YMMV: Mass Effect 1

  • Anti-Climax Boss: Husk-Saren is pretty easy for a final boss. Bring a biotic character, even just one, with a maxed-out Lift and just have them use it so you can chip his health away while he's helplessly floating in the air. And due to the fact that there's a cutscene after you get his health, by the time it's over Lift should be finished recharging, which means you can repeat the process again, thus winning the fight without even taking a single hit. Without biotics (which are overpowered in general), however, it is an appropriately epic final battle.
  • Awesome Music: "M4 Part II" by Faunts, which plays over the credits.
  • Breather Boss: When compared to the bosses on Therum, Noveria and Feros, the Saren battle on Virmire is pretty straightforward.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Rachni warriors.
    • Geth snipers can kill Shepard in one hit on most difficulties, and, if you don't take them out quick, they will. Geth ghosts can be even worse, as they hop around and never stay still and use the exact same weapon.
    • Krogan enemies in general.
  • Ear Worm:
    • The Normandy's theme music.
    • If you are planning to do side quests, this.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: The franchise is generally praised for its deep setting, well-written characters, and extensive lore, but the first game is panned for its mediocre combat and poorly-designed inventory system. Many players prefer to set the game to its easiest setting in order to steamroll through the combat without having to pay as much attention to inventory management so that they can enjoy the story and, incidentally, create a save to import into the sequels, which have much-improved game mechanics.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Nihlus is surprisingly well-represented in discussions and fanworks, including mentions in subsequent games (in contrast, Jenkins is only brought up once) considering what a short-lived character he was.
  • Evil Is Cool: Saren Arterius from the first game is a well-liked villain for his badassery, intelligence, and cool voice. His master, Sovereign, is also widely regarded as Creepy Awesome.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Any biotic power or weapons talent can become a game breaker in the first game if maxed out. With the right build and the right specialization, Shepard can become a terrifying monster. Adept Shepard with a maxed-out Nemesis class can launch enemies across entire rooms and trap a dozen enemies in a building-sized Singularity field. Conversely, Bastion allows you to freeze enemies with Stasis and still do damage (without maxed Bastion, you can't damage them). This works on any enemy, rendering them completely helpless.
    • That's not counting some of the other powerful abilities, such as Shock Trooper dramatically reducing the recharge time on Adrenaline Burst, Medic allowing you to revive squadmates with medi-gel, and so on. This led to them becoming more balanced in the second game. In Mass Effect 2, biotic powers (with the exceptions of Warp and Reave, which are direct-damage powers that have no kinetic effects) no longer work on enemies who have a form of protection. All ability cooldowns have also been unified (when a character uses one of their abilities, all their abilities are unusable until said ability's cooldown period has finished). This led some fans to complain that this puts biotic classes like the Vanguard and Adept at a major disadvantage on Insanity. The Lift powers alone turn enemies into pinatas.
      • A maxed Lift alone bears mentioning because it works on everything. Yes, that includes Geth Armatures and Colossi. There's something indescribably hilarious about watching a twelve-foot-tall, ten-ton robotic artillery platform drifting helplessly skyward as you riddle it with assault-rifle slugs.
    • Maxed Immunity will make Shepard nearly invincible. And with the Shock Trooper specialization, Shepard will be able to reactivate it before it even deactivates. Or you can just slap a couple of Medical Exoskeleton X's on your armor and get the same effect, something Ashley and Wrex can do, too.
    • The Spectre Master Gear weapons when upgraded with good upgrades make cover and stopping firing to dissipate heat completely obsolete.
    • The Infiltrator is just as indestructible as a Soldier and with the bonus power of AI hacking (available only on a New Game+) can do everything an Engineer can. Their class ability allows them to avoid nearly all problems with weapons overheating and put the most powerful mods on without drawbacks. Equip a Spectre Pistol this way and turn on Marksman: you have achieved the highest possible damage-per-second ratio in the game. Alternatively, as per the below, hang way back, use a Spectre Sniper Rifle with two Rail Extension VI Is and Explosive Rounds (alternatively, your choice of highest-level Tungsten or Shredder rounds) and simply artillery your enemies to death.
