Mass Effect is an action role playing third person shooter game, developed by BioWare. Releasing on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The game was released in November 2007 as a timed Xbox exclusive, but eventually got ported to PC in May 2008.
The game starts out with you being able to fully customize the appearance of the main character, male or female, abilities, and background story. The game play is based a lot around a squad of three characters including you. There are six difference “classes” that come in the form of important characters that you encounter throughout the game. Each of these classes will level up, and have their own special abilities and talent tree to select from. The talent tree is very detailed, allowing you to spec each class into specialized roles which you will take on different missions depending on what enemies you will be facing.
The game’ combat system is primarily in real time, but you can pause at any time to give orders to your squad. I however found this to be a very negligible feature as I had no use for it all, I don’t think I used even once. The combat is very easy to get to grasps with. A really good cover based system is included, with some really tight controls to boot. Whilst you do have unlimited ammo for your weapons, you do run the risk of overheating your guns if you just continuously fire, meaning you have to take breaks in your onslaught for a few seconds at a time or you can simply switch to one of your many other weapons. I liked the idea behind not having to scavenge around for ammunition, its 2183…it’s all lasers for gods sakes! 🙂 Another key game play element comes in the form of the dialogue and morality system. A really good portion of the game takes place in dialogue scenes with NPCs, your answers really do matter and can sometimes change the course of events which carry out for the rest of the game. I am not normally a fan of games which have too much dialogue, but I was completely intrigued to explore each dialogue option to delve deeper and immerse myself completely in the story. Different actions and different results will affect your morality, completing the main missions don’t really add much to the system, but a lot of the game’s side missions make you choose a “good” or “bad” resolution to them, which really makes you think sometimes.
Mass Effect is almost ten years old now, and whilst it is showing its age, it is certainly still an OK looking game by today’s standards. All of the animations are really crisp. The textures aren’t all high resolution, but you have to remember the age of the game when playing. The facial modelling of all of the characters is done very well too, and even betters some of the recent titles!
I played Mass Effect on the medium difficulty level, and I found the game to be challenging enough so that I wasn’t breezing through the game, but not so hard that I felt I wasn’t able to progress without having the need to grind a few levels before taking on a certain boss or mission. The only times I did find myself getting stuck, is purely a UI issue, rather than the gameplay. The game doesn’t do a fantastic job at telling you where to go next; you have a lot of maps to be able to look through, but no help at all comes for many of the side missions for where you need to go, meaning I had to look up a few of the missions online to be able to work out where to go.
The majority of the game’s levels are really well designed. There is really only one main hub of activity in the game which has an open world feel to it, and that is the Citadel. You will find a good portion of the game’s side quests in this location with plenty of NPCs to interact with as well. Each of the game’s main missions takes place on a different planet, and that planet will also have a handful of side missions for you to complete along with the main story. I would urge people to check them out as they are well worth your time, and I didn’t at any point feel like I was completing the same type of mission over and over again. All of the side missions add a great deal of story which also keeps the lore crew happy as well.
I have recently just finished my second play through of Mass Effect, the first being a few years ago now. The most recent play through of the game took just under 20 hours to complete, this is with me being in OCD mode and completing all of the side missions, exploring all of the levels and interacting with any of the NPCs I came across. There is a deal of replay ability with Mass Effect, you can of course ramp up the difficulty, but you can also play the game in different styles using the morality system, and changing the gender of your character to also effect relationships with your crew members. I would even say I could squeeze another two play throughs out of Mass Effect before I would find it hard to find something new to come across.
Technically, right now I have to say Mass Effect does have a couple of issues running on newer operating systems. Whilst I didn’t have any crashes or major bugs, I did have a few performance problems with the odd stutter every now and again. I am pretty sure it is not hardware related as my PC is more than capable of running current titles on 4k with high settings. Another pet peeve is that I wasn’t even able to run the game on 1080p; you have to put up with the lower Xbox360 resolutions. I didn’t play with a controller, as I am more interested in being more precise with my aim than anything else to be honest.
My conclusion on Mass Effect is, that whilst many of you will have probably already played and finished the game, I would still class this as a must play title for our recent memory. It is the start of a truly fantastic series, and one of the standout titles of the last generation of games. It is showing its age slightly, but Sci-fi fans will want to start here before stepping foot into the Mass Effect world. If you can look past the aging graphics you have an absolutely stellar story and hella fun gameplay with some heavy RPG elements.