by Chris Scott
reviewed on X360
The Galaxy At Your Disposal
Traversing the galaxy is a blast, and there is plenty to do and explore in the universe that Mass Effect has created. Like hundreds of planets to inspect, although you will only be able to land on a small fraction of them. However with the console technology of today it would be quite feasible to expect a download pack or two with new worlds opened up for ground exploration as well. To move from planet to planet you must first select a star system, then the cluster and then finally the planet. Exploring the galaxy is not something you need to complete the story but those that do will reap the benefits.
Into the Sarlac With You
Not everything in Mass Effect is on the good side of the force though. As great a game as it is there are some glaring bugs and all around annoyances that prevent this from being the very best it could be. The first is the almost complete lack of tutorial. Getting some guidance on how to use powers, access weapons or direct your AI team members would have been nice. The second annoyance is the loading times. Most of it is masked by the ever long elevator rides your team will take, interstellar space jumps, or planetary landings but sometimes you will be greeted with a loading screen while you are just strolling about. A game this massive needs some sort of install option or at the very least heavy caching. But since Microsoft still abides by the no game must require a hard drive (except Final Fantasy XI) at times Mass Effect runs about as smooth as lumpy oatmeal, which is a shame because the game is the best looking on the XBOX 360 at this point in time.
There are some bugs that can bring your annoyance up to downright dissatisfaction. The AI path finding is one of them. Your teammates will sometimes get stuck behind objects, especially doors and you will be forced to backtrack to retrieve them. This is fine when upon backtracking your teammate actually does form up with you, but sometimes they won’t. Instead they wander aimlessly like they are on a different plane of existence. Not only is the AI path finding a bit buggy but the team orders seem to be as well. You would think if you gave the order to “Take Cover” and there was a stone wall in front of your teammate, they would get behind it. Instead they tend to stand out in the open requiring you to revive them. The biggest problem though is you yourself getting stuck. On a few occasions my character got stuck on nothing. He would just start running in place because he wouldn’t move anywhere. The only way I found to fix this without restarting from a previous save point was to throw grenades at my feet in an attempt to knock me off of them. However, purposely making yourself explode is not an acceptable solution by most counts so restarting may be your only option if this happens to you.
These are some other minor annoyances but those only temporarily aggravate your overall experience.
One of the Best
Despite its bugs Mass Effect is a great game. The story is engrossing and, with two sequels already planned, promises a whole lot more. With its fun and fresh gameplay, with a combat system that you can mould to fit your play style and a dialogue system that is the very best of its kind, this game is definitely the evolutionary step forward for role-playing games that the genre has been in dire need of. It may be a little rough around the edges but Mass Effect is one of a few diamonds in the mound of games that have come out recently.
No Pros and Cons at this time