My Top 10 Moments In the Mass Effect Series

Mass Effect has been on my mind a lot lately. I recently began streaming the series over on my Twitch.tv channel which has resurrected my ultimate love of the series as a whole. I’ve also been saving the money to buy the trilogy for the PlayStation 3, and I just can’t wait to replay it and create the best Shepard ever! I have previously stated in my ’25 Days of Favorites’ posts that the Mass Effect series is my favorite game series of all time. I can’t get over how great the games are and how much I (and others) can connect with them on such an intensely emotional level.

In this post I plan on sharing my top 10 favorite moments in the series, though if I were to detail all my favorites this would be more like a top 50+ article. These 10 moments always stand out in my mind as the most memorable and intriguing in the game, they are the most noteworthy in the series to me. They are in no particular order, mind you, just separated by game. They numbers are merely superficial way of writing them, since it would be too difficult for me to actually order them. Don’t forget to read the warning below, and let’s get started!

**WARNING! Spoilers for all three Mass Effect games ahead. Read on at your own discretion!**

10.  Meeting Sovereign (Mass Effect)

“You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.”

The meeting with Sovereign is the first time in which Commander Shepard encounters a Reaper. We learn that they are massive, ancient, synthetic creatures that are bent on destroying life as we know it. This moment really stands out since it’s one of the first mind = blown instances in Mass Effect. It’s like everything you though was wrong. Sovereign is not just Saren’s ship made of Reaper technology, but it’s actually a Reaper itself. Throughout the conversation Sovereign demeans you and treats you almost like an ignorant child. The way in which it speaks and explains is frightening and overwhelming, it sends shivers down my spine every time. It’s a precursor of what is to come later on in the series while fighting against the Reapers, we see how cold and heartless they truly are in this moment for the first time.

9. Confronting Saren (Mass Effect)

"Goodbye Commander Shepard. Thank you..."

“Goodbye Commander Shepard. Thank you…”

Meeting up with Saren at the end of Mass Effect on the Citadel is bittersweet. On one hand, it feels so good to finally have him in your sights, but on the other it’s sad to see what he has truly become. At the beginning of this confrontation Saren confesses that Shepard’s previous comments regarding his indoctrination on Virmir began to eat away at him, and that doubt formed. He states that Sovereign helped him though, and made him stronger through his implants and soon tries to recruit Shepard to join Sovereign. Shepard states that the implants are how Saren is being controlled and Saren is quick to realize that Shepard is right. He recognizes that his mind is no longer his own and that Sovereign has ultimate control. He is too late in this realization though, and he feels it’s too late for him but that Shepard has a chance. Saren commits suicide to break the bond with Sovereign but is brought back to life for the final battle. I love the emotion in this scene, watching Saren go from ultimate badass to weak and powerless is hard. In the end, we see that Saren is not really the bad guy here and that is why this scene is so great.

8. Getting Spaced (Mass Effect 2)

"Shepard!!!"

“Shepard!!!”

At the beginning of the game we watch a cinematic in which the Normandy is attacked by an unknown enemy. Shepard works hard to save everyone but ultimately sacrifices her (or his) own life in the process. Instead of leaving Joker to go down with the ship, Shepard runs in and pulls him out of the cockpit, telling him that he has to let the ship go. On the way to Joker you walk through the CIC and see the entire area blown apart, the ceiling completely gone and full of empty space. It’s quiet since at this point you are in space and the scene is just a big “WOW” moment. When Joker is put into an escape pod and explosion separates Shepard and she ejects him, leaving herself high and dry. Throughout the series I have loved the bond between Shepard and her crew, her willingness to sacrifice her own life to save others is commendable and this is the first time we really see that in her. She dies and is taken in by Cerberus to be rebuilt, so we don’t lose her forever, but what an opening scene that was.

7. The Birth of the Normandy SR-2 (Mass Effect 2)

“And there’s this. They only told me last night.”

