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Mass Effect review
by RobbieRLH

If you were to read a list of all the problems with Mass Effect 1, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a below average action RPG. The frame rate drops horrendously in combat sections; there's a huge amount of texture pop in; there are tonnes of glitches; the inventory management is terrible; the loot system is boring; planetary exploration in the Mako gets dull very quickly; side missions re-use assets over and over again; the shooting feels unsatisfying and poorly fleshed out; the different classes don't feel very unique; I could go on. But if you play this and accept it's many shortcomings, you'll be treated to the best sci-fi RPG on the Xbox 360 and one of the best space operas ever made.

This game is defined by its writing and world building. The story isn't entirely original - mysterious aliens want to destroy the universe and you and your team need to stop them - but the game does a good job of making you feel central to developing narrative. You build your character at the start of the game and can make some decisions about the player's background and class, which will have minor effects on the story and combat respectively. The lauded interactive dialogue system gives you the chance to build your character as a good guy (Paragon) or a dickhead (Renegade) and various missions can have wildly different endings depending on your actions. The writing really shines in these scripted sequences and an equal amount of effort has been put into the hundreds of entries in the Lore Index found in the menu. As the first game in a trilogy, ME1 has the task of setting the universe up, and the writers delivered with a plethora of aliens, each with their own culture, politics, weaponry and history. However, the alien races really shine in the context of their history with each other, and humans as well. The Salarians engineered a biological weapon which is causing the slow extinction of the Krogan; the Turians were involved in a controversial war with the humans which both sides refuse to forget; the Quarians built an AI which turned rogue and now threatens to destroy the galaxy. The game is at its absolute best when these interactions are woven into the main narrative. However, to get the best understanding and feel for the universe possible, you'll need to exhaust all dialogue options and complete all side missions. The side missions in particular can feel like a slog: it's certainly worth it though.

I've avoided talking about the combat as there's honestly not a lot to say. It's nothing special and merely serves as a way for the player to experience the story. There are plenty of things more important than the combat that the game absolutely nails. As much as it pains me I'll have to skim over for the sake of brevity - the cast of characters you meet throughout the course of the game are memorable and diverse, the ending feels suitably epic and leaves the story open for a sequel without a silly cliffhanger, the soundtrack (by Jack Wall) is evocative and chilling in places, and the voice acting is superb. ME1 is the epitome of the phrase "greater than the sum of it's parts". I'd love a remaster but I don't trust whoever handles it with preserving the atmosphere of the game. When Bioware is inevitably dissolved by EA, this is how they should be remembered. Not for Destiny or Andromeda, but for their telling of Shepard and his crew, and how they took on the end of the world.
«Blew my mind»
«Beaten more than once»
«OST on repeat»

Other reviews15

Very nice game within a great universe created. 
thought it was alright at first, but the combat suuuuuuuuucks.
What a joy it is to finally be able to experience the one that started it all, free from (most of) the bugs and rough edges of the original. Mass Effect 1 has usually been seen be me as the black sheep of the original franchise, even in spite of the controversial parts of Mass Effect 3. Mostly due to my inexperience with this entry compared to the other two, but also I would say due to the radically different direction this one takes to side content, with it being heavily focused on exploring uncharted planets in a big tank not entirely dissimilar to what No Man Sky would attempt nearly 10 years later. This, almost sandbox exploration aspect is probably one of the most divisive things about the game and I’m not entirely surprised BioWare canned it for the sequels, driving around an uncharted planet is fun the first time but it quickly becomes repetitive due to how similar the planets themselves are and the activities you can do within. I did find the Mako fun to control this time around though, even if its quite cartoonish, but ramming Geth never gets old. The side missions are such a massive and detailed part of its sequels it is just odd to see them kinda slapped on here, with them only seeming to exist to pad out the surprisingly brief main story, and as an excuse to ogle the beautiful skyboxes of course. Another thing I have to criticise is the gunplay. Now part of this may be me choosing to play Engineer on Insanity difficulty but nearly all of the tech powers seemed to have little bearing on the outcome of any given combat situation, usually relegating me to exclusively using the surprisingly powerful pistol and popping a shield boost whenever things got too hot. This may just be me being too used to the sequels, but the cover mechanics and overall choice in how to approach combat seemed rather rudimentary even for 2007. Still though, I will have to wait until my Adept playthrough to experience it fully. Although not a critique, I was rather startled by how easy Insanity difficulty was. Even though I was playing exclusively with light armour, I could reliably tank most weapons short of rockets or sniper rifles, it was only really on Noveria with the shield-bypassing Rachni that I felt underpowered and cautious, oh and that one side mission on the spaceship with the husks and their bullshit AoE attack. And it was only really the Krogan enemies that felt spongy (although not in an unfair way), with everything else going down in a rather sufficient amount of headshots. But as far as negatives go, that’s really all I got. It’s clear BioWare’s main intention for ME1 was to set up a beautiful and intriguing sci-fi universe for them to explore in the sequels, and oh boy does it do that and then some. The lore and worldbuilding crafted here is nothing short of astounding, maybe even the best seen in a singular video game. The amount of time and effort put into a space encyclopaedia of virtual history and culture pays off in creating and absolutely one-of-a-kind world full of interesting, well-written characters and an ominous, foreboding plot that is all raised to unforeseen heights by and inspired art design and just a plain commitment to quality. Although this does come at a cost of a lack of distinct weapon and armour design which can cause gameplay to feel a a bit samey at times. I must restate again just how beautiful this remaster looks and sounds, giving not only new life to the gorgeous cinematics, but also to its wonderful, synth-heavy soundtrack that although repeats itself a fair few times, has a nostalgic quality that is renders it impossible to get old. A imperfect masterpiece and a true pinnacle of narrative-focused gaming.
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
«Can’t stop playing»
«That ending!»
Good but surprisingly dated. Frequent visual glitches, somewhat infrequent bugs that cause quests to not mark as finished or certain quest flags not clear, enemies often get stuck in walls - walls of environments that are reused like crazy - and those Mako physics absolutely do not fit that Mako level design at all, felt like two separate games taped together and not playtested even a bit. After playing KOTOR and then this in close proximity, it's weird Bioware got the reputation as the "polished but not crazy deep" RPG house where Obsidian got the reputation as "technically flawed but deep" when Bioware is pretty buggy and unpolished.

