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Mass Effect – Review

Image from Steam

The Mass Effect series since its release has been lauded as the definitive space opera trilogy. The games had a heavy focus on story and political intrigue that really pushed the envelope for what kind of stories games could tell. During my playthrough of Mass Effect 1, I was shocked at how well the story and themes held up over the course of 17 years. I found myself invested in the believable world and characters. Even though the gameplay side of things hasn’t aged nearly as well, I would recommend the first Mass Effect to anyone that is a fan of single player RPGs. Here is my review for Mass Effect.

Image from PCGamesN

A SPACE OPERA

In Mass Effect you play as Commander Shepard, a soldier in the Alliance Navy. Shortly after the game begins Shepard becomes a Specter. This title essentially makes them a superspy. Capable of getting high clearance anywhere in the galaxy and the most important thing of all is that they answer to no one. Not even the council that they report too. This allows Shepard to cross lines which no other form of law enforcement can cross.

When a villain named Saren sets out to revive an ancient species called the Reapers, who are capable of wiping out all life in the universe, it is up to Shepard and their crew to stop him and save the galaxy.

This set up propels the story forward. As you hop from planet to planet, hot on Saren’s trail it really does feel like a globe trotting space adventure. You choose dialogue choices through the game which increases your investment tenfold.  These choices have real consequences on the story. As you fight or talk your way through different enemy factions and species the dialogue and political intrigue is always well written. These consequences can even reach out through the different games in the series.

The Citadel is a location in game that is pretty much a hub world. You will revisit the Citadel as you burrow into the game’s story. For 2007 the Citadel really does exceed at feeling like a living breathing world. There are many side quests here and the Council also resides here so you will pop in frequently for main missions as well.

At the beginning of the game you are able to customize your personal Shepard. This really draws you into the character. However, the voice acting at least for the male Shepard was pretty weak which has frequently pulled me out of some of the dramatic scenes. Instead of buying into the drama I was laughing out loud. This is really surprising considering the other voice acted characters mostly pull off their lines. They add considerable emotional weight to the story.

As you progress throughout the story you will meet characters that will join your crew. They are well-written and relatable for the most part. You can also romance these companions, a feature for which Mass Effect is famous for. At least in the first crack at it in the series the romance options feel limited especially regarding queer relationships. For a game where you are dealing with different alien species across the entire galaxy this strikes me as odd.

Overall I think that Mass Effect’s story is damn near excellent. It pulls off introducing a new and fully fleshed out ip. Taking you on a grand adventure with plenty of stakes and heart.

Image from Gematsu

FUNCTIONAL BUT LACKING

When you aren’t making choices in dialogue and watching cutscenes you will be either on foot in combat/exploration. You will also be driving around in the MAKO, a rover like vehicle that lets you explore planets.

The gameplay in Mass Effect falls short, making it the weaker aspect of the game by a long shot. The gunplay feels dated (even by 2007s standards) and weak, with not much feedback from guns or grenades. Shepard is also equipped with psionic abilities like warp an ability that allows you to inflict damage at a time and unity which allows you to revive dead teammates. These abilities are so underwhelming however that I found myself rarely using them. I only did when I needed to revive teammates. I feel like this system was a missed opportunity as they could have made for fast and frenetic gameplay.

There is also a squad system where you can send orders to your two squad mates that you will have on each mission. The squad system is cool in theory and does to some extent make you feel like an actual commander. However, it is poorly explained and only works half the time. The upgrade system for weapons also isn’t explained and I found myself only really utilizing it 10 hours into the story.

The boss fights in this game are also really lacking. One boss fight in particular against an alien named the Throrian being one of the worst I have ever experienced.

On the other side of gameplay you have your MAKO missions. These usually involve you driving around planets that look cool but are completely lifeless. I think the biggest problem with these missions is how the MAKO controls. It feels like you are trying to control an ice skater most of the time and when you inevitably flip the thing over there isn’t a way to get it upright again.

The gameplay side of things wouldn’t have been much of an issue if we hadn’t been subjected to so much of it. The silver lining at least is that the game looks great thanks to the Legendary remaster.

Image from Tasta

A GALAXY WORTH FIGHTING FOR

Although it may seem like I heavily dislike this game, it’s a testament to this game’s story and worldbuilding that I don’t. In fact I quite like this game and am excited to experience the rest of the trilogy and even the infamous Mass Effect: Andromeda. The gameplay heavily diminished the experience for me but in the long run it fulfilled its purpose. Getting to the next story section was always exciting.

I would recommend this game to any fan of the genre. There is a reason that this game is hailed as an all time classic.

I played Mass Effect through the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition which is available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox Consoles. Don’t forget to check out Jaxon’s review for Alan Wake 2 and Caitlyn’s review of the Fellow Travelers TV series. For everything else geeky stay right here on Geekwave.

GAME SCORE: 7/10

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About the Contributor
Ronny Hammond, Director of Online Publication
Ronny goes by he/him pronouns and is a Junior at the U. He loves to read and write and is currently obtaining his Bachelors degree in English and Game Design. He has a deep love for video games and would always be up talk your ear off about The Last Of Us. You can read up on his game reviews and listen to his guest appearances on the Crimson Gaming Corner and Wishful Thinking podcasts right here on Geekwave.