PS3 Owners Can’t Hide From Saren Or The Geth Anymore
I’ve never met Conrad Verner. I didn’t get to hear Major Kirrahe’s “Hold the Line” speech. I missed out on skirting the law by scanning Keepers. I never played the original Mass Effect.
It hurt, because I knew I was missing out. There were things I wasn’t seeing in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 because I wasn’t one of the chosen ones. I hadn’t sided with the Xbox 360 and I don’t keep up with PC games. I backed the PS3, and that meant I never got to see how Commander Shepard’s saga began.
But I am the red-headed Spectre stepchild no longer! Mass Effect has finally arrived on the PS3 and I’m glad. Part of it is because I’m finally getting the full story, but part of it is because it means I got to play Mass Effect 2 and 3 without realizing how many cool RPG elements were stripped from the series.
I’m sure we all know what happens in Mass Effect now, but let’s review: Mass Effect begins with Commander Shepard on-board the Normandy as it’s headed to Eden Prime. A Prothean artifact, some sort of beacon, was discovered there and Captain Anderson and his crew have been tasked with heading in to grab it. Onboard is a Turian Spectre named Nihlus—Spectres are the James Bonds of the 2100s—and we quickly learn Commander Shepard is on the short-list of candidates for becoming the first Human Spectre. Her (or his) actions on the mission could influence the Council’s decision.
It doesn’t go well. Geth comes to the colony, attacking soldiers and citizens alike. The beacon is grabbed. Nihlus comes upon Saren, another Turian Spectre, who proceeds to shoot him, interact with the beacon, and direct his Geth minions. Commander Shepard gets there when all the hubbub is over, Kaiden accidentally triggers something with the beacon, and Shepard knocks him out of the way and sees the vision of the Reapers wiping out the Protheans.
From there, it’s about proving Saren is the bad guy, building a team to deal with Saren and his Geth forces, and finding out what’s happening. We all know what happens, but I’m going to go ahead and make this spoiler-free by stopping here. Rest assured that if you haven’t played any Mass Effect game before, you’re in for some awesome twists and turns.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m glad I didn’t play Mass Effect first because I would have been Very Sad if I had. Yes, that is Very Sad with a capital V and S. I am a RPG fanatic and seeing all of these fantastic RPG elements at play is glorious. I loved all of the extra weapon, armor, and accessory options. I relished the upgrade process where there were multiple skills and additional abilities unlocked as points were put into them. It feels more complicated, like I have more of a choice, which I appreciate.
Then there’s the exploration. Can I just say how much I love the Citadel? While there is something to be said for the more streamlined versions that appeared in Mass Effect 2 and 3, I prefer the sprawling Citadel of Mass Effect. There are empty spaces, but that’s okay. It gives you time to look around and appreciate the scenery. It reminded me of the sprawling towns I’d encounter in JRPGs.
The story is fantastic as well. I mean, this is BioWare, and we know that they can put together a fantastic tale when they really put their all into it. Mass Effect is quality. The story is very well done. The characters are well written, and it’s amazing to see how they were at the beginning. It’s like I got to see them as they were, and can now appreciate how they’ve grown from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 and 3. I have to admit that I’m also gaining a new appreciation for Ashley Williams, who I’d never met before. I always let Kaiden live during the Mass Effect Genesis interactive comic before Mass Effect 2 because I wanted the additional biotic and male romance option for my Commander Shepard.
That isn’t to say Mass Effect isn’t without its flaws. I finally understand why people hated the M35 Mako. I have new appreciation for all those YouTube videos showing it plummeting into lava, being attacked by a thresher maw, and being stranded on its back like a gigantic, metallic turtle. It’s an unwieldy beast. Still, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to hate it. In fact, I like to save, then try and get myself into the worst situation possible for giggles. It’s troublesome, but once you accept that fact, you can start having fun trying to see just how bad it can get.
There are also some minor bugs. I’ve seen some graphical issues in Mass Effect. Sometimes a texture doesn’t seem to display right. There were a few points where the frame rate dips. It’s annoying, but expected. I experienced the same problems in Mass Effect 2 and 3, and from what I’ve heard the original Xbox 360 and PC versions of Mass Effect shared these flaws. It’s a case where BioWare did the port, but didn’t address the existing issues. Fortunately, none of these problems happen frequently. I’d typically see it happen once every 20 or 30 minutes.
The Mass Effect cover system is a turnoff too. It isn’t terrible, but it’s different from what I’m used to from Mass Effect 2 and 3, and it took about five encounters to adjust. I’m a big fan of just running up to something and automatically getting into cover. Mass Effect’s system feels more complicated, but I do think part of the problem is me. I had gotten so used to playing a Sentinel and Vanguard in Mass Effect 3 and rushing up into enemies’ faces that I needed to break that bad habit.
Still, I say a thank you is in order. Thank you, BioWare, for finally giving those of us with PS3s access to the full story. I’m looking forward to devoting a good chunk of the holiday season to replaying Mass Effect 2 and 3 with my shiny new Mass Effect save so I can experience the trilogy the way it was meant to be played.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
There’s an occasional graphical hiccup, but Mass Effect still looks gorgeous. 4.5 Control
As long as you aren’t in the Mako, you’ll have no trouble telling Shepard and his/her team what to do. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The game is perfectly cast, and the score is just incredible. 5.0 Play Value
You’ll want to go back and create different Shepards so you can see every possible scenario in the ensuing entries. 4.9 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|