Mass Effect, as you may or may not know, is a game from the creators of KOTOR
, Bioware. They have always been one of the top RPG makers of this and last gen; probably because of their determination to make a living world for the players to explore freely. Mass Effect is no different, but so much better.
: Might as well start with what gave this game massive hype in the first place. For one thing, the graphics are a hit and a miss. The aliens look drop dead delicious, but only because they are made up. The advantage of making aliens look good is that they can be shaded anyway they want and move anyway they want, while humans are humans and seen everyday by everyone. In cutscenes when you have a conversation with Wrex, you take in his CGI-quality armor and amazingly detailed face. Then it switches back to you, the ugly clumsy human whose pores absorb light or release light from whoknowswhere.
A downside to not having pre-rendered cutscenes is that when you zoom way close up to any curved object, the polygons jump out to say hi. Luckily, these cutscenes make up for it by having seamless transitions when you choose your line to say so you still feel like you are playing the game and not supposed to sit back and enjoy; more on that topic in Gameplay.
: The story here is that the humans are greedy and some robots are ransacking the Milky Way. Of course, you have to save it. How you do that is up to you, though. Infact, you could just put the controller down and not even attempt to save the galaxy. Possibly go play Super Mario Galaxy instead, but that would be silly and not worth the sixty bucks you spent on the game. You wont want to put the controller down, though, if you are easily persuaded by people who aren't real. It's hard to explain the story and why it is so good without spoiling it, so maybe watch Star Wars to get the gist of it. You on a ship go save galaxy.
Pew Pew section
: Combat is satisfying, but this is the first game I have ever played where I wished that the action would end so I can go talk. The combat feels somewhat familiar to KOTOR; you pause the game to choose your attack and your teammate's. The difference this time is that you can't switch between characters so you choose the power they use from a wheel. You can have it set so you team use their powers automatically - and this is recommended - but you will still have to choose what they do to satisfy your needs. Gunplay works like a dumbed-down Gears of War, but on easier difficulty levels you can just ignore the cover system and charge with your shotgun. This is also recommended because Mass Effect is all about conversing with the locals, not shootin things.
The conversation system is simple: before the NPC finishes speaking a wheel comes up with multiple responses. But instead of having an exact quote, it shows the basic gist of what you are going to say. For example, after you have hot sweaty alien lesbo sex, one of the dialog things you can choose from is "Let's go again!"; what you actually say is "Ready for Round two?" For the most part this works out, but sometimes you choose something that sounds harmless then your character sounds like a complete dick wad saying it. This is annoying when you feel like you should be polite towards the NPC... like the council that runs the whole galaxy. That's a great idea; piss off the people who can have you thrown into dark space at their whim.
: Mass Effect combines a bunch of elements in gaming and pulls it off well. A huge improvement would be to let us still play after the credits roll. With being such a short game (took me 14 hours first time through), letting me complete my exploration and side missions would be so satisfying. Also, I want to see my blue baby, damn it!
4 out of 5