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
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Member Name: StormchaserHat
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Strong core gameplay / Interesting world and characters / Great for fans of sci-fi
Disadvantages: Always a bigger gun / Can be unforgiving to new players
The Mass Effect series is one that I have a longstanding love and affection for. For all it's faults and foibles, these are the games I always seem to come back to when I tire of my shiny new purchases and just want to lose myself in a game. In this review, we're taking our first steps out among the stars in Mass Effect.
Mass Effect follows the story of Commander (First-name-irrelevant) Shepard as he/she struggles to unravel a mysterious plot that could threaten the lives of ever sentient being in the galaxy. Along the way you'll meet an interesting array of new friends and sinister villains, all while blasting your way through legions of enemies and performing various tasks from anyone brave or stupid enough to ask you for help. The story is epic and you do find yourself glued to the screen, waiting to see what happens next. Cutscenes and dialogue sections can feel a little stiff and stilted at times, showing the game's age, but generally speaking the characters are interesting and well scripted enough to keep your attention focused on what's going on. The game's aesthetic design is solid and distinctive, while the soundtrack is both moving and in keeping with the sci-fi setting.
The game's core shooter/RPG gameplay is built around a three major skill types: Combat, tech and biotics. Each type is useful in its own way and has its own distinct strengths and weaknesses, meaning that you'll generally want to try to balance your team between the three groups in order to have the most tactical flexibility. This does, however, create the unfortunate side effect of always leaving someone on the bench because their skill-set doesn't compliment your own, which is a real shame as over the course of your adventures you will become very attached to your new allies. Loot drops are also plentiful, but most weapons have very little to distinguish them other than a pallet-swap and a slight stat boost, meaning that, if you want to stay at the top of your game, you'll be switching your weapons, armour and upgrades at an almost constant rate. The actual combat itself is fairly basic and will have you running and gunning and taking cover to shield yourself from incoming fire, but the addition of the various combat, tech and biotic powers allow the player to mix things up and fight strategically, finding ways to combine abilities and weapons in order to overcome tough opponents. Outside of combat, the game rewards exploration with a huge array of side-quests and ambient challenges, all of which provide you with experience, kit and credits to upgrade your squad, as well as some fun diversions and additional story threads.
All in all, Mass Effect is a very simple but well-put-together title that will keep you busy for hours without ever feeling boring, with an strong, compelling story and well-written characters. The game may burn a little slow for the more action-orientated player but, for those with an appreciation for good narrative structure and tactical thinking, Mass Effect should be a very rewarding and entertaining experience.
Summary: Mass Effect is the start of something big, and you'll want to be the one to finish it.