Mass Effect Review

This review won’t really focus on the core aspects that made Mass Effect awesome, because by now you either know why the game is said awesome, or you can glance at our Xbox 360 review of the game. Instead, this review is a testament on how excellent PC ports can be by enriching the game’s experience. Excellent games have been given the poor port treatment before, but thankfully BioWare and Demiurge Studios focused their efforts on an enjoyable game for PC gamers.

Having put over 20 hours into the Xbox 360 version of the game, I immediately felt right at home when playing the PC port; the camera never felt intrusive, controls were solid, and performance was very optimized and fluid.

Controls were very much improved as a whole. The entire squad UI was changed and there was proper accommodation of the mouse, especially when driving the Mako. Unfortunately with the Mako, you can’t remap the controls, so at first handling may be a bit stiff. There’s also some initial awkwardness when turning; the Mako won’t immediately just turn left or right when you hit A or D, instead it’ll also drive forward, so it’s a little awkward when you’re using both forward and left or right to move.

While Mass Effect is an Xbox 360 game at heart, it was only a matter of time till the game moved to its PC cousin. The move to PC allowed the developers to focus on enhancing the visuals for the game with sharper textures and higher resolution support. Along with the crisper graphics, plenty of attention was given to the game’s performance. While the Xbox 360’s hardware is an industry standard, all the gaming PCs in the world are not — what works for one person won’t necessarily work with someone else.

One of the gripes from the console folks were the number of instances when pop-in occurred. While this seems to be just a hardware limitation on consoles, you won’t experience any pop-in on a beefy PC. Even on my mid-range rig, I didn’t experience much — but I did have to endure a few extra loading screens.

Downloading Mass Effect from EA’s store went off without a hitch and I didn’t encounter any problems installing the game, or when playing the entire game itself. Like I said before, not everyone’s experience with Mass Effect went smoothly and I’ve read accounts of people with PC trouble when trying to run the game, especially on Vista. But thankfully, I played the game from beginning to end without any crashes, errors or game-stopping bugs.

One new addition is a new decryption mini-game. Instead of just hitting buttons in the right order, you now have to guide a tiny arrow towards the center while avoiding little blocks, which reminded me of a stripped-down version of Frogger. The mini-game is very simple, as expected, and it’s a nice change of pace from the insanely easy mini-game featured in the Xbox 360 version. From the middle to the end of the game though, I had so much money and omni-gel that I would just skip the mini-game altogether.

Minor gripes would have to go towards the game’s inventory system. One specific hassle is converting items to omni-gel; it’s pretty painful. The sheer number of items you accumulate throughout the game can get bothersome, too. Copy protection may also be a turn-off for some, especially with limiting factors like the requirement of an Internet connection (it checks every week or so) and the ability to only install the game three different times. Lastly, why do all the side-planets have crazily-bumpy terrain? The Mako, as a land vehicle, is terrible at navigating the rough lands.

Others things like quicksave and the ability to assign specific commands to your squad members are icing on-top of the delicious cake that is Mass Effect. All of these reasons make Mass Effect not only an excellent PC port, but show why PC is still a perfectly able and functional gaming platform compared to the 360 and PS3, despite what some naysayers would have you believe.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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