reviewed on PC
Before you know it, you’ve set foot on the human colony of Eden Prime. Eden Prime happens to be on siege by Geth forces, a mysterious robot race that does not like humans at all. A chain of events unfolds and suddenly, an epic has begun. Mass Effect is a very cinematic game and as such, it sucks you in right from the start. The plot isn’t groundbreaking nor is something never done before as everybody by now must have at least a couple of space references on the tip of their tongues.
In a nutshell, there’s a council, racism against humans, ancient overly technologic civilizations and alien lesbian consensual sex. Mass Effect might not be very original but it more than makes up for it with incredible pacing and directing. Besides, who can beat alien lesbian sex? Right? Right?
After completing you mission on Eden Prime and visiting the impressive Citadel, Shepard gets access to the finest human ship, the SSV Normandy. It’s armed with a Galaxy Map which lets Shepard travel across a high number of uncharted worlds dispersed through the lost corners of the galaxy. While this seems promising at first, most worlds are inaccessible and those that are, are vast rocky pieces of soil with little of value.
What is compelling about traversing the galaxy are side quests, fortunately given in the way of transmissions, received upon approaching unknown star clusters. Most side quests involve the routine of landing on a world, exploring it, investigating a certain marker on your map and then slaughtering whoever was there. In case you’re a smooth talker, sometimes talking your enemies out of battle is a possibility. Side quests aren’t nearly as epic as main storyline quests, which isn’t unexpected at all, but they do a fine job supporting your travels across the galaxy. Considering that star systems contain various clusters which have at least one side quest each, the game assures your colonizing doesn’t go unrewarded. It’s also a big relief, considering how huge the game is, to automatically receive side quests without actively looking for them. But I would love to see more inhabited worlds that offered another kinds of side quests altogether.
Worlds are explored using the Mako, a buggy-like armored vehicle, well equipped for combat. On the Xbox 360, handling the Mako was harder than parking the Death Star and while promises of superior handling on the PC were made, I see little in the way of improvement. Most of the issues come from the poor condition of the terrain, understandable on uncharted worlds, but annoying nevertheless. Handling may have been slightly polished but I wish you could just land the Normandy wherever you want instead of riding that dreadful Mako.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
As far as combat is concerned, it handles itself well as a third person shooter like the many we’re getting these days. Shepard can hide behind cover and step out to deliver some lead or use one of the handy biotics or tech abilities at his/her disposal. Cover feels somewhat tacked on, with no option to blind fire and a combat pace that just doesn’t lend itself to duck and cover, peak and shoot, repeat. Instead, most of the times you tend to take charge and lead the action to your enemies’ front doors. That’s why the biotic and tech abilities are extremely useful; they’re all those neat powers that really give you the edge on battle.
For instance, the biotic skill “lift” raises enemies in the immediate radius in the air, rendering them unable to fend for themselves. Finally, it drops them to the ground, damaging them. This works the best against large groups of enemies or against the big, slow and deadly types. Since enemies tend to move a lot, it’s pretty hard to land your biotics and tech skills from a distance or behind cover. Usually, sprinting until you’re facing your foe and then casting precedes a much better outcome.
No Pros and Cons at this time