Mass Effect

I figured that this week to make up for not being able to write last week that I’d do 2 games. One is the promised bad game that will come next post, the other is a current one I wanted to take a look at. As usual, there will be spoilers for Mass Effect. You have been warned!

Ever wanted to play Baldur's Gate? In space?

Mass Effect is a western action RPG developed by Bioware in 2007. You play as Shepard, either a female or a male Human Systems Alliance soldier who can have several different backgrounds. Were you born on Earth? Raised on a spaceship? Are you ruthless, always getting the job done for the mission? Or do you prefer to get everyone out alive? Your decisions will influence what kind of missions you obtain and how characters interact with you.

You begin the game aboard a ship called the SSV Normandy as you set out to investigate a disturbance on a planet called Eden Prime. Without rambling on about the plot too much, you discover a beacon there belonging to the Protheans, an ancient race that was wiped out by the Reapers, a sentient machine race. This beacon is activated by Shepard and makes him see visions of the Prothean race, giving him insight into a grave warning – that the Reapers may come yet again.

Leading the effort to bring back the Reapers is Saren, a turian (alien race) Spectre (an officer who is above the law and works for the galactic council) who has gone rogue for reasons unknown and is leading another sentient machine race known as the geth who worship the Reapers as Gods.

Did you really need me to tell you that this guy is a villain?

You soon become a Spectre yourself and make it your duty to stop Saren at any cost.

Mass Effect incorporates third-person shooting with role-playing game elements. You are able to pick several different classes at the start of the game which are all good in their own ways, so it’s a fairly well-balanced game at that. The 3 main aspects of a character is their ability to use tech (the ability to reverse engineer or hack objects), biotics (think of the force from Star Wars or spellcasting), and combat (the ability to not give a flying fuck about bullets entering your cranium). All 3 are quite good, and my first character was an Infiltrator who is decent at both combat and tech who was also a renegade, as I’ll explain below.

Mass Effect features a unique morality system as well. You can either be a paragon (upstanding citizen of the law) or renegade (gets the job done at any cost, kills anyone he needs to, never gives up his gun never negotiates with terrorists, acts like an ass and is discriminatory; think a republican only actually competent and sane), and your decisions can put either bar up by some amount. You could even be sometimes paragon and sometimes renegade! It’s an enjoyable system because for once it’s not about good vs. evil. Sure you killed every enemy in the room, but that just means less people to terrorize the galaxy later. Being above the law means that you don’t have to worry about stopping right where you are like a criminal scum.

Dialogue choices are present like in most Bioware games, only this time you barely even need to think about which option is renegade and which is paragon. Paragon options are usually at the top, renegade ones at the bottom, and fence-sitters in the middle.  You can use your social skills to either intimidate people being unreasonable or persuade them like a diplomat. Renegades also tend to be able to sell stuff at a high price while paragons can buy things at low prices, but neither matter because you will have 9,999,999 credits before the end of the game and barely need to buy anything.

This brings me to the problems of Mass Effect in general. You have 150 items as your inventory limit. If you go over this limit, you must discard anything new you pick up until you’re below 150 items. There are no words for just how enraging this is, as you will constantly be picking up items as you open containers, which also give you experience. You will be selling items almost every time you return to the Normandy!

Secondly, and I think anyone who has played the game will agree with this, is the Mako. This is a vehicle you use to explore uncharted planets and the main plot mission planets. It controls about as easily as a man riding a toy car to work, which is to say it is a terrible terrible vehicle and should never be used again. You will be amazed at just how much the Mako flips around while you drive on rough terrain, how it fails completely to climb hills, and how absolutely fucking useless its guns are on Insanity difficulty.

It also happens to be a glitchy piece of shit. Observe:

Thirdly, the game is ridiculously easy even on Insanity. Do you remember how I said that characters who specialize in combat never need to worry about bullets killing them? They obtain an ability called Immunity that makes them nearly invincible for several seconds. As an Infiltrator, you can reuse this power incredibly often, nearly as soon as it runs out. All in all only the sniper enemies will give you any trouble once this is said and done.

Lastly, while this is just a bug in the PC version, it annoyed me enough to post about it. If you click “investigate” as a dialogue option, sometimes the game will crash. There is nothing you can do about this except saving before you talk to NPCs and wish to investigate. You can only imagine how frustrating this is. Some other minor glitches include your squad members getting stuck in walls, enemies getting stuck in walls, and a certain puzzle on Noveria being unsolvable if you exit out of it.

All in all Mass Effect is a great game with some minor flaws. I would encourage you to try it out as it’s rather cheap on Steam and has, supposedly, an even better sequel.

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~ by shalazah on 07/01/2010.

4 Responses to “Mass Effect”

  1. Hmm, not really my Forte’ but the game does bare alot of nice features to it, although I think that Mako might turn people off of it if needed too much. Still, Likely it’s a must play gathering the praise I’ve herad about it before

  2. That is a hilarious video. Good review. If I had a PC that could run it I’d totally get it. Maybe in the fall when I buy a new computer.

  3. Played it to death. (Games artist from Pharyngula, followed your blog link here. :))
    Never actually encountered a crash… But the inventory system annoyed the hell out of me. Thousands of useless items, basically, for the sake of having them.
    Mass Effect 2 improved on this greatly.

    Dragon Age rocks pretty hard too.

  4. Incidentally I never did get around to writing about that bad game I intended, though I suppose Vox Day qualifies as a bad dose of unreality in any case.

    I want to pick up Dragon Age relatively soon. ❤

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