Mass Effect

Mass Effect Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

As the first human Specter - sworn defenders of galactic peace - your mission is to halt the advancing armies of a legendary agent gone rogue. But as you lead your elite team across hostile alien worlds, you discover the threat is greater than imagined.

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10Out of 10
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BioWare has surpassed even the great KotOR series
BioWare has surpassed even the great KotOR series

BioWare has surpassed even the great KotOR series

Mass Effect is the most beautiful dice roll you never saw. It is an illusion, a picture perfect disguise, one that makes the foundations upon which role playing games are built - statistics, levelling up, character development - dissolve in an HD gust of wind. Because of this Mass Effect transcends its genre - a genre that began with a notepad, pen and dice all those years ago - and fully deserves its rightful place in the pantheon of science-fiction entertainment.

BioWare, Mass Effect's creator, must now be considered the greatest sci-fi RPG developer of modern times. It has taken its already critically acclaimed Knights of the Old Republic games, stripped away the Star Wars license, drowned them in a tsunami of next-generation polish and given me what can only be described as one of the finest video game experiences I've ever had.

That is not to say that BioWare's work with KotOR has been forgotten. Reminders of the series whisper in your mind as the Mass Effect universe takes its hold. From its game mechanics to the way it allows you to mould your experience like virtual clay, Mass Effect is KotOR refined - re-imagined for the masses - it is the result of a decision to make the best possible RPG for as many people as possible, even those who might otherwise have passed the genre by.

And the game's superb plot, told through some of the best voice acting we've ever heard (there are some famous voices in there, including the Arbiter from Halo) leads from the front. The game begins aboard the Human Alliance space ship the Normandy, where Captain Anderson and the Turian, Nihlus, are debating whether Commander Shepard, aka you, is ready to become the first human Spectre, a kind of all powerful galaxy commando, and not unlike a Jedi. Your first mission is on Eden Prime, a peaceful paradise planet settled by humans. A beacon built by the now extinct Protheans, an alien race responsible for the Citadel, a planet-sized space installation and the Mass relays, which allow travel across the galaxy, has been discovered there. Nihlus, himself a Spectre, wants to experience your skills first hand to see if you're ready for the role.

'Playing Mass Effect is a bit like watching your favourite ever sci-fi film - except this time you're the star and the director.'

Things go wrong pretty quickly. The Normandy receives a distress transmission from Eden Prime detailing an attack by a giant, claw-like space ship. You and two other squad members investigate the dig site, fighting your way past alien robots called the Geth. You finally catch up with Nihlus who has been murdered by a fellow turian Spectre called Saren. Turns out Saren's gone rogue and is commanding the Geth. He steals the beacon, but not before it imprints in your brain a vision of death and destruction. He escapes in the giant claw-like ship, Sovereign, that you saw in the transmission. It's now up to you to chase him across the galaxy, reveal his true motives and unravel the mystery behind the vision and the mysterious Prothean beacon. While we won't spoil the story for you, (relax, the ending is superb) what we will say is that playing Mass Effect is a bit like watching your favourite ever sci-fi film - except this time you're the star and the director.

Mass Effect is full of brilliant touches that help make it feel less hardcore RPG and more fast-flowing action game. Example one: the combat, which is absolute genius. Mass Effect's combat feels like Epic's blockbuster Gears of War. You've got a third-person camera angle, a targeting reticule, squad commands, a roadie run and even a cover system (doesn't everything these days) from which you can pop out, zoom in and hit a space mutant between the eyes with a well placed pulse from your sniper rifle. But don't be fooled - this isn't Gears of War. The dice is still being cast, it's just wonderfully disguised. Your chance to hit is being worked out from behind the camera. The percentage likelihood that your bullet, your tech ability or your biotic power will penetrate your enemy's shield and score deep into its flesh is the result of countless calculations worked out in real-time behind the scenes. No need to pause, no need to understand the why behind it all.

Mass Effect's story is one of the best we've seen

Mass Effect's story is one of the best we've seen

Sure you can micro-manage your squad if you want, pausing after every action to pick and direct special abilities from within the game's excellent power wheel, but the point is you don't have to. Your squad works perfectly well if you simply leave them alone to get on with the job and very rarely do they do a stupid thing or get in the way. Apart from the odd AI issue with them not being able to move across to certain positions despite clearly being able to, whatever two team members you choose to accompany you on missions you'll find that they never annoy, which is the most important thing. This is one of Mass Effect's greatest triumphs - to wrap KotOR in a fully functional and fantastically fun action shooter's robes. So good is the disguise that it was an effort for me to stop thinking like Marcus Fenix and start thinking like Commander Shepard.

