The A.V. Club - Chris Dahlen, December 3rd, 2007:
"Role-playing-game addicts could easily ignore gameplay problems if the story kept delivering. Yet Mass Effect feels like the first two acts of a great space opera, and the main villain and the most intriguing parts of the backstory have been saved for a sequel. The non-player characters that hang around with you have also taken a major step back, with less dialogue and none of the spontaneous clashes (and subtle flirting) of BioWare's past high-water marks, Baldur's Gate II and Knights Of The Old Republic. The graphics keep improving, but the diehards would rather be immersed in the words."
Beyond the game: Mass Effect crams a lot of setting into a single game. Spend enough time reading up on the history and politics, and you'll start to see how much is hanging on a split-second decision.
Worth playing for: Panting over the lesbian sex scene will lead some players to pick a female protagonist. But the real reason to play a woman is the fantastic voicework by Jennifer Hale.
Frustration sets in when: All those side missions feel like a distraction while you're hurtling toward the destruction of the galaxy. But make sure to finish them before you get too far: Once the main story's over, you can't go back and explore what you missed.
Final judgment: A space opera with huge potential ends in a shrug.
A.V. Club Rating: B- B-/A+