Mass Effect

21 08 2008

I finished playing Mass Effect in the first days of my latest illness. In many ways the makers stole the bones of Knights of the Old Republic and simply gave them a nice polish. At least they chose a good game to rip off, I love KOTOR, so much so that Kirsty will attest to my frantic obsession as I trolled every game shop and second hand bin trying to find the sequel.

Still the games are a wee bit too similar for me. In many ways MEs biotic powers are the force by another name. The interfaces are incredibly similar also. Like KOTOR we view events from over the main character Shepard’s shoulder and like KOTOR we explore the game world in a group of three. We can assign roles to our allies – send them forth as cannon fodder if you want or have them hang back and pound the enemy from a distance.  When we engage in dialogue we are presented with a range of options which expand even further based on our personality choices in the game. So far this is all similar to KOTOR. There is even a gambling mini game which is like sabaac from Star Wars.

Combat is at times confusing and frustrating, especially in the early days of playing. We’re presented with four options: pistol, assault rifle, shotgun and sniper rifle and through the allocation of points gained through experience we can advance our skills.  Eventually you adjust to the various weapons and you’ll chose your favourite but I found there just wasn’t any incentive to swap between the various types.

The thing that stands the games out from each other is the depth. It’s like they did a bionic rebuild on KOTOR. The game is beautiful and with a far greater level of depth then KOTOR. The next gen platform allows them to make the game look stunning and it does – the cinematics are some of the best I’ve ever seen and the animations of the characters are at times incredible. We literally have a whole galaxy to explore and the story takes us throughout it.

But the game’s sheer depth is also to its detriment. There are too many worlds and they are not diverse enough. I simply couldn’t bring myself to explore every solar system to find the lesser items needed. Towards the end I found myself confining myself to the main quest, I just didn’t want to land on another desolate world and battle a few baddies on it for a treasure or two.

They also have included romance options and while they do have importance in the overall story, I found them a tad lame. I just didn’t believe the relationships we were supposed to be interested in – at times they seemed ludicrous. The relationships were flawed ambition on the part of the creators and I couldn’t help but compare them to the effective and meaningful relationships in GTA. What Nico experiences towards the end of GTA:IV is a much more effective and moving experience.

What makes ME stand out is its brilliant story. For the most part the writing is excellent and the voice acting is superb. I’m eagerly looking forward to the sequel (whenever it arrives)

8 out of 10

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2 responses

22 08 2008
edwin mcrae

Good review, Rob! Thought about reviewing for someone like Gamefreak magazine? Hope you and Kirsty are feeling better now.

25 08 2008

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