Mass Effect (XBOX Series X) Review
Game Name: Mass Effect
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios, Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 20th, 2007
Platforms: XBOX 360, Playstation 3 and Microsoft Windows
I have heard about this game for a very long time, but I just did not have the chance to play it. So I ran a twitter poll and this game won, so I said what the hell.
I know that the Legendary Edition will be coming out in 2021, but I wanted to play the original game the way it was released. I wanted to see if this game is everything that everyone says it is.
Let us go through the game and see if it still holds up.
You play the character of Shepard. You initially go to Eden Prime to recover a certain beacon. Of course, as fate would have it, nothing ever goes to plan and one of the council secret agents (Turian Spectre), Saren, activates the beacon. When this happens Shepard has a vision but it is difficult to understand at the time.
The rest of the game is to try to find what Saren is up to and why he has betrayed the Citadel and Council. Of course, the Council do not believe your allegations and you must find evidence of Saren's activities.
Mass Effect Trailer
Visuals / Graphics
I know that the game was released a while back and I cannot review the visual aspects in the same breath as other games that are more modern. I can however, compare it to games that were released at around the same time.
Games that came out in the same year were BioShock, Halo 3, Assassin's Creed and Medal of Honor: Airborne. These were the games that I had played at the time. If I compare Mass Effect to those games, I find that it is a mixed bag. Sometimes, the game looks spectacular, like the water effects and the cut scenes. Then there are times when I found the game looked washed out or not as polished.
When the game starts, you have this cinema / film filter that makes the visuals grainy. Although I can understand why they would want to do that during cut scenes or flashbacks, I found this distracting. I also found it weird that this was on by default. At first, I thought this would be the way that I needed to play it. However, I soon found out that this is an option that can be turned off.
Other than that, I truly enjoyed the character models of the different alien races. I said this a few times during my streams, it felt like the aliens from Star Wars. I especially liked how the Turians looked. They just looked menacing and fit the characters perfectly.
The one thing that you can do is customize your character which is cool. However, it comes with mixed results. My caricature always looked like he was squinting. Looked like he hadn't seen his optometrist in years. Nonetheless, having the ability to do this was cool.
I do not have a ton of complaints here. In fact I would say that this one of the strongest aspects of the game. The soundtrack to the game is awesome. I had to turn it off during gameplay as I was scared that my videos would be muted, but it was very good.
The voice acting was also very well done and very well casted. I knew that I was in for a treat when I heard the voice of Keith David as Captain Anderson. I love him as a narrator and voice actor. I loved him when he voiced Goliath on Gargoyles and also when he narrated Ken Burn's Jazz.
I will say though that the voice acting for Shepard was not as good as other characters. His lines seemed to be very dry and the emotion seemed forced. It looked like someone reading off a cue card instead of acting the line. Other than that though, everyone else that was voiced, was done beautifully. The lips were rarely out of sync.
Note: This always annoyed me. How can some games that came out 13 years ago, do a better job at lip syncing than some games do in 2021. To me it boggles my mind that this is still an issue. Is it because studio's are cutting corners? If you have a AAA title, everything should be spot on.
This is where I think the game will lose most of its points and shows its age. We have come a long way since 2007 and I think since then we have perfected the formula for the controls. However, even looking at games released at the time, this feels awkward.
When you first start up the game, you are asked to choose a certain class. Each class has its pros and cons. You can choose from Adept, Soldier, Engineer, Vanguard, Sentinel and Infiltrator. I chose to be an engineer on my play through. That means that I was a tech specialist.
From Mass Effect Fandom Wiki:
The Engineer is a tech specialist, able to quickly and easily manipulate the environment with specific talents, and repair or modify technical equipment.
I did not really look into each class. I just chose the one that I normally choose in games. You can read all of the classes on the following site.
I must admit, I never felt at a disadvantage because I chose the engineering class. I may need to play a subsequent play through to really see the difference a class makes.
When I first started playing , It took me quite a little while to get used to the controls and some of the mechanisms of the game. Right off the bat, I was thrown off by the hacking. There are 2 ways that you can hack a terminal or a door. The first way is through a series of button sequences on your controller. At first, I found these sequences way too fast. I was barely getting any successful hacks. The second way to hack something is by using omni-gel which is in limited quantity at the beginning of the game. You can also hack robotic enemies if you have enough hacking skill. I must have not played properly as I barely used this feature. I just always went in guns blazing.
The weapon upgrades are cool. You can do a few mods on your guns, Now we can customize weapons to our hearts content. Back in 2007, this was a novel idea. Although, I did appreciate the different weapons found. You can add up to 3 extensions to a weapon. I personally used the pistol for most of my play through. By upgrading the pistol throughout the game, you will always have enough ammo and it will be fine for gun fights. It may be trickier at higher difficulties though as a stealth strategy may be a better approach.
Another aspect of the game that I think shows its time is the map. The map was lacking in a lot of ways. For example, it would mark things on the map but sometimes the quest marker would disappear. Another example is when you are in a complex with multiple levels, the marker does not tell you what level it is on. So you go to it thinking it is where you are supposed to go but nothing happens. I hope that this has been fixed in subsequent games cause the map to me was kind of useless.
All in all, although the game world had a lot of potential, you get to choose your class and you can upgrade your weapons. However, the actual gameplay mechanics during the game like the map, did take away from the game experience. There were times where I thought that it would be very useful but every time it fell short of my modest expectations.
Mass Effect - Sample Gameplay
Was this game as good as people have made it out to be? This is where I am sure that I will have people send me hate mail, it was good but not great.
There are very good reasons to like this game. The story alone is very cool. I really did felt like I was playing a combination of Star Wars, Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: Deep Space 9. The alien caricatures looks like they were pulled from Star Wars. The exploration and side missions felt like I was playing Star Trek: The Next Generation. The political aspect of the story felt a lot like Star Trek Deep Space 9.
The voice acting is amazing and again hearing that Keith David voice was spectacular. Although I found the voice acting for Shepard weak, I thought that the rest of the cast was voiced very well. The soundtrack to the game was also spot on.
The weapon upgrades were perfect to me. There was not too much customization but just enough to feel like I was upgrading my weapons and armor.
However, there are things that just have not aged well, like the mapping system. Quest markers are kind of useless as they rarely give you the relevant information. There were a few times where I got stuck because of this.
The graphics are hit or miss. In some aspect they look great like the water but in other parts certain textures look really bad. I know that this is an older game but still, there were games that came out at that time that have aged better.
The story to me is what would make this a classic. The narrative is very well paced and you feel like you have a connection to most characters. Shepard just felt like a vanilla space hero at the beginning but as the story goes on you start feeling for him and his team.
I did not realize this but when you go out in the world to complete a quest, you need to bring 2 other companions with you. The selection screen looks eerily similar to The Outer Worlds. The latter must have taken inspiration from Mass Effect.
Would I recommend it to others to play? The answer is yes. Although there were aspects of this game that have not aged too well, it is still worth while playing it at least once. It is one of those games that has such a big reputation that you would need to play it. However, playing the original game, you need to be warned that there is a learning curve for new players and some controls and mechanics have not aged well. Once you get over that hump, I think a player could enjoy the game.
What do you think? Are you a fam of the original Mass Effect? Let us know.