Mass Effect Review

Written by Michael Paton

I love sci-fi games. Something about the unknown and vastness to them, the far-out, yet somewhat believable attributes that they hold. I grew up with Halo. For years, that was my favourite franchise. And then, I discovered Mass Effect. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was about to become engulfed in my most beloved series of all time. For many people, especially those who've yet to dive into the RPG genre, Mass Effect can look scary, because it's different from the normal shooter. Once you can overcome the fact that your wading into a new genre, you start to realize what you've been missing all along.

Mass Effect to me became the essence of the potential games can achieve. The interactivity is more prevalent than virtually any game, because the choices you make in dialogue will affect your entire story throughout the entire series. The art is absolutely astonishing, from the Nebula's, to the individual planets in each solar system, each with their own description ranging from how they fit into the story, to the atmospheric pressure, gravity, and even surface temperature. This immense detail is an art in itself, but when combined with the visuals, you feel overwhelmed with the Mass Effect universe, as if it's bigger than anything you've seen before. The ability to visit random planets, to look at them from space and then take your ship there and explore from ground level, Mass Effect seems to perfectly culminate linear and open-world story telling.

The beauty of the architecture on each planet, the deep, enthralling storyline that captivates you past the end of the game, and the thousands of possibilities as a direct or indirect result of your actions; it all creates a sense of astonishment, a wonder at what lays ahead. With the various choices you make, the opportunity to talk with specific squad-mates/characters and even develop relationships, you feel immersed into the game as if it were a distant, future life. Because you can do certain things to help certain characters, you can play through the game multiple times and learn more about your teammates, simply by doing things for them that are not necessary to the overall story, but optional, and also essential in truly understanding your allies.

When it comes to the other parts of the game, you start to realize just how incredibly awesome the voice acting and audio is throughout the entire storyline. When you come to think of just how many scripts were written in order to facilitate the opportunity for players to affect their own story, it's truly impressive. This, combined with the epic soundtracks that evolve and play at the perfect moments, and the stellar voice acting, you really feel lucky to have ever experienced such a marvel. And from interactivity, to story, to detail, to immersion, and to audio, this would all be for little if the gameplay didn't match it. In Mass Effect, it doesn't just match it, it seems to exceed it. It goes above the "norm" for a Triple-A title, creating its own category above everything else.

The choice of class, the multitude of weapons, upgrades and player customization, and even the player abilities, it all makes you feel just awesome when you play. At times it's visceral, at others it's quaint, with little disturbance but the serenity and underlying tasks ahead.

Because it's so fun to shoot, use abilities, and advance in the storyline on your own whim, it combines perfectly with the fact that you can choose which areas you go to and when, and exceed at your own pace. With all this to do, you always feel focused on your goal, because the storytelling is so powerful that you feel compelled to adventure farther, even when undertaking secondary objectives. You want to see what happens, control how your story evolves, and explore into the unknown. And yet, it never seems to disappoint. It simply makes you more curious of that around you, more connected to your characters and your happenings, because you know that it's custom-tailored to your personality.

To me, Mass Effect has transcended from what it means to be playing a game, to being in a virtual reality, a mesmerizing one with seemingly infinitesimal possibilities.

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