Upon it's release five years ago, Mass Effect received universal praise, citing it as "the next big franchise for science fiction junkies to latch onto... a huge step forward for video games," and that it "rings in a new age of interactive storytelling." Now this game is an RPG that is completely different from other RPG's usually taking place in a "Tolkien-esque" type of world with sword and sorcery, and this one takes place in a futuristic Earth with space colonies and aliens of different species. I truly loved Mass Effect as my cousin got me really really into it. Mass Effect is a game that is something out of Star Trek, in terms of exploring other planets and battling a hostile alien race similar to the Borg.
Plot. The year is 2183, 35 years after humans discovered the ruins of an ancient spacefaring race called the Protheans on Mars. With the technology from these ruins, humanity learned the secrets of mass effect physics and element zero, unlocking faster-than-light travel. Humans also discovered the mass relay network that threaded the galaxy, permitting instantaneous passage across thousands of light-years. Humanity began it's journey across the stars, encountering various alien races and establishing itself on the galactic stage. Enter Commander Shepard, a veteran soldier who travels across the galaxy on the SSV Normandy en route to the colony of Eden Prime in an operation to recover a Prothean Beacon. Upon arrival, a hostile alien race known as the geth are attacking and are led by a renegade Specter soldier named Saren. When Shepard locates the beacon, suddenly a series of visions enter his mind. When Shepard becomes a Specter, his mission is to stop Saren from unleashing an army of alien machines known as the Reapers.
When creating characters, six classes are available: Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Infiltrator, Sentinel, and Vanguard. Soldiers are the most skilled with weaponry, Engineers make the most use of the omni-tool and tech-abilities, and Adepts are the best at using biotic powers. The other three classes are combinations of the first three: Infiltrators are a combination of Soldiers and Engineers, Sentinels are a combination of Engineers and Adepts, and Vanguards are a combination of Soldiers and Adepts. While the combination classes do not have the focus of the main classes, they are versatile and offer unique game-play opportunities. (Vanguards, for example, have access to half of the soldier skills and half of the Adept skills)
Another thing is that players can do is choose Shepard's back story; They are able to choose to have been either a "spacer" (born and bred in space), a "colonist" (born on one of Earth's extra-solar colonies), or "Earth-born" (hailing from the streets of one of Earth's cities). They also choose whether they have been the sole survivor of a terrible battle, a war hero, or a ruthless soldier. These backgrounds have only a small effect in the game, although many characters will reference the player's chosen background when talking to Commander Shepard. The character's background can also affect whether some side quests are available or not. With only a few exceptions, the character's background does not directly affect the player's dialogue choices.
Dialogue. The dialogue is something that I actually liked in this game. This is known as the Morality system. Shepards morale depends on his or her actions or on how questions are answered by players, his or her points as either a Paragon or a Renegade may be answered, or how you plan things could raise your Paragon or Renegade points up. Paragon points are earned for heroic and compassionate acts, and it's measurement is colored blue. The Renegade points are earned for apathetic and ruthless actions. More Paragon points can raise your Charm, while Renegade points raise your Intimidation status.
Concept. In Mass Effect, you travel across the galaxy on the Normandy, which is very similar to traveling on the USS Enterprise-E in Star Trek. You travel to different planets and systems getting into missions that are either part of the main story or a sidequest. While traveling you meet a series of human characters and aliens as well, and you can also decide whether or not they can join you on the Normandy. Me I usually have them with me, because they can be useful, but sometimes you gotta be careful, because some characters at a point may betray you depending on your actions. You earn experience points not just by fighting, but also by engaging in conversations, completing missions and side missions, and so on. Also, if you bond with one of your crew members, you may engage in a love scene in the game.
1st Impressions. I was really astounded of how the developers designed the game, and wrote the story. They did such an incredible job, that I truly fell in love with this game at plain sight. Also, I remember watching sex scenes which had me saying: "Sex scenes in games. Are they trying to copy God of War or something?". That was my reaction, and the funny thing is that Female Shepard engages in sexual activity with both male and female crew members. Sex scenes in Mass Effect were criticized by the media stating that it's pornographic. Please. If they shown the whole nakedness, and had sex like in a porn movie, than it would have been pornographic. Sex scenes in the game are more like if you're watching an R rated movie.
Design. The graphics are so epic, and characters look incredibly realistic. Action sequences and dialogues were very well made, and BioWare did an awesome job. One of my favorite designs is that of how the ship goes into lightspeed when traveling to another system, as well as the map of the entire Milky Way. And romance scenes, which they did good as well, is like if I was watching a movie or something.
Sound and Music. The music of Mass Effect was composed by Jack Wall, Richard Jacques, David Kates, and Sam Hulick. The music themes were very well composed as some moments will make you cry, laugh, jump out of your chair, and leave you in complete awe as well. The sound effects were very well made as well.
Voice Acting. Mark Meer voices the Male Shepard while Jennifer Hale voices the female one. I remember Jennifer Hale for her voice acting in cartoons, and also in the Metal Gear Solid series. Notable voices include Seth Green as the pilot Joker. Seth Green is remembered as Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also as Chris Griffin in Fox's Family Guy. Seth Green voices a lot of characters not only in Family Guy, but in his stop-motion animated show on Adult Swim's Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network. Marina Sirtis lends her voice as the asari villainess, Matriarch Benezia. Sirtis is very well known for her role as Counselor Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and she was also the voice of the sexy villain Demona in Gargoyles. Other voices include Keith David, Nolan North, and so on.
Legacy. Mass Effect became an instant hit upon the release. This compelling franchise started to spawn graphic novels, novelizations, comic books, and more. The first Mass Effect was first released on the Xbox 360 in 2007, and a year later on PC. Three years later, Mass Effect 2 was released, and in 2011, even Sony jumped into the action. Mass Effect 2 was the first game to have a DLC titled "Arrival" which sets the stage for the third installment in the franchise, which was released on March 2012. Mass Effect has also spawned an animated movie titled Mass Effect: Paragon Lost.
Rantings. Now some of the things I don't like about this game is like the balancing issues and problematic AI of the combat system. For example if you got into a corner, your comrades were in the way and they could not even move, I mean that was bothersome. Another thing that bothers me is that when you're in the tank, known as the Mako, when you repair the damages you cannot shoot or move at all, that was a major pain.
Good Aspect. Great storyline, graphics, gameplay, and music. The game has very high replay value, and you can purchase the entire trilogy on the PS3 or on the 360. Mass Effect is like a mixture of Halo, Metroid and Star Trek. I loved this game so much I could just play it again and again.
Overall. Mass Effect is a great game to play, one of many games of today that are worth playing. Mass Effect gets a 10 out of 10
God Bless and Play Hard Gamers!