Mass Effect Review

There’s been a lot of hype over Mass Effect, and the first thing I have to say is go out and buy it immediately. Mass Effect is truly a unique experience which blends a rich story with high paced action all packaged in a massive universe that stands with some of the more famous settings in cinema and fiction. I repeat: do not pass over this title.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get to the meat of things. Mass Effect is set roughly 200 years in the future, when alien technology has advanced humans to faster-than-light traveling speeds, and has put us into contact with a host of aliens in a struggle to fit in with this intergalactic community. A rogue agent named Saren who’s working for The Council (the “always needed” trio that runs the show) threatens the safety of the universe, and it’s your job to stop him.

The first thing you’ll notice is the level of customization in this game, starting with every choice you make from the character creation screen. You can choose to use the default commander Shepard, or make your own. You get to choose background, personality, and of course class. Choose carefully, because these will affect the game immediately, and your experience will be unique beginning with the opening dialogue.

You can play as three different classes: Soldier, Engineer, and Adept. You can also choose to play as a hybrid of two. Each class plays considerably different, adding to the replay value. For example, I went through the game the first time as a Vanguard (Combination of soldier and Adept) and pretty much dominated everyone through shotguns and the equivalent of force powers. My second pass through I’m using the Infiltrator (Sniper/ Engineer) and believe me, it’s a noticeable difference.

The graphics are seamless with the cut scenes, and it feels like you’re watching a movie half the time. This helps display the sheer magnitude of this universe. The Citadel, the center piece of the known universe, just wouldn’t have the same affect at first glance if it weren’t for the level of detail Mass Effect’s graphics provide.

Along the same lines, this entire universe thought up by BioWare is amazing, and rivals the depth and mystique of Star Wars. I kid you not. BioWare has gone to great lengths in detailing everything through a handy-dandy codex in your start menu that will explain everything from how your medi-gels are distributed through your body, to the hierarchy and inner workings of a species that is mentioned in passing during a conversation.

The combat system is nothing amazing. In fact, if you were to base your opinion of the game on it, it would be no where near as good of a game as it is. AI is weak on both the enemy and ally sides. Your guys will shoot at walls or into your back 70% of the time, and you can back up and bottle neck 30 enemies into a hallway to be slaughtered like cattle. The shotgun is also possibly the most unbalanced unstoppable weapon in gaming history. I was able to snipe 100 yards with the shotgun, and when they got close the blast strength knocked them on their backs leaving them helpless for a good five seconds.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun being a one man wrecking crew. And by no means was it always a breeze. There was one point that I can’t go into details about without spoiling anything that took me 45 minutes of dying to beat.

With that said, thank God almighty for the amazing storyline. The story will suck you in and keep you addicted like a junkie on heroin. You’ve been warned. Mass Effect sports an awesome lineup of characters you will fall in love with immediately, ranging from the sassy and spunky Ashley Williams to the badass, “I don’t give a crap” Urdnot Wrex.

Mass Effect managed to get me to care enough about my characters to actually get attached, and without spoiling anything, threw me into many situations where the stakes were high and real, and my choice would alter the rest of the game.

If you do all the side quests the game should keep you busy for easily over 100 hours. The moment you gain the freedom of a starship and look at the galaxy map you’ll say, “oh cool that’s a lot of solar systems to explore.” Then you’ll click on one and find out this game is a whole lot bigger than you thought. That “Solar system” you were staring at was actually just a galaxy cluster, which holds several solar systems within it. And within each solar system is a group of planets.

While not all planets are exportable (it’s about 1 landable planet per solar system), you’ll be able to at least survey a planet for resources and relics or just read a unique biography on each planet. If you have ADD, you’re in for some trouble with a galaxy this big.

BioWare has been slowly mastering interactive dialogue, and it shines in this one. The conversations are smooth and seamless, and you almost never end up in those conversation loops that make the characters look retarded. The dialogue wheel is so good, that it makes role-playing instinct. In previous games like KOTOR and Jade Empire, it was a little easier to detatch and say “I’m going the evil route”. But in Mass Effect, I found myself answering everything quite honestly and found out I’m actually more good then evil. Imagine that.

The lip-synching, body language, and cinematography are flawless. And honestly, without them the game just wouldn’t be the same. The voice acting is unparalleled, with talent including Seth Green and Keith David.

Bottom-line? As an RPG Mass Effect will blow you away. You’ll find yourself so engrossed in the massive (pardon the pun) universe that even if you don’t usually role play, you’ll be doing it anyway. Whatever you do, don’t judge it as a shooter. Mass Effect isn’t just a game, it’s an experience and is a prime example of why games are being recognized by the Writer’s Guild of America and several prestigious award institutions. It’s a must-play game if you own an Xbox 360. Don’t be that guy who misses out, because it’ll be your loss. Game of the Year, hands down.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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