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Why Mass Effect isn’t as good as remembered

Mass Effect

Praise is lavished on Mass Effect, and rightly so. This space opera transcended genres and made once dominant Japanese RPGs almost irrelevant. The storyline, gameplay and just about and music is above anything the genre previously knew.

I played through the first installment in 2008, and I’ve yet to play the sequel . Before I take the plunge and play the heralded followup, I went back to the original. It’s still a great game, but not nearly as good as I remembered. Have all those years had a negative effect on the game, or was it simply my faulty memory? Here are three reasons why the game isn’t nearly as I once thought it was.

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The Game Breaking Glitch

Some characters are so weak that they can only get by with offensive skills and self-buffing abilities. One terrible (and never fixed) glitch causes some skills to outright disappear with no chance of ever returning. This is a huge waste of time after leveling up for hours. During a few difficult fights, this problem made me want to throw my controller at Wrex’s ugly mug. I restrained myself…barely.

The Action

Mass Effect’s gameplay is revolutionary. Never before had an RPG featured real action that couldn’t be played with one hand on the controller and the other in a bowl of Doritos (this can be done in Final Fantasy). This space shooter offers sniper rifles, shotguns, assault rifles, pistols, grenades and a cover system. Mass Effects walks the difficult line of serious RPG and genuine action. It often stumbles.

Combat is awkward, with a poor cover system and extremely questionable enemy AI. In order to use certain skills, the game needs be paused. For an RPG, that’s acceptable, but Mass Effect has its foot in another genre. Can you imagine any other shooter requiring that?

To top it off, almost every side mission has identical level design. The only thing that changes is the location of the objects within each boring base. The bigger missions offer more diversity, but it just doesn’t feel like more than an average shooter. I’ve been told the sequel fixes these issues, so I have that to look forward to.

The Romantic Interest

Now this bothered me. The main character almost always hooks up with one of his or her companions in a BioWare game. Usually (or at least from what I remember about in Jade Empire), who you get with is determined by your character’s personality. In Mass Effect you can actually pick – or least that’s what I thought.

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I tend to flirt a lot in games (don’t tell my girlfriend), so my character Jane Shepard was juggling a handsome male soldier and a female alien scientist. They both confronted me in melodramatic fashion and told me to make a choice. I chose the asshole response of “why can’t I have both of you?” And with that decision, Shepard was saddled with the alien. She couldn’t change her love interest no matter how many dialogue options were available. Both she and I were powerless to pick another partner. It was like marriage.

The Good and the Great

The storyline, voice acting and the graphics are still excellent. Plus, the game clocks in at a satisfying 25-something hours with the bevy of side missions beaten. There’s more excitement and plot development here than the regrettable 45 hours I spent on Final Fantasy XIII. Onwards to Mass Effect 2.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

Gentle persuasion

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