Talking about Mass Effect and its quality as a shooter is like going to Paris and complaining about the carpet in the airport.
Like, sure, it isn’t good if you are an fps fan (I am very much not) but that’s not what made Mass Effect great.
As a story, world, and RPG the first Mass Effect is tremendous. As a party based RPG Mass Effect 2 is in a class on its own (even if the world building suffers deeply, and there was damage done to the universe for reasons of sloppy and dumb writing).
Like, yeah, it’s not as good a cover shooter as gears of war. That is objectively true. But… it has many something’s that Gears never had in the story and RPG department. Mordin remains one of the greatest party members in any RPG ever.
The moment to moment in ME2 and ME3 seem pretty continuous with one another, and really they kind of blend together to me in my memory.
I didn’t like the “overall” larger narrative plot and context of ME3. There’s lots of heart string moments, but there’s just a ton of… for lack of a better word, silliness… that seems to squander the world building of ME1 and ME2. I remember playing the whole time being mildly disappointment in the plot points of 3 compared to 2, basically from hour one through the whole game. But all the relationship and drama stuff still has the same character as 2 (more or less anyway). It’s clear that plot came second to game play, and while that’s fine and all, it would have been nice to lean into the narrative a lot more than they did.
I’m also probably the only guy who actually liked the original ending of 3, as silly as its contest was as well.
Certainly, which is why I still ultimately come away more positive than negative about 2. But man, it is much worse at the shooting than Gears, (and I don’t even like Gears very much), and still makes you do it for tens of hours that it could just…not have. And I for one would have had a much better time.
The thing is you spend a huge chunk of time shooting in Mass Effect (way more than you spend on the carpet at Charles de Gaulle). I look past it because I like the world and characters—further, it’s pretty much the only real option if you want a space opera RPG (maybe the KOTOR games count)—but I can totally understand how someone concludes that Mass Effect is bad because the combat is bad in a way that I can’t, for instance, understand someone concluding that Mass Effect is bad because the mini games are bad or because the eyeballs look weird.
While on the topic, I highly recommend grabbing some mods to make the experience smoother. I consider the mini games skip and the one probe all resources mods essential to my current playthrough (maybe the community patches too, but since that’s under the hood stuff I’m not seeing the improvements, though I believe they are there).
I tend ME to play on hard until I get tired of the less than optimal shooting gameplay, at which point I crank down the difficulty and play on easy to finish the always excellent storylines. Worked for me on my last replay. And to be honest, I didn’t need to turn down diffuclty that often: with all the weapons from the expansions, I was overpowered anyway.
It looks like a minimal playthrough will be about 20 hours, 10 hours of which will be shooting, 5 hours will be driving and walking around, and 5 hours will be the story, dialogue and things contributing to the world building. (And so little time doing RPG build stuff that it isn’t worth counting.)
Yes, the writing and world building are tremendous, and especially coming straight from Starfield, the economy of expression is impressive. They do so much more with fewer words. But for every hour of that good content you need to play through three hours of outright bad gameplay.
It’s a price I’m willing to pay as an entry fee to playing ME2 and 3 the “right way”, but also a price I really want to minimize.
Had that same feel on my most recent playthrough; ME1 was a balance between fun and frustrating because I knew better was to come. PS - I don’t know if it will help, but I would also suggest playing a class which regularly uses biotics so you can at least mix in some variety to your combat.
If you think the shooting aspect is bad now, you should have played it when it first came out. Legendary Edition made some improvements to the guns and the interface (I believe). Though it’s still not great on that front.
I seem to recall it being better on ME2 for sure. Ultimately, 1 limps through the shooting and 2 makes it fun (albeit, not Gears of War level good).
Mass Effect is one of my favorite games of all time, but I doubt I’ll ever buy the legendary edition, and the main reason is their decision to leave the gameplay in ME1 as is. The combat gameplay is just not very good, and it detracts from what is otherwise a fantastic game - to the point that I know if I did buy the game, I’d never make it through the first game to actually replay the trilogy (for the Xth time).
Stick through it, though. As a series, it’s IMO the best CRPG ever.
Wish they had done an actual remake, streamlining the gameplay experience across all three games. I’d - quite seriously - have paid full pricex3 for that.