Mass Effect Review
A Meglomaniac's Paradise
From the moment you begin playing Mass Effect, one things is abundantly clear: this game is all about you. On the positive side this includes customization of your character (even the character's first name is yours to choose) that is deep enough that you can craft a relatively unique avatar (including male or female options). Unfortunately, before you've even begun to play the game you are forced to choose your class and that choice will drastically affect your experience with this game. All of this just sets up what is sure to be an eventful, story driven, unique version of Bioware's newest action RPG adventure.
As I referenced earlier, you have a choice between one of three classes for your character: commando, infiltrator, and biotic. Mass Effect is probably the first action RPG that can be easily played by shooter fans as it involves real time battles and actual accuracy. Any shooter fan attempting an action RPG for the first time with this game is strongly encouraged to use either the commando class or a hybrid commando class, trust me. From that point on you are thrust into your first assignment that basically acts as a training course for the gameplay to come.
Like all Bioware games, the story is the nucleus of the game. If you do not enjoy the dialogue-driven "choose your own adventure" style gameplay with more depth than you could ever imagine, drop out early as this only becomes more prevalent and complex later on. You are free to bask on side and main missions at your own pace and in whatever order you choose, allowing the median 25 hour playthrough of the campaign to be as short as 12 hours and as long as 40 depending on the type of player you are. A morality system also allows you to develop your personality as you see fit from a do-gooder paragon to a selfish mercenary prick. You are even allowed and slightly encouraged to make friends, enemies, and even love interests that result in a mild sex scene.
I think what impresses me the most about Mass Effect is that from the start the story begins to mold to your own choices. Two players can play through the whole game, or even one player two different times, and only receive vaguely similar outcomes. Multiple endings and different plot points aren't exactly rare these days, but in this game they are noticeably distinct. The biggest issue with the overall plot is that for all the focus the game takes into your personality, it never truly feels like you're playing. Immersion can be a game changer for most players and Mass Effect just seems to have enough of a removal from reality that it's more like reading a novel than experiencing the situations for yourself.