If you picked up Mass Effect 3 on the WiiU, you’re already familiar with this. This is basically a piece of DLC that acts as a flashy intro to the game replacing an import from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 so that Shepard has a few of the monumental decisions set up for Mass Effect 3. Base Mass Effect 3 makes some pretty big assumptions on the end of the player, really only letting you pick your Virmire Survivor from the first game and making some pretty disastrous assumptions otherwise on what Shepard did, at least if you’re planning on playing a Paragon. What you get then for your $3.99 is the Genesis comic from Mass Effect 2 which you should already have if you have Mass Effect 2 or the Mass Effect Trilogy on the PS3, updated with choices from Mass Effect 2 after the Mass Effect section. Is it worth it though? That’s debatable.
I imagine it’s hard to boil two forty-hour gaming experiences down to a set of twelve decisions that you make over the course of thirty minutes with large sections, we’re talking whole planets and recruitment missions, from both games utterly missing from the beginning comic intro, but it does bring you up to speed if you’ve never played before to get you into Mass Effect 3 giving you a bit more control over some of the events that led you here so you’re not completely screwed over when you get into this one, but there are some pretty big things that’ll be missing. Basically the default start of Mass Effect 3 is what happens if you let the writers of Supernatural make all your decisions for you in the first two games and then you have to pick up the pieces.
So what six choices do you get from each previous game? For Mass Effect you get to choose a love interest or if you didn’t have one at all, the fate of the Rachni Queen, the fate of Wrex on Virmire, Kaidan or Ashley biting it on Virmire, the fate of the council, and finally who gets to be the human representative on the Council. No real change from Mass Effect 2‘s Genesis comic, but this cuts out the Thorian and your choices there, the extra side missions including Conrad, and a few other little things that do crop up in the second and third game. I believe this also assumes you didn’t back up the Salarians on Virmire, meaning no Kirrahe returning in Mass Effect 3, which is disappointing. My biggest issue with the first part of the comic is the almost total lack of the Geth being the major enemy of the game while there is huge talk of the Reapers and Saren. We do see them working for Saren, but by the time you would run into them in Mass Effect 3 you probably wouldn’t have made the connection.
What about Mass Effect 2‘s choices? I haven’t played through the whole of Mass Effect 3 with this so I don’t know the full impact of some of these, but I can give a few details. You get to pick how many squadmates you recruited, all or just the bare minimum, whether you chose to resolve conflicts between the squadmates, Miranda and Jack, Tali and Legion. Now this one threw me for a loop because I know it doesn’t register the Shadow Broker DLC at all if you select this either way, but if you stayed true to your friends from Mass Effect or moved on, meaning Liara and Kaidan/Ashley. I’m guessing it decides whether you’re a complete ass to both of them or not and it’s all or nothing. The comic then makes the assumption that you immediately went for the Reaper IFF instead of completing all the side missions, which means you have to make the choice of finishing upgrading the ship so you don’t lose half your squad on the suicide mission or letting all of your crew get juiced by the Collectors with the exception of Doctor Chakwas. From there you get to decide whether you were faithful or picked up a new romance. On the Renegade Male Shepard I made up to test this I had both Miranda and Tali as options or to have no romance at all. Jack was in the picture but not an option. I don’t know if that changes with a Paragon based Shepard or not. I haven’t gotten a chance to try that or a Female Shepard start. Lastly comes the decision whether to pass the buck on the Collector Base to the Illusive Man or blow it out of the sky.
So what changes from the base default game without this? For Mass Effect, you have the option to save Wrex, the Rachni Queen, the Council, the choice of Councilor for humanity, and your love interest. You still don’t get DLC or side mission credit and Feros is still out. For Mass Effect 2 you can now pick up all your squadmates or just enough, save or destroy the Collector Base, pick a romance, save your squad or the crew when before you lost a good chunk of both, but you still don’t have credit for the DLC which means no mention of what Shepard may have done in Arrival or the Shadow Broker and Overlord.
This does give you some control over what you may or may not experience going into Mass Effect 3 but nowhere near as if you’d actually played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and imported. Honestly, I won’t ever pick this up for my PC as I can manually edit those save games for import if I choose to, but I don’t have that option on the PS3 and sometimes I just like to jump into the more recent game in the series. This does give you a little more flexibility without having to play the other games, but not nearly enough for my taste. My other issue, and I had this with Genesis on Mass Effect 2 when I tried that is that the pacing for the comic is terrible. While the narration by your given Shepard isn’t too bad, there’s no big reveals, no lead ups and they basically just lay it out and dump the story on you like a bad mission report that might have been scrapped a few times before it ended up here anyway. The art is okay, not fantastic, but gets the point across. It’s only worth the $3.99 if you plan on using it more than a few times and don’t have 40-80 hours to put into the other two games but don’t want one of the worst starts to the end of the trilogy.
Short Attention Span Summary
Mass Effect Genesis 2 is for those people who aren’t going to bother with the first two games, or those who just want to play Mass Effect 3 fresh but want a little more say in how things went instead of just about the worst setup imaginable. You get twelve choices in all for your four dollars and about thirty minutes of narrated comics to help what passes for a recap, lacking any real drama or gravitas, to set you on your way at the start of Mass Effect 3. The bonus to this version over the one from Mass Effect 2 is it doesn’t land just after the first section of the game, but instead right after you make your character so while the comic pacing isn’t great it doesn’t break the rhythm of the actual game at all. All in all worth it for my PS3 as I like options, but I’d never consider it on the PC as I can edit save games and import. It all depends on how you’re going to use it.