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06/17/2013 11:19:13 •••

Lots of potential, but unrefined.

Finally got around to picking up the Mass Effect trilogy and am playing through all three games. Just finished the first one and thought I'd leave my thoughts.

Basically, what it comes down to is that there are a lot of brilliant concepts at work here, and the world building and characterization are both extremely strong, but the technical implementation of those ideas is... I guess you could call it clunky. It's not bad, but it feels like the game makers put all the effort into the story and setting, but only made the gameplay adequate. Here's a breakdown of the merits and flaws:

The Good:

  • The characters are all very interesting and well rounded. In a lot of games the talky segments are boring filler between explosions, but here the conversations with the characters are just as interesting as the action sections. It lets the player feel like they're interacting with the characters rather than just watching things happen.
  • The worldbuilding is great; Bioware put a lot of effort into creating a cohesive universe and it really shows. There are lots of interesting little things happening in the background that make the world feel alive. It feels like there's an actual world here.

The average:

  • The general gameplay is thoroughly middle-of-the-road. It's not bad, but it's nothing to write home about either. It serves its purpose; no more, no less.

The not-so-good:

  • The inventory and equipment systems are a pain; you have to scroll through everything to get anywhere, and it gets clogged with unneeded items really easily if you aren't constantly getting rid of stuff.
  • The sidequests get really repetitive. The planets you land on are all very same-y; they don't have any real distinguishing features and they almost feel randomly generated. Almost all the sidequest buildings are one of three designs, which gets a bit old after a while.

Overall, it's a good game and worth playing. There's tons of potential for awesomeness, but the practical execution is a bit lackluster. It's fun, but the mechanics needed a bit more polish. Hopefully Mass Effect 2 will clear up some of those issues.

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