Mass Effect - Movies & Screens
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May 16th, 2008, 11:13
I played the game and completed it on the Xbox 360.
I was personally underwhelmed as I think it was a step back from KotOR, which I thought was an excellent CRPG. I was foolish enough to expect an evolution of that kind of game design - where in reality it was a case of increased production values and a dumbed down design.
However, it's a high quality game with many good points. The most impressive part of it - to me - was the consistent, plausible, and mature background lore for the setting and technology. They really worked on that and most things make a lot of sense - which is not particularly common with this genre.
The cinematic appeal, especially with the much advertised dialogue scenes, is very well done and it does indeed add a lot to the experience.
Sadly, they handled many traditional CRPG elements very poorly and the core gameplay mechanics are rather weak and uninspired. The combat system was awkward and didn't work for me - and I much preferred the system in KotOR even if that was also rather weak in many areas.
The story itself was adequate and reasonably well put together, but didn't move me in any way - where KotOR had a lot of nice scenes and characters. I'm not THAT big on story, so it didn't bother me that much.
Another weak aspect is how they did the optional "sidequests" - and they're possibly the worst part of the game. They're set up in such a way that they re-use the same ~3-4 level designs and visual architecture and the story elements are minimal. They resemble each other WAY too much, and they pretty much all involve taking the MAKO vehicle down to a planet and searching the area for some meaningless fluff that you can safely ignore, until you find the obvious objective location where you can expect the exact same enemy setup over and over. It's incredibly uninspired and I think the game would have been much better off dumping every single one of them in favor of one more storyline area - which is how it was in KotOR.
The PC version seems to have improved the interface and controls enough to make combat more satisfying, and I think it might make the whole thing work as originally intended. But the utterly bland itemization and predictable and weak character development system will most likely be identical to the Xbox version, so if you're into that stuff (which I am - in a big way) be prepared to not get what you're after in those areas.
Overall, I'd probably rate it ~80%, and despite significant shortcomings, it really IS a highly cinematic experience with tons of cool sci-fi atmosphere and references to respected works in the genre - so I think it's worth checking out, especially if you're into sci-fi.