Gosh, isn't Mass Effect brilliant? It's got it all, hasn't it - bits in space, smooth-talking sidekick Garrus, more stuff to do with space, the no-nonsense player character Commander Shepard and even fighting in space. Some bits are still better than others, mind, and here's some of our favourite moments from the first two games in the series. Do you have any other particular highlights that stand out? Let us know..
Please be warned that this article is riddled with spoilers relating to Mass Effect 1 and 2. Don't read on if you want to play either of the first two games without knowing key plot points.
If you want to relive the very best moments from the first two games, click next and don't moan if massive spoilers are presented in glaring detail.
Saren's grimy fate
Like Shepard, Saren Arterius is a Spectre, a group of elite operatives who have free reign in stamping out crime in the galaxy however they see fit. Unlike Shepard, though, he's gone rogue and is up to no good. After spending an entire game chasing him around the galaxy in Mass Effect 1, you realise he's actually a bit of a pathetic character - he's been completely corrupted by his villainous overlord Sovereign, who is revealed to be a member of the life-hating Reapers, a bio-organic race of nasties who stomp over the universe every few thousand millennia. If you've levelled up your smooth talking skills, you can convince Saren that he should probably kill himself - but whatever you do he'll end up twisted and corrupted into a spindly, mindless husk that you've got to put down. Poor guy.
The attack on the Normandy
Mass Effect 2 opens with a bang - literally. Appearing out of nowhere, an unknown alien ship appears and attacks Shepard's experimental spaceship, the Normandy SR-1. Powerless to stop the attack, the crew attempts an evacuation, with Shepard heading to the cockpit in a bid to assist Joker, the ship's fragile pilot (voiced by Seth Green). Joker makes it out, but Shepard does not. The scene ends in almost complete silence, with Shepard blown out of the destroyed Normandy and painfully suffocating in space. Ouch.
Mordin singing Gilbert and Sullivan
The quick-thinking, borderline-schizophrenic Mordin is one of the best new characters in Mass Effect 2. He carries plenty of emotional baggage - he is directly responsible for altering the genetics of another of Mass Effect's major races - but is also one of the jolliest characters in the game. Chat to him for long enough and he'll even sing his own version of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Finding out exactly what's going on
Towards the end of the first Mass Effect, Shepard travels to mysterious planet, Ilos, and stumbles upon a virtual intelligence - Vigil - that explains the situation: the truth about the Mass Effect relays, the identity of the Reapers, and their plans for the universe. He also reveals that the Citadel is a Reaper trap, and is actually a Mass Effect relay used to summon the dormant Reaper armada. The goal of the Reapers, it is revealed, is to harvest all organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years, and they were the ones who wiped out the Protheans, another ancient race which left the artifact that imprinted Shepard's mind with information about the Reapers at the start of the game. It's the much-needed moment of context that sets up the original game, as well as framing the Reaper's motivations that becomes a central plot point of Mass Effect 2 and 3.
I've had enough of your disingenuous assertions!
Mass Effect is a series that prides itself on choice, and many in-game conversations allow for multiple methods of resolution. Few sequences are more indicative of this than when you're hounded by roving reporter Khalisah al-Jilani in both games, who fires off loaded questions and attempts to stain your reputation. You can either let her continue her interview, or just knock her out. I imagine that's how BioWare co-founder Dr Ray Muzyka feels whenever he's interviewed by yet another games journalist.
Discovering the identity of Archangel
Garrus Vakarian is one of Mass Effect's most popular characters, and with good reason. A turian agent, he sets himself up as Shepard's second-in-command in the first Mass Effect. Leaving his post with the Citadel security force in the first game, he's a dogmatic hothead who can't stand bureaucracy and wants to fix all the world's wrongs. Upon starting Mass Effect 2, his whereabouts are unknown.
That is, until Shepard is told to recruit a genius vigilante known as Archangel from the criminal haven of Omega. Archangel has caused so much commotion amongst the criminal underworld that the three biggest mercenary groups have decided to work together to take him down - an alliance previously unheard of. Upon finding Archangel, Shepard realises that it's Garrus, and the two work together to escape the mercenaries. Garrus has half his face blown off by a gunship, but still manages to make a wisecrack about it. Garrus is great.
The Suicide Mission
Mass Effect 2 revolves entirely around one thing: the Suicide Mission. Shepard discovers that the Collectors - the Reaper slave race that were behind the attack on the Normandy at the start of the game - are located behind the Omega 4 relay, a Mass Effect relay from which no-one has ever returned. Shepard must then prime his crew and ship, the revamped Normandy SR-2, for a one-way assault on the Collectors.
After finally heading through the Omega 4 relay, the Normandy arrives in a massive field of debris made up of thousands of destroyed spaceships. The Normandy has to fight the Collectors' automated defence system, Oculus, and approaches the Collector base, which is in orbit around a black hole. Before reaching the base, Shepard and crew must also fight the Collector cruiser, which destroyed the Normandy SR-1 at the start of the game. If you've got a fully upgraded Normandy your lasers slice through the ship like butter, but if you haven't been paying attention up to three of your crew members can be killed.
After entering the base, Shepard discovers that the Collectors have been harvesting the human race to build a new Reaper, this one a human-Reaper hybrid. Upon killing the mechanical monster, Shepard escapes from the Collector base as the rest of the Reaper armada awakens at the edges of the galaxy.
Deciding the fate of the Geth heretics
Legion, part of the sentient robotic lifeforms known as the Geth, has a mission that is perhaps one of the more perplexing uses of player choice, however. Upon finding out that a band of Geth heretics have developed a Reaper virus that could corrupt the minds of the regular Geth, you assault the main base of the heretics. Eventually you are posed with a choice: do you rewrite the virus and use it on the heretic Geth, or do you simply blow up the station? The former option poses an issue - you won't kill your foes, but what right does anyone have to control the minds of others? Mind control is a trick used by series antagonists the Reapers, after all. It's a difficult decision with no simple answer.
When EDI gets full control of the Normandy
EDI is the AI of the Normandy SR-2, and AI is a thorny subject in the Mass Effect universe. Whenever a race has tried to create a robotic intelligence, it has usually gone mental and run amok. The lesson here: do not trust artificial intelligence.
Unfortunately, Joker has no choice but to trust artificial intelligence after the Collectors board the Normandy towards the end of Mass Effect 2. With Shepard away on a mission, Joker has to crawl through the ship (as its crew get captured by the enemy) and give EDI full and complete control over the Normandy.
Will the Illusive Man have some way of turning EDI against you in Mass Effect 3?
The attack on the Citadel
The original Mass Effect's blockbuster finale features an entire armada, backed by alien warship the Destiny Ascension, attacking Reaper emissary Sovereign as he attempts to destroy the Citadel - a massive space station that serves as the political, financial and cultural centre of the galaxy. It's an epic sci-fi space battle that's good enough to put most of Star Wars to shame.