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Mass Effect
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Console: Microsoft Xbox 360
Region:U
Year: 2007
RFG ID #: U-115-S-02380-B
Part #: X13-45807-05
UPC: 882224355254
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft
Rating:
M (ESRB): Blood , Language , Partial Nudity , Sexual Themes , Violence

Genre: RPG
Sub-genre: 3rd person shooter/Vehicular combat
Players: 1
Controller: Standard Controller
Media Format: DVD
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Collection Stats:

  • 411 of 7251 collectors (5.6%) have this game in their collection
  • 6 of 7251 collectors (0%) have this game in their wishlist.
  • 2 of 7251 collectors (0%) have this game for sale or trade.
Overview:

Mass Effect is an RPG from Bioware that takes place 200 years in the future. Players will create a profile of the main character (Commander (insert name) Shepard) to travel the Milky Way galaxy in pursuit of the main villain who's objective is to destroy all human life in the galaxy. In the first few minutes of profile creation, players choose not only what fighting class they will play throughout the game, but also a few aspects of your Shepard's backstory (i.e. was he/she born of Earth, in the human space colonies, etc.; was he/she a war hero, a survivor of a catastrophe, etc.).

Review:

Gary Smolinski (phoenix1967)'s review:

First off, as an avid fan of Bioware's games, this one definitely met, and in many ways exceeded, the expectations I had for it. As soon as the final release dates was set, I reserved my copy and have been playing it for a month since its release on 11/20/07; which is 2 playthroughs (averaging about 30+ hours each). I can definitely say that it's worth the full $60 purchase. It has more depth and replay value than Bioware's previous RPGs. And although not without its flaws, it's a solid entry for a new IP.

When starting the game, you have difficulty choices for Easy/ Normal/ Veteran. After completing the game once on Normal or Veteran, it unlocks Hardcore (which has it's own achievement); and after beating Hardcore, it unlocks Insanity (which also has it's own achievement). When starting out, the normal difficulty will is going to be challenging enough for most players. Further, when you've finished a game, you have the ability to carry the same character into a new campaign with all skills and inventory intact. Hardcore difficulty seemed to be appropriately balanced when using carryover characters. The only thing the game resets on playthroughs with the same character are your Paragon and Renegade meters ("good"/"rogue"alignments); these are tracked separately so good/rogue actions to not impact the opposing alignment meter. This is a very welcome feature from Bioware since in KOTOR and Jade Empire you pretty much had to make choices that were all good or all evil throughout the game in order to open up the skills/dialogues you wanted in that alignment. Now you can choose when to be Paragon or Renegade without worrying about the impact to your character's opposing alignment meter.

As the story begins, you're Shepard. A candidate to become the first human Specter agent in the galaxy. Humanity has recently been awarded an embassy in the galactic governing station called the Citadel, but has no representative on the galactic council (which is comprised of 1 member each of 3 alien races) . The Specter agents are the special agents of the council and marshal the galaxy as they see fit (above the law). A Specter agent named Saren has gone rogue and it's up to you save the galaxy.

Through the course of the game, the player you created at the beginning will have many skill trees available to him/her and you can allocate points as you see fit. Be advised, though, that if enough points are not allocated into Charm and/or Intimidate, your character may not get as many dialogue options in conversations with NPCs throughout the game. The player needs to judge the importance of this for themselves, though, because if you spend points in these areas on your first playthrough, it may be at the expense of combat or biotic abilities that may be of better use to you.

Through the story mode of the game, the background you chose at the beginning of the game will have a significant impact on the dialogues you encounter in cutscenes and in NPC conversations with your character. Bioware has done an amazing job with facial features and expressions in such scenes. The subtleties of how well they're incorporated definitely give the game a "movie" feel when you're in these parts of the game. The voice acting is also excellent for all the characters, and some celebrities have even contributed their voices to the game. One other aspect of the dialogue system is that the choices are no longer the exact words that your character will say, but represent the "intentions" of what your character is about to say. For example, if an option says "This is War!" your character may actually say "We'll take them out!" or something like that. There were definitely some surprises in this regard, but I will leave that to the player to discover for themselves.

