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 Post subject: Alyxx Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:44 pm 
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Alyxx Reviews
MASS EFFECT

Platform: PC, Origin
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year: 2008
Genre: RPG, Action/Adventure, Shooter


Sometimes you buy games on a whim, we all do, especially when they're on sale and you only pay like 5 bucks for them. Recently I got an account on Origin and, of course, I wanted to check out their game library. As it just happened, they had a sale on some action games and I saw this one called Mass Effect that only cost about 5 bucks, so I bought it along with Mass Effect 2, pretty much knowing nothing about the games to begin with. Now, in most cases when you buy bargain games, you end up with a game that is good but after playing through it once, you forget about it and move on...

... Mass Effect is NOT one of those games. Because Mass Effect might be the best five bucks I have ever spent. And the more I played it, the more I explored it, the more I simply got lost in it, the more it dawned upon me... that I might just be playing one of the best games ever made.

STORY

Set in the future, Mass Effect is a world in which humans have discovered ancient ruins on Mars that were left there by an extinct race of sentient spacefaring beings known as the Protheans. Using the technology from these ruins, we have basically discovered mass effect, the ability to manipulate space and time itself, allowing us to travel at faster than light speeds, mostly due thanks to a mysterious element only known as Element Zero. We discovered the mass relays, a network of transit devices allowing us instantaneous passage across thousands of lightyears. After travelling the stars, we discovered other alien races and began to establish ourselves in the galaxy.

In Mass Effect you play as Commander Shepard, and it is up to you to customize the character, choosing not only sex and appearance, but also your psychological profile and backstory, as well as your class, which affects what skills and weapons you are able to use. Your first mission is to investigate a Prothean beacon at a planet called Eden Prime. Soon you realize that there's someone else after this beacon, someone who wants to use it for his own reasons. What these reasons are, it is up to you to find out as you play the game and find clues to what is going on. You soon realize that you have the daunting task of saving the entire galaxy...

While not terribly original, borrowing heavily from classic sci-fi, especially Babylon 5, Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien and even The Matrix, the story is written quite well, and does a really good job at keeping you emotionally invested and engaged in the game, helped by the superb voice acting. It really feels like this game was meant to be a movie as the dialogue feels natural and the whole game feels like anything could happen, a feeling that few games really truly achieve.

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"If you say anything about me looking like a vampire again,
I'm gonna kick your ass out the airlock."


GAMEPLAY

Mass Effect is really all about effect, literally. Everything you do and say has an impact on the game, and will have an impact in the sequel as well. As previously mentioned, how you customize your character also greatly affects how the game is played and what your relationship to the characters will be like. In short, every Mass Effect playthrough will be unique in some way. As you can imagine, the replay value here is through the roof.

It can mostly be described as a third person shooter that has a heavy amount of RPG elements. You spend a lot of missions just blasting enemies with your powers and guns while taking cover, as well as using the Mako, a big 6-wheeled tank to defeat enemies and explore planets. What sets Mass Effect apart from the usual shooter though is that it's more squad based. Every time you go on a mission, you bring 2 companions, and choosing the ones that balance out the strengths of biotics (basically the ability to create mass effect fields, an ability given to humans through Element Zero), tech (technological powers, as well as decryption and electronics) and pure combat. You have absolute control over your squadmates' powers as well as your own via a menu you can bring up during gameplay. In the PC version, they have added hotkeys though which you can map powers to, speeding up the process significantly.

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"Damnit, still don't know when to keep my mouth shut in a bar."

In classic RPG fashion, you gain XP from defeating enemies and completing quests, and every time you or your squadmates level up, you gain points that you can use to upgrade the powers and skills of yourself and your friends. Though you start out with 4 basic weapon slots, there are also a ton of other different weapons and weapon modifications to discover and try out, the weapons available to you becoming more powerful as you gain levels. Interestingly, the game has no ammunition system, instead your weapons have a heat gauge that you need to watch in order to not overheat your weapons during combat, and what weapon and mods you have greatly affect how fast or slow your weapon overheats. Among the loot you may also find additional armors, tech and biotic enhancers and other goodies that give you an edge against the enemy. The only downside to this is that you'll spend a lot of time with resource management, and especially on high levels, mostly you'll just sell everything or turn it into omnigel, which you can use to avoid decryption, but this is not a big issue and for the most part, it feels like an integrated part of the game.

Though it's not all combat, a large portion of the game can be spent merely exploring, talking to people and a lot of times, situations can be resolved without the use of weapons at all, if you choose the right dialogue, giving the game a lot of variety. In Mass Effect, you literally have an entire galaxy to explore, with planets that contain quests and resources, completing the game can take a long time if you plan on discovering everything and completing every side quest there is. You may also spend some time developing a romance between one of your crewmembers, which adds a lot of charm and personality to the game.

Image
The equipment screen lets you customize yourself and your crew,
giving you various weapons and armors to choose from as you play.


