Product Type: Microsoft Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... Shepard and his hand-picked crew are left to deal with this latest menace almost single-handed; reliant only on the few allies they... more
Another Bioware masterpiece, but it has its flaws
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Member Name: thejarofdirt882
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Advantages: great story, voice acting, interesting characters
Disadvantages: buggy AI, poor autosave feature
Mass Effect is another masterpiece RPG from Bioware. Throwing the player into a richly detailed universe, it is immersive from the word go. Set nearly two hundred years in the future, humanity has not long (35 years previous) made a discovery which throws us into far reaches of space - mass effect is the name given to the technology. You play as Commander Shepard in their mission to stop a rogue "Spectre", his army of geth (AI robots) & the mysterious Reapers. It may be a fairly standard formula in a way, but it is delivered brilliantly with an incredible cast of characters - from a shy archaeologist alien to an jerk of a human politician (is there any other kind?) - and a few twists in the story along the way keep it fresh. There are also some hard, inescapable choices to be made, which will really make you think
Each race of aliens has an interesting and well thought out history; the technology is explained in almost real world terms; and everything, down to a tiny detail, is explained in the game's codex and unlocked as you interact with chacrters and the universe around you. It is interesting enough to enjoy hours of reading.
The game plays out conversations in one of three ways: paragon (good), neutral, renegade (bad); there is also an investigate option which doesn't affect the outcome of a conversation. The three options all give different responses which can lead to very different Shepards. The voice acting across the board is sublime (as it is in all Bioware games).
The game looks great (for one that game out in 2007) and features a kind of "grain" to make it look like older sci-fi films/TV shows. The cut scenes are awesomely rendered. However, the camera can sometimes be fiddly leading to a few cheap deaths.
The RPG elements are great, from the character customisation (everything from gender to the littlest scars on Shepard's face to Shepard's history) to the abilities you can level up. There are upgrades for armour and weapons which boost different aspects or add an extra. There's a wide range of weapons to choose from, some of which can end up ridiculously powerful with the right upgrade. For instance a high level shotgun with an "incendiary round" will instantly disintegrate all but he toughest enemies and cause damage to anything around it, even on higher difficulties.
There are a few downsides, after all nothing is exactly perfect. Auto-saves aren't frequent enough to be effective, you can play for an hour or more and if you forget to manually save, oh well, you've got to play that hour again. Both friendly and enemy AI can act monumentally stupid, such as standing out of cover and just allowing themselves to be killed without reacting. The Make vehicle is fiddly to control and ends up on its back far too often. The side missions are all similar, and all take place in one of three environments (underground base, above ground base, ship in space).
Summary: Classic Bioware game, a must buy!