The sounds of Mass Effect are very impressive, especially if you have a stereo or home theater setup with your TV. Every bullet fired, biotic ability cast (biotic abilities from your skill tree are likened to "spells"/"force powers"), and explosion sound amazing! Also, background effects and the music score are definitely incorporated well into the game and add to its overall atmosphere.

Graphics-wise, the game is an excellent representation of what is capable of current gen hardware. Character models are very crisp, environments are well-designed overall, and cut scenes are handled appropriately throughout the story without being overbearing. The only drawbacks in the graphics are that sometimes when you're on an exploration planet (instead of a mission planet), the terrains are not entirely smoothed out and it may be rough to navigate over some hills/mountains. Also, aside from the Citadel station, many of the interiors you'll come across will only have a couple of floorplans each for caves, abandoned spacecrafts, and underground facilities. In this regard, I think that Bioware was up against a deadline since the game had already been delayed 8 months. They all function fine, but some fine-tuning and/or variety would've helped the overall score.

Gameplay in combat is handled much differently from Bioware's previous RPGs. Where KOTOR had primarily a close combat, turn-based-actions sytsem and Jade Empire was primarily an action RPG, Mass Effect uses more ranged combat in live action. When preparing for combat, you can choose your weapon (one of 4, each of which can be upgraded up to 3 slots) by holding down the left bumper and scrolling to the weapon you desire to use (pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, or sniper rifle). Holding down the right bumper allows you to bring up the abilities menu to choose from either biotic abilities or weapon skills to be used in combat for yourself and/or for the other 2 members of your party based on what's been unlocked in skill trees. Battles are often intense, and if you do not use the cover system or squad commands, your chance of survival can be diminished considerably (depending on the battle). Combat is also more challenging in Mass Effect from the standpoint that if your character dies, it's game over! Previously, in KOTOR and Jade Empire, you'd be able to still control your supporting characters if your main character was defeated. Not so here. So save often, and in multiple slots prior to going into combat, whether on foot or in your vehicle.

The other primary gameplay element is when you're in the Mako vehicle. When you're going to exploration planets instead of mission planets, the Mako all-terrain 6-wheeler is going to take you to the various spots on the map you need to go. Armed with a turret and a cannon (don't forget to use the cannon), the Mako will be able to defend you against enemies on these planets. Exploration planets are those that are found primarily from sidequests and while exploring the many star clusters available to you on the galactic map; these planets are not vital to the story, but add to the game and your character's development/skill level. Mission planets are those that you need to go to and complete in order to advance the story of the game; 3 of which are available at the start (Feros, Noveria, and one of the planets in the Artemis Tau cluster). Overall, the Mako performs like you'd expect a 6-wheeled "tank" would (it reminds me of a modern-day Moon Patrol vehicle). However, the rough terrains as mentioned previously can sometimes make it difficult to get to some destinations on a few of the exploration planets. A couple of aspects of the Mako that could've been fine-tuned are the aiming on the turret and the slow repair time of the vehicle. On occasion, the terrain you're fighting from may impact where your turret is actually shooting, even if the target reticle is red, so the player needs make the necessary adjustments. And when the Mako is damaged, you can repair it with a substance called Omni-gel, but that only repairs the hull, not the shield recharge. Shield recharge is very slow, and unfortunately there's no skill/ability to accelerate it. These minor flaws aside, most of the time in the Mako is solid in terms of gameplay.

Inventory management in Mass Effect can be a blessing or a curse. For most of your first playthrough, there may be few instances where you're going to have issues with inventory management of your armors, weapons, upgrades, and other items. However, later in the game, you can only maximize your number of items to 150, your credit balance to 9,999,999 and your omni-gel balance to 999 (omni-gel is a substance you can liquify items into and use to repair the Mako, unlock containers, etc., overall a good idea for when your character is nearing maximum items). Seeing that you will be getting experience for decrypting many containers where the loot exists, the ability to go above these numbers is desired. Also, a couple of the lists could've used some fine tuning when selling or omni-gelling items; when an item is removed in this way, in some menus it takes you back to the top of the list when it would be more user-friendly to keep you at the same spot. However, this flaw aside, there are multitudes of equipments, weapons, and upgrades of use to enhance your overall experience of the game.

