Why is Mass Effect so highly regarded?

The Mass Effect 2 hype train is now in full effect with various videos all over the place.  Recently, Gameinformer listed Mass Effect #58 on their "Top 200 Games of all-time" list.  Mass Effect has also won several "best of awards" in 2007.  I am really looking forward to Mass Effect 2--it looks like a great "action RPG".  I also enjoyed the original Mass Effect when I played (and won) it several months ago.  While I agree that Mass Effect was a fun/good game...I do not fully understand how this game is praised so highly.  I believe that the praise this game had accumulated is more of the promise of the universe rather than the game itself. 
 
First of all, this is an RPG.  While it is heavily action-focused, it is still a Bioware game that likes to focus on story and characters.  The new mechanic this game brings to the RPG table was the way in handled it's dialog system.  Instead of selecting the line of dialog you are going to say from a list of options, you select the overall feel of your response.  This way allows you to be surprised to what your character says.  I do think this is a nice system and enjoyed the way dialog played out, but the promise was far more.  Other games have tried this system of dialog, the Bard's Tale  for example, but I do believe that Mass Effect this has been the best implementation thus far.  But during E3 presentations, Bioware advertised this dialog system as a fluid/dynamic system that had almost infinite possibilities--this was not the case.  At the end of the day, it is still a static dialog system where the character will just sit and wait for your response.  The promise of ending  conversation early was hardly used, and the conversations were still "2-camera" system where not many "dynamic" things occurred. 
 
While the conversation wasn't quite as promised, the writing was well done and did mange to be interesting.  Possibly the biggest thing that really stood out for me about this game was the universe, or lack of it.  And because the "world" is so important for an RPG, I am so surprised that so many people think that Mass Effect was such a great game.  When you start the game, it seems like the universe is huge.  It has a large space map and many, many worlds to explore--or so it seems.  In reality, the world is just a bunch of planets that you cannot visit, and the worlds that you can are filled with the same type of buildings with the same type of quests.  The side missions, other than the Moon mission, were totally forgettable.  How is repetitive level design part of one of the "greatest games of all time".   
 
Speaking of repetitive, when it came to the gameplay--I would guess that roughly 30% of the game involves vehicle combat, and thus your vehicle:  the Mako.  Every time you enter a side mission planet-you have to pilot the mako to various dots on the map.  In the main missions, there usually is a long section devoted to mako play.  While I initially enjoyed the mako  in the beginning of the game, it just really wasn't that deep or enjoyable to be used for so much of the gameplay mechanic.  The vehicle controls poorly, and ultimately you just drive around and shoot at the red targets that appear on your HUD, occasionally jumping.  Hardly engaging and not the type of thing that you would think would be in best RPG of 2007. 
 
Another part of an RPG that this game did poorly was inventory management.  Does anyone really have any idea what all the stuff your weapons did?  By the middle of the game, I got a shotgun that I kept until the end of the game.  Getting new items in the "stores" were chores and I never really felt like I was buying really cool stuff.  Also, when you're on your ship, the Normandy, you can't find out what the hell the rest of your party is equipped with and thus can't really buy new armor/weapons for your party.  Getting new equipment is a usually provides a major source of progression/accomplishment in RPG's--not in Mass Effect.  
 
How about the combat?  I was looking forward to playing an action RPG--but really, the gameplay fails to satisfy the part in me that loved Gears of War, and failed to satisfy the part of me that loves Final Fantasy.  The combat is a bit clumsy, with a poor cover mechanic.  I kept finding that I was dying because the enemy would flank me and I was unable to get off cover and shoot the dude right next to me.  Granted, this is a problem is almost any cover based shooter game, but the Mass Effect enemies could kill you in 1-2 shots, so while you're struggling in getting out of cover--you're dead.  Most of the cool offensive "biotic" powers were line of sight based and with the choppy frame rate, a bit difficult to use in combat. 
 
Now I know it seems like I hated the game.  I didn't.  I enjoyed it and am really looking forward to playing Mass Effect 2.  But as we get closer and closer to the sequel, I keep seeing people praise the original--and I don't know why.  I thought the game managed to get past it's flaws to be enjoyable, but by no means on of the best games of all time.  It does seem that the promise of the universe was more seductive than the actual universe itself.

