life... in effect... ending Shepard's story in the second act.
SO HAPPY N7 DAY!
Today is N7 Day... and I'm sure there'll be some news today... but for now let's remember all that was epic from Commander [INSERT NAME] Shepard's story. Whether you were satisfied with the ending or left wanting, sometimes it isn't the end of the road but the journey to get there... and what a ride it was.
So what were some of your favorite moments? Sound off below.