Mass Effect: A Fantastic Outer Space Journey
Whoa! I am blown away. This is officially the first Xbox game that I have played through and I was, to say the least, quite impressed. I want to begin by saying that I am not very interested in space games. It’s never been something that interests me and with the exception of certain media classics (Star Wars, The Last Starfighter (film), Colony Wars (PSone), and the Metroid Prime series) I could’ve done without the genre. I must say I am now officially turned around on this issue. Here’s why.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that Mass Effect is an Action/RPG and the RPG element is always present. Don’t be expecting to be blowing of alien heads overnight. It takes quite a bit break through the surface (about 5-6 hours) of the game and really figure out your character’s role and how to control the fighting. Be ready to teach yourself the ropes only because the tutorials don’t exist and good luck finding anything helpful in the instruction booklet. That is the most frustrating part of the experience even though I found myself compelled to learn more and push through to become the best I could be.
You will learn more. My God! The comprehensive history in this game is just another element that makes it all seem so real. There is a fantastic story that keeps unraveling as you progress, but it’s the background info on all the different alien races that gives it all such body. It moves past the “Oh no, an alien!!!” mentality and actually hits quite close to home where it seems space is a great ‘melting pot’.
Let me get the negatives out of the way before I progress. The framerate is bad. That’s all there is too it. There is so much choppiness that you get used to it. Of course that’s a bad thing! The pop up graphics are quite noticeable as well. It’s not like in GTA where you’ll be driving and things on the horizon pop up in an ugly manner. It’s talking face to face with an alien and then- WHOA!- there’s his upper lip and glazed eyeballs!
The A.I. in the game is also poor. Both your teammates and the enemy can be dumb as dirt. In a game like this (in this day and age) you’d think that this problem would not be a problem, but all in all it doesn’t take you too far out of the experience. I also was so enthralled that I didn’t even care that many of the planets look the same as well as the bunkers that you explore on them. I suppose that’s a good thing.
There is also a clever, but annoying way to hide loading and it is through elevator rides. It’s almost like its own elevator riding sim built into a great game! It really wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t about 12,000 elevators in the game. Some literally right next to each other!
Phew…. Okay deep breath. Now back to what turned me on. Two words. Well, one if you don’t count ‘the’. The Citadel. What a fantastic place this is. It’s like the New York City for outer space. It is huge and there are a lot of things to keep you occupied the first few times that you visit. It is actually the aspect of the game that kept me enthralled to this particular space genre. It’s also great because you will find most of the alien races interacting together and the Council is another aspect that just adds such a realistic feel to such a futuristic story.
There is so much to this game and I can’t stress enough how comprehensive and downright real it all seems. The range of weapons and biotics (think the Force from Star Wars) is very great and they even have created companies with their own bios for each weapon! The character facial creation is deep as well as choosing your character’s ability and personal history. It all affects his/her reputation in the game, but ultimately you control your own actions and sometimes it just feels wrong to be bad. I think that because the story is told through top notch voice acting it makes it that much more personal and engrossing. There are a few times during the story when I sat there with a choice of what to say in front of me and I was frozen wondering what the consequences of each response could be. I admit that having the story read to me via the character’s really spoiled me for other games where I had to sit forward to read what these people are “saying” (Ahem! Dead Rising, I’m looking in your direction!)
I guess by now you understand that I enjoyed Mass Effect immensely despite its few flaws and I would recommend it to anyone with a bit of time on their hands to delve into a great adventure. In case you are wondering how I played through the game, I will tell you what I told RMC. I was just like Jesus with a sniper rifle baby… Jesus with a sniper rifle.