The Single Play-through.

The long awaited trilogy ender Mass Effect 3 came out yesterday.  I picked up my copy from GameStop, pausing quickly to ensure the cover is set to FemShep, came home and got everything ready.  I set about migrating over my save games from the previous ME games, just as I had done before.  Thankfully, it didn’t take long since I only have the single character, the single play through.  One run, one set of decisions, one story….my Shepard story.

Mass Effect is one of those epic adventures that BioWare has created to have a bazillion different choices along the way and different outcomes.  They do this to increase the playability of the game.  It’s a great idea and it makes the game full of possibilities.  The problem I have with this is that the story is not done yet.  I haven’t reached the end.

People have told me that it’s like reading a book more than once, or watching your favorite movie again.  The difference being that, when I do that, it’s the same story.  It hasn’t changed, branched off, turned evil.  All of the decisions in the book/movie are the ones I enjoyed and delight in experiencing because they still lead in the direction of the ending.

Mass Effect allows you to change the path you take to the ending so drastically that it could be considered (and often is) a different story.  This isn’t so bad except that I knew that it wasn’t over yet.  Mass Effect 3 is supposed to be the ending we are all waiting for.

Imagine if you will, you are watching Star Wars: Episode IV.  The first watch through is great, you are rooting for this young do-gooder Luke who flirts with Leia, crys over his aunt and uncles deaths and then goes off and helps the rebels win against the evil empire.  Now, say you watch it again, only this time, Luke abandons his aunt and uncle, flirts with Chewbacca, sells out Han Solo to Jabba, and steals the Falcon to use on the Death Star run to blow up the Death Star, only to demand money from the rebels to do so.

Now you have to wait till Empire Strikes back comes out.  You are now invested in two very different story lines.  Yes, you can play them individually, but when it comes to an important decision in the next installment, The good side was ok, but the bad was so much fun and OH MY GOD WHAT DO I PICK?!?!?!

By playing through just the once, from 2007, when ME1 came out, to now, I have had one story.  My Shepard story.  I lived with my decisions, be they good or bad, I have made my choices, and lost a few people.  When I wander around the ship, I get flashbacks to events that happened there.  They are not muddled with other play-throughs, they are the memories of Shepard, they are my memories.  No confusion, no regrets.

Now, I need to get back, apparently the world needs saving…..again.

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