Now I'm a HUGE BioWare fan, I love their games, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age to name but a few, so while I did get Mass Effect way after the fact, infact just after Mass Effect 2 was released, I had heard nothing but good things. Oh was I disappointed.
Now before people dive at me, claws out and flamethrowers at the ready, I'll explain what I didn't like about the game, and if you disagree then I will take the flames. So here is my list of Mass Effects problems:
1. The driving segments, these parts of the game drove me to fucking madness and seeing as roughly fifty to sixty percent of the game are these driving segments, if not seventy to eighty percent, don't even tell me it's not that high, as nearly EVERY Assignment is on a planet you have to use the Mako and every one of the main missions after the first planet has one of these fucking sections. Now I wouldn't mind if it handled like the Warthog in Halo as everyone told me it did, but it doesn't it handles like a drunken Hippo on a unicycle, has a gun that won't fire past a fifteen degree so getting in close to enemies is a right pain. All this makes me wish I could just run around the planets and while I can on some it'd take ages to traverse and then you need to be in the Mako to leave the planet.
2. The size of the 'levels', the game felt very small, now I know Dragon Age and Neverwinter weren't exactly free roamers, you had limits, but they felt bigger than this. Every planet once you got into a base was basically the same four room shooting gallery as the last. Even the main mission planets were just corridors with a few open rooms for shooting, a real pity this game could have really done with more open areas.
3. Lack of towns, there was the Citadel and that was about it, for an expansive galaxy full of colonies and inhabited planets full of great civilizations, it's a pity you never get to see them, even the Citadel felt small for a huge space base. I really feel like there should have been far more freedom to explore, even Denerim felt more impressive to the Citadel.
4. The money, never in all my life playing video games have I come across one with a more useless currency, ok in other games like Fallout 3, Morrowind and Oblivion, Neverwinter and even to an extent the Zelda games, after awhile money becomes a moot point, due to not needing to buy anything. But Mass Effect takes this one step further making money basically needless from the start of the game! Seriously, I was rolling in guns, armour and upgrades by the time I left the first planet you come to after the main mission kicks off from the Citadel. Hell by the time I was half way through the second planet I got the one million credits achievement, all I spent my credits on were the grenades and medi-gel upgrades so I could carry more, I did get the Licenses for my quarter master, but I didn't buy any of the new armaments he sold, I had better from the enemies.
5. The length of the game, ok this is kind of a complaint I have with a lot of games recently, it seems the better the graphics a game has, the more voice actors and what not it gets the shorter the game becomes. If you remove all the side missions and just focus on the main mission by planets there are only eight missions, and those without to many cock ups can be breezed through. Now I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet as really I'm no gamer speed demon trying to finish games fast, I like to enjoy them, but if I take all the time played I think it took me forty to fifty hours to complete the game and I did mess around with side missions just as it was my first play through.
Now that, that's out the way, on with the review.
Your character in Mass Effect is Commander Shepard, with the first name John or Jane, but that can be changed, in my case I went with my default non-fantasy character name Eric. You have six main class Adept, Soldier and Engineer, these specialize in Biotic Powers, the 'wizard' sort of class, Combat, the 'warrior' type class and Tech, the 'rogue' type class, then there are Vanguard, a Biotic/Combat class, Sentinel, a Biotic/Tech class and Infiltrator, a Tech/Combat class. Later on you get 'upgrades' for these classes, Bastion, for the Adept and Sentinel class, Commando, for the Soldier and Infiltrator class, Medic for the Engineer and Sentinel class, Nemesis for the Adept and Vanguard class, Shock Trooper for the Soldier and Vanguard class and finally Operative for the Engineer and Infiltrator class. You also get the special Spectre upgrade to your stats when you become one. To help you in your mission you gain six companions to aid you, each one with a modified version of the player classes.
The game is your basic BioWare RPG, morale choices, micro managing your gear and an epic storyline, add the fact that for the first time in a BioWar game (First that I've played anyway. ) you're not a silent protagonist, Shepard talks! Having a full voiced acted main character is great, especially as I felt that was seriously lacking from Dragon Age, seeing as you could choose a voice for your character, he should use it more than random combat speech. The combat is pulled off in a third person shooting style with the option to zoom in for better aim and stability, while trying to think a game that has a similar combat style I fail to come up with any. At least any I have played myself.
The story in a nut shell is that there is a renegade Spectre Saren and it is your duty as the new human Spectre to hunt him down and stop him, thus proving humanity's worth in the alien council. Saren is using a race of 'synthetic life forms' called the Geth to help in his scheme, his plan is to release the Reapers, a legendary race that wiped out a previous galactic empire that belonged to the now dead race the Protheans. The Reapers are believed to be gods by the Geth, but during your mission you find out they are not some mystical being but an ancient machine race and Saren's flag ship Sovereign is a Reaper left in the galaxy to await the coming time when his kind could be brought back from dark space using the ancient relay device that, a larger form of the smaller relays used to make space travel over wide expanses faster. Through out the story you are given morale choices that effect the game and later Mass Effect 2, once you're on the planet Virmire near the closing missions of the game you lose one of your human crew members when given the choice to save one or the other.
Once off Virmire the game is coming to it's conclusion with Saren and his ship Sovereign ahead of you heading for the ancient Prothean home home world Ilios to activate a relay gate into the Citedal which is the relay to dark space. After Saren and his Geth have gone through the relay to the Citadel you follow and the epic battle for the survival of all races begin. You fight your way through the space station making your way to the Council chambers to confront Saren in the final fight. Once in the chamber you have the chance to fight Saren or talk him into blowing his brains out, once you've decided the route you have the option to save the Council or let them die during their escape attempt, then when you send your team mates down to check Saren's dead he morphs into a Geth based Husk creature due to Sovereign's influence over him and forcing him to 'upgrade'. Once you've gunned the techno zombie down the chamber collapses on you. Then the ending FMV starts and you're given a few other choices and you head off to make sure the Reapers are ended once and for all. Then roll credits.
One last thing I should mention before I wrap this up is the infamous 'sex scene' that caused some controversy when the game was released, I don't have much to say here beyond that fact I felt that the game handled it very well and very tastefully, I've seen many movies with a fifteen age certificate and even the odd twelves rated movie with far more graphic sex scenes than this. It was mostly in a dark room with silhouettes and the odd very brief half lit side angle, in short calling the game 'Mass Erect' and the 360 a 'seX-Box' are very uncalled for by the sensationalist news.
To wrap it up, Mass Effect is good for all the faults it has in my eyes, it's a good BioWare game and I'll be doing another play through at sometime, though I think I shall play through Dragon Age again first. Need some fantasy over sci-fi at the moment!