While Mass Effect is almost double digits in age, it still plays like a young game
This past week has been a joy for me, I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and play the first Mass Effect. I’ve owned this game for at least 3 years and only I ever managed to put a couple hours into it over the first days.
I remembered that the makers of Mass Effect, BioWare also made the amazing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic so I knew this was the type of RPG (Role Playing Game) that needed many an hour. So, since this week Mags went on a girl’s holiday to Marrakech, I took time off and finally played Mass Effect the way it’s meant to be played: full immersion.
I started Tuesday evening after downloading the patch required for the Xbox One (it is a 360 game but is compatible) and began. Cut to Saturday afternoon, I’ve put about 36 hours in and still not finished the story, it’s that massive.
To be fair a friend I work with (day job) told me he had rushed it and barely done the side quests and still clocked up 50 something hours. Mass Effect is quite cinematically driven, full of open dialogues and cutscenes. The plot in my opinion borrows from a lot of other Sci-Fi franchises, but don’t they all?
The game is set in the year 2183, however 35 years earlier humanity had just begun to colonize the closer planets when they discover massively advanced ancient technology on Mars, they then reverse engineer it, broke free from the solar system and expanded into the galaxy proper. They also met alien civilizations and joined the galactic community. All known space is governed by an organisation called the Citadel Council, sort of like a space version of the EU.
The story follows Commander Shepard (the playable character and fully customizable) the first ever Human Spectre (the Spectre’s are the Citadel Council’s personal Black Ops group above the law and only answerable to the council) hunting down the rogue Spectre Saren who attacked a human colony to get its hands/claws on an ancient artifact. Your aided in this mission by 4 aliens and 2 human beings with different abilities and perks. They also have their own side quests and again dialog that can make them fiercely loyal or question you.
When I first started playing this time around I found the controls quite clunky, but I guess that comes with age, this game is 9 years old, but after 10 minutes I had the hang of it. The only controls I still hate were for the Mako, a 6 wheeled all terrain tank that you use to explore the planets, now this thing really does have a mind of its own and if you make one simple mistake over a really rocky map it will make you pay big time, I gave up several times trying to get to points of interest that weren’t plot driven.
The graphics, while dated now, are still stunning, just looking over the futuristic Citadel is almost breathtaking and each planet you land on is rendered beautifully and always have something different. The A.I. in Mass Effect ranges from “There is plenty of cover around here but I’ll still stand in the open” to “Rockets pass through objects in front of me to get to the enemy, right?” to “enjoying your mission? Shame if someone actually shot you” it’s all over the place and that’s both your allies and the opponents
The reason I reviewed this classic is because I recently heard a rumour that the Mass Effect trilogy is going to be remastered some time very soon, so I thought why not, plus it’s the perfect excuse to dust off my copy and have a bash.
Now, I’m going to come out and say it, even though I know I’m going to cop some flak for this. I think Mass Effect is one of the best RPG’s to ever hit a console. Now before you start the hate machine and start sending me death threats, that’s only my opinion and based off my personal experiences, of course it shares that title with Knights of the old Republic (I downloaded the iOS version and still play it now) and Fable: The Lost Chapters.
I never got into the Final Fantasy’s since they never really interested me, Destiny, while I love that game, is more of an open world first person shooter and didn’t get the chance to check the Fallout series though I would like to one day when I’ve got even more free time.
But my point is while this game is almost a decade old it still wowed me with its visuals, kept me gripped with the story and most importantly it entertained me for 36 hours, most games these days are too repetitive, while Mass Effect does follow the same formula it still injects something new into the mix, just finished battling killer robots? Sneak in and blow up that base, while battling killer robots.
I can’t remember the last game that got 36 hours out of me without complaint and still left me wanting more. If you’ve never played Mass Effect, go pick up a cheap copy from a second hand store, take a week off work and thank me later, it’ll be worth it.