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Mass Effect review madness
None - posted by Elwro on Tue 20 November 2007, 22:16:24Tags: BioWare
I apologize for the extraordinary length of this newspost, but in order not to lose our status as the unquestioned bastion of gaming objectivity, we cannot let the plethora of positive Mass Effect reviews slip under our radar. First, let's find out about the supposedly very innovative dialogue system. Here's what has TeamXbox has to say about it:
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Mass Effect utilizes a unique dialogue system to progress the story. Essentially, you’ll begin speaking to another character, and a circular dialogue tree will appear at the bottom of the screen before they are finished talking. This allows you to queue up your responses so the conversation flows more realistically and naturally than in previous games. It’s a good system (...)
So the only practical difference from the old, trusty dialogue tree is the fact you can queue up your responses? But enough with the negativity, let's see the high points of the game:
(GameSpy) Mass Effect's greatest strength is the quality of the narrative. BioWare has a track record of producing amazingly engrossing storylines, but never before have you been presented with this level of meaningful interaction. You'll experience difficult and thought-provoking situations, including moral and ethical questions without a clear right or wrong answer. The Commander Shepard character is thus defined by player involvement, sublimely capturing the essence of role-playing.
(GameSpot) (...) some characters have magic-like powers called biotics to mess with. It's worth noting, however, that these powers are focused on manipulation rather than direct offense. You can push enemies back with the throw power (awesome to behold at higher levels), lift them in the air, or create a vortex that sucks enemies toward it (another great use of Mass Effect's fun combat physics). Engineers have some nice abilities as well, such as the ability to sabotage weapons from a distance, which makes your enemy's weapon explode, or the power to turn robotic enemies against your own foes.
(IGN) It's easy to ignore a paragraph of text asking you to fetch a random item, which is what most RPGs offer. Try passing up the offer to take up a quest when you have a voice filled with inflection asking for your assistance. Not just a voice; a being with real motivations that you can converse with, learn more about, and ultimately relate to. The voice acting is good, but the writing is even better. To think that this level of detail was put into some characters that you may never even interact with is mind-boggling.
(Eurogamer) (...) each new planet offers its own specific visual treats - some of the artwork must surely [be] among the best we've been treated to. The facial detail is also, at times, absolutely wonderful, and adds no end to keeping you immersed during all the narrative segments. In terms of raw atmosphere, Mass Effect is a game that will really get under your skin - not just in the way that it creates a true sense of place to the locations, but in many other ways, notably the way the excellent soundtrack from Jack Wall adds greatly to the sense of drama as it unfolds. As with a lot of big-budget games of late, the efforts that have gone into making the whole thing as grand and cinematic as possible haven't gone to waste.
Even though the reviewers have some reservations about certain game elements (and bugs), the whole message is overwhelmingly positive. Don't rush to the stores if you don't have an Xbox 360, as the PC port is unannounced yet.
For a tiny nitpick, here are some shamelessly ripped out of context quotes about the dialogue:
(Eurogamer) The new, refined dialogue system isn't quite the one that was described to the press during development, but nevertheless allows you to seamlessly and intuitively build up a conversation based on your overall attitude.
(GameSpot) Oftentimes, multiple choices have the same result, a somewhat transparent trick that makes it seem as though you have a lot more impact on the conversation than you really do.
(GameSpy) And as should be expected, different responses to the same issue will often lead to similar, if not exactly identical results.
As should be expected? It is an unfortunate truth that fake dialogue choices are present in every cRPG to date which has dialogue trees (correct me if I'm mistaken), but surely we can expect the genre to improve?
Read the reviews: Team Xbox (9.6), GameSpot (8.5), GameSpy (5/5), Eurogamer (8.0), IGN (9.4).