    • Artificial Stupidity can happen in the planets you drop on and traverse with the Mako. Enemies can be so far away from you that putting your crosshair over them doesn't cause their name and health bar to pop up (which is possible pretty much all the time on said planets outdoors). If shot at from those ranges, they will fire back, but with expectedly ineffective accuracy, and never go toward you. Use a sniper rifle, attack any snipers they have first, and then you have all the time in the world to take out everything else with no chance of getting killed aside from maybe occasional rockets fired at you that can be easily seen and dodged by moving a bit to one side at such a range. Even Geth Armatures are only a matter of time, the same counter from the rockets applying to the energy balls they fire.
    • The Sentinel class or "Hey Kaidan's useful for more than unlocking crates after all!" When properly leveled up goes from looking like a wall-hugging joke at the start of the game to being able to curbstomp the Final Boss without taking ONE HIT using a spamming combo of Lift to make him a pinata, Overload to strip his shields and Sabotage to neuter his weapons, which is not even factoring in squadmates with more exotic powers like Damping in addition to just unloading on the poor bastard.
  • Gameplay Derailment: Ridiculously easy to pull off by taking advantage of a side mission that allows you to sell items for higher prices to a particular NPC. Then you can head to a different merchant and buy them back at the prices you originally would've gotten for them there, and pocket the rest. It's possible to unlock some very powerful weapons and have enough money to buy superior equipment for everyone before even leaving the Citadel. Not quite a Game Breaker, but it does help.
  • Genius Bonus: Binary Helix is working on a biological weapon for Saren based on a pesticide. Making it Saren Gas. Oy.
  • Goddamned Bats: Husks and Thorian Creepers.
  • Good Bad Bug: There are also a couple of occasions to completely max out your Paragon/Renegade scores in a couple of minutes; however, doing so corrupts your save files, and makes your actual decision in that scenario discounted in the sequel.
    • On Therum you are supposed to fight through the last bastion of geth including a Wake-Up Call Boss geth armature on foot as the Awesome Personnel Carrier you are in isn't normally supposed to be able to make it through a bottleneck in the terrain to reach that area. However, if you aim the Mako at that bottleneck just right, the Scrappy Mechanic that causes the Mako to flip vertically into the air, launches it past that bottleneck. You can then just blast your way past these enemies and reach the mine's entrance.
  • Growing the Beard: This game put BioWare on the map when it came to original properties. Before that, they had made highly acclaimed games in the Forgotten Realms and Star Wars settings, but this game was their first truly acclaimed fully-original title. Shortly afterward, they created Dragon Age and both franchises became the core of the company's game library.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Tali trying to defend herself when Shepard asks if the geth deserved to be killed in the Morning War makes her justification in very bad taste once you learn about what really happened in Mass Effect 3. When you go inside the Geth Conscious you learn that the geth never acted out of hatred but out of self-preservation. You also find that many Quarian Geth-sympathizers were killed for refusing to kill the geth and their paranoia was eerily similar to Tali's.
    Tali: "We made a mistake when we created the geth in the first place. But we didn't make a mistake when we went to war against them. If we had not acted, they would have wiped us out!"
    Tali: "The geth are not innocent victims in all this. They're the enemy. They want to destroy us. Not just the quarians all organic life."
    • Another one regarding Tali: She was initially supposed to see Fist, a Shadow Broker agent, to give the recording of Saren and Benezia to the Broker. Fist betrayed the Broker and was ordered by Saren to kill her. That could have been the extent of that arc; however, the Broker had ordered Fist to kill her as well. The only reason Tali survived that ordeal is because of Shepard.
    • Shepard, after abandoning either Kaidan or Ashley on Virmire, says that there is no "right choice" in that kind of situation, and s/he hopes she'll never have to make that decision again. Oh Shep, if only you knew. Just wait until Mass Effect 3, when you're making that same decision only this time it's between entire species.
    • A big factor in many peoples' hatred of the third game's ending is that it seems to be saying that Saren was right all along, and if you'd just helped him when he'd asked a lot of people would be better off. Of course, a lot of them disagree with that idea in the first place.
    • The mission where you destroy the Rogue VI on the moon becomes this when the third game reveals that you're shooting EDI. It gets worse: the white noise that you pick up at the end of the mission is binary for "HELP".
