Originally published for the Xbox 360 in 2007, five years later, Mass Effect finally arrived to the PlayStation 3 in December of 2012. During this span, it seemed like Microsoft would not abandon its stranglehold of the original game, even after the second and third iteration found its way onto Sony’s console.
Yet, after a long wait, PlayStation gamers can finally delve into the beautifully enchanting, non-linear, first third of the trilogy. Whether this is your first foray into the game, or if you are, like me, looking to enjoy the game on a different system, than welcome to one of the most fascinating and arguably deepest games of the generation.
Mass Effect starts off by introducing you to most of the series mainstays, most importantly Commander Shepard, who you will experience the game’s events with. Just like the other M.E. titles, customization is at the forefront of the game. From small-scale meetings with a Fan to important decisions that affect the outcome of future games, Mass Effect’s trademark choices are the most evident during this first game.
Although the series’ story is extremely deep and fleshed out, it is not all that difficult to understand. When a rouge agent, of what is essentially a future U.N., helps bring back a hostile and formidable race of aliens unto the unsuspecting universe, Commander Shepard must step up to the challenge of stopping the agent. However, there are a few problems that stand in front of Shepard. Saren, the rouge agent, is one of the universe’s most respected individuals, while Shepard, and the rest of Humanity is seen as unreliable and untrustworthy. It is from this moment forward that you will embark on one of gaming’s greatest stories.
If you have only played the second and third game, then Mass Effect may feel as foreign as the many planets you travel to. The series took a polarizing turn in regards to the combat mechanics; which became a lot tighter and action oriented in later games, character models appear a bit stiffer, and then there are also the notorious elevators that managed to find their way into this version of the game. Small tiffs aside, this game is engaging, thought provoking and sports the series deepest RPG mechanics.
Experience points are handed out for just about everything in the game. From reading a codex, to landing on an uncharted world, you will earn a load of points throughout the game. This is great, because throughout the game, you will continue to experience a large variety of enemies; which will require you to place a high level of experience in specific sub-categories of the leveling system. However, this does not mean you will max out a characters level in one play through; giving you plenty of reason to go back and experience the game a second and third time.
Your character’s class, which you pick in the beginning of the game, and your ally’s classes have various categories that you manually rank up each time you gain a level. Your class, as well as your ally’s class’, determines what kind of weapon and abilities the characters specialize in. Choose a soldier class, and your character will be a master at wielding various types of guns. Choose an Engineer and your character will yield the ability to hack robotic enemies, and sabotage their armor. While Adepts, the most “Sci-Fi” class in the game, can use biotic attacks to destroy enemies.
Its unfortunate, but most of Mass Effect’s original Xbox 360 issues are brought into this version of the game. Loading, especially at crucial moments, takes an extremely long time, the aforementioned elevator rides takes close to a minute to traverse between one level and the next, while framerate issues occur when entering buildings and during conversations. Also during conversations, the voice acting, although with great dialogue, hardly ever synchs up to the individual’s lips. Although none of these problems are a deal breaker, it would have been nice to see some changes to the blatant issues that occurred back in 2007. That being said, I wouldn’t have played and beat the game multiple times on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 if the rewarding experience of Mass Effect wasn’t so alluring.