Top positive review
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One of the best and most immersive stories I've ever played
on August 29, 2013
Mass Effect is a classic by now, and the beginning of a great videogame trilogy. Don't listen to some producers or EA representatives telling you that ME 3 is the perfect place to start. Your journey starts here, with ME 1.
This lore-rich story puts you in the role of a highly decorated Alliance Special Forces operator, Commander Shepard, in a multicultural galactic society where humans are still considered newcomers and 'underdogs'. A million-year old galactic mystery threatens the Milky Way civilisations, a horrible lurking shadow of which there is barely a hint and no one believes in. As Shepard, the player and the Normandy crew must travel across the galaxy, recruit specialists, investigate strange, hostile planets, retrieve artifacts, upgrade the military arsenal at your disposal to fight a plethora of enemies and opposing forces, all with their own agendas.
While completing missions on dozens of planets and engaging in combat, you will also be learning more about the companions joining the stealthy Normandy cruiser in this quest. If you have played Bioware games like KoTOR before, the premises may sound familiar, but I found this game to be superior in all aspects (and that's no small feat). There are humans and aliens that will reveal more about their backgrounds, motivations to join the mission, their cultures; you will actually care about what is at stake and what happens to all these fictional characters, which speaks volumes of the quality in the writing and immersion levels.
One of the main criticisms this game receives is that gameplay may feel clunky in the beginning; the use of cover was vastly improved for ME 2 and 3, but the storyline, the characters, the unexpected plot reveals will probably keep you playing this game until late many nights. Despite what some critics say, Mass Effect is not just a glorified shooter. The plot and your decisions guide your progress and there are consequences to some of them. You can customise weapons with mods and ammo types, develop powers and skills fitting your squad fighting style. There is an inventory system and you can buy and sell gear like in old school cRPG's.
Another frequently criticised gameplay element is MAKO, the armored vehicle you use to explore uncharted planets. I never had problems using a computer keyboard, I loved cruising through frozen tundras or volcanic landscapes while I searched for clues or lost technologies. Sometimes, I would just stop the MAKO and look around, admiring the vastness and richness of everything surrounding your away team.
The DLC "Bring Down the Sky", which can be tackled at any point during the main campaign, is downloadable for free, and it adds an interesting new story-line and a "24", Jack Bauer-like scenario that is one of the trademarks in the Mass Effect trilogy: how far are you willing to go to complete the mission of saving the universe. If you enjoy this game, there's no excuse not to install it.
This game's graphics are amazing with the right settings, the planet design is gorgeous and it's one of the reasons the planet exploration can be very enjoyable if you're a completionist.
Make sure your graphics card is supported by this game, because many computers could not run it when it was released for PC in 2008. If this is not a problem for you, also make sure you set the graphics and effects to maximum quality (in your NVidia or ATI setup menu as well as in the in-game menu) to fully enjoy Mass Effect's colorful and detailed universe and its characters. In most modern computers this doesn't cause the game to slow down at all (I play it in an ACER Aspire 5755G).
Other experiences with BioWare
I had already played other titles from this studio, like Baldur's Gate, KotOR, Neverwinter Nights. I ahve played several of their games released after 07/08, like Dragon Age Origins and the other two installments in the Mass Effect trilogy. For some reason, Mass Effect 1 continues to be my favorite game of this list, after all these years.