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Posted by JCGamer

The Mass Effect 2 hype train is now in full effect with various videos all over the place.  Recently, Gameinformer listed Mass Effect #58 on their "Top 200 Games of all-time" list.  Mass Effect has also won several "best of awards" in 2007.  I am really looking forward to Mass Effect 2--it looks like a great "action RPG".  I also enjoyed the original Mass Effect when I played (and won) it several months ago.  While I agree that Mass Effect was a fun/good game...I do not fully understand how this game is praised so highly.  I believe that the praise this game had accumulated is more of the promise of the universe rather than the game itself. 
 
First of all, this is an RPG.  While it is heavily action-focused, it is still a Bioware game that likes to focus on story and characters.  The new mechanic this game brings to the RPG table was the way in handled it's dialog system.  Instead of selecting the line of dialog you are going to say from a list of options, you select the overall feel of your response.  This way allows you to be surprised to what your character says.  I do think this is a nice system and enjoyed the way dialog played out, but the promise was far more.  Other games have tried this system of dialog, the Bard's Tale  for example, but I do believe that Mass Effect this has been the best implementation thus far.  But during E3 presentations, Bioware advertised this dialog system as a fluid/dynamic system that had almost infinite possibilities--this was not the case.  At the end of the day, it is still a static dialog system where the character will just sit and wait for your response.  The promise of ending  conversation early was hardly used, and the conversations were still "2-camera" system where not many "dynamic" things occurred. 
 
While the conversation wasn't quite as promised, the writing was well done and did mange to be interesting.  Possibly the biggest thing that really stood out for me about this game was the universe, or lack of it.  And because the "world" is so important for an RPG, I am so surprised that so many people think that Mass Effect was such a great game.  When you start the game, it seems like the universe is huge.  It has a large space map and many, many worlds to explore--or so it seems.  In reality, the world is just a bunch of planets that you cannot visit, and the worlds that you can are filled with the same type of buildings with the same type of quests.  The side missions, other than the Moon mission, were totally forgettable.  How is repetitive level design part of one of the "greatest games of all time".   
 
Speaking of repetitive, when it came to the gameplay--I would guess that roughly 30% of the game involves vehicle combat, and thus your vehicle:  the Mako.  Every time you enter a side mission planet-you have to pilot the mako to various dots on the map.  In the main missions, there usually is a long section devoted to mako play.  While I initially enjoyed the mako  in the beginning of the game, it just really wasn't that deep or enjoyable to be used for so much of the gameplay mechanic.  The vehicle controls poorly, and ultimately you just drive around and shoot at the red targets that appear on your HUD, occasionally jumping.  Hardly engaging and not the type of thing that you would think would be in best RPG of 2007. 
 
Another part of an RPG that this game did poorly was inventory management.  Does anyone really have any idea what all the stuff your weapons did?  By the middle of the game, I got a shotgun that I kept until the end of the game.  Getting new items in the "stores" were chores and I never really felt like I was buying really cool stuff.  Also, when you're on your ship, the Normandy, you can't find out what the hell the rest of your party is equipped with and thus can't really buy new armor/weapons for your party.  Getting new equipment is a usually provides a major source of progression/accomplishment in RPG's--not in Mass Effect.  
 
How about the combat?  I was looking forward to playing an action RPG--but really, the gameplay fails to satisfy the part in me that loved Gears of War, and failed to satisfy the part of me that loves Final Fantasy.  The combat is a bit clumsy, with a poor cover mechanic.  I kept finding that I was dying because the enemy would flank me and I was unable to get off cover and shoot the dude right next to me.  Granted, this is a problem is almost any cover based shooter game, but the Mass Effect enemies could kill you in 1-2 shots, so while you're struggling in getting out of cover--you're dead.  Most of the cool offensive "biotic" powers were line of sight based and with the choppy frame rate, a bit difficult to use in combat. 
 
Now I know it seems like I hated the game.  I didn't.  I enjoyed it and am really looking forward to playing Mass Effect 2.  But as we get closer and closer to the sequel, I keep seeing people praise the original--and I don't know why.  I thought the game managed to get past it's flaws to be enjoyable, but by no means on of the best games of all time.  It does seem that the promise of the universe was more seductive than the actual universe itself.

Posted by Atlas

Mass Effect may have been a flawed masterpiece, but it was still a masterpiece.