Ok, this moment may come as a strange one to pick for a top 10 list, but I must say that it is one of the most simply brilliant moments in the series for me. The reuniting with Joker sets the scene. You talk with him briefly about what happened in the two years that you have been gone and he mentions that the Council took it all away and wanted to hide what Shepard accomplished in Mass Effect. Joker says “The Alliance took away the one thing that mattered to me. Hell yeah I joined Cerberus” only to lead you up to a window in which you see the new Normandy for the first time. The cinematics of the scene really get me, and that music? Oh gosh, it brings tears to my eyes. This moment is one of the best moments in all three games for me, it embodies so much yet appears to be so simple. I love it.

6. Recruiting Archangel (Mass Effect 2)

"Shepard. I thought you were dead."

“Shepard. I thought you were dead.”

Those of you that know me had to have seen this one coming. When I first played Mass Effect 2, I obviously had no clue who Archangel was so when I finally saw that is was Garrus I squealed like a little school girl. Garrus is amazing, and my hands down all time favorite Mass Effect character. I always romance him and I always bring him on every mission in all three games. That’s just how much I love the guy. This recruitment mission was full of all kinds of feelings for me. At first I was ecstatic about seeing Garrus again and recruiting him for the game. He’s an all around Turian bad boy after all. Then, things got dark when we started to get overwhelmed with enemies and I could tell it was taking a toll on Garrus. He was being worn down for days before I even got there, so I could imagine that he was probably ready to just go to sleep where he was standing. Finally, he takes a missile to the face and I initially thought he was dead. I mean, he was laying in a pool of his own blood while gargling. Thinking it was the end of him, I shouted “NOOOOOOOOO!” ala Darth Vader but was then pleasantly surprised to see him again back on the ship with some battle scars, but still breathing. This scene/moment/mission is one of my favorites in all of Mass Effect 2.

5. The Suicide Mission (Mass Effect 2)

"I'm not going alone, I've got some of the best working with me. If we stick together, we'll make it."

“I’m not going alone, I’ve got some of the best working with me. If we stick together, we’ll make it.”

This is more than just a moment, it’s more the entire last quarter of the game, but overall it’s just amazing. I loved being able to basically use all of my team in all of their strong points, and the risk of losing anyone at any time made the whole thing so intense. Luckily enough, I saved everyone except one person on my very first playthrough and immediately went back through the mission after I was finished to make a better choice and save that person. I didn’t use any guides either, so I’m a bit proud of that. This mission is a great conclusion to an amazing game. It left me with a very good feeling of accomplishment and made me belive that I did all the right things. I wont detail all the things I did since well, that would not only take too long, it would be boring. I’ll just say that my choices made sense to me and made my team stronger and more powerful. Plus, that human Reaper at the end? That was creepy.

4. The Reapers Attack (Mass Effect 3)

"It's a fight we cannot win. Not without help."

“It’s a fight we cannot win. Not without help.”

Another opening scene makes the list, but I must say that this one is as much deserved as the last one. My favorite part about this scene as a whole is that it foreshadows the rest of the game. By that I mean we get to see Shepard ‘win’ or accomplish getting to the Normandy while protecting Anderson, but we also see her lose when the rescue ships get destroyed. That strange connection with the little boy who tells Shepard “You can’t help me” then goes off to get killed when the rescue ships are destroyed scars Shepard emotionally, which is made evident by her dreams throughout the game. There are about 7 individual moments/scenes in Mass Effect 3 that always make me cry every time I play the game – and this is one of those scenes. It’s like you can just feel that sharp pain in the expression on Shepard’s face, it is so sad. The gameplay throughout this whole opening sequence was great too, a really good way to reacquaint yourself with the game and learn the new aspects Mass Effect 3 had to offer. Overall, a very intense and memorable moment.

3. Losing to Kai Leng (Mass Effect 3)

"There's only one way this ends."

“There’s only one way this ends.”

