Saving the world has become so easy, but helping the entire universe out of trouble: now that’s a challenge! This is also what you are going to do in Mass Effect, the newest game of Bioware. For those who don’t know the developer, you can crawl back under the rock you came from, because they’re responsible for the beauties called Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Let us hope we can add Mass Effect to this list of successful games.
For the people who don’t know the game, i’ll do a small recap of the story. In Mass Effect you play a human commander who is having a big chance of becoming a ‘spectre’ (special reconnaissance and tactics). This is an elite unit who is above the law and and have the sole purpose of maintaining stability and order between the different races. Sadly there is another spectre called Saren who would just love to see humanity wiped out, so he rebels against his leaders. It’s up to you to find out why he has an alliance with the robotic Geth and let justice prevail.
As with all RPG-games you have different classes in the game. You can play with a pre-defined character or create one to your liking. You can almost change everything on your face, ranging from hair to the eyes. You can choose as a player out of three different playing styles. Three classes are specialized in a single technique, while the other three are a mix of different techniques. Besides that you can also set a limited background for your avatar, which will have an influence in the conversations with the different beings from the races that you will meet.
During your playing you will meet a lot of figures and many of them can use your help. How you help them is up to you. Are you a generous person, you can help them without any payment or you can only think about your own interests. Selecting one of the outlying answers will have an influence on your character. Is it a positive influence you will start behaving more as a ‘paragon’. Doing the opposite will have you becoming more as a ‘renegade’. You can compare these two ”characteristics” with the Jedi- and Sith status of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a previous game of Bioware.
Of course you have to find them first. You can find them on different planets, spread all over the Milky Way. You can reach them with your personal spaceship, the Normandy. On this ship you can talk with your team mates and hear them out about their history or feelings. You can also plan your future explorations through the ‘galaxy map’. Each system has at least one planet to visit. If you know that each system has around four planets and that there are around three systems for each region, then you can know that there are plenty of locations to visit.
When you chose a planet where you can’t dock with the Normany, you will be dropped with the MAKO rover. This vehicle is a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because it can drive on every terrain you’ll face, but a curse since it can be uncontrollable at some times. Every planet you visit will have a limited interesting locations to visit. This can be crashed escape pods or hidden camps full of criminal scum. Besides these known locations you can also find other places that aren’t shown on the map. When you have found something interesting , you can leave the rover and try and to decipher it. This is done through a simple minigame where you have to press the right buttons in a certain sequence. If you fail in this, your only way of unlocking it secrets is to use a certain item called ‘omni-gel’.This gel you get through salvaging it of found items.
As i mentioned you will find several hidden bases where they are not that keen on visitors. You can deal easily with the enemies on the surface with the guns on your MAKO, but at a certain moment you will have to step out and say ‘hello’ to the enemies inside. At this moment you see one of the biggest differences with the previous games of Bioware.
While you still had to select several skills and attacks and put them in a certain order, you don’t have to do anything like that in this game. The fighting is so action based that it feels like you’re playing a third-person shooter. Of course you can still use a wide arranges of skills and powers but it all depends on the class you took. If you are playing as a soldier you can rely purely on your guns, but if you choose a different class, you will have to use more of your powers and skills to survive.
Another improvement is how you collect your items in this game. You no longer have to start collecting items from killed enemies, but instead it will be automatically collected in your inventory. There is only one downside and that it is that you can only carry as much as 150 items. So if you killed plenty of enemies and haven’t checked your inventory in a wile, you might have to much items and you’ll have to kill destroy some items by turning them in omni-gel. What you also start to notice after a while is that every gun has the exact same design. This means that assault rifles will all have the same shape and just a different color. The same thing is also with the suits.
Regarding graphics everything checks out, but it won’t be able to beat graphic intense games like Gears of War or Call of Duty 4. The reason for this is quite simple, the bigger the surface of a level, the more power of a console is been spread. That’s why you will have a little less graphic quality then in linear games. On the sound department the game checks out completely. The guns sound “real”, the dialogues are beautiful and the environment sounds are also very impressive.
Mass Effect is a beautiful game, but because of some small mistakes and bugs not a classic. The main story of the game is a bit on the short side, but because of the many side-stories and dozens of locations to visit, you won’t throw this game to the side real fast. People that are looking for a game that breaths a beautiful atmosphere don’t have to doubt: They won’t regret this buy!