Posted by Venatio

Its my favorite RPG ever, I love science fiction

Posted by RaikohBlade

Mass Effect was an amazing game, but it had some flaws that held it back from being truly awe-inspiring like KOTOR 1 was. The fact that Bioware might fix all the flaws makes people understandably excited. I for one am not hyped for the second one though, I don't know why. Maybe because I want a real KOTOR 3, one that isn't a foolish MMO or flawed like KOTOR 2. I want to control Revan again, not some random Captain Shepard.
Posted by xyzygy

It's my favorite game of all time. The universe is amazing, the characters are awesome and the RPG elements make me want to go back and try different characters. I've had 4 playthroughs. 
 
I think that you're really dissecting it too much. Pick any game, and you can find flaws about it and make a post as long as yours about the flaws. The game is a masterpiece and it's Bioware at their best.

Posted by Icemael

I know exactly what you're talking about. I enjoyed Mass Effect a lot, but I really don't understand all the praise it's getting. Great as it might be, it's riddled with flaws.

Posted by mordukai
@Atlas said:
" Mass Effect may have been a flawed masterpiece, but it was still a masterpiece. "
This one. I see Mass Effect to be an experiment of sorts from Bioware and that Mass Effect 2 is really the game they set out to make initially but just couldn't because it was a new IP and still did not know how to approach it properly. I think I managed to ignore the repetitiveness of it because the characters and the story, while not being completely original or new, were extremely well written and compelling. 
Posted by Dark_Jon

I think people like it so much because it managed to bridge the gap between shooters and RPGs. I know a lot of people who ignored KOTOR and just recently Dragon Age because the combat looks too MMOish. However, they played Mass Effect because the combat was more unique. I agree that making a hybrid like this is tough and sacrifices needed to be made on both ends. However this time they've had a lot of time to refine the game so hopefully it will be a huge improvement. If they fix the glitchy combat and the worst sidequests ever, Mass Effect 2 will be one of Bioware's best games.

Posted by MrKart

I do not enjoy Mass Effect.. At all, really. I love sci-fi, and I can definitely see why so many love the game because it does have a lot going for it, but I PERSONALLY found the combat horrendous and the characters uninteresting. So it does bug me a bit when it gets so heavily praised, but I figure, meh, I'm sure there are plenty of games I enjoy that are "games for the masses" that many others do not, so it evens out.
Posted by JCGamer
@xyzygy said:
" It's my favorite game of all time. The universe is amazing, the characters are awesome and the RPG elements make me want to go back and try different characters. I've had 4 playthroughs.  I think that you're really dissecting it too much. Pick any game, and you can find flaws about it and make a post as long as yours about the flaws. The game is a masterpiece and it's Bioware at their best. "
So I liked the game.  But when people keep saying that it's so amazing--what are they basing that on?  For an RPG, the world was empty.  For an action game, the combat was heavily flawed.  Other than being a sci-fi RPG, what did it do?  I suppose the overall story was pretty good, but was it really that much better than other RPG's out there to justify it's universal love?
Posted by Alexander
@Dark_Jon said:
" I think people like it so much because it managed to bridge the gap between shooters and RPGs. "
My copy is lying somewhere sealed but I think that may have something to do with it. As a shooter fan, real time combat with guns had me interested and made a nice change from wizards, elves and 12 year old girls. All the same the combat was still clunky (I did play it some) so hopefully Bioware pull off a better job with ME2.
Posted by JCGamer
@Dark_Jon said:
"If they fix the glitchy combat and the worst sidequests ever, Mass Effect 2 will be one of Bioware's best games. "
It really does look like that will be the case.
Posted by End_Boss
@RaikohBlade said:
" Mass Effect was an amazing game, but it had some flaws that held it back from being truly awe-inspiring like KOTOR 1 was. The fact that Bioware might fix all the flaws makes people understandably excited. I for one am not hyped for the second one though, I don't know why. Maybe because I want a real KOTOR 3, one that isn't a foolish MMO or flawed like KOTOR 2. I want to control Revan again, not some random Captain Shepard. "
That's Commander Shepard to you.
 
As for Mass Effect and its arguable merits, I guess it left such an impact on me because it was the first time I had really sunk my teeth into a Bioware game since Baldur's Gate. The interactivity of it all and how your decisions actually affected the world around you (particularly the late-game conundrums) went a long way to that game having such positive nostalgia attached to it. I say all of this without mentioning the ambitious persistent world, in which your decisions will (allegedly) be reflected across three separate installments; that's something that has never been done in games before.
Posted by Jimbo

Great post, I agree with you.  A decent game, with more than it's fair share of problems and definitely a lot of room for improvement.
 
