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SummarySave the universe, collect hidden briefcase, chase monkeys and bore yourself to death.
The GoodI'm probably the wrong person to review RPG's mainly because I'm not true to the genre. I've mostly played more of the modern releases and some D&D based one's which would include Neverwinter Nights and Rage of Mages not forgetting some JRPGs.
When I look at Mass Effect though I see a RPG made purely on being accessible. And the sales and popularity behind this game proves this, as it has attracted even people not familiar with the genre. It's hard to review this Bioware title according to Mobygame's format because where Mass Effect tends to have a good it also has a bad.
But ignoring the gameplay for a while, the graphics are fantastic. Art direction maybe a bit cliched in the Sci-Fi theme. But the visuals work very well and thanks to the Unreal Engine I'm guessing this console to PC port didn't come with much graphical bugs or surprisingly no technical issues which tend to haunt many modern RPG games.
Mass Effect lets you customize your character from the looks to the Class which the game explains and also the starting skills. You can choose a male or female character with the last name “Shepard” and what's awesome is that they're both voiced. Jennifer Hales performance as the female Shepard is solid, not forgetting the rest of the characters too; topped off with beautiful character modeling and expressions which in all adds a strong foundation to the story telling. Speaking of which the storyline is nothing too original but at least they created a whole fictional universe and lore. The game provides a codex in which you can explore and read about the universe, technology and characters. Traveling to planets has been presented well too with the galaxy map and all. And there's nothing like the feeling of having your own ship “The Normandy”.
The combat system is similar to a shooter in the veins of Gears of War or Rainbow Six: Vegas. You got the cover system and can choose 2 team mates to assist you. Leveling up your character is pretty much the usual gain XP, gain points and spend it to unlock more skills based on which class you take. From there it's your typical RPG where you have a main plot and side quests.
The BadThe Side-quests however make the game uninteresting. This is a RPG and side-questing is an important part of them. Mostly you travel to barren planets, drive the oversensitive vehicle, investigate which is mostly that hacking mini-game which is overused like crazy! Then go rescue/shoot a few turrets/enemies. Nothing really creative although I had to chase little monkeys for some gadget it had stolen...yes I'm serious. Seems like they were lazy and only focused on the main plot. Which I will admit to some point is good, the characters are memorable but follow a usual formula, there will be the love interest, the Bi curious, the serious mature one. Saren, the main villain is forgettable, the Asari Matriarch who assists him in the start was more memorable thanks to her Asari boobs of course. If it ain't side-quest or the main plot it's console game quests like the hidden briefcases in Rainbow Six. Find all minerals, find tags oh and surveying planets is really stupid.
There is the so called “revolutionary” dialogue system which is basically the dialogue options appearing before the character finishes talking (what is that like 2 lines of code?). Most of the time your character will say something far from what you've actually selected. If you select for e.g. the option “Okay follow my orders and you will be fine” your character will end up speaking something like “Yeah keeping it real aite” or “Bush did 9/11” it actually deviates far from the chosen words.
Who am I kidding? The port is actually terrible when it has to be. The User Interface is abysmal and maintaining your inventory is a pain really.The Dialogue system could use a mouse pointer instead of the analogue-like selection. Many times I've selected the wrong dialogue as my mouse jerked a bit before I could click.
Team mates A.I is terrible and to top things off commanding them or positioning them is just as bad an idea as having rough sex with Paris Hilton without protection. Your better off just leaving them to do their own shit. This area supposedly had improvements over it's xbox brother.