I am specifically talking about that scene in Thessia in which Kai Leng takes the Prothean device and gets away with it after kicking Shepard’s ass and almost killer her and her squadmates. I loved and hated this moment. This is the first time we truly see Shepard lose a battle. It pissed me off to see that jackass Kai Leng take the thing I worked so hard to get then just walk away, leaving me with nothing to show but a few injuries. It was one of the worst feelings for me, I didn’t know whether to be angry or to cry, so I did both. I love that it evoked so much emotion though, it was one of those moments where you just feel a bit lost. Luckily Shepard get’s her revenge on Kai Leng later on for this and for the death of Thane (which is another moment that made me cry uncontrollably), and saying “That was for Thane, you son of a bitch” was so gratifying after all he had done.

2. The Citadel DLC (Mass Effect 3)

"I should go, I SHOULD go, I should GO."

“I should go, I SHOULD go, I should GO.”

This one isn’t quite a single moment either, but again I felt it deserved a space on this list. The Citadel DLC was a great way to cheer players like me up. Mass Effect 3 is one of those games that I just need a nap after, since the emotional toll just takes the energy right out of me. Playing through the comically cheesy dialog and fun reunions in the Citadel DLC just made me smile, laugh, and be generally happy. I felt that players really needed something like that since the game itself was so heavy, plus seeing all your friends from past games and having a fantastic party with them was absolutely entertaining to the max. One of the best things about this DLC though is that there is so much to it. The fights, the romance, the fun, it’s all so great! When I saw that it was $15 I thought that was a bit steep, but after playing it I realized it was well worth the money. Hell, I would have gladly spent $20 on it. It was that good.

1. The Final Choice (Mass Effect 3)

“Through her death, I was created. Through my birth, her thoughts were freed.  They guide me now, give me reason, direction.”