Why is it so highly regarded?  Because it did a few things extremely well and incorporated a reasonable attempt at mimicking the hugely popular Gears combat.  You gotta figure that a decent number of people playing -and subsequently fawning over- Mass Effect had never been exposed to Bioware's earlier work, which it is heavily derived from.  I suspect if I had gone into Mass Effect and it was the first game like that I'd played, I would have a much higher opinion of it too, so I can see where a lot of people are coming from (I appreciate that there are obviously still plenty of people that think it's awesome who have played Bioware's earlier games).

Posted by Pinkshley1
@Venatio said:
" Its my favorite RPG ever, I love science fiction "
I loved ME, and I usually hate science fiction. So obviously it really is awesome!
Posted by ryanwho

Its Star Wars without George Lucas. This will have to do until Lucas actually dies.

Posted by Expletive
@Atlas said:
" Mass Effect may have been a flawed masterpiece, but it was still a masterpiece. "
Yeah, this.
Posted by Lies

I'm with you on this- Mass Effect did a lot of things wrong, and hid a lot of things with parlor tricks. I still certainly enjoyed it, but I wouldn't put Mass Effect as one of the best games of all time. KOTOR did much of ME better five years earlier.

Edited by quezen

Mass Effect was 10/10 IMO.
KOTOR did not do much of what ME did, ME introduced a more engaging and intresting battlesystem, and dialoge system which were more fluid and faster.
It felt like an interactive bladerunner, and ME had a huge open galaxy for you, while many planets sucked to visit, thats more realistic what do you expect to find on a uncharted planets anyway?
Second, each time you leveled up you could choose plenty of diffrent skills ,and it was an enjoyment to level from 1-60.
People who trash ME, probably doesnt have a XBOX.

Posted by Manatassi

Hey I just noticed....  the default name in Mass Effect is John Shepherd... 
 
     
 
Remarkably similar name eh?  
Coincidence? 

Just a thought.

Posted by Afroman269
@Icemael said:
" I know exactly what you're talking about. I enjoyed Mass Effect a lot, but I really don't understand all the praise it's getting. Great as it might be, it's riddled with flaws. "
this. I really enjoyed the game but I recognize the flaws. The reason why MS 2 is getting this hype is because they are essentially smoothing out the rough edges that were in the first.
Posted by xyzygy
@JCGamer said:
" @xyzygy said:
" It's my favorite game of all time. The universe is amazing, the characters are awesome and the RPG elements make me want to go back and try different characters. I've had 4 playthroughs.  I think that you're really dissecting it too much. Pick any game, and you can find flaws about it and make a post as long as yours about the flaws. The game is a masterpiece and it's Bioware at their best. "
So I liked the game.  But when people keep saying that it's so amazing--what are they basing that on?  For an RPG, the world was empty.  For an action game, the combat was heavily flawed.  Other than being a sci-fi RPG, what did it do?  I suppose the overall story was pretty good, but was it really that much better than other RPG's out there to justify it's universal love? "
I don't know, maybe a lot of people felt connected to the game unlike yourself? It's hard to try to explain why people love games - Mass Effect is just a game that a lot of people loved. I can't really tell you why you didn't enjoy it as much as others. 
 
For me, this is what kept me going back: 
 
1. It looks phenomenal. I agree that there are some areas with nothing really in them, but if you think about it how many times have your party members gotten stuck at something (which is such a Bioware glitch lol). If they had added more decorations and just filler into the environments, you and your party members would be getting caught on everything. I didn't find that this really affected me at all really. The voice acting and the animations were great (well besides the funny walking glitch LOL :P) I also love the lighting effects they used. Reminded me a lot of Blade Runner, one of my favorites movies.
 
2. While the game is a shooter, and shooters can get repetitive, it spiced things up by adding Tech and Biotics. There is nothing more satisfying than using a maxed out Lift skill blowing them away while they're in the air floating around. Or, Singularity. Or taking their shields down with Overload and pushing them back with a strong Throw. I just liked to do a whole bunch of different combinations. I think that what you say about how enemies always flank you is true, I found it myself too - but what that needed was a lot of switching between characters and using their specific talents. I beat the game on Insanity and it was a blast because of all the precision you would need between characters. 
 
