Mass Effect 1 vs 2

An Agree To Disagree review

FBT & TheMorty fall out over who has the best Mass Effect

Mass Effect - FBT

This seems like a tough one, but it isn’t. Mass Effect is better than Mass Effect 2. ME3 we’ll leave alone for now, it’s suffered enough but ME2 is a Michael Bay remake of David Fincher’s Mass Effect; it’s all shouty and sexy, missing the subtlety and sinister tone of ME1. In ME2, when we’re not fighting robots (never, ever exciting) it’s oversized midges. When we’re not ignoring the fact that Shep’s thrown in with terrorists, we’re helping our squad get over their daddy issues. ME1 is a slow burn spin through a galaxy that just gets bigger, grander, a true role-playing experience. ME2 is a bombastic, set-piece-driven shooter with too much filler, it’s Independence Day to ME1’s Close Encounters; instead of delving deeper it’s just louder, bigger, shoutier … and it opens with your hero dying but then getting better…

And who are we fighting in ME2? Saren was a complex character aptly supported by the Matriarch, and then there’s the Geth; self-aware machines searching for their God? Brilliant. There was the Thorian and the Rachni, Sci-Fi characters at their purest. ME2 has roaches. We even had a much cooler Reaper; Sovereign. Epic and arrogant whereas ME2’s Harbinger is all off-screen ‘puny humans’ speeches; Sovereign makes good on his threat and rocks up to kick ass, unlike Harbinger, hiding behind a gnat.

And Shep’s taking orders from a bloke called TIM (The Illusive Man’s initials are Tim? Tim?!). We all know Tim’s a villain but what does Shep do about it? Just contemptuously folds his arms at him. Did they forget to clone his balls? This is why I play as Femshep. Cerberus were ultra-evil in ME1, now they’re just misunderstood? Did he forget what they did to General thingie, the experiments? ME1 Shep woulda nicked the new Normandy and hightailed it back to Anderson. And what’s with the Alliance anyway? Shep; ‘yeah, I was dead, I’m not now. I am working with a supremacist group who tortured my own squad’ / Alliance; ‘Oh okay, here’s some side missions’. Shep basically signed up with Britain First ‘cos they gave him a new ship. And Joker too, the voice of sarcastic reason throws in with Cerberus cos he was grounded while Doc Chakwas joined a terrorist group cos she missed serving on a spaceship? There’s a few others knocking about in the Alliance. And Liara sells Shep’s body to them. It’s because I chose Ash isn’t it.

There’s no Ash in ME2! She has one scene before grumping off – it’s great that she refuses to join Cerberus because of the Commander’s influence; She had pro-human leanings, perfect for Cerberus but the cap inspires her to see beyond it and yet here he is; without Ash - Miranda is no substitute for being called Skipper. I can’t even be swayed by her catsuits. I can’t. Totally not swayed at all. Oh, hey Miranda, just stopping by again ... so are we flirting yet, cos if not Jack’s looking kinda hot. As is Tali, Kelly, Samara… ME1 is intimate, personal; with six companions, you spend time with them whereas ME2’s frat-party means most get completely sidelined – they’re all great and that makes it worse. You end up going ‘Oh I’d better take Grunt, he’s not been out for a while’. The closeness of ME1’s crew lends itself to the story, this small band taking on the universe – and the relationships that develop feel more natural. In ME2 everyone’s getting jiggy; that place is like Porky’s.

And how does Shep chose to fill his spare time in ME2 when he’s not skulking around Miranda’s office? Scanning planets. He has a ship full of people and an AI onboard, can’t anyone else fire the probes?! Even EDI sounds fed up with it. And what the hell is Joker doing? Why am I piloting the ship about?! ME1 made it all about your command decisions; surprised Shep’s not on latrine duty in ME2. And there’s Mako-time. Granted, most of the time you’re just rolling back down the mountain again and the planets are sparse, but it’s a change of scene and an occasional Thresher. Admittedly, Shep needing to do a hack on a lump of gold you found makes no sense though.

