Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360/PC
Genre: Action RPG
ESRB: Mature (Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence)
RPGs, historically, are deep, menu- and dialog-based and massive. Today, there are many old-school gamers ragging on the newer era of RPGs like Mass Effect 2 and Fallout being blended with shooters to create what is arguably a different genre. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for everyone.
RPGs have always been a little heavy for me – I’d be ashamed to admit the time I’d end up investing in them (especially after Fallout 3), so a closed-ended RPG like Mass Effect is a great blend for someone like me. With something like Fallout, there are a wealth of stats (Lockpick, Small Guns, etc.) to be played with, and the stat ranges from 1-100. When I invest two points into my Big Guns, I don’t really notice. For this reason, I prefer what Mass Effect brings to the table – each mission results in points that can be spent on biotic powers. Each power has four levels and each level is distinct. I like to see where my hard-earned points are going, and this is a great way to do that.
If you’ll recall from my L.A. Noire review, I cited my appreciation for the accurate relation between the conversation options and what Shepard actually says. In addition to this, the voice acting is pretty good.
The story is fantastic. Mass Effect manages to blend the RPG elements while still telling the same general story to everyone playing – whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on who you are, but the story is pretty great, so I’d hate to have missed it. It can also become a very personal experience, as player decisions aren’t completely worthless. It’s not a particularly intuitive system, but that doesn’t make it less effective as a plot element.
The combat system is all there. None of the guns feel particularly powerful, but the damage gets done regardless. Biotics are blended in well, and your partners are smart enough to not get killed all the time, but they aren’t playing it for you.
Graphically, it’s a little rough around the edges. People look weird when they talk, and environmental textures are occasionally lost – especially on some of the DLC included on the PS3 disc. You’re driving around a small ship and there’s some phasing into the ground and it looks pretty rough and plants sort of grow as you approach them…it’s odd and probably not intended.
As I write this, I can’t decide why I loved this title so much, which results in this feeling of an awful review and it not getting the credit is deserves. The plot is really the source of my love for it, I guess. It’s a massive story with many compelling characters, and the control that you have makes it interesting. Minor spoiler alert: For the record, I totally hooked up with Miranda in the end.
Bottom Line: 9.5/10