My gaming habits for the past few years have been very socially driven. Games like Left 4 Dead 2, Borderlands 2, and my horrible not-brief stint with World of Warcraft. Every once and a while, I start a game that is so engrossing and immersive that I will plunge in both feet and get lost. This is more true of Mass Effect than almost any game I've ever played.
The Mass Effect franchise is a huge branching story that really puts the player in the hot seat for making important and impactful decisions. I would never have imagined such an ambitious game would hit the market, but the Mass Effect games really pushed the envelope for the gaming market.
The beauty of all of the Mass Effect games is not in any of the mechanics, as even into the 3rd game, the combat could be a bit clunky and frustrating. Instead, the game accomplishes something that I really didn't expect. It is the prime example of a world-builder. All three games have countless subtle ways of enriching the environment and making you feel like you really are traversing the galaxy. The races, politics, worlds, cultures, accents, archetecture, etc. are all thought out to an extreme measure that the game itself has it's own encyclopedia in it's pause menu. Not only this, but you can tell that thousands upon thousands of decisions were made to make the settings, storylines, and NPC's really mesh together in interesting ways.
Another thing that the Mass Effect games do better than any game I've played before it, is that it truly makes you feel important. The games raise the stakes to such a hopeless level and yet still somehow manage to make you beat those odds without it being too ridiculous. I never got the sense that the game was making too big a jump within it's own set of rules and I definitely felt like the galaxy really did hinge on me.
The games by no means perfect, but it's really hard to nitpick too much on a game with such an expansive scope. You may hear that the ending is bad, but I personally didn't mind it. I understand why people are angry at it, but I appreciate that they took it somewhere unexpected.