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Let’s start with what is incredible about Mass Effect. As a child of the 80’s, I was reared on The Black Hole, Blade Runner, The Last Starfighter, and Enemy Mine — a mix of cult classics and lovable garbage that tried to capture the public’s imagination between Star Wars episodes 4-6.

From the simple but elegant jumpsuits to the cheaply designed aliens and backdrops, Mass Effect ‘borrows’ these elements and I think it’s great. It’s a wonderful style choice that is the opposite of many space adventures that wants to progressively boost the amount of detail and techy crap that usually litters the environment. Simple is good sometimes.

There’s even a film-grain laid over the screen, which shows real dedication to old-school geeks of the genre. Sure, you can turn the grain off, but why would you?

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All of the aliens and creatures look like they were designed by the Muppet Factory during the time of Labyrinth and I adore it. Although the animations can get a bit choppy, I give Mass Effect the benefit of the doubt due to the sheer scope of the multi-planet adventure. I’m just willing to look the other way because Mass Effect is about style, not graphics that push the envelope.

To coincide with the visuals, the music is a direct ode to keyboard cheese soundtracks from The Terminator and Escape from New York. This impacted me even more than the film-grain. John Carpenter himself couldn’t have picked a better soundtrack! I tripped out when the music began. It is a Casio-Keyboard classic.

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Mass Effect has many ways to draw the player into this universe, like a satisfying character creation option that allowed me to put my visage on screen. This is important, since you have full control of the dialogue your character spews, and essentially, your mood and personality dictate the response you give. There are a lot of choices in the dialogue, and seeing all of this interaction with your face on-screen is strange and cool.

You also have far more options than the black & white of Bioshock. The amount of dialogue is staggering and epic. Everyone communicates, and with so many potential choices and reactions, I doubt the game could ever be played the same way twice. But by hour ten you may shout, “Enough with the damn talking!”

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Mass Effect has so many conversations, side-quests, details and monotony that it can be boring, or worse, coma inducing. Casual gamers need not apply. Battles are so few and far between, that it won’t take long for you to wonder if you accidentally purchased the “My Dinner with Andre” video game that Martin Prince once played on The Simpsons.

You have to constantly check journals, talk to people, fetch more items, and talk some more before finally someone will draw a gun and cause a 23 second battle. More action does eventually follow, but it takes a good 5+ hours before you can even planet-hop and take on some real challenges.

I don’t know about you, but 5 hours just to get the ball rolling on a game is 5 hours I typically don’t have. Bioware is telling a long tale here, which is pretty good but takes its sweet time getting the plot across to any players left awake. That is the deciding factor.

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Hype is like a snowball, thundering down a mountain, gaining size and momentum as it barrels towards the quaint Swiss ski village nestled below. Mass Effect’s hype may have snowballed, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible.

It’s a really good game that tries to offer the universe as its playground, but it occasionally simulates a long conversation with the old man at the bus stop who won’t shut up about Aunt Bea’s trip to Maine in 1974.

If RPGs are your thing, then Mass Effect is a fantastic investment. For those who want satisfying action and excitement, I recommend waiting until you have a vacation long enough to play this epic.

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Michael A. Bencic; Where the 'A' stands for Awesome! Forged in the fiery pits of Canada, Michael has become world renowned for his skills in writing, illustration (http://michaelbencic.com/zilla-studio.htm) and ability to hold down his Tequila... oftentimes, simultaneously. Currently Mr. Bencic (when your this big, they call you Mr.) is dating the Cortanna mo-cap model fresh off the hit game Halo 3. In his spare time, Michael chews bubble gum and kicks ass for RipTen (duh), www.CanuckZillaStudios.com, UMM Magazine, Bobbi Magazine, www.XboxLiveNation.com, and many others... by the way, he's all out of bubble gum.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hey guys,

    First off thanks for the comments. In regards to the “12 year old noob” comment, Mike is no where near 12 or a noob. As for the comparsion to Uncharted, the reviews were written by two different writers. Despite the rumors, there is no “review-o-matic 5000” that generates game scores.

    Reviews are done one at a time, and often by different writers. You don’t have to agree with them, but to compare two writers on two different games is just silly. Don’t believe me? I believe 1up gave FirePro Wrestling a perfect 10, best wrestling game ever…check it out and see if you agree.

    Chad-

  2. This is a sad review. It looks like a complete rush job (someone trying to get out of town for thanksgiving ?). I wish the reviewer spend more time with the game.
    I think it takes more than 5 hours to truly asses a game worth.

  3. 5 hours before you can planet hop? I played the game as i naturaly would, didn’t bother with side quests and was ‘hopping’ in like 2 hours easy, and my first planet I got onto has been action-packed so far.

  4. Have to agree, I was planet hopping in 2-3 hours. While I have to agree with the review. It’s definitely for people into RPG’s because the action is incredibly spaced with many different levels of upgrades and a lot of dialog.

  5. Character Creation -Awesome Incredibly varied w/massive amount of choices. Graphics in general, are excellent, but Game Play has some, sometimes tacky texture popping, quirky movement and animations.

    With your character doing some kind of shuddering jump at times in game, that look somewhat freaky and cheap. Plus the caught in rocks and sinking into the ground stuff like in Halo III online game play. Much worse though! But in Halo the low res, texture pops, and other anomalies are forgivable because of the phenomenal game play!

    Personally, I had been looking forward to Mass Effect more than BioShock which was not near the disappointment of this game. Almost like two games from two different developers. Playable? Yes! ….but irritatingly so, sometimes down right boring!

    “Michael Bencic’s” review? Too kind (if you ask me), it deserves lower. I don’t blame this on Bioware though. I think we are seeing some of what we’ve seen in the past from Microsoft. Way to much pressure just to get the game out on a set budget, before it’s been properly optimized in time for Christmas.

    M$ as always is more concerned with paying the inner circle of high priced execs than putting out the best products possible. Which is more than enough reason for Bungie to escape their straight jacket control systems! (there’s some developers going “Whew,relief at last”. LOLz)

    Fortunately at least some of my issues with M$ and this potentially great game can be fixed with patches! ;)

  6. In a time where reviewers often succumb to hype way before reviewing games, I’d like to thank you for giving an honest opinion on Mass Effect. I haven’t played the game myself simply because it doesn’t look very appealing. I’m really a huge western-RPG fan, Oblivion is one of my favorite games. However, Mass Effect’s combat just seems like something that I would find horribly monotonous and boring. Maybe I’ll give it a rental someday but until then I really don’t understand the constant hype.

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