|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: BioWare||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
That being said, hardcore fans of the series need not be worried that the strategy previously found in encounters has been dumbed down in favor of a more standard combat mechanic. This isn't just a shooter even though it plays a lot more like one; the strategic use of powers is still part and parcel of the game. In fact, it has been greatly enhanced through separate attack and movement orders for each squad member.
Players can now use the power wheel to outline orders in real-time as well as dynamically select ammo load-outs to better suit the present opposition - i.e. synthetics versus organics. Moreover, biotic abilities are incredibly devastating this time around due to the refinement of the game's physics. Players will now be able to literally rip foes out from behind cover, hit them with a concussive blast of energy, and then finish them off with a few well-placed coup de gras shots when they're prone and helpless.
Lastly, the team at BioWare has made galaxy and planetary exploration far more in-depth. Players will now have to find suitable regions within which they can land and explore. All of these regions on a planet will be diverse "like a science fiction painting come to life." As pretty and lively these new worlds are, they are juxtaposed by the dark and brooding tale that is spun. Even more so than the original game, your decisions will have major consequences for not only the story, but also for the livelihood of you and your crew. In fact, we were given a sneak peak at a crucial spoiler; quite an interesting plot device, but one I'm reticent to share with you. Needless to say, you'll want to measure your actions and be prudent in your decision-making.
BioWare's next iteration in the Mass Effect franchise will be host to myriad improvements that should make the gaming experience unlike anything we've ever seen, yet still wholly reminiscent of the original game we know and love. Look for the title to release in the first quarter of 2010.
CCC Editor / News Director