Saturday, December 1, 2007

Star What?

Star Wars sucks!!! I'm sorry it's true Mass Effect has made such accusations true. Star Wars is little more then a scribbled short story in the back of a 8 year olds notebook. Mass Effect is a game that I didn't expect to like I'll admit I'm not the biggest Bioware fan. I thought the Balder's gate games were simply ok and I'm not a Star Wars fan so I never got into KOTOR and Jade Empire just didn't do it for me. So as you may expect I was fully expecting to hate this game. But I'm glad to report not only am I completely in love with the game but that Mass Effect is one on the best games of all time.

The thing that strikes me most about Mass Effect is the fact that it's all original this isn't something inspired by something else ala KOTOR. Bioware created a insanely in depth and complex universe from the ground up, a universe dare I say more compelling then Star Wars.
Each of the many Alien races are diverse and intriguing and I found myself simply talking to them just to learn more about their species and there culture. And as I said before there is so much depth to this universe it's insane. The story is your classic "stop the big bad guy only to realize there is a bigger bad guy out there" but it's done so well and so polished that you will hardly care. In fact the fact that this story takes place in such a compelling universe will make you forget about the Sci Fi clinches and simply become enthralled with the story. And the greatest part you might ask? Simple this is only part one of what is expected to be a trilogy.

The game looks beautiful the character models are simply stunning. Which is a good thing because it really brings this universe and it's characters to life. The environments are varied the main story line worlds that you visit for the most part are beautiful. However the other planets you can go explore sometimes seem a bit empty but thats completely understandable considering how much is here and hardly takes you out of the experience. And unlike a lot of the bigger games I have seen recently there are hardly any visual bugs in the game.

The much talked about Dialog system while not revolutionary is certainly a step in the right direction. Simply put there is a wheel with 6 options (sometimes less depending on the situation) that you choose at certain points in the conversation. You can choose to be nice and soft on others, you can choose to be mean and speak your mind or you can kinda play in the middle and it really feels like you are the one choosing what to say. What you choose to say will sometimes get you Paragon(good) or Renegade(bad) points which slowly build throughout the game and ultimately decide which kind of hero you will end up being. While you level up you will be given the chance to raise Charm or Intimidation which will open up new options in the dialog wheel further creating new situations you can find yourself in. And the great thing is these new options are not just little show pieces and another random thing to level up they really do help. Later in the game I used my Charm to prevent one of my squad members from going rouge had I not had charm leveled up I may have had to fight him or worse lose him. It's things like these that make Mass Effect so epic and incredible that you can't help but love the game.

The Game play will take some getting used to but once you get the hang of it you will hardly care. The game plays somewhat like a Gears Of War but with RPG elements. You can hide behind cover although I often found myself simply standing behind the cover as the Gears Of War cover system is far superior. You have 4 basic weapons you can customize and add to Shotgun, Assault Rifle, Pistol and Sniper Rifle. You can add upgrades and new ammo to each gun tailoring it to a specific enemy or situation. You will Earn abilities for use in combat as you level up such as the ability to nonstop fire your assault rifle without the decrease of accuracy and without worry of overheating. And you will learn new Abilities for each weapon. You can also control the things your squad does as well. Sadly leeching abilities from your squad is often all they will be good for as the squad AI like in most games isn't that great. Don't get me wrong they will help you out every now and then but don't expect for them to save you or win the war or anything.

So with all these great things you may ask is there anything wrong with Mass Effect? Well yes a few things. There are at times a lot of slowdown it never inhibits the game play but its there. As I mentioned above the squad AI isn't the best in the world but it is by no means the worst either. The soundtrack oddly enough is completely forgettable which is odd for a game where everything else is so epic the soundtrack isn't. I thought the game was a bit to short but that may be a matter of taste and with all the side quests and such that can be done some will hardly think the game is short.

So yeah Star Wars sucks and Mass Effect is now the Sci Fi universe to beat. Great Voice acting, A deep and complex universe, Incredible story, Great alien races, Awesome dialog options. The list goes on. If you are a RPG fan OWN IT!!! If you are a FPS fan check it out. Everyone should at least give Mass Effect a shot and I'm sure everyone will love it.

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