Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mass Effect

It seems like only yesterday since I've played the first Mass Effect game. With the hype surrounding the last entry in an otherwise fantastic trilogy, I've decided to start off my "review" career (if I'll ever have one) by stating my thoughts and opinions on the specific aspects of the very first Mass Effect game. So, without anything more to say, let's begin. 

Mass Effect is an action adventure RPG that came out in 2007. The storyline focus on Commander Shepard and his crew stopping an alien race called the Geth. The story takes place in a much larger universe created by BioWare. There are a lot of alien races including turians, the asari and volus. There is a lot more to the list, but it's safe to assume that racial variety exists in the Mass Effect universe. 

While the story seems like a typical science fiction adventure, the undertone of the plot is more sophisticated because of the first games foreshadow of the Reapers; an ancient galactic artificial intelligence that wants to destroy the universe. Their reasons and intent are unknown and not much detail surrounds them in the first game. More detail surrounds the antagonist, Saren, and his Geth minion. Your job as Commander is to stop both Saren and the Geth. 

Along the way, you will find interesting companions and NPCs who will join you on the ride. Two of which are with you at the very beginning of the game. More and more characters will eventually come to your side and join your crew on the SSV Normandy, Commander Shepard's ship. The first two companions are Ashley Williams and Kaidan Alenko. These two are the only human companions that will join Commander Shepard. Everyone else is a member of one of the many alien races in the Mass Effect universe. There is Tali Zora Vas Neema, who is a Qurian. Than there is Garrus, who is a turian. Than there's Liara who is an asari doctor. Finally there's Wrex, who is a krogan. Wrex is probably the most popular squadmate in Mass Effect. So popular that he won an award for being the best original character of 2007. 

You got your assignment to stop Saren and the Geth. You have your ship, the SSV Normandy along with your crew. So what's stopping this game from being perfect? Well, there's a lot of issues that hamper Mass Effect. Most of these are technical issues such as poor optimized textures. Others are more severe, with game breaking glitches and bugs. One of which is when your character stops firing his weapon, even though it hasn't overcharged. However, despite these technical problems, BioWare released countless patches to fix everything up. Did they succeed? Well, considering that I have not faced a single game breaking bug since the last patch, I can safely say that yes, they did succeed. 

The more prominent problem with the original Mass Effect is the repetitive nature of its game-play. Shooting bad guys from behind cover is fun and all, but having to do it in environments that are continually reused and recycled is not fun. Especially when you tackle on the game's side-quests. Every planet is reused over and over again. All that remains different are the textures. The in-game codex explains this issue as these planets are uncharted and colonized. Unfortunately it doesn't help fix the issue and does a big blow to Mass Effect. 

Despite these problems, Mass Effect still remains as one of the best games of all time. The presentation, the atmosphere, the characters and the journey are so very memorable that you'll want to replay Mass Effect over you've completed it. There are stuff that you just won't pick up on your first play-through, and you'll want to replay it to experience everything you've missed the first time around. Granted, you'll be frustrated, but this feeling of frustration is more like being frustrated with a portal puzzle than a genuine feeling of frustration. In short, you'll have fun, but you'll be annoyed. 

Ultimately, I give Mass Effect a 9/10. One of the best RPG's I've ever played. Too bad the sequels never lived up to the exception of the original.   

I'll also take this moment to explain my rating system. Normally, most people use a point system to rate their games. I don't, and will use the classic 1 to 10 system. Here's a rundown list of my rating definition. 

0 - Abysmal, don't buy it. 
1 - Horrible, don't buy it. 
2 - Has a few redeeming qualities, but suffers from so many problems. 
3 - Has a few redeeming qualities, but fails to exceed. 
4 - Balanced and okay, but suffers from too many problems. 
5 - Decent but mediocre. 
6 - Fun for a weekend, but fails to exceed. 
7 - A good game, that will keep you occupied for a long time. Suffers from some problems and balance issues but still a solid title. 
8 - A great and fun game. It will keep you busy for along time. 
9 - A near perfect game. Fun and original. Only two problems keep it back from reaching perfection. 
10 - Perfect. No flaws, no mistakes, nothing. Everything is flawless and fun. 

Only one game has reached my level of perfection and that is Dark Cloud.

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