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System: Xbox 360Released: 11/20/2007
Developer: BiowarePublisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Action/RPGPlayers: 1
ESRB Rating: M for MatureXbox Live Support: Yes
Game Save: 4 MBReviewer: Thunder God X (Reader Submission)

Ah, Mass Effect. The game that every single action RPG fan has been waiting for since Knights of the Old Republic, which was game of the year some time ago in 2003, and still is the only game of the year Bioware has gotten. Now, Mass Effect is a videogame, despite it mostly taking the form of a choose your own adventure game. The game itself has more dialog then the last few Harry Potter books combined, most of which stem from the games rich storyline. Although there is a game hidden beneath all this, which isn't half bad and can be quite intuitive at times when you aren't driving, or sitting around reading dialog half the time.

I'll get to that later.

In Mass Effect, you play as Commander ________ Shepard.

It really doesn't matter what you call yourself, it could be "Cockburn" and you could get a cheap laugh every single time you open your character menu, but for the game you're going to be called Shepard.

You are a renowed human soldier whom is sent to investigate some ruins left behind by the Protheans, this game's version of the ancient sith, or any other almighty race from any other science fiction show. While there, a Specter (The "Jedi" of the game) named Saren decides that he's going to attack the world with an army of mechanical monsters named the Geth. After saving what was left of the ruined colony, you are promoted to a Specter to hunt down Saren. Let me say that this is an extremely shortened version of the story and the universe your character is put in, which I must say is very deep and the next time you see a Bioware writer you should give them a cookie. There are many races to interact with in the game, from the honor bound Turians to the gentle and smurf looking Asarians. And as always, Bioware (Canadians, woo!! :D) is very adept at telling a story from start to finish and keeping you interested, even with all the mini side stories. If you liked Knights of the Old Republic, or just good storytelling in general, that's a good reason to pick up this game.

Ok, the character selection screen has been improved slightly from other games (and by improved I mean "ripped off from Oblivion"). Your able to chisel your characters eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth, whatever you want, which offers variety from the other games of this type. But sadly enough, your choices for guys are short brown hair, even less hair, or bald. And any adjustments you make only seem to enhance the ruggedness of your character. Oh, you can also make a hansom rugged woman too.

Seriously, whats with most of the characters looking like butch lesbians?


Anyways, I'm all for diversity, but I liked it when you could make some descisions on how your character could look and act more outlandishly like in KOTOR or Jade Empire.

You use the left stick for movement and the right stick for aiming. Left trigger zooms in with your selected weapon, right trigger brings the pain to your enemies in compact mass accelerated projectiles. The guns don't need ammo, but they overheat from use. The grenade button is placed on the select button, a very odd configuration, and the grenades work like remote detonated mines. You can run up to cover, pop out and fire, and sprint, the standard stuff. Right bumper changes weapons for you and your squadmates, and right bumper accesses your "Quick Cast" menu (For lack of better word). You can also issue commands to your troops with the D-pad, although your troops follow your orders with either blind unquestionable loyalty, or not at all, The former being the worst. The game doesn't give you any tutorial at all, automatically throwing you in a firefight hoping you have the cranial fortitude to pick it up instantly.

The game spots the usual Neverwinter Nights/D&D mindset. You can create a character that is either a Fighter (Soldier), a wizard (Biotic), or a rogue (Engineer), and variations of each. The game really dumbs it down from it's predecessors, meaning there's no mana bar, all your "biotic powers" have cooldown times, and they range from throwing people to creating holes to lifting everything up. It's very interesting, but at some point your going to have to shoot something, so the biotic classes don't really replace actual combat like they would in the other games. The game is more heavy on the action part but it's still satisfying to RPG fans, you might want to start honing your skills though. Although there are only 4 weapons, you can buy many upgrades and customize your weapons and armor to your liking.

Bioware's games present you with the following question: If you see someone drop a dollar bill on the ground, do you pick it up and give them back the bill, while giving them a better wallet so it doesn't fall out again, or do you kill the man and take all of his money while driving to his house and having sex with his wife? The "Good and Bad" dial has now been replaced with "Paragon and Renegade", basically meaning order and chaos. Although each scale fills up individually, so it is possible to explore both sides of the game at once and there are individual times where both are crucial, which I admire the game for, being an improvement over KOTOR in that way, as the game is very deep and it's not too pleasant to play through just to find out if you would have gotten any loot from that puppy you should have thrown over a cliff.

Speaking of depth, this game is LLLOOOOOOOOONG. Well, it's not that long if you decide you just want to skip to the end and bum rush through the story, but with all the side quests, planet exploring, codex readings, this game is an RPG that will keep grinding fans busy and will keep you interested. And even after you beat the game, the achievements give you actual in game rewards for your grinding like getting 150 kills with your assault rifle, something many games should follow suit on.

Sadly, the game is not without it's faults. The Engineer classes are rendered useless. All of the "tech stuff" can be solved by your other tech party members, and the attacks they have don't really help, and are the equivalent of the "status ailments" of Final Fantasy. The AI isn't what I would call a spawn of satan, nor is it what I would call "tactical". Enemies will hardly use cover, and most of them will circle around cover to run and shoot you straight on, walking right into your shotgun blasts. And Shepard must be gay, because the squad takes "stick close" way too seriously, as they huddle around you regardless of the tactical advantage of moving to another wall for better cover from oncoming fire.

Although these ones aren't really that bad of demerits compared to the driving sequences. You really have to wonder how humanity survived any alien invasion with these things. Sure they have cannons and machine guns, but you have to be on the same level to fire them, and it's impossible to fire at something if it's below the scope of movement of the turret. The vehicle has a jump function which does dick all to the hordes and hordes of mountain climbing your going to have to do. The thing itself handles like a lama in a wheelchair, a horrible combination between Halo's driving system and Battlefield's. Although you are forced to drive the thing, it's more like a mobile bomb as when it dies, you die. And don't even get me started on fighting the worm like creatures in one of these things.

Although the game does have an interesting story, unless you love reading and watching movies, then the huge amounts of talking and dialog are going to be very annoying. Characters constantly throw their life stories at your feet, and you have to sit there, either listening calmly, or mashing the A button hopping you get to kill something soon.

My final complaint is that although there are the three "city" worlds, the hundreds of other ones are very bare and desolate. Not a major complaint, but you get the feeling of déjà vu sometimes.

Overall, this game is a great one, a fantastic story combined with an interesting combat system and a world you can dive into. If you're a science fiction fan, a fan of any good storytelling, an action RPG lover, or someone whom wants a little more depth to their games and characters then Gears of War or Halo, then this game is for you. The technical difficulties do hinder the game, but they don't take away from it's awesomeness.

Score: 4/5

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Images taken by Laserkid(staff)