This is my first review on Movie Moron, and before we start, there's one thing you have to understand about my reviewing "style".
Most reviewers will start off gently which allows the reader/viewer time to form their own opinions before the reviewer offers their final verdict. I am all for people making up their own minds, but I prefer to hit them with my verdict and then explain why I have that opinion....so buckle up, here it goes...
Mass Effect, from Bioware, is an absolutely incredible achievement. It is rare that a videogame will come along and squeeze its way into my list of all-time faves, but this one manages that very task without so much as breaking a sweat!
I am a huge fan of Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic games on the original Xbox (and PC) and because of this I had been eagerly anticipating Mass Effect since...well...the start of time. In fact, the only game that I have been anticipating more is Alan Wake from Remedy, the guys behind the Max Payne games!
I will try a different approach for this review, I don't normally list the Pros and Cons of something, but I shall give it a shot and see how I feel about it!PROS
- The main story is very well written and could be found in any major motion picture - think Star Wars and you won't go far wrong. This game is complete with as many twists and turns as any of your fave films.
- The characters are very well-rounded, they have their own interesting back-stories, but more importantly than this, they are truly believable which is all too rare in Videogames.
- This game is absolutely stunning, from the beautiful graphics to the realistic animations, and what is most impressive is the fact that they achieved this level of detail in something so enormous in scale.
- The time it takes for completion - There is nothing worse than playing a truly great game only to have it end just as you were really getting into it, in this respect Mass Effect will not fail you, on the first playthrough I did as many side missions as I could find and it took me around 40 hours to complete.
- Notice I said FIRST playthrough. When I finished the game I immediately started again, using the SAME character. Loved the game and want to try a higher difficulty setting but don't want to face a complete uphill struggle? No problem, you can start from the beginning again, and you can choose to carry over your character complete with their level, stats, cash, and abilities! Go on, do things differently this time.
- The side missions are also very well written and a few of them have quite a lot of detail. If they were to package together the side missions in Mass Effect they would be worthy of an entire game! And a very decent one at that!
- The voice acting in Mass Effect is probably the best I have ever heard in a videogame. I could rhyme off a great number of games which have attempted to deliver realistic voice acting and fell flat on their faces. Previous moments of "But they would not respond like that!" or "This sounds like a robot talking!" are long gone, although having said that, there ARE robots in the game...and they DO sound like robots.
- The soundtrack, as with KOTOR, is breathtaking. It features all the subtle emotional undertones you might expect from a quality film production and even throws in some fast-paced adrenaline pumping music you would find in a good blockbuster.
- This game will have the players feeling proper EMOTIONS, these emotions are not forced down their throats, it just happens quite naturally. There are a few big decisions near the end of the game, and I found myself taking a risk which did not pay off, and I honestly felt quite emotional about the aftermath.
- It has monkeys in it! Everything which features a monkey is much better for having it. Oh, you want evidence? Ok, think of the film King Kong, and now think of that film minus the big monkey, you see my point? Not enough proof? Ok, try this on for size, think of Planet Of The Apes, then remove the apes, now, do you understand?
- In the early stages of the game the team-mate AI is very erratic, this does clear up as the game progresses and they act as you would expect them to in combat situations, but there will be early moments of frustration as you witness your team-mate standing in the open and "dying" all too easily. I say dying, but it is more like being KO'd, they get back to their feet at the end of the battle so it's not as major a problem as it could be.
- Many of the side-missions involve visiting the surfaces of planets and exploring them with the use of the Mako all-terrain vehicle. I personally did not find this to be a problem, I actually enjoyed using the Mako, but some of the terrain can be rough going and this, added to a few of the more repetitive side-missions, may take slightly more patience than the average person can handle.
- Lastly, and this is a very minor issue, and as with the Mako I personally had little problem with this. The game has quite a few minor graphical glitches, although you will not find a situation where you witness one after another, they seem to mostly happen at random and so they may not even crop up that often.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, this game is an incredible achievement, one which should be experienced by anyone who:
Likes Sci-Fi in general.
Is an all-round decent, wise, and lovely person!
There is also talk of Mass Effect as being the first part in a trilogy of games...that second game can’t come soon enough for me. To put this into context, I was dreaming of a sequel when I was only halfway through completing Mass Effect which shows how good this game is – I did not want it to end.
Oh, and one more thing, Roger Ebert has apparently elected himself as a one-man videogame-fighting machine.
Ebert claims that videogames should not be considered as "art" because in his opinion, the choice that a player is given detracts from the overall view of the author - This is utter NONSENSE. If anything, videogames have the potential to overtake films in the “art” stakes, simply BECAUSE they offer a level of interaction not found in film.
Ebert is an elitist, and what he fails to grasp is that his beloved medium of film was attacked on its introduction, and elitists at the time felt that films could never be accepted as a legitimate form of art!
As a medium, videogames are still in its infancy, to write them off with such flagrant disregard is an incredibly arrogant act, one which forced me to rethink my views on this otherwise thoughtful individual.
Make no mistake, Mass Effect IS art.
If "modern art" is an accepted form of art, then it baffles me that anyone has the audacity to suggest that videogames are not. Present me with a great game with a lot of depth, and a pile of bricks, and I sure as hell know which one I would say is art!