3. The characters. I felt close to each character that was just chillin around in the Normandy. I loved hearing Garrus talk about how he could have been a Spectre, or listening to him and how he doesn't show remorse for anything even though he is such a smart and calm person. I loved going in back where the Mass Effect drive was and listened to Tali tell me her views about the Quarians and the Geth. The game makes you feel like the Quarians are a bunch of idiots and incompetents because they let the Geth loose, but hearing the story from an actual Quarian is very interesting compared to how everyone else views them. Across my 4 playthroughs I think it's safe to say I managed to hear every bit of dialogue from all the characters. 
 
4. The way the story is presented is epic. Saren is badass, and then you're like "Well we can find him somewhere in the Galaxy. No prob." until you find out about Sovereign and the Reapers. It actually made me, as the player, think "Holy shit what did I get myself into."  I wouldn't say it was as shocking as the twist in KOTOR, but the way that Sovereign instills fear throughout the game is more effective, in my opinion.
 
5. The history. I have honestly read every single codex entry because them all just that interesting. (I even have both of the books, IRL) 
 
6. Different play styles. I loved making different characters and then seeing how they would mesh with others, for instance when I made a Biotic user I would take Garrus and Wrex with me because I would fuck them up with Biotics and the other two would blast away at them while they were immobile, lifted, knocked out, etc. 
 
These are some of the reasons off the top of my head why I love the game so much. Keep in mind it's been well over a year since I've played it. I seriously can't describe to you how I was feeling when I was driving through Ilos and stumbled upon Vigil. It was the most amazing moment in video game history for me. I don't know why. The game just does something to me.
Edited by DJJoeJoe

I just like hard sci-fi more then I like the star wars universe. While I appreciated all that I played of kotor, I didn't fall in love with the universe like others did and never saw anything there as more then 'kinda neat'. Maybe the prequels burned me off starwars, and considering I never got into star wars like others had I didn't stand a chance of liking kotor. The star wars universe stuff just has that icky lucas hand all over it, nothing feels important or fleshed out and none of it begs to be cared about for me.

Posted by ArbitraryWater
@JCGamer: I have to say: You probably managed to sum up my view of Mass Effect more eloquently than I could. I like a lot about the game (mostly the story and the dialogue), but all the weird janky things about it conspire against me finishing my second playthrough.
Posted by Lies
@DJJoeJoe said:
" I just like hard sci-fi more then I like the star wars universe. While I appreciated all that I played of kotor, I didn't fall in love with the universe like others did and never saw anything there as more then 'kinda neat'. Maybe the prequels burned me off starwars, and considering I never got into star wars like others had I didn't stand a chance of liking kotor. The star wars universe stuff just has that icky lucas hand all over it, nothing feels important or fleshed out and none of it begs to be cared about for me. "
I wouldn't exactly call Mass Effect " hard sci-fi" considering there are, just off the top of my head:
  • LIVING SPACESHIPS OLDER THAN EVERYTHING
  • Faster than light travel BUILT BY THE LIVING SPACESHIPS THAT ARE OLDER THAN EVERYTHING
  • Element Zero: "Oh hey it gives us superpowers it powers our ships it can be weaponized is there anything it doesn't do?!"
  • Oh hey this Prothean beacon MIND-RAPED me and now I can understand Prothean language
 
etc, etc.  Mass Effect is just as much fantasy as Star Wars, right down to lasers making pew pew sounds in space. Not that there's anything wrong with that approach, but it certainly doesn't adhere to science in any way shape or form.
Posted by ImperiousRix

Mass Effect is always a game I'll recall as being simultaneously amazing and amazingly flawed.  It did so many things phenomenally well, but it did many simple things very poorly to the point that it dragged down the experience.  Overall, I look at Mass Effect as a great game with some very bad elements.  Do I think it should be so highly regarded?  Probably not, but hopefully the sequel fixes all that was wrong with the first.

Posted by DJJoeJoe
@Lies: Correct, I think I am still buzzed about finally getting to watch Moon.
Posted by Red

When I first played Mass Effect, I absolutely loved it, and I still do, but I have found that over time, the game's flaws have definitely come out.

Edited by Jeust
@JCGamer said:

"It does seem that the promise of the universe was more seductive than the actual universe itself. "

It was for me, and my ultimate case of disappointment. 
 
I agree with what you said, and also though i liked it, it seemed as bioware's version of star wars with spectres posing as jedi knights, and with a brief apperance of the Proteans as the new Rakata.  
 
The plot twist was fine, but incomparably weaker to actually finding the rakata and being on their homeworld on kotor. 
 
That is my main source of disappointment. 
 