One of the best aspects of the game is how Bioware utilized the Xbox 360 achievement system. You'll get gamerscore points for getting through certain aspects of the game just like in any other 360 game. However, many of the achievements will also unlock bonuses and abilities to be used in future character creations. For example, you get an achievement of 15 points for killing 150 enemies with a shotgun; you also unlock the Shotgun skill tree for new characters you create for use in subsequent playthroughs. And since not all classes start out with the Shotgun skill tree, this is a cool thing to have available when developing a new character. Comparable achievements exist for using the some of the other weapons and many skills in the game a certain number of times as well. Further, if you complete most of the game with certain team members in your party, you can get achievement points for this and also unlock bonuses for future characters; for example, if you get the achievement by having the Krogan team member in your party, you'd gain the ability to regenerate 1 hit point per second. Bioware has nailed this aspect and has used it to enhance the replayability factor of the game.

Overall, despite it's minor flaws, Mass Effect is an outstanding sci-fi RPG for this generation of games. With the excellence in graphics, dialogues, & sound and with its solid gameplay Bioware has created another strong franchise. I am definitely looking forward to the next 2 installments of this trilogy.

Score: 90%



Keith Brown (Tan)'s review:

Wow, just wow.

This game is an instant classic and perhaps in the exciting year of gaming that was 2007, it got a bit lost in the sea of good games. If you love Babylon 5, Stargate, Star Trek, Star Wars, then you'll love this game. There's also a prequel novel which I recommend as highly informative and interesting, with a second novel in the works for 2008.

I won't spoil anything for you with this review, you should just play it yourself. It's a space drama that is half game and half blockbuster sci-fi flick. A third person tactical shooter with exploration and vehicle combat. An advanced evolution of a KOTOR or Jade Empire type game on a grander scale.

So here's the bad:

  • A few glitches, pop-in and framerate slowdown.

Here's the good:

  • 40+ hours of gameplay with enough to play through again with different results.
  • Fantastic sound effects, celebrity voice work and special effects.
  • Despite the slowdown and graphical issues, a very beautiful game. Character models are fantastic as are the animations.
  • Varied difficulties to suit each player, and gameplay can be as complex or as simple as the player wishes.

Overall I give this a 9.5/10 and I eagerly anticipate the sequels. Rare that a new game wrestles it's way onto my all-time top 10 list so soon. Hats off to you Bioware!!

Extra Media:

Limited Edition Bundle 2-book set front
Limited Edition Bundle 2-book set back
Seal- Do Not Sell Before 11/20/07
Variations:

Console Reg. Type Title Publisher Year Genre
Microsoft Xbox 360 Australia S Mass Effect Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 New Zealand S Mass Effect Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 C S Mass Effect Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 United Kingdom S Mass Effect [PEGI Release] Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 United Kingdom S Mass Effect [Limited Collector's Edition] Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 United Kingdom S Mass Effect Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 Germany S Mass Effect Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 U S Mass Effect [Limited Collector's Edition] Microsoft 2007 RPG
Microsoft Xbox 360 U S Mass Effect [Platinum Hits] Microsoft 2009 RPG
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Michael Collins: Page Design, HTML Code
Eddie Herrmann: Perl Script
David Murnan: PHP Script
Terry Herman: Variation Addition, Media Format, ESRB Rating
Gary Smolinski (phoenix1967): Review
Keith Brown (Tan): Misc, Photos
jcalder8: Scans
Rajaat the Warbringer: Scans
NostalGeek: Scans
Shadow Kisuragi: Part #, UPC, Variation Tie-In
highspot: Scans
Scott Williams: Type of Release
Zagnorch: Photos

Last Updated: 2014-06-07 16:33:06
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