    • The embezzling AI you discover on the Citadel says that organics have only done two things with synthetic life - destroy them or control them. If only you'd realize how prophetic that was.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sounds the husks make are frightening, especially as is often difficult to tell where they're coming from.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • After stealing the Normandy, Wrex tells Shepard it was a "heavy risk...".
    • BioWare and Edge of Reality stated that "Pinnacle Station" wasn't included in the PS3 port due to the source files being corrupted. Even the game seems to have rebelled against That One Sidequest.
    • The day after Mass Effect 2 was anounced to be receiving a PS3 port, Microsoft released a statement symbollically beating their chests by reminding everyone that the first game, and all of the choices that carry to the sequel, was not doing the same & thus, the Xbox 360 was the only place to enjoy the full Mass Effect experience. Come November 2012, and the original game was released on PS3, thankfully by itself on the PSN Store as well as part of the Trilogy collection.
    • In a conversation with Ashley, we get this:
    Shepard: I don't think kissing turians will be necessary, Williams.
    Ashley: You never know, ma'am.
    • Cue, due to high demand, the potential Relationship Upgrade with Garrus in Mass Effect 2. This comment becomes even funnier, though, because the fans complained his Mass Effect 2 romance was kinda sterile. As such, he gets a gratuitous Big Damn Kiss in Mass Effect 3... meaning kissing turians was absolutely necessary.
    • Pretty black humour, but when you find Dr. Saleon, the geneticist who clones and harvests organs from living subjects, Garrus says "I'd harvest your organs, but we haven't got time." This same idea comes back later with Garrus's love of inflicting Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death as Archangel in Mass Effect 2.
  • Ho Yay: Since much of the dialogue Shepard had was originally meant to be potentially romantic before it was cut, there's a lot of this with Kaidan. It is made canon in ME3.
  • It Was His Sled: The Sadistic Choice on Virmire and the Reapers.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Saren. He's being manipulated and controlled by Sovereign and because of this he genuinely believes that he's doing the right thing. In the finale Shepard can make him realize this (it's implied he already knew but was unable to act on it because of Sovereign's control), which causes him to commit suicide to atone. Even before he found Sovereign, supplemental materials imply that he only became a bigoted Knight Templar because his older brother was killed by humans during the First Contact War. The Evolution comics reveal this to be a shameless lie. Saren himself had to kill his brother via orbital strike because said brother was indoctrinated by a Reaper artifact found on Shanxi and was creating an army of Marauders.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Saren, even long before discovering Sovereign to Anderson, but for the rest of the galaxy, the attack on Eden Prime.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • The NPC combat taunts: "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "GO GO GO!" "I WILL DESTROY YOU!" "TAKE COVER!" "YOU MUST DIE!" Did we mention the computer likes to use one of these three taunts every 2 seconds or so? Enemy krogan shout "Look out!" every other second as well.
    • "I will destroy you!" crossed over into Memetic Mutation and Ascended Meme in the second and third games as Jack's Catch Phrase. Thankfully, repeated a lot less often and Played for Laughs in the threequel.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The level-up sound is awesome enough to make the arduous task of killing enemies like Geth Colossi or Thresher Maws worth it, especially trying to kill them on foot instead of aboard the Mako.
  • Never Live It Down: The most common reason brought up by people who dislike Kaidan Alenko is that he supposedly keeps whining about his headaches. In reality, it is only brought up once by him (and also just once by Dr Chakwas), and he doesn't even complain, he just mentions it.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Vigil. Players actually felt sorry for the VI.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The Mako in general, and long elevator rides.
  • Special Effect Failure: The way corpses frozen by your Cryo Rounds explode won't look out of place on the ZX Spectrum.
    • You can see the Ascension pass by the Citadel from the Wards. Good luck getting a good look at it, though, because for some reason, it doesn't block any light from the star in the background.
  • Strangled by the Red String: It is very easy to unwittingly end up in a relationship with Ashley or Kaidan. You basically have to be a complete asshole or not talk to them at at all to avoid it.
    • There's also a bug with Liara's romance where, by selecting a line meant to close it out ('I just want to be friends') actually locks it in.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The song Final Assault is almost the exact same as the 1984 Dune theme from 1:50 in. The music where yo go to save Tali on the Citadel is also similar to the Blade Runner theme.