Also most interesting plots never really take off... Like wrex getting the antidote to the genophagia would be awesome on virmire, but never happens, and Tali's quest for knowledge on the geth just scrapes the surface. 
 
In the end, while with a superb presentation and its flawed gameplay, it is a bland game. Good, but still far from the brilliance of KOTOR or Jade Empire. 
Online
Posted by TheKidNixon

Mass Effect is a game that excels far past the sum of its parts. The Mako sections are terrible, the combat can be unnecessarily frustrating, the coding is honestly a buggy mess and the side missions eventually become rather soulless grinding, moving through room filled with one of five enemy types and often rather uninspired loot. But the whole experience of playing the game is pretty inspiring. The Universe, while sparse in parts, is thoughtfully crafted, with each species having their own identity, even if they only appear in one or two optional side characters (see hanar or those lovable elcor). Each of the main missions with the exception of Therum (which was actually supposed to be much larger, but had to be cut for being too damn broken at the last moment) offers a different flavor, and each serves as its own episode. While I do think that the inventory system was a mess, the actual equipment I felt was pretty entertaining to look at (though nothing compared to, say, Borderlands.) In the end, I'd say the main reason I love Mass Effect, and can't wait for the sequel, is that it felt like I was participating in the creation of a fully realized science fiction world, a slightly more adult Star Trek or Babylon 5. I enjyoed the tactical nature of the combat, but I constantly pushed forward because I wanted to see what happened next. That is why its memorable for me, for completely sucking me in and selling me on its world.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor
@JCGamer said:
" The Mass Effect 2 hype train is now in full effect with various videos all over the place.   "
Let's start with the last point first.  Combat.  This is an RPG, so the sci-fi combat is a stream-lined Gears of War.  You find cover, get behind it & shoot at the bad guys.  When something charges you, you or your team can use throw or stasis to stop them or slow them. If they get to close, you can beat them down using the right trigger. They usually fall straight to the ground (unless they are Krogran or Geth Destroyers).  
 
If you had bothered to learn how to do the combat, or even upgrade your weapons & armor when the time came, then you probably wouldn't get killed so quickly.  I don't see how that's even possible.  I just finished the game in hardcore mode & I barely died at all.  Further, if the combat is frustrating, you can go to options & change the difficulty setting to easy to get around it.  Plus, the game being an RPG, the combat isn't focused on reflexes!  It uses the stats.  Obviously for shooting you just have to get your cursor lined up to the targets, but it's really not that hard.  Probably the hardest part of combat is using the Mako to take on a Geth Colossus or Geth Armature.  What'd I'd do if I couldn't get through with the Mako is snipe the Geth tanks from a distance to reduce their number & make it easy to get through.  Though combat in Mass Effect is more an obstacle to the storyline than a means to an end.  Like the rest of the game, it's stream-lined to represent a battle, but isn't a full-on third person shooter (nor is it an action rpg).
 
Next. Inventory.  It's a sci-fi game, so the only thing that inventory applies to is upgrading to newer equipment.  Eventually it reaches a maximum limit for the game btw.  All you have to know is that better metrics on each stat equals a better weapon or device.  I assume you finished the game, so there were some key items that you get.  Because the game is sci-fi, there is a departure from focusing on any one device.  Instead, you get weapons with stats & upgradeable parts.  I actually liked this because it really fit well with the sci-fi setting the were using.  Basically, the Mass Effect universe follows a progress theory:  through technology, everything gets better over time.  Time is basically represented by you leveling because as you level, the objects have newer versions released that are slightly better than they were previously.  The way the technology & devices were made fell hand-in-hand with the omni-gel, that all purpose goo that you could use to repair the Mako or open locked containers.  Don't like the tech you just found as salvage?  Turn it into goo.  As you had omni-gel for technology, you had medi-gel for organics...healing potions.  A sci-fi universe is defined by having several conveniences...i.e., streamlining. Replace one weapon with a slightly better one, reuse old weapons as omni-gel, thus conserving resources by turning one thing into something else that still has a use.  Without the miraculous conveniences in sci-fi settings, what would be the point in having a future or envisioning a better future?   Goes back to progress theory: everything improving over time, indefinitely.
 
