When you look at the screenshots for Mass Effect it’s easy to mistake it for a squad-based shooter. I put in the game disc knowing nothing about it and thought just that. My first impressions were ‘wow, these graphics are amazing’, then as I spoke to other members of my crew I was like ‘ oooh look I can choose where the conversation goes’ then I got into a mission full of combat and then I was like ‘this game’s rubbish’. BUT, I spoke too soon. Get past this first mission and the game opens up into a proper RPG and unfortunately, the combat’s the worst thing about this game – pity it’s the first thing you get plunged into before you can explore properly.
In the game you play Commander John Shepard as you fight many threats to galactic peace, the main one being a chap called Saren who wants to work with a mechanoid race called the Geth to resurrect a scourge of the universe called the Reapers. In a way you act as an ambassador for humans through your choices because for once, humans aren’t considered top dog in the universe or the council – just one of the interesting political parts of this game.
BioWare who developed the game know a thing or two about this genre of game after making the extremely popular Knights of the Old Republic games for the original Xbox. The games’ full of exploring, talking to characters, doing missions to drive the story and also sub missions that will earn you more money or experience or get new team members on your side to add to your squad.
The characters in Mass Effect are some of the most believable I’ve ever seen. Facial animations have to be seen to be believed and the voice acting is fantastic. The presentation really if first class, even though at times the frame rate struggles and textures visibly load in when you enter new areas.
Combat’s another story though. When you get into trouble you have some limited squad commands and you can make your team members use special powers to get the edge but usually, the dumb AI sees them run into fire and die (only to resurrect when the battle is over). Thankfully, as you get into the game you can get them better armour so they’re not quite the sitting ducks they are at the start.
Role-players have everything they want though. There are classes you can choose at the start, plenty of upgrades, weapons and armour to choose from. After the first four hours of game play the game also opens up even further as you get to command your own ship and explore the galaxy and even roam around planets in a rather difficult to control lander buggy type thing. And if you put the effort in you’ll eventually get the hang of the frustrating combat.
I also like the retro feel this game has even though it’s set in the future. With a grainy film effect, bit 70s synths and some cool outfits, this game reminds me in some ways of Space 1999 or Blake’s 7 which adds retro cool value.
Mass Effect gets an excellent 8 out of 10.