At the end of the game players must choose what they want to do: control the Reapers, destroy them, or synthesis. It was a hard choice, but I ultimately chose to control them. By this time in the game I had come to respect The Illusive Man to a certain extent, I knew that while he himself was evil and indoctrinated, his idea of controlling the Reapers was a good plan. He could never have carried it out, but I could. With the extended cut added and more explanation of my choice, I grew to love what I did. Not only was I controlling the Reapers and helping to rebuild, I was able to protect my friends and the galaxy forever. I died to protect everyone else. That is what I loved, and that was the most Paragon thing I could have done. I played through all the choices individually but I still prefer the control choice over all the others.

~~~~~~

Well that wraps up this top 10 list. It was hard to choose just 10 moments, but I think I did a pretty good job of representing my personal favorites. What is your favorite moment in the series? Share your thoughts and opinions, I’d love to read them since everyone plays and views these games a little differently. Thanks for reading, be sure to look out for more ‘Top 10’ lists in the future here on linksaveszelda.com!

10 thoughts on “My Top 10 Moments In the Mass Effect Series

  1. Great list! 🙂 I agree with a lot of what you have here. I really enjoyed the confrontation with Saren just before the final boss fight. At first it was about catching the bad guy, but then it becomes more about feeling sorry for this guy who ended up losing full control of his mind and no longer knowing what he stood for anymore. This game is so amazing. Like you said, the emotions this game manages to draw out from you is incredible.

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    • Indeed. That scene with Saren surprised me, like you said it turned from catching the guy to feeling bad for him. To this day very few games have made me actually shed tears, and the Mass Effect series has done it not only once, but multiple times in multiple games. They are just so well done!

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  2. For me number one will always be the entirety of the suicide mission. I work Shep’s arse off to get everything ready and it pays off and is amazing. The final choice just makes me incredibly sad, not even in the top thirty for me.
    And anything involving kai lame is just bollocks. I shot that mofo in the face with a black widow equipped with disruptor ammo while his shield was recharging and it didn’t do a damn thing, when it obliterated anything less than a banshee or brute.
    The overlord culmination and LotSB seem much more fitting and memorable. Hell, stopping the reapers wth a huge motherfracking asteroid and verbally flipping off harbinger was pretty sweet too.

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    • The Overlord and Shadowbroker DLC’s were indeed very awesome. I think that all the DLC for all thw games was suprisingly good. I never played one I didn’t enjoy. 🙂

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  3. For me no.1 is simply all the romance cutscene and conversation. I really fell in love with the character of Mass Effect and it kills me to know there’s no more Shepard. That feeling you get when your character kiss the women you love in the game. If you are that stupid hopeless romantic that I am it just an incredible feeling.

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    • I know exactly what you mean. The bonds formed with our romantic interests and other characters in the game are strong and emotional. It really was fantastic to see the relationships pan out and flourish in the way they did.

      The best part is that everyone has a different experience. It makes the game so dynamic and starts up conversations. Like how I romanced Garrus and a friend romanced Tali and we shared thoughts on how we didn’t like that those two got together since they were ours to be with and so on. It’s great!

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  4. For me, the part of the suicide mission that stood out the most was the jump. When Shepherd makes a leap of faith to the normandy as everything is collapsing around him. Across a distance he’s not sure he canmake to a man who can’t possibly help him without serious injury (although he does). I didn’t realise I’d been holding my breath while Shepherd hung in the air, moving oh so slowly towards salvation. When he finally stepped through that airlock my held breath exploded and I fell back into my seat…drained. Amazing.

    I totally agree about the defeat, seeing Shep leaning on the bullkhead, lost, watching the comms beep and not wanting to answer because of what he has to say said more about the character than most films establish in hours. He has the weight of the galaxy on his shoulders and, in that moment, it shows but…

    the one moment that chokes me up even typing about it now is Thane’s passing. (I use passing as opposed to death because it was a gentle moment, a quiet moment in this mostly loud and fast paced story). When you read the prayer with Kolyat as Thane drifts away is heartbreaking enough but when Shep questions the need for the prayer and the reveal comes that it was not for Thane, it was for you…bam…I was emotionally shattered. his final action was one of friendship. I’ve never experienced anything like it in a game…ever and I suspect I never will again. It was probably the single greatest cut scenes I have ever seen because of what it did to me, what it made me feel.

    Good list Ladycroft3, I can’t argue with any of your choices but only add to it. there’s too many great moments in this trillogy to count.

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    • Thank you! I totally agree that there are just too many awesome moments in this trilogy to count, let alone list separately haha. The whole series is one big fantastic collection of amazing moments.

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      • I have one other to add and I have no idea why it popped into my head after all this time, well…I do but I’ll get to that later.

        At the end of ME3, in London where you go around and have one last conversation with all your surviving friends. I use the term friends because by this time that’s what they are, they have transcended being simply ‘video game characters’.

        The bit I mean is with Liara, when she gives you her ‘gift’. I’ve seen this in two ways, one when she was my romance character and one where Tali was my romance character as she was more often than not (what can I say, I’m a sucker for goofy mechanic girls…aaah…Kayleigh Frye…there’s another one).

        I’m still not overly sure of the significance of what she shows you but when Tali and Shep are silhouetted and she simply links arms with Shep and rests her head on his/her shoulder, it speaks volumes of the value she places on Shep’s friendship and support throughout their time together a small act of kindness in a very dark time. It is a nice little touch that Bioware didn’t need to add but they did and kudos to them for that.

        No, wait…as I typed that I think I got it. She’s giving Shep a brief respite from the horror, if only for a moment. Just a small break, a little bit of peace before throwing themself into the very face of doom. (poetic, eh?)

        What reminded me? I was watching my little girl in a school play with the mrs and she did the very same thing and, while I ‘got’ the scene in ME3, in that moment I properly got it. It was trust, pride, happiness, love and a shared experience.

        Not that I use video games as an emotional barometer. What would Shepherd do? is not a mantra I live by, it was just a case of life imitating art and giving me a wider understanding of said art.

        Having said that, after playing the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, walking around town got a LOT more interesting and I’m thinking I should lay off the GTA for a while.

        Also, maybe not take up so much room on your page with my ramblings.

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      • That’s a very moving way to describe that scene 🙂 I also love that scene and have seen it through my Liara romance and my other romances like Garrus and Traynor. Well said though, there isn’t much more I can add!

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