Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek finally have a role-playing game that’s worthy of their love. Mass Effect takes the most compelling themes and ideas of both franchises and mind-melds them into one of the best science fiction games we’ve ever played.
Character feats like Lift and Warp let you throw enemies off-guard. Just don't call them Force powers
After fleshing out our digital avatar with the robust character customization engine (we created a bad-ass female war hero), we dived into an engaging story that put the fate of the galaxy in our hands.
The primary quest charged us with investigating the reemergence of a long-lost race of machines that wiped out an entire species of advanced aliens 50,000 years ago. Through the 20-hour campaign, we explored numerous planets, resolved alien conspiracies, and forged relationships with a believable cast of NPC allies.
Mass Effect’s rich selection of side quests helps flesh out the main story, and we loved the innovative conversation system. Dialogue trees are presented in an intuitive radial selection circle that lets us steer conversations in a plethora of directions depending on the tone of our language—all the characters are amazingly voice-acted as well.
When talking couldn’t get the job done, we turned to the fast-paced combat system, which actually requires some skill. Aiming with a mouse helped us survive firefights, and the newly designed PC combat interface is much better than the Xbox 360 version’s. It’s too bad the inventory system hasn’t been improved—rifling through hundreds of weapon upgrades in the equipment menu is a drag.
But we forgot about the game’s little annoyances after being immersed in the gorgeous high-resolution graphics—Mass Effect runs smoothly at 2560x1600 resolution (though turning off the “film grain” option is recommended). Mass Effect’s epic story is both moving and fulfilling; the game’s universe is rich with details and feels infused with life. We can’t wait for the inevitable sequel. –norman chan
Deep Space Nine
Engrossing campaign, great dialog system, visually striking environments and alien designs.
Messy inventory system, some pointless locations, only one ending.