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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!