Weeklies

Game: "Mass Effect"
System: PC
Genre: RPG
Published by: Electronic Arts

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 6/16/2008

Review: If thereís one thing Bioware does well, itís RPGs. Itís all they do, so thank goodness theyíre good at it. Their most recent game, Mass Effect, is a blend of the action-oriented combat of Jade Empire with the futuristic setting and squad-based combat of Knights of the Old Republic.

Mass Effect is so named for the technology that allows humans to manipulate the mass of an object, thus allowing them to travel at Faster-Than-Light speeds, make guns with unlimited ammo, and manifest psychic powers. That first bit has led them into contact with over half a dozen alien races, and many of them are unsure of what to make of humanityís sudden grasp of space travel. Thatís where you come in: as Commander Shepard, you have just been appointed the first human Spectre, a sort of intergalactic secret agent. Itís up to you whether to prove that humanity is capable of meeting their expectations, or to just tell those snobby aliens where they can stick it.

The story is far more complex than that, and itís really the best part of the game. Your quest to track down a rogue Spectre will take you all across the galaxy, and each world offers you a new experience with unique characters that seem completely human. Even the aliens.

Youíll gather together a total of six different party members, each one fulfilling a different role in combat. Each one, too, has a specific disposition, and may be less inclined to buddy up with you depending on your attitude. Unlike KOTOR, however, these interactions are less abstract in terms of gaining/losing influence, and moreover, getting in tight with a crew member will unlock a side quest and give you some experience. Itís a smaller reward than what you would receive in KOTOR, but at the same time, itís a welcome change so that you donít feel obligated to chum up with any crew members you donít like just because you want a stat boost that only they can give you.

And while weíre on the subject, the morality system has been retooled from Biowareís original system. Gone is KOTORís system of being either a saintly, Ghandi-like figure, or an over-the-top, cartoonish villain. Mass Effectís system is less like Good vs. Evil and more like Hero vs. Anti-Hero. Are you the altruistic heroic type, or a ruthless soldier who will stop at nothing to get the job done?

The game also puts less emphasis on having to act out a single role in order to gain access to special powers, too. Sure, maybe youíve been playing the role of an angry renegade, but maybe you donít want to boost your renegade rating by saying something vaguely racist. You can go with the good guy response, as making a decision of the opposite alignment no longer drains your accumulated points in one direction, or you can go with a sort of neutral response, just to push things along. Being neutral isnít going to make it easier to use either your Charm or Intimidate skill, but sometimes you just need an easy out in a conversation.

The PC version also boasts improvements to the squad mechanics as well as to the Mako, your heavily-armed all-terrain vehicle. Itís not all sunshine and gumdrops, however. The PC version boasts a couple bugs, including one big technical problem Iíll get into later. One of the biggest problems is a bug that occurs when your weapons overheat: Instead of ammunition, all the guns in the game generate heat when fired and when they overheat, you arenít able to fire them again until they completely cool down. Sometimes, though, instead of cooling down, a weapon will stay overheated forever, until you save and reload the game. At the very least, itís taught me to be very careful about my heat, lest I have to close out the battle by pistol-whipping everyone around me.

The other big hangup with the PC version is a technical issue stemming from my three least favorite letters of the alphabet: DRM. When the game first came out, Bioware thought it would be a schnazzy idea if the game checked online every 10 days to make sure it was still registered. Better still, they thought consumers would love only being able to install the game 3 times before needing to call tech support and ask that they be allowed to play their game again. How could something like that possibly backfire? Well it turns out that people arenít real crazy about being treat like criminals, so Bioware is working on a compromise that meets the demands of their customers while simultaneously allowing them to keep the shills at SecuROM in business.

Other than that, though, Mass Effect is a great game. The side quests can be a bit tedious gameplay-wise, but thatís about it. If Bioware can take care of those in time for Mass Effect 2, theyíll have another hit on their hands. Hopefully enough of one that theyíll put a moratorium on including intrusive copyright protection software on their games.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Enginseer
Jun 17th, 2008, 04:54 AM
I found the game good but not great. The side quests and interaction with the squad members was a little less than desired and their impact on the story as a whole wasn't that great. Still, I liked the game for being so cruel and hard some times, something that really surprised me and made me say that this wasn't some happy-peppy Star Trek thing.
pickled
Jun 17th, 2008, 05:27 AM
I can't wait for Mass Effect 2. It's time to stick it to those gigantic Reaper assholes.
Ņ
Jun 17th, 2008, 11:54 AM
Thank you for a fair and true review of the game! You are the first review I have read, and im sort of pathetic so i have read alot, that didn't mention the sex. Good for you beacause it's honestly not even a big detail! In fact I shouldn't even mention it! So maybe I wont...

