>Has completed one playthrough
Mass Effect is, in a word, enormous. You are Commander Shepard, a space marine with a customizable gender, appearance, class, backstory(?), and personality. There are six classes, three backstories, and three personalities. And that's not even getting into the huge amount of power and equipment management.
The story is as described by the page, and it's fairly decent. I only have two problems with it: For most of the game, we don't see any evidence of Saren's
wrongdoings, and there's also no choice to look for the genophage cure on Virmire. Other than that, the game is about its characters, and of the six teammates you get (each representing a class), I only found two to be dull, and even then, the sequel changed my opinion of one of them. The game also has plenty of interesting irrelevant information for pure World Building
, though it can help you understand the motivations of some characters or races.
Gameplay doesn't fare so well, though it is still alright. There are three ways to fight: using biotics (magic), technical abilities, or straight up weaponry, and which class you choose affects how you'll fight. Biotics and tech are accessed through a "power wheel", which pauses the game and allows you to target, though after using an ability, you must wait for it to recharge. Your guns have unlimited ammo, though they can overheat if you don't pay attention. This part of the game is fine.
The game goes wrong when you try to select something. The amount of gun and armor types there are is enormous, and you'll be picking up plenty. This is exacerbated when you factor in upgrades for your guns and armor, along with tech and biotic amplifiers. You have a 150 item limit with little means of sorting, which is especially bad in the sell screen.
Sidequests are also generally bad. They almost always involve using a poorly controlled vehicle over an enormous and mostly barren landscape, going into a building you've seen a dozen times over, shooting everything there, and finding something inside. The ones that don't are fun.
The graphics are great when they aren't the boring landscapes, but the music is atmospheric (read: dull).
Mass Effect is ultimately a great game in the main story if you can get around all the micromanagement. Just remember that all the sidequests are optional.