The vast reaches of space. Travelling to different planets instantly is but a dream amongst dreamers and fiction likes to say we will be able to do it in the future, and meet sexy blue aliens. Mass Effect is Bioware’s take and it brings a whole universe of races, planets and weaponry with it.
The universe of Mass Effect is huge, though most of the planets are small empty rocks. The aliens all have unique looks as does the tech, but it all feels a little generic. Huge depths of information and character brings it up from being a bland world though and despite the typical look and army feel to the main Citadel area, everything is brought to life by reams of text to plow through and the different races offering different quirks and traits. You quickly become immersed in the world, though textures sometimes take a while to load and characters can react stiffly. These things bring you out of the world which clearly has attention lavished on to it. It may be the typical looking Star Wars aliens, and the environments may be your typical snowy mountains, forests, but they are brought of life. Nice spacey techno music too.
The objective of the game is to stop the evil Saren, who is trying to lead an evil robot army to take over the universe. It’s an interesting if predictable tale though you help shape how some parts progress. Playing as Commander Shepard, you pick a class, eventually gain crew members and fly around the galaxy investigating and shooting things.You can also use powers like lifting people up and throwing them, a bit like the Force in Star Wars. I picked the gun specific class though, so had to play around with my friend Mr. Shotgun. Powers are cool but I only ever feel safe in a gun game when a shotgun is waiting at my side. I was a real power house by the end, running in and blowing away the opposition. Your team mates help and you can order them about with limited options, but I was happy to just treat it like a third person shooter.
Outside of the shooting we have conversations which change the shift of events. Here you can play the hero and convince people to see your way, or just shoot them down to see your way. These moments help give you some responsibility in the story, thought sometimes the conversations are pretty dull. ‘Listen to me!’ ‘No.’ ‘We can work this out?’ ‘How?’ Then they work it out. Most times.
Mass Effect was an interesting experience which took me four years to finish. It’s all pretty nice and easy to fall into the beautiful world, but teething problems and some uninteresting dialogue (not forgetting the elevator loading times) prevent this from being a space age classic. Does have an uncomfortable sex scene though.
Bring Down The Sky (400 ms points)
Bring Down The Sky was the first of two pieces of download content for Mass Effect. This piece has you venturing to a moon to stop some evil four eyed aliens from causing it to crash into a nearby planet. It involves shutting down some torches and more shooting. The big draw here is to meet a new alien race which will pop up in Mass Effect 2, the Batarians. We only really learn that they have four eyes and were exiled from other races though, causing them to be a bit angry. A few choices which will come into play in the sequel pop up, but other than that the piece is rather standard with no stand out set pieces.
Pinnacle Station (400 ms points)
This piece came out long after Mass Effect and is basically a series of high score challenges. You take part in simulations which feature survival, capture, hunt and time trial game types, all involve killing things, capture has you killing things and taking points. It’s fun though seems a bit pointless. It’s almost like an online version of Mass Effect without the online. Unlocks a rather pointless holiday home and a gun. Whoop.