The Mako mini-game.  Well, I thought it was pretty interesting.  Driving around in the Mako reminded me quite a bit of driving around in the Halo games. In fact, the whole Mass Effect game makes me think that if Halo was turned into an RPG, it would look & play a lot like Mass Effect.  All of those neon colors & appearances seemed very much like a Halo game...probably why they were building the game with Microsofty Studios.  Since this is a Sci-fi RPG, it typically means you will be driving or flying when it comes to movement.  It's not Star Trek where they beam you directly to the location & since most of the worlds visited are frontier worlds, there are no maps to locations.  It's actually more energy efficient to drop you on the planet & let you drive around to each destination than to drop you exactly on the spot you need to be on, pick you back up into space, then drop you down again.  Keep in mind also, that you're on the Normandy & it didn't have a space-to-air helicoptor & there are no runways for jets.  So it seems you can easily provide some decent rationale for why the Mako part of the game is what it is.
 
Same type of buildings, same type of quests.  Well, the rationale for same type of buildings is pretty easy.  These are frontier worlds, they all share the same type of pre-fabricated buildings when first landing on a new world for colonization.  I'm not sure what you mean by same type of quests.  If you mean go kill something, get a reward, well isn't that what a quest is?  Granted the quests, called ASSIGNMENTS, were not that big, they weren't meant to be.  They're just side missions to give you more feel of the Mass Effect universe.  Recall that this entire game is stream-lined.  I think that's why they were able to deliver it in such a short period of time.  Rather than spending several years fleshing out the entire game, as Bethesda did with Fallout 3, allowing you to go anywhere & do anything, Bioware centered on the primary storyline.  ME is not a sandbox.  It would take a very long time to flesh out a universe for a Sci-fi RPG!  The bigger the game universe, the more streamlined it has to be, at least for non-MMOs.  You're expecting more than what was promised in the game as every review stated that it was story-driven. I recall watching Jeff's review of this game on Gamespot, one of the few he did before he got fired, or whatever...he stated it had a primary storyline that was short & some side quests.   Also, you must not have been to every planet because some of the planets had a few different types of animals wandering around, not to mention other things, like the planetary landscape that could be appreciated.  The side-quests & dropping down to a planet to pick up resources or small quests is soooo Star Control 2.  I guess if you had played SC2, you would have noticed the homage being paid to it. :)
 
As for the dialog, as I understand it, the things you did in the first Mass Effect are echoed through the sequels.  So I guess that means if you gunned somebody down, they won't be in the second story for you.  I know when I played the game the second time as a Renegade, I had a completely different experience than as a Paragon.  Shepherd was darker & quick to gun down evil doers.  Many times Shephard was pointing a gun at somebody's face during a conversation or being judge, jury, & executioner.  Whereas when I was the Paragon, I spared everybody's lives.  As Paragon, it made me feel good to be good, whereas being a Renegade reminded me of a modern-day hard ass.  At first the Renegade seemed hateful, but over time, I started to understand his viewpoint & could play along & enjoy it.  It actually works out quite well & I enjoyed pointing a gun at somebody's face, even when I never intended to shoot them..(why can't we do that in the real world? :) ).
 
From reading what you wrote, it doesn't even seem you & I played the same game.  Some of the game requires you to fill in the details with your own imagination, not have every nook & crannie spelled out & defined for you by game developers. hehe.
Posted by Clinkz
Am I the only one who thought this game was average as hell? Dragon Age: Origins on the other hand was a much better game.
Posted by adam_grif
@Manatassi said:
" Hey I just noticed....  the default name in Mass Effect is John Shepherd... 
 
      Remarkably similar name eh?  Coincidence? Just a thought. "
That was literally the first thing I thought of when the game fired up and that was defaulted to. All the way back in 2007 ;)
Edited by adam_grif
@TheKidNixon said:

"  a slightly more adult Star Trek or Babylon 5. "

 
How is it "more adult" than B5? Babylon 5 had abusive precursors, dark stories, sex, character death, difficult decisions, violence, moral dilemmas...
 

 Goes back to progress theory: everything improving over time, indefinitely.


 The idea that technology progresses out into infinity is a fallacy. Specific technologies reach plateaus quite quickly. You improve things but run into physical limits. Then you use different principles to refine or improve further. However, eventually every tech stagnates once you've refined it to the point where the performance limit is physics. You can't break physics. The idea that "new" physics will ALWAYS be around the corner and allow for improvements is also wrong, because eventually (I personally guarnatee you this will be <100 years away) we will have the "correct" physical theory for describing the universe in its completeness. Thus, we will reach the "actual limits" of performance as constrained by the immutable laws of physics, and you can't improve something anymore.
 