GRAPHICS & SOUND

Honestly, Mass Effect might be one of the most impressive games I've played in terms of graphics. The skyboxes and backgrounds are filled to the brim with beautiful details, the models look very lifelike and the animation, especially on the faces, is just mindblowing. Most of the time, I felt like I was actually watching a movie while playing the game, which is a big compliment. There might be a few graphical glitches here and there, and some of the model textures might be a bit notably low-res, but nothing that really breaks the game or ruins the overall mood.

The sound design is pretty cool too, with excellent voice acting from both known and unknown actors, including Seth Green and Keith David. There's a lot of oomph in the weapon sounds, and everything just sounds like it should. The music is never intrusive and does a pretty good job at setting the mood for the game, as well as reflecting the battle between organics and synthetics with a score that mixes both orchestral and electronic elements in a very effective way. The end theme by Faunts sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, and when I heard it, it was one of the few times where a game actually brought me to tears.

Image
I wish I could see moments like these in more games,
where you just sit back, stare at the screen and dream yourself away.


SUMMARY

Mass Effect is quite simply one of the best games ever made. If you haven't played it, you have truly missed out on a masterpiece. As I said, this might just be the best 5 bucks I've ever spent. The game looks great, sounds great, and most importantly plays great. I have never felt more emotionally invested in a game before this, not since The Longest Journey anyway. I strongly suggest you get this game and play it. You won't regret it.

I give the game a perfect score of 10 out of 10.

- Alyxx

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:53 pm 
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I agree with this review to 120%. Mass effect (I count them all as one game, havent played the 3rd yet though) is the BEST RPG ever made IMO. Not only is it the best RPG, but easily one of the best games ever to be made. (And I havent even played through the 1st one yet.....)

Great review! Keep 'em coming! :)

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:59 pm 
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Thanks, glad you agree with it and liked it. I'll be reviewing Mass Effect 2 next, probably.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:07 pm 
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Mass Effect should not even be in the same CATEGORY as '5 buck bargain bin games'. It helps pull in more fans, but Mass Effect deserves way more than 5 dollars. Despite that, this review is pretty dead center on it and I can't wait for your ME2 review.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:11 pm 
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Yeah, I'm still like: "How the FUCK did I pay 5 bucks for this?"

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:08 pm 
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That was the same deal for me. Probably still the best $5 that I've ever spent. I'd like to see the Mass Effect 2 review as well, comparing the two should be interesting as a lot of people argue over which one is better.
Also I have it on Xbox, I can imagine the hotkeys on PC are way more useful for ME1 but how does the Mako control? I can't imagine it for PC


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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:33 pm 
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Mako controls fine on PC.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:27 pm 
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Great review. The original has aged very well in my opinion and you got a great deal for it. One of the biggest hurdles for a lot of people I've always heard was the combat. You called it a 3rd person shooter with RPG features but I'd say that applies way more to the sequels which blend the two very well, but I would call the first game an RPG that happens to have gun-based combat.

The cover system was always a bit iffy, and it was often better to not even touch cover and just crouch behind the wall or corner. Not complaining, the combat was never a problem for me, but the real focus was on power use not the shooting--which always left the vanguard and soldier classes a bit dull for me in this game, the infiltrator was fine-- and I know a lot of people didn't like that aspect of the game. The squad AI was decent but had a lot of room to improve, which was thankfully done in later installments. Enemy AI was not the brightest bulb, often just charging out at you in the open, but still oddly challenging since they do make fine use of their own powers and talents, almost annoyingly so on Hardcore and Insane. Probably the game's biggest fault was, despite the multitude of worlds you go to and the rich stories for the quests, the interior environments for almost every non-plotline quest was recycled from a very small pool of cramped caves and prefab colony buildings, there's like literally 3 unique "sets" that you better get used to seeing on the ice planet, the methane planet, the lava planet, the moon, you get the idea. Also, enemy audio, "I will destroy you!" "You must die!" "enemy is everywhere!" "Go! go! go!" is burned into the mind of any real ME fan forever.

I'm surprised you also left out the Mako's insane mountain climbing skills. The feeling of exploring a massive new world was always a blast in those sections, but the mako isn't nearly as fine tuned as a Halo warthog. I'm not sure how the control for that tank came across on pc, but on console it was just off and felt a bit too much like you were controlling the camera and not the vehicle. On harder difficulties also, it got very annoying sometimes to have to stop everything for a good deal of time to repair the vehicle. It became way more efficient to just get out, since it was indestructible as long as you weren't inside of it, use it for cover, and kill the armature with your rifle--and get a niftty xp bonus for doing so, best way to hit lvl 60. Disregarding all of that I just said, I loved the mako and I would have loved to see its return.

Spoiler: show
It warmed my heart so much to see them on earth at the end battle of 3, it was like, "wow! even you're here Mako! I missed you! (even though your original one is encased in ice forever on Alchera)


Anyway, a great review of one of my favorite games and the first in one of my favorite series of all time. I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite review on the Citadel.

oh yeah and a typo in there, Keith David, not David Keith

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:20 am 
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Gotta love the game. One of the best RPGs ever made. Great review, short but straight to the point and doing the game justice.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:37 am 
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Arby wrote:
Great review. The original has aged very well in my opinion and you got a great deal for it. One of the biggest hurdles for a lot of people I've always heard was the combat. You called it a 3rd person shooter with RPG features but I'd say that applies way more to the sequels which blend the two very well, but I would call the first game an RPG that happens to have gun-based combat.

