Mass Effect Review

Last Edited – March 1, 2010 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Gaming, Review

“So what is this with you reviewing old games?”, I hear you cry (not really, I am just making that up). Well, I am a college student, so I do have time to play games, but I am also somewhat short on cash, so I cannot always get new games, so I get older ones cheap. I got Mass Effect earlier this week, and it was very good. Good enough for me to play all the way through in five days. I looked in to getting Mass Effect back when it originally came out for the PC, but I am not a huge RPG gamer, so I decided to get something else instead. I picked it up since it was pretty cheap, and I have heard really good things about it from people I know.

Splash screen for the PC version of Mass Effect

Mass Effect is an RPG by the EA subsidiary, BioWare. BioWare has made a few other big RPGs, namely Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, another game I have heard good things about, but have not played. As I said, I am usually not an RPG person, liking my fast paced first person shooters and other more action based games. The only real RPGs I have really played up until now have been 2D handheld games like the Golden Sun series for the GameBoy.

Mass Effect really live up the the expectations I had for its story and gameplay. RPGs really ride on their story, and Mass Effect’s writers really came through with an intriguing and immersive story and universe to play in. You play Commander _______ Shepard (you get to pick your first name), a human officer in the Alliance Fleet. Humanity has recently bounded on to the Galactic scene, and is angling for a position on the Galactic Council, currently composed of three of the oldest races in the galaxy. The plot revolves around an ancient evil, and a cycle of genocide and destruction that is your destiny to break. I won’t go in too deep to avoid spoilers, but the story will keep you coming back to see what happens next, and wait twists and turns await along the way.

Going along with the story is the conversation options that BioWare has integrated into driving it forward. Like many newer games, Mass Effect has a moral choice system, allowing you to make decisions on a Paragon / Renegade scale, where good actions get you paragon points, and selfish or “bad” actions give you renegade points. This affects interactions with NPCs, but not so much the story as a whole, which was somewhat disappointing. My first playthrough I played as a paragon, and I am planning do to a renegade character the next time I play. BioWare’s choice system is also intersting since it is one of the few that allows for a sliding scale of how good or evil your character is. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really affect the main plot very much, only your interactions with NPCs. I hope more is put on this in ME2, which I plan to play in the next couple months.

The one big complaint I have about Mass Effect is that the inventory system is not very well designed. It is great that I have 150 item slots, and I only ran close to that cap twice, but they are poorly organized. Each item has a name and a level, but they are shown to you in the order you picked them up, rather than by level or by name, and this cannot be changed. Also, the purchasing system is great, but again, no sorting is really done on your options so it can be a task just to buy new equipment from a merchant.

In all, Mass Effect easily makes it in to my top ten games, possibly even my top 5, and is an excellent game, even for those who are used to faster paced games. It takes a little getting used to, but the pacing is well worth the excellent story and you eventually get very immersed in the game and want to continue playing to see where it goes.

Comments are closed.