Game of the Month: Mass Effect

The first part of the Mass Effect Trilogy was originally only published for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Five years later it is finally available on the PlayStation 3 as well. BioWare even released a patch for Mass Effect 2 that allows to import games from Mass Effect.

Mass Effect tells the beginning of the adventures of Commander Shepard, her appointment as a Spectre and her first encounter with the Reapers. Like its successors the game features story telling, well written characters and dialogs at the highest level. The game play looks very similar too the second part at a quick glance: a third person shooter with elements of a role-playing game. But after playing the game for a while you realise that the RPG elements are much more predominant than in the later games. You e.g. have to manage a massive inventory of equipment that you gain by combat or by looting all kinds of containers (crates, lockers, etc.). Developing the powers of your main character is more important in this part of the series because abilities like charming other persons or opening objects are not a given. If Commander Shepard lacks any of these skills you will have to pick your squad mates accordingly.

The gripping story makes Mass Effect a lot of fun to play. There are however a few annoyances effecting the game play. The mini game for opening containers is a stupid reflex test which I failed far too often. Power classes can by default only use pistols which makes combat unnecessarily difficult. You can work around this if you actually find out how. At that point you probably have to start a new play through from scratch. Your character’s bonus power can only be assigned when you create a character. You can also, just like the points assigned to powers, never change it. Kudos to BioWare who fixed all these problems in Mass Effect 2.

If you haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games I would highly recommend to play the whole trilogy. You will embark on a video game adventure like no other. If you have played Mass Effect 2 or 3 because you like role-play games and good stories you will like the first part as well. If you however mostly like shooters Mass Effect might not be your cup of tea. I personally enjoyed it a lot, in particular the awesome ending.