The cover system was always a bit iffy, and it was often better to not even touch cover and just crouch behind the wall or corner. Not complaining, the combat was never a problem for me, but the real focus was on power use not the shooting--which always left the vanguard and soldier classes a bit dull for me in this game, the infiltrator was fine-- and I know a lot of people didn't like that aspect of the game. The squad AI was decent but had a lot of room to improve, which was thankfully done in later installments. Enemy AI was not the brightest bulb, often just charging out at you in the open, but still oddly challenging since they do make fine use of their own powers and talents, almost annoyingly so on Hardcore and Insane. Probably the game's biggest fault was, despite the multitude of worlds you go to and the rich stories for the quests, the interior environments for almost every non-plotline quest was recycled from a very small pool of cramped caves and prefab colony buildings, there's like literally 3 unique "sets" that you better get used to seeing on the ice planet, the methane planet, the lava planet, the moon, you get the idea. Also, enemy audio, "I will destroy you!" "You must die!" "enemy is everywhere!" "Go! go! go!" is burned into the mind of any real ME fan forever.

I'm surprised you also left out the Mako's insane mountain climbing skills. The feeling of exploring a massive new world was always a blast in those sections, but the mako isn't nearly as fine tuned as a Halo warthog. I'm not sure how the control for that tank came across on pc, but on console it was just off and felt a bit too much like you were controlling the camera and not the vehicle. On harder difficulties also, it got very annoying sometimes to have to stop everything for a good deal of time to repair the vehicle. It became way more efficient to just get out, since it was indestructible as long as you weren't inside of it, use it for cover, and kill the armature with your rifle--and get a niftty xp bonus for doing so, best way to hit lvl 60. Disregarding all of that I just said, I loved the mako and I would have loved to see its return.

Spoiler: show
It warmed my heart so much to see them on earth at the end battle of 3, it was like, "wow! even you're here Mako! I missed you! (even though your original one is encased in ice forever on Alchera)


Anyway, a great review of one of my favorite games and the first in one of my favorite series of all time. I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite review on the Citadel.

oh yeah and a typo in there, Keith David, not David Keith

*facepalm* And I consider myself a fan of him... Thanks for pointing that out. XD

And the combat and Mako controls are fine on PC, at least for me, didn't really find them critique worthy.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:33 am 
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I loved your Review, Alyxx. It was very to the point, had some comedy in there, and you sold the game very well. Enough so that it made me want the game even more than i did before mostly due to the character customization. Anyone who knows me well enough knows I'm a sucker for full character customization. well, that and Non-linear game play, and games that allow you to continue after beating the game instead of forcing a restart. I'm a bit worried though, usually with beginning titles the graphics and overall game play are sub-par, so I'm tempted to start at ME2. Now, wait, before Pinkie actually goes through with loading that pistol, i'm going to buy ME, i'm just saying i'm a little tempted to start at 2 due to past experiences...Hopefully that's not the case with this franchise.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:07 am 
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Kyou Fujibayashi wrote:
I'm a bit worried though, usually with beginning titles the graphics and overall game play are sub-par,

Spoiler: show
Image


Kyou Fujibayashi wrote:
so I'm tempted to start at ME2. Now, wait, before Pinkie actually goes through with loading that pistol, i'm going to buy ME, i'm just saying i'm a little tempted to start at 2 due to past experiences...Hopefully that's not the case with this franchise.

It doesn't matter how much better ME2 is, it's just not complete unless you play the first one. There's texture update mods for it if it's that much of a bother.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:14 am 
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I won't need them. like i said, i'm going to play 1, I was just pointing out something pretty consistent. I figure there must be a REASON you live and breathe(sorry if i used the wrong form of this word, i'm tired and it doesn't look right either way.) these games.

...

I kinda went against myself up there; I pride myself on being the "wait and see" guy not the "assumptive" guy. So yea, I shouldn't have assumed. i'll just play it and render my verdict. :)

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:15 am 
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Well the reason I say it's not complete is mainly that your choices carry over. You can go through Mass Effect 2 and understand the story just fine, but the little things that show that what you did in the previous game mattered? Totally worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:16 am 
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Indeed, I strongly recommend playing ME1 before ME2.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:41 am 
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and a lot of little things in ME3 depend on ME1 side quests

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:00 am 
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And IMHO the storyline and atmosphere in ME is better than in ME2.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:54 am 
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Well, I like the storylines in both games, but prefer ME1.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:56 am 
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Honestly, ME has always stood out to me ever since I played ME3. Maybe it's the shift in companies because Bioware started working for EA during ME2's production, but ME just felt...different. It feels like the odd one out in the series. Even the side of the box art is a little different. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in fact that might be why some people love ME the most.

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 Post subject: Re: RoXxy Review: Mass Effect (PC)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:23 am 
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Yeah, I feel ME1 stands on its own, in a good way. It feels like that was the game where they gave their everything.

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