awe piss I've already typed this comment now so fuck it.
Spiteful Jerk
Jun 17th, 2008, 08:53 PM
Actually, EA thought that awful DRM would be a snazzy idea, since they consumed BioWare. So sad. I know that seems like an annoying nitpick, but it's important to remember that the people at BioWare are still good guys, they just got eaten up by a fucking monstrous dragon. I have to keep reminding myself that just so I don't snap my copy of KoToR in half as a symbol of BioWare's death. Anyhow: I'm curious as to how they improved the Mako. That thing kind of fucking sucks on the 360 version, and my computer will burst into flames if I bring a game this graphically intensive within ten feet of it. Details?
Funky Dynamite
Jun 17th, 2008, 09:05 PM
I never played the 360 version so I can't say exactly what was fixed. In the PC version, you control the Mako with standard tank controls, the jump jets can be used for... something I guess, the two mouse buttons control for the machine gun and cannon, and the shift key cycles through the zoom levels: normal, just above the Mako, regular zoom, and enhanced zoom.
Freelance Product Tester
Jun 17th, 2008, 09:10 PM
I heard that the Mako can climb steeper slopes in the PC version.
Funky Dynamite
Jun 17th, 2008, 09:16 PM
That it can. Up to like 80 degree slopes. On most planets, you can just drive straight to your destination. I was surprised at first, but then I just got annoyed at the handful of planets with hills that were just too steep.
Scruffy drunken Brit
Jun 19th, 2008, 07:17 AM
While there's a lot of issues in the gameplay that I would love to go on a million hour rant about, I love the story, characters, music, and everything else about the game too much to speak against it.


Oh, and Saren's voice actor, Fred Tatasciore, also does the voice of Baird in gears of war, and Handbanana in Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Try taking Mass Effect seriously now, when the badguy is a bright yellow serial rapist!
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 19th, 2008, 02:03 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Ugly Drunk View Post
Try taking Mass Effect seriously now, when the badguy is a bright yellow serial rapist!
OMG SPOILERS
Funky Dynamite
Jun 20th, 2008, 02:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Ugly Drunk View Post
While there's a lot of issues in the gameplay that I would love to go on a million hour rant about, I love the story, characters, music, and everything else about the game too much to speak against it.
The writing is really fantastic. But the thing is, at the end of the day, it's still a game. The most important part of a game is the gameplay.
Blah blah blah
Jun 20th, 2008, 04:24 PM
The Mako can climb 80 degree inclines in the 360 version. Damn near straight up. So I wouldn't say that's an improvement on the PC version.

Also - in regards to the overheating bug. I don't think this is a PC only problem. I experienced the same thing on the 360. Did you try switching weapons, firing off a few rounds, and then switching back to your regular gun? Worked for me.
Funky Dynamite
Jun 20th, 2008, 04:35 PM
Well then that part is PC only. I was able to get all 4 weapon types to become permanently overheated at once.
Scruffy drunken Brit
Jun 21st, 2008, 08:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Boogie View Post
The writing is really fantastic. But the thing is, at the end of the day, it's still a game. The most important part of a game is the gameplay.

It'd be expected of us now to get into some sort of debate about this view, much akin to Shepard and Garrus talking about what they think counts as "right", but it wouldn't be very funny


I'm not saying that the gameplay in Mass Effect is bad, far from it, just having a go at some of the issues that almost stop it from being enjoyable.
Turrican't. :(
Jun 23rd, 2008, 05:32 PM
So like, when are you guys going to review RETRO games again, you know, like why we go to I-Mockery instead of IGN? ¨__¨
OH GOD
Jun 24th, 2008, 05:00 AM
http://www.i-mockery.com/weeklies/we...pe=games&id=52

there are you happy now you fuck*ng jerk
Hitler's Canoe!
Jun 24th, 2008, 05:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Ugly Drunk View Post
It'd be expected of us now to get into some sort of debate about this view, much akin to Shepard and Garrus talking about what they think counts as "right", but it wouldn't be very funny


I'm not saying that the gameplay in Mass Effect is bad, far from it, just having a go at some of the issues that almost stop it from being enjoyable.
I never had any issues with the way the game played. The action seemed about perfect as far as I was concerned. Are your problems mainly related to awkward control/difficulty controlling your squad? Because I couldn't imagine playing the game with a 360 controller.
Scruffy drunken Brit
Jul 3rd, 2008, 05:57 AM
I didn't have any trouble controlling the squad. The Mako takes some getting used to, and the fact that when you're going on a rampage and killing guys and have no earthly idea that your item count is rapidly approaching 150 results in a total facestab when you find that you can only get rid of a certain bunch of items when you go over the limit, forcing you to scrap some good.
However, now that I know to keep an eye on my inventory, I don't have this problem.


Hardcore and Insane could have been put together a little better.
"Everyone and their dog uses Immunity constantly, except for the Geth" doesn't make for challenging gameplay, it just makes for long and dull gunfights. That bit with the Thorian, I ended up having to put those explsoive rounds in my guns so that I could just kill everything by knocking them off the ledges and sending them to their deaths.


I'd complain at the fact that considering that BioWare said they'd be avoiding typical sci fi cliches where humanity have pretty much become the macdaddys of the universe and are fucking everywhere but instead you see a couple of Salarians with the same voice, one or two Krogans (Not including the ones working for Saren) a few Asari, three Elcor and the entire human population of Earth crammed into every available space, but I'd just be being a prick.


Incidentally, I don't see the problem some people seem to have with how slow the lifts in the Citadel and what not go.
The one in the Normandy only takes, what, sixteen seconds, the lift at where I used to work took about seven weeks to move one floor.