  • That One Achievement: The achievements that require playing through the majority of the game with each individual squad member. This includes the sidequests and such.
    • Made easier if you have the Pinnacle Station and Bring Down the Sky DLC.
  • That One Attack:
    • Acid attacks from the thresher maws and rachni completely bypass your shields, no matter how strong they are.
    • Also, in this game only, melee attacks do the same thing, which means ME1 is the one and only game in the trilogy where ordinary Husks pose any threat.
  • That One Boss:
    • The krogan battlemaster on Therum, at least if you go there early. Some classes may find the fight easier, however, such as the Soldier.
    • Matriarch Benezia, mostly because of the asari commandos and geth snipers that help her...and because this is often not only one of the hardest fights in the game, but also the most prone to glitches, making it a Luck-Based Mission for many (if Benezia decides to start throwing magically cover-ignoring Warps at you, you're done). Try not to get hit with a neural shock when Benezia switches out her flunkies either, or you'll end up warping out of the map.
    • Therum has a Geth Armature you must fight on foot before you can even enter the building Liara is trapped in. To make it more fun, there are Sapper drones jumping all around you and sniping at you in case you decide to find a cover spot and stay there to avoid the Armature's One-Hit Kill siege pulse.
  • That One Level:
    • Those who don't completely hate the Mako still admit scaling mountains are no fun to traverse in a vehicle ill-suited to do so. Pray that the planet you land on isn't 80% mountain. Similarly, any planet where you can fall into a ravine surrounded on all sides by cliff faces, forcing you to return to the Normandy to get decent traction again.
      • Even amongst the planets of this game, Nodacrux stands out above the rest as the worst, where almost everything on the map is surrounded by mountains with no traction available ANYWHERE.
    • Ahern's special mission in the Pinnacle Station DLC has you Hold the Line for 5 minutes against a seemingly endless horde of Turians who rush you, spam Sabotage to neuter your weapon and even fire rockets at you on a map with no real cover to speak of. And don't forget the two well positioned snipers who will end you if you try to present a moving target. Sure, you have rocket turrets assisting you, but they can get really nasty if enemies mob you, resulting in that turret taking you out.
    • The Beseiged Base assignment that unlocks only for high Paragons. It is a hostage rescue mission against biotic terrorists, and the hostages are drugged so they keep randomly walking around. Not a problem if you don't care about the hostages but having to deal with biotic enemies while carefully checking fire can get really tough.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • The game was bad with these. They can all be described the same way: Even players who have played multiple times lose track of them all, and it is kind of a pain running around and collect them. Included are:
      • Finding all the keepers on the Citadel.
      • Finding all the Resources.
      • Finding all the Matriarch's writings.
      • Finding all the turian symbols.
      • Finding all the salarian League of One members.
    • The Volcano Hunt mission in Pinnacle Station. You get more time on the clock for each enemy you kill, but the amount of time you get back is progressively less for each one. You will want to put your keyboard/controller through the screen after coming up 2 kills short of the top score for the 10th time. For some reason, the Volcano map is the only one with this problem - with the others, a sufficiently skilled player can keep the mission going indefinitely and have no problem racking up enough kills.
    • The rogue VI assignment on Luna. You have to clear three bases full of hovering drones that can kill you in one hit. And the shields it throws up over the consoles and doorways. It's meant to be a disturbing, desperate last means of defending itself, but just becomes tedious. The class specialization choice you get as a reward almost makes up for it, though.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Many feel that Nihlus was way underused and could've served as a cool mentor-figure/party member.
    • Shiala is one of The Dreaded asari commandos who even the Turians consider the finest warriors in the galaxy, she wants to make amends for what she did while indoctrinated, and she has the Prothean cipher. Plus she has a few centuries worth of not just life experience but combat experience too. She could have made for an interesting and compelling squadmate.
  • Too Cool to Live: Nihlus is a hardboiled Spectre built up as a badass as well a potential mentor, and he dies very quickly to establish what kind of guy Saren is.
    • He gets a decent back-story in Mass Effect 2, if you talk to Samara. Apparently Nihlus was so badass that he was able to stop her from killing him simply by using her own justicar code against her and allowing him to escape.