ME2, flying ants aside, is a great thrill-ride but it’s a game trying to be a movie whereas ME1 is a great game, period. Some serious shit goes down in ME1 - you earnt that determined hero-walks-offscreen final shot. ME2 is just padding until a final boss reveal. Okay, I’m not even convincing myself; I’m arguing my Ferrari is better than TheMorty’s Lambo. ME2 is pretty darn close to perfect. But ME1 does get a little closer.

Mass Effect 2 - TheMorty ME2…or as I like to call it, The Magnificent Seven in Space. Good ol’ Commander Shepard strolls into Dodge to take on the seemingly impossible task of preventing a vicious band of outlaws from enslaving the townsfolk. Of course, he can’t do it alone and immediately sets out to recruit his own band of expendable misfits. His McQueen, Coburn and Bronson are Turian, Asari and Krogan but pack an equally weighted, heavyweight punch in an incredible final mission where one wrong move and it’s more like you’re playing Massacre Effect.

How anyone could dispute that ME2 is by far and away not only the best of the trilogy but also one of the all-time greatest games ever is baffling. Firstly, your squad is over double the size, meaning you can tailor your arsenal to suit the mission – unlike ME1 where you’re pretty much just going into every fight with Wrex and *insert love interest here*. Having the same conversation no matter who you choose and going into cut scenes knowing that they’ll repeat the same Renegade/Paragon drivel like the classic angel and devil on your shoulder. Give me ME2 any day where you have to think carefully about who you take so that Jack doesn’t kick off in the Cerberus base or that two girls you want to sleep with aren’t going to get wise to your polygamous plan.

When you’re not doing very linear missions that are pretty much just a copy and paste job of the last mission you did, you’re travelling in the Mako - the most pointless and boring vehicle in gaming history. I mean, it’s the year 2183, we’ve discovered faster than light travel, have fully aware synthetic AI and can scan an entire planet using a fancy holographic wrist watch. So why in this age are we riding around in a 6-wheeled, saloon version of the 60s moon-landing buggy? It’s so dull but not as dull as the planets you’re driving round at snail pace. I preferred wasting 20 minutes of valuable gaming time trying to take a shortcut over a mountain because it was infinitely more interesting than the unattractive, soulless journey around it – even if that trip would have taken half the time. Never have I played a game where driving felt more slow and painful than the M25 at rush hour. ME2 though, blew that boring piece of scrap out of the water when it gave us the Hammerhead. A hovering jet that was faster, quicker and more agile and manoeuvred with a distinct panache.

Don’t even get me started on the antagonists. A firefight with Saren on Virmire has him running for the hills like Bowser at the end of every Mario level ever - hardly putting the fear of God into the gamer. The Matriarch battle has the most pointless of endings where she dies no matter what choice you make and as for the Rachnii… it just reminded me of fighting radroaches in Fallout. In ME2 you take down a half-human half-reaper. yep REAPER. I mean, beats a bloke possessed. When you take down Sovereign, it’s pretty much just a mind-controlled husk…hardly comparable.

Thank God there’s no Ash in ME2. How on Earth are you supposed to save the universe with a nagging wife over your shoulder… imagine every time you pick Miranda or Jack having her moan “oh, you’re going out with HER again are you?” and making you feel guilty just because you need someone with the Shockwave biotic skill. No thanks. That’s all she did in ME1, whine. About how she got Kaiden killed, about how her father always wanted a boy about how she’s not good enough for you. Have some self-respect woman. I’m the first human spectre, lack of confidence isn’t exactly a turn-on. In ME2 though, you have to work for it as everyone plays hard to get. Much better than fishing in a very small pond where you pretty much have the choice – white or blue…?

Having this argument is like saying Alien is better than Aliens or Judgement Day is better than Terminator. In reality you couldn’t have the action-packed sequel without the taut, suspenseful original that sets the mood. Maybe ME2 is better but even if it is, and it’s a BIG if, it’s only because it had an almost perfect game to pick apart and try it’s best to improve on. At least there’s one thing FBT and I agree on – both are a million times better than ME3.

Mass Effect 1, 2007 | Mass Effect 2, 2010

Developer BioWare | Publisher Electronic Arts

platforms; win, PS3, XBox360