I've always been a little resistant to WRPGs, not because of where they come from, but I've pretty much been swept up in JRPGs for as long as I can remember. I never had a reason to look elsewhere. However, when the PS2 era ended, the JRPGs weren't coming in waves like they used to - well for consoles anyway - and lately I have found the ones we have received to be less than stellar; not to mention, the stories and characters aren't stepping outside of the box. See my recent editorial on RPGFan if that's a topic that interests you. Anyway, so back to my journey into Mass Effect. I had been looking for something to captivate me - a game I didn't want to end, because it had me so swept up in everything it had to offer. I have always been resistant to Mass Effect, mainly, because I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, which is funny considering I love the Xenosaga series. Well, I started with the first game, and it didn't entirely hold me. There were things I liked about it, but I am all about my characters, and while they were interesting, I never felt attached to them. Enter Mass Effect 2 - and that's the moment where it all changed.
For the first time in a long time, I didn't want my journey to end; I could sit there and play the game for hours, and not only get lost in the world, but the well-developed characters. There were some I disliked, but there was always a reason for why they were the way they were, and BioWare did an excellent job about making that known. Well, except Zaeed, I hated him all through the game and felt he was one of the weakest additions to the game. Miranda was a close second, but her loyalty mission shed some light for me. In all of this, where it most succeeds is that the suicide mission mattered, and like hell it did. I cared about all the characters (except Zaeed) so much that I felt it was my duty to bring them all back alive, and I did after my second attempt. But the point is, I haven't cared so much about a game in quite a while, and it was extremely refreshing. I also loved all the choices throughout the game whether it be dialogue or strategy, it all mattered, and KimShep is one tough Paragon cookie.
So what does this mean? It means I'm so stoked for the third game, which will also be the last one. I'm a little conflicted because the conclusion marks an end to my KimShep's story. I have no doubt BioWare will put their intelligence and creativity toward another, hopefully new IP, but damn, the person I've been through my KimShep, I'm going to miss that. I can only hope that in the midst of the large final mission that the characters don't take a backseat like the first game - they were the most endearing part of Mass Effect 2. My standouts were my romance partner, Garrus, Mordin, and Thane. I also hope the weight of your decisions in the second game carry over to the third. And what am I most hoping for? My Kaidan and Garrus love triangle to pan out - they better fight for KimShep's affection.
Anyway, for all those years I spent trying to avoid Mass Effect because I thought it was too "sci-fi" for me, I deeply regret it. This has been a lesson to myself as a gamer and journalist, don't judge games for what they appear to be on the surface, and don't worry that hype and praise will influence your enjoyment of them. If anything, I've learned I have to step outside my comfort zone or I'm never going to experience these precious little gems of awesome. Furthermore, JRPGs, I still have mad love for you - you can start coming out of hiding now, I'd like to find love in you all over again.