So, after an experience of KOTOR tragically cut short by the unavailability of a Windows machine (I recruited 7/9 companions and did the Sith Academy planet and was futzing about underwater on the ocean planet), I have recently been playing KOTOR 2, with the Restored Content mod.
Firstly: boy is a lot of it buggy.
Secondly: I miss Juhani.
Most importantly: I like it! It's a nice game with nice things. I'm playing General Lady Light Side, Light-Sidiest of All, name Vanna Draconis. SPOILERS ahead.
The (skippable) prologue sequence was very nice, and I don't think I'll be skipping it on any subsequent playthrough, since there's at least one bonus thing involving controlling a second droid that I didn't do.
( Vanna Draconis, Peragus to Telos to start of Nar Shaddaa )
I went with a Paragon Adept FemShep. I really like that FemShep looks like a viable human being in this one; ME2 and ME3 really pushed her into Barbie territory. I disliked the fact that the armor was cut in a “look at my boobs” way.
The game was rather buggier re: shooting from cover than I remembered, and it definitely didn’t have too many save points. (My favorite key was F5.) The textures weren’t blessed with high resolution, either. I very much liked the fact that there was a plethora of keys, all mapped to different functions (*cough* ME3 space does everything *cough*). I found this a more difficult game than ME2 or ME3 (haven’t replayed them yet thought) mostly due to rockets (Geth Rocket Turret, Geth Armature etc) oneshotting you always and the hacking bits being much harder than the ones in ME2. I liked the MIRA core and the Presidium Rogue Computer puzzles, though.
Plotwise, this is my favorite game, since the plot makes sense (ME3 was ridiculous, and then there was the ending) and had something to do with the trilogy’s plot (ME2 was pretty useless in that regard). I very much liked the fact that it wasn’t just an on-rails shooter and I had to actually figure out where I should run to. The fact that I got Paragon/Renegade points from my actions as opposed to saying appropriate things was nice. I don’t believe they did anything similar to the getting the Noverian garage pass thing in ME2 or ME3. The voice acting was okay, though all the characters had stiff faces. (Comparing to DAI, we’ve come a long way.)
Of the characters, Kaidan was still annoying, Ashely was still kinda ehh (but useful as the group’s tank) and Garrus was kinda naïve (he gets a lot of character development after ME1). Wrex and Tali were their adorable selves. I didn’t like Liara, since so much time was spent on the whole ~*~barely legal~*~ aspect of her and she crushed a bit too hard on Shep. (I did end up romancing her though.) I ran around with Ash and Tali almost exclusively. (My entire ME career has been me desperately wishing I could play FemShep and romance Tali, since no way am I playing BroShep.)Anything I left out?
The reason I call the horse "she" is that I have extensively looked at the model and not spotted a dick, thus making the horse a mare (yes geldings have dicks, it's the balls that get chopped off).
( Random musings on the horses' colors )
Second, I kind of resent that the party is only 1/3 female. You can travel with 3 party members, and get to choose from 9: 3 of each class (Warrior, Rogue, Mage). There is one female party member in each class. Sure, you have three advisors (Connections, Secrets, Forces) that you can send out on missions and 2 of them are female, but it's kind of a bummer that so few of your party are women.
How I'd Fix This: I'd make Blackwall female! Now, in his current iteration he's one of the Love Interests that's female only (along with Sera), so I'd upgrade Cullen (Forces advisor, limited to female human and elven Inquisitors) to female-only LI, not race-locked. (Then I'd make Solas bi, so instead of him only being available to female elven Inquisitors, he'd be available to all elven Inquisitors [given lore re: elves in Thedas and spoilers, I'd say it's fair that he's only really interested in elves].) (Or perhaps make Solas female?)
( Blackwall spoilers )
Though if you're looking for a Fantasy Murder Hobo Simulator RPG, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an amazing example, since women can wear reasonable armor (unless they're Vivienne, in which case they have boob windows) and do loads of badass stuff like the men. I like the whole mage thing, but would warn you away from the archer spec.
One of the first characters we're introduced to in Mass Effect 2 is Miranda Lawson. There are a lot of things wrong with her visual character design, as with all the non-Tali female squadmates in ME2, but I'll stick to talking about her character.
Miranda was designed by her father to be genetically smart, beautiful, and in all ways better than your average human. This is told to the player, not shown. In fact, nearly everything Miranda says is either irrelevant to the mission on hand or "Shepard, don't do (thing that has to be done to complete the mission)". The narrative actively undermines Miranda's competence at every step. As a result, she comes across as smug and incompetent. Miranda is the Cerberus character that is constantly wrong so that Shepard can be right.
For the purposes of characterization, it would be better to have Jacob being the character who says things like "I wouldn't take that krogan out of the tank, he might be dangerous. Your decision, though." It would establish Jacob as a cautious character (which is the vibe I got from him) and wouldn't undermine Miranda.
In Mass Effect 3, Miranda is largely absent, though you can talk to her and even meet her in person once. (Tip: talk to her about Kai Leng so she survives Sanctuary.) She's working to bring down her father, and comes across as much more likeable now that she doesn't have to constantly be wrong so that Shepard could be right.
On the whole "genetically engineered to be beautiful" thing, I just wished that Bioware had left that out. People's standards of beauty are varying, so people will probably be disappointed (or have their suspension of disbelief jarred) upon being told that Miranda's appearance is "perfect". I didn't find Miranda's facial features particularly appealing, and I'm sure others didn't as well. A better approach would have been to just remove all mentions of Miranda having a "perfect appearance" and just have her be genetically engineered to be smart, strong and capable.