I wish it did a bit more with its RPG systems. The choices don't seem to do much for this game, but I know they're supposed to carry over to the next game. In reality, there are only six or seven actual main quests and locations - the Eden Prime, The Citadel, Noveria, Virmire, Feros, Ilos, and The Citadel again but different this time. Five out of the six companions you get by The Citadel, the second main area, and have limited variety species-wise: two humans, two more might-as-well-be humans (because I guess they can't make any female aliens look unattractive - seriously, where are the male Quarians, female Turians, female Salarians, female Elcor, female Volus, female Hanar, etc. and why does anyone accept that bullshit about Asari being monogender), a more gangly humanoid alien, and then finally the weird buff alien guy. Where's my Volus, Hanar, and Elcor companions? You fight Salarians at one point, why can't those be companions, too? One of your companions will probably never be used since they have the same class as you. It's supposed to be a vast space opera but those faults all make it feel small and cramped, which is probably why they added sidequests. But the sidequests are kind of pointless. Again, I know choices will matter in the next game so I feel like I have to do them, but so many are fetch quests and a non-insignificant amount are just randomly collecting shit. Land on planet, check map, bounce along to the anomaly, resource deposit, debris, and finally the place you're actually going. Then it's a shooting gallery from one of three options: a mine, a research base, and an army base. The same layout for each over and over and over again. Some have animated and voiced cutscenes, most don't.

It's still worth playing. The main quests at least have high production values. The tech and biotic powers are a cool balance with the shooting, though I will say tech side feels overpowered since the main villain race is a synthetic race of robots. Inventory management is kind of trash but there are a lot of directions to take your character customization. It's smart to make every single response by Shepard a player choice, and all fully voiced, even if a lot of dialogue turns into the RPG menu diving exposition dumps. I wish the companions were a little more independent but they do make a point of giving them time to shine and putting only your "away team" in cutscenes.
One of the best choices I made in life: date Liara.
Still a fun replay but this one does start to feel a bit old because of the gameplay. Knowing it’s the start of the series and leads to other good games makes it worth the play though. The atmosphere and story is still very well done. For me the second takes a very significant leap forward though.

Final Score: B+
feels dated at times, but it it's an extremely ambitious title that delivers well enough to be revisited any time
Gameplay 8/10. Graphics 10/10. Soundtrack 8/10. Storyline 10/10. OVERALL 9.0/10.0 (A 8.5)
«Blew my mind»
For a very long time I never played this game…and I don’t know if I regret it or value my distance from this series. I picked up this trilogy in 2013-2014 so I am unfazed and uninterested in the backlash the third entry of the trilogy got from the fans. Mass Effect, to me, is a very unique series. I have never played anything like it before. I don’t mean that in regard to the dialogue or gameplay taken separately, but Mass Effect manages to balance these elements incredibly effectively. You can see the inspirations throughout the series (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, a little pinch of Star Wars and other famous sci-fi shows and stories) but Mass Effect still functions as its own title. The story in this game revolves around Commander Shepard and their quest to stop a rogue elite galactic enforcer (Spectre) Saren Arterius. Shepard and their team band together to stop Saren from conquering the galaxy but in the process discovers something for more dangerous pressing in on the galaxy. Bioware put so much effort into this game’s story and world. It feels daunting to step into it, but once you take that leap, you don’t ever want to leave. So much detail to lore, designs, locations, ships, weapons, creatures, it’s truly remarkable and never ceases to amaze me. This is the first RPG that I played that felt authentic and natural. I felt that I could control the story and what Shepard says or does and I don’t feel as though the game is necessarily forcing me to chose between a default affiliation. The graphics are okay, they aren’t as dated to me as they should be, but there are some visible signs of age. The gameplay is good, but very confined and clunky in regards to the gunplay and action. The game offers a variety of enemies to face that offer challenges in their own ways. The exploration aspect of this game has often been hailed as fantastic….I may be in the minority but nothing in exploring the planets in this game was particularly fun or rewarding. It felt empty and strange, and some of the planets had incredibly poor designs and the vehicle controls were kind of barebones to say the least. Some of the customization elements and armor and weapons got a little tedious and unprofitable. But all of these things are improved immensely in future installments. If there is a game that I could go back in time and experience again it would be this trilogy. I would highly recommend this game to any gamer regardless of preference or knowledge.

Rating: 4.5/5
«Blew my mind»