Mass Effect XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 9.3
Graphics 9.4
Sound 8.6
Value 9.4
Distributor: Microsoft
Review Date:
December 2007
James Wright


Mass Effect

Mass Effect may be the game that role playing enthusiasts have been searching for on the XBox 360 which transforms gamers into an elite soldier in the distant future who has been drawn into an intricate web of deceit, freedom and survival.

Set in the unforeseeable future, mankind discovered an ancient civilization on Mars and with the technology unearthed, it led them to explore the furthest regions of space. From there, mankind has prospered and even though alien remnants have been found on Mars, they saw a universe that contained a myriad of alien races, some good, some evil and some neutral in their affairs.

With some of these races believing that mankind was unworthy of this discovery and membership into their council, a dark threat has started engulfing the colonies of mankind which is where our hero begins… on Eden Prime.  


  • Immersive RPG: Determine the fate of mankind as you lead an elite tactical strike force as an epic galaxy-wide conflict unfolds. "Mass Effect" will take the player into new depths of an action-roleplaying game, with choice-based gameplay.

  • Rich and engaging storyline: While defending galactic peace and earning a position of respect for humanity in the community, gamers will discover that a greater conflict between organic life and artificial intelligence exists. Players' decisions and actions will serve to shape the destiny of all life in the galaxy as you become absorbed in the story that is "Mass Effect," the first game in an epic trilogy from BioWare. They will become the center of an engrossing story as they battle against alien life forms to save the galaxy from threatening armies.

  • Player controls the ultimate fate of the galaxy: The player's decisions and actions will serve to shape the destiny of all life in the galaxy, while raising humanity to the pinnacle of galactic civilization via noble means or via tyranny.

  • Real-time squad based combat: "Mass Effect" employs a real-time, squad based, tactical combat system. Players will be immersed in intense, challenging and exciting combat.

  • Explore uncharted worlds: In addition to the main story arc of the game, players will be able to visit a large number of uncharted, unexplored planets which are not directly tied to the main story. At any time during the campaign, a player can choose to explore one of these planets in an all-terrain rover in order to discover new alien life, resources, ruined civilizations and powerful technologies.

  • Digital actors: "Mass Effect" features a huge cast of in-engine digital actors that you will encounter as NPCs, enemies or as party members. Each will have life-like facial and body movements, and an advanced dialogue system will give them engaging personalities.

  • Character customization: Players will be able to choose from a variety of stunning, photo-realistic character appearances at the start of the game, and throughout the game can increase various statistics which will have an impact on their performance during gameplay. Equipment, weapons and armor that are acquired during the course of the story will change the appearance of the characters.

  • Next-generation gaming defined: "Mass Effect" takes advantage of Xbox 360's hardware providing gamers with exciting new experiences, including photo-realistic, high definition graphics on an epic scale. As the future of gaming goes online, Xbox360 live features, including premium downloadable content and recognition of achievement will be available via the Xbox Live service.

Eden Prime has been considered a Utopian Earth colony and when scientists discover an ancient artefact from a long gone civilization, it may be the answer that Earth is looking for that will not only increase their technology but allow them to join the council.

Unfortunately for mankind, there are other species seeking this ancient device which leads to an invasion of Eden Prime led by Saren, a Spectre of the Council. Spectres are the law of the council and your mission is steeped in mystery and deceit but your main goal is simple, find the evidence that links Saren to the attack and uncover the secrets of this artifact.

Mass Effect was created by BioWare that made that extremely popular Star Wars RPG games and this current incarnation lends itself from both these games.

Gamers have the option of controlling a small squad of characters as they embark on quests, challenge enemies, discover new weapons and improve their statistics as they move through the gaming environment.

Characters can specialize in certain skills and weaponry with the gamer having the abilities to give their squad basic orders. The beauty of Mass Effect is that your squad is quite intelligent and they do not stand around while you do all the work. Although the title contains a variety of different difficulty levels, this game will suit both novice and experienced gamers. 

The amount of Freedom in this game is quite amazing and players always have a choice of what they can do, however the choice to pick from dozens of locations within the galaxy to explore is completely new. There are only a handful of places you have to visit to complete the game but there are plenty of unrelated and uncharted locations ripe for exploration.

Graphically, Mass Effect is an impressive looking game on the XBox 360 that has an almost “move-like” quality to its presentation. Featuring a variety of in-game and pre-rendered cut scenes, the developers have ensured that it’s easy to get lost in this amazing universe.

The strange thing about Mass Effect is the dithered approach to the graphics which makes the title look like one huge CGI cutscene which is not a bad thing. This special effect can also be turned off for even crisper graphics.

The side effect to the graphics are the sometimes long loading times and bland loading graphics but it’s a small price to pay for such an in-depth and wondrously created game.

Whether it’s visiting strange alien worlds, boarding alien ships or just appreciating the landscape of the lands you visit, the detail to attention is amazing and the gaming environments are enormous.  

The musical score of Mass Effect suits the genre perfect with its dramatic orchestral soundtrack that compliments the gameplay perfectly and will change, depending on what is happening in the game world.

The voice acting of the title ranges from professional to mediocre and some of your squad members are quite dull and it would have been nice if the banter was a little more upbeat and entertaining, even though your world has been turned upside down.

When encountering other characters, players have the option of selecting from a menu of text which will ask the characters you are talking about certain things. This also effects the gameplay with certain characters that you encounter. Add in a plethora of futuristic sound effects and you have the almost perfect sounding game. 

In conclusion, Mass Effect is a huge game, depending on how many quests you embark on that is complimented with 21st century next-generation graphics, a sturdy gaming engine and a great storyline that puts some of the other block busters to shame.

Not as in-depth as the Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, Mass Effect could be considered RPG-light with its simplified RPG system but once you start playing, you will soon discover that it’s far from simplified. The holidays are almost here and you might want to lock yourself away until you complete this amazing experience… Mass Effect is definitely the game of 2007.


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