Example two: the conversation system. Despite the hype, Mass Effect's conversation system is not revolutionary. It does not allow you to interrupt other game characters mid sentence, nor does it break any boundaries by making possible even remotely realistic dialogue - it's still question, answer, question, answer. But what it does do is burn away the inefficiency and fluff of previous efforts, leaving behind a simple, gloriously cinematic and intuitive way of interacting with computer controlled characters. You know you have a special RPG on your hands when you want to talk to people, and in Mass Effect that's exactly what you've got. It is a medium through which you can role play without hindrance, whether it is as a hard-nosed bitch, one that will do anything to get the job done, or as a do-gooder. And it all looks stunning, with dynamic camera angles, incredibly detailed facial animations and impressive textures.

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ghostdog25's Avatar

ghostdog25

the game is ok... I don't believe it deserves a 10/10 especially with the horrid framerate issues and the grainy screen...
Posted 14:53 on 28 March 2009
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Shark82

Dismiss my last comment. I finally finished the game and am almost done with my third play through lol
Posted 19:34 on 01 March 2009
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Gus

An AMAZING game. I'd give gameplay a 9/10 though (planet quests, Diablo barrels full of inventory junk), and a 10/10 for the gorgeous graphics that kept me mashing my screenshot button.

People mention Wrex, but forgot the gem of a race, the Elcore!

BUY THIS GAME AND KNOW YOUR COMPUTER LOVES YOU.
Posted 05:46 on 14 January 2009
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Destenoth

You can interrupt other people. Instead of A you press X and you'll talk over the NPC.
Posted 02:11 on 09 January 2009
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Anonymous

Too short, too damn short. 13 hours on my first play through, 26 (incl every single side mission) on my second. Couldve been the best RPG ever, ends up struggeling for top 10. Hopefully ME2 will be longer.

Still easily the best game of 2007 though.
Posted 20:34 on 04 December 2008
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Shark82

Doesn't live up to the hype. It's like the Spider-Man 3 of video games. I haven't even finished the game and I don't know if I will. The character customization, graphics, and story are great...but that means nothing when the game play is excruciating and makes you want to bash your head in with the controller. There's also a lot of slow loading that even takes place in the middle of combat. I know it's because there's "a lot to it" but it's not worth it in the end. Reviewers only give this such a high rating based on the hype...and maybe because they're pervs who got turned on by the alien sex scene. Either way, the game DOES NOT, and I can not stress that enough, deserve a ten. At this point in the game, which is far, I'd give it an 8/10, and that's being generous only because of the unique features of the game. Those unique features don't get it on my must-play list, though. It's rather disappointing, to sum things up.
Posted 23:52 on 12 November 2008
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Kiariana

^_^ I love Mass Effect. Well, just like any other obsessed gamer, I had slight disagreements to things in this review- just minor stuff, like how I enjoy going through the equipment and dishing out each weapon and upgrade to my squad. One thing I did do a double-take to was the part at the end about the Mostly appealing to male gamers. XD I'm female and it took me only about half an hour to get the hang of every control in the game. Vampirika is another obsessed fan-layer who shares the same interests in the game as me. Well, she says the Asari race creeps her out, and I happen to find them interesting, but hey, lol. Granted, the hacking eluded me for a while, but now I happen to be a master of it. Looking forward to Mass Effect 2, and to all you fellow gamers out there, Happy gaming!
Posted 20:28 on 10 November 2008
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Anonymous

"""""""""Your squad works perfectly well if you simply leave them alone to get on with the job and very rarely do they do a stupid thing or get in the way. Apart from the odd AI issue with them not being able to move across to certain positions despite clearly being able to, whatever two team members you choose to accompany you on missions you'll find that they never annoy, which is the most important thing."""""""""""""""

Hmm...........FAN FICTION! ! ! ! ! ! !
Posted 13:51 on 16 August 2008
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Leila

Fun game, I don't know which I'm looking more foward to ... Mass Effect 2 or Fable ...
Posted 01:59 on 01 August 2008
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Anonymous

The story was superb and held me on my seat till the end
Posted 16:46 on 28 June 2008
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dave

its a good game but it desservs a 9 out of ten in my opinion
Posted 09:48 on 27 June 2008
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Blah

Next time you could try *not* spoiling huge sections of the storyline. I dunno, just an idea. Thankfully, I stopped reading after seeing the first one.
Posted 17:56 on 05 June 2008
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Fade8way

WTF Idiot who reviewed this. THis game doesn't deserve a 10 you jack butt. At least a 12....
Posted 19:58 on 18 April 2008
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scppppp

this game is so good how can you not like it
Posted 02:49 on 05 March 2008
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Squire_Simon

Here's a nice little quote that will hopefully settle this:

"This was my 2007 game of the year, and i really liked the Krogen"
- Squire Simon
Posted 13:51 on 19 February 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Mass Effect
10
Out of 10
Mass Effect
  • 80s sci-fi score
  • Cool combat
  • Superb story
  • Incredible cinematic graphics
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 23/11/2007
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 12
Site Rank: 385 21
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