BRR: Mass Effect Review

As a wee kid, I went against the trend of today and hated first and third person shooters. I was more of a Mario, Pokemon, and Sonic kind of kid, and since I thought that I should try a bit of everything, so I decided to buy Mass Effect.  Being a fan of RPGs since I bought Final Fantasy 1&2: Dawn of Souls and Golden Sun, And BioWare’s previous title Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I decided that I might as well start with a hybrid of both an Third Person Shooter and an RPG.  But now without the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, and with the partially poo stained glasses of a critic.  //Ouch, that is bad.

Mass Effect Review
Release Date: 20/11/2007
Price I Paid:  $17.99

Mass Effect takes place nearly two hundred years in the future, when mankind has encountered a council of aliens and is trying to colonize the galaxy, and gain enough respect to join the council.  You play as Mr. or Ms. Shepard, a human commander who was sent to a human colony from a race of robots, known as Geth. Shepard proceeded to receive a vision of the whole galaxy being destroyed.  Said vision was caused by an artifact of the race that  occupied the galaxy before mankind and the other 12 or so unique aliens that scavenge the Milky Way.  It is well told and does send you across a wide variety of planets, although it can easily get overrun with grey corridors, but relies a bit too much on you reading codex articles to get the full understanding of the plot and lore.

The vision also included a Spectre, an interstellar secret agent who is above the law, joining with the destruction of Alien Kind.  You are also made a Spectre, where you look for side missions, gain help, kill, and knob several Alien friends, who work as AI controlled companions.  Said companions are a tad bit thick, often refusing to get out of my way and never using cover.  But the actual role-playing is done via a conversation wheel, which included a kind, angelic Paragon, and sly, thuggish Renegade.  These options are nice, and I won’t be critiquing the decision, since this franchise started in 2007, where a non 2D morality system was unfathomable, which might extend to today, but it’s the least of the game’s problems.  Let’s begin with the gameplay, it is a mostly enjoyable Third Person Shooter, but suffers from hard to distinguish enemies, who I could barely seen if not for the red triangles on their bellies.  And a cover system that makes me feel like I don’t have much control over Shepard when a wall of any kind is involved.  Yet, it works and makes for a unique shooter due to the plethora of abilities you unlock by leveling up throughout the game.  The tech and biotic abilities do let you play the game in an entirely different way, and is justified for multiple playthroughs of characters spreading across the six unique classes.  Unfortunately, the game has several areas that are just random terrain that you need to navigate in the MAKO, a form of all terrain tank that feels like I’m driving in a butter factory.

Then there is the audio problems, namely that it is dull. I had to rewatch all of Sgt. Frog and Futurama just to get through the boring ambiance of any scene that didn’t involve shooting or talking.  I also had trouble hearing numerous voices, Wrex and Garrus could have been mumbling all of their lines while in the ship and I wouldn’t have noticed a difference.  The visuals are equally underwhelming, with bland models, repeated areas, planets that lack any originality in their level design, and an awful grainy filter that is coating the game.  However, the game manages to be entertaining in terms of dialog, both of Shepard’s genders have good voice actors, and the rest of the cast doesn’t slouch either.  The partner characters also have their own stories to tell if you talk to them, but they are a bit underwhelming, and with the way the game handles upgrades and weapons, it makes more sense to only care about two other characters and maybe one more if you want to see a second of bare ass.  There is also about 20 hours of side quests to do, but most of them are very forgettable and just have you going somewhere, activate, find, or kill something, and be on your merry way.  There was some effort placed into these side quests, but there is so much copying and pasting in this game, that it makes recolored enemies seem like an original thought.

In the end, the game feels a bit too ambitious, it manages to be buggy, bland, and a unbearably boring at times.  The voice acting is great for 2007, and the story holds on its own, with a lot of lore to explore, making the world feel livelier than it actually is.  The core of the gameplay is shootery fun, with numerous nifty abilities that you can play with.  It does however, suffer when it dabbles into extra content and driving sections. Time has not been kind to this game and it’s flaws are even more evident once you compare it to its sequel.

There are evident flaws, but the game still manages to remain fun and is competent in its execution.

//Yes, I was harsh with this, but I did not have a lot of fun with the first Mass Effect, I just wanted to get a Female Shepard, because you are not allowed to customize a profile for Mass Effect 2, which is stupid in my opinion, since all Bioware is doing is making it less appealing to go through just one of their games, and most people lack 120 hours to devote to an entire trilogy.  But I did actually want to play this game, just not beat it after the first 10 hours, which bored me.

Mass Effect 2 was one of those games that I was excited for, but never did any extensive research on it.  I didn’t watch many trailers, didn’t look for news, I just pre-ordered it, heard how great it was before launch, and started playing.  I went in hoping for a more refined version, but instead I got a notable improvement in nearly every aspect. 

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