Thursday, 30 December 2010

Video Game Review - Mass Effect

Sorry for the lack of posting - but hey, it is the holidays right? I had thought of some kind of festive post, but I hope my hasty attempt at a seasonal header is good enough for now!! Merry Christmas to you all.

Yet another old game being reviewed here, but I do need to get through them so I can 'review' up-to-date games in good conscience. I'm beginning to realise that I might be a little...erm...odd! oh well.

Anyway, I would like to do a few Mass Effect based posts, detailing the species, characters and key events of the game series in anticipation of Mass Effect 3. Every person's playthrough is slightly different due to the vast array of choices at your disposal and one thing I like to do with my friends is discuss how decisions we made in the game with the people we met will affect the game long term.

But I can't very well do that without at least having talked about the game really can I?

Rough Plot

If you haven't played, this part will contain SPOILERS

Get this straight - Mass Effect is a HUGE game with a whole galaxy to explore and there are big choices to make as well, decisions you make and how you act can determine whether a character lives or dies, whether a group become allies or enemies and so much more. As well as the main campaign missions there are hundreds of side missions and explorations to complete, which add to the full experience.

So to give you anything near the full plot would be ridiculous, given the amount of story and also the variable paths it can take. So I'll give you a rough breakdown of the game and go into detail later on in the year. We're into the 22nd century, humanity has expanded and colonised and a discovery in the stars led them to a Mass Relay (above) powerful devices that can rapidly propel a ship across the stars. This lead them to an uneasy confrontation and eventual acceptance with the alien races around.

Enter John Shepard (you can change his appearance, even his gender, but I decided to go with the game default, seen here). He is a special forces soldier and is being considered for the rank of Spectre, and elite unit of lawmakers that can operate above the law and answer only to the Council that governs the galaxy. John would be the first human spectre, but his attempt is sabotaged by Saren, a Spectre of the Turian race, who leads an attack of Geth (rogue AIs) forces on a human colony.

After proving Saren's guilt, Shepard is inducted into the Spectres and assigned with stopping him. Travelling across the galaxy, Shepard tracks down Saren by following Geth activity through the galaxy. He also stops pirates, brokers peace, defeats a rare alien force and encounters a poweful human group called Cerberus. He recruits a powerful crew of aliens and humans aboard his ship and gradually finds out Saren's plan...

They travel to a Prothean world. The Protheans are an extinct race, credited with building the Mass Relays and also the Citadel, from where the Galaxy is governed. The Protheans were wiped out by a race of machines known as Reapers who have long since disappeared. But as Shepard goes deeper he discovers the Reapers are behind Saren's plan and that Sovereign, his massive flagship, is in fact a single reaper entity and the Citadel is their creation designed to bring all the Reapers back to purge life in the galaxy as they have done many times before.

Shepard manages to get to the Citadel in time and stop Saren, which weakens Sovereign. The Human fleet attacks, driving back the Geth and destroying the Reaper. Shepard and humanity's actions earn them the right to sit on the Council, but the Reapers ares till out there...


There's a whole variety of gamplay in Mass Effect. It's a third-person shooter so you run around with over the shoulder perspective, but get into cover and you can look down the barrel of your fun like a first-person if you need to. Guns have infinite ammo in Mass Effect (an this actually makes sense in-game!) but they overheat quickly so you have to time your shots well.
You also have a whole range of abilities to call on in battle, from tech abilities like hacking AIs to work for you, to Biotic abilities that can remotely lift or hurl objects or enemies from afar (I'll go into biotics again when there's more time!).
You can also just explore, there are plenty of planets you can land on and drive your Mako vehicle around, and chances are you might uncover some Prothean ruins, a slaver camp or even and underground Cerberus base. As you enter systems you will be called on to accomplish quests for humanity, these are optional, but who's going to say no to more fun?!!
You also complete mini-games such as hacking to break into systems and steal cash or obtain valuable items. There are crashed probes and other artifacts that yield rewards if you can crack them open.
Another key element is conversation, many of the people you meet will talk to you and what you say may have a big impact on them, maybe even crossing over into the next game. You can use these options to find out more, and generally choose between a good 'Paragon' or negative 'Renegade' option. The more you progress either way the more likely you'll be able to charm or intimidate your way out of a situation and the darker or lighter your character and their actions will be.

Sci-Fi stuff

This game is pure Sci-Fi so there's way more than i have room to discuss and I've already told you plenty in the reviews. Expect more posts coming soon on Mass Effect Sci-Fi.

Worth Playing?

Do I need to say it?

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