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Recalling the Mako: “Mass Effect’s” Terrible Space Car

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Of the many video games I’ve played over the years, the Mass Effect Trilogy is home to three of my very favorites. The story was engaging and borderline brilliant, the characters were likable and memorable, and the overall gameplay was solid. However, there remains one terrible feature that I never forget, and I don’t believe I can forgive: the Mako.

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What is the Mako?

The Mako is a six-wheeled tank-like vehicle that appeared in the first game in the trilogy. As the main character, Commander Shepard, you would control the Mako to traverse large alien planets, take on enemies, and occasionally fight giant sandworms. Making your way around these environments was a fairly prominent element of the game and ate up a decent chunk of my 30+ hour playthrough back in the day. So it should probably have been fun to drive, right?


Why it’s so terrible

The first and most egregious sin the Mako committed was to be a floppy mess. The physics were incredibly weird, and it was almost impossible to avoid sliding and bouncing everywhere. Moreover, changing the camera’s direction had no effect on where the vehicle pointed, so it was incredibly easy to veer off course or lose all sense of which way is forward — which is really annoying when you’re trying not to die in space. On that note, its armor was incredibly flimsy and absorbed damage like it was its job.

The one feature that should have been a mercy — a regenerating shield that should act as the first line of defense — took an unbearably long time to recharge. That means you would frequently have to take a break from otherwise intense combat encounters to find cover and wait like 45 seconds for your shield to build back up. That’s just not fun.

On the bright side, I’m not alone in my hatred of the Mako, with IGN’s Marty Sliva citing it as a “source of contention among fans, partially due to the vehicle’s wonky physics.” Mercifully, those frustrations directly resulted in its omission from the next two games in the series.

If you’ve never played Mass Effect, don’t let my complaints about the driving mechanic stop you, as it genuinely is an experience worth having.

But, seriously, the Mako pretty awful.

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