But I can't blame you for thinking that, it's very easy to confuse exponential growth with logarithmic growth.
Posted by Zereta

Its the second best game of this decade in my opinion. A true masterpiece. Maybe the combat wasn't so up to snuff, framerate sufferings and shoddy animation but its other parts were magnificent enough.

Posted by pweidman

I thought the game's brilliance, and critical acclaim, was tied mostly to the top notch sci-fi story.  Personally, I had no problem w/the combat, but it needed to be smoothed out some agreed, and other complaints people had like the inventory system didn't bother me at all.  The Mako was just fine....I totally enjoyed driving and battling in it.  My biggest problem w/ME was the skimpy, and very bland side quests.  A few were cool(the Moon), but most were boring fetches with a few small skirmishes, and all the structures looked so similar and generic.  The main storyline missions though were great.  I think it's tough to flesh out a new game universe(or galaxy in this case) from scratch and it showed.  ME2 looks to be such a huge improvement in all areas, to a game that was very good and damn ambitious in the first installment.  I get to take my Shepard into ME2!!!!   And all my decisions/choices will be intact and will be reflected in the game!  So sick.  Bless Bioware:).
Posted by demonbear
@Atlas said:
" Mass Effect may have been a flawed masterpiece, but it was still a masterpiece. "
This.
Posted by Undeadpool

It was and is one of the few sci-fi RPGs out there to not carry the name Star Wars and the fact that it was done competently, though flawed, makes it stand out all the more. It took out the usual fantasy setting and finally set a truly epic, sweeping RPG in a sci-fi universe. When you say the world is "empty," I'm not sure what you mean. Do you refer to most of the planets not having much on them? Because I could see that, but the ones that were relevant to the story were so massively well developed that I'm willing to make the trade.

Overall though, I do think it was the plot and voice acting that made the game truly great, especially that it eschewed conventional morality. I really felt like, while the Paragon was clearly "good," the renegade path wasn't truly "evil." It was like what the Sith philosophy should have been: easier, more aggressive, and more angry.

Posted by Ghostiet

There's no Bastila Shan in it (YES!) and it uses a new and fresh set of rules in a new science-fiction setting, at the same time being more cinematic than other cRPGs. Awright for me.

Posted by Jayzilla

I didn't like the drops either. Once you got to a certain level, the only weapons worth using were Spectre grade weapons making it pointless to pick up weapon drops. A lot of the fun for me is the drops I get in an RPG. Naming things in Roman numerals didn't make the loot all that enjoyable. How am I supposed to get excited about a Hurricane IX when I have owned Hurricane's I-VIII and I don't use them because I have a Spectre grade weapon that is so superior. I agreed with all of your points too. Reskinning the same planet to look differently and yet have the exact same things on it as the last 10 planets I visited isn't really fun. They also didn't do anything with The Shadow Broker at all. If Illusive Man isn't The Shadow Broker it will be a letdown.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

Yeah, the game is horribly overrated. Nothing "masterpiece" about it. It was an a slightly above average RPG bogged down by tons of bugs and lazy/bad game design.

Posted by HitmanAgent47

It's over 90% on gamerankings, it's better than fallout 3 in terms of shooting mechanics and rpg stuff. The only fault was the length of the game, otherwise it's another masterpiece made by bioware.

Edited by Jeust
@RaikohBlade said: 

" Mass Effect was an amazing game, but it had some flaws that held it back from being truly awe-inspiring like KOTOR 1 was. The fact that Bioware might fix all the flaws makes people understandably excited. I for one am not hyped for the second one though, I don't know why. Maybe because I want a real KOTOR 3, one that isn't a foolish MMO or flawed like KOTOR 2. I want to control Revan again, not some random Captain Shepard. "

  Me too.
 
@ryanwho
 said: 

" Its Star Wars without George Lucas. This will have to do until Lucas actually dies. "

Or has an epiphany of how he was wrong in the prequels and decides to scratch them from the board, and launch KOTOR 3 following Revan's pursuit of the True Sith. 
 
@Lies
 said: 

" I'm with you on this- Mass Effect did a lot of things wrong, and hid a lot of things with parlor tricks. I still certainly enjoyed it, but I wouldn't put Mass Effect as one of the best games of all time. KOTOR did much of ME better five years earlier. "

Agreed. KOTOR was a much better overall game in my opinion.  
 
The characters were much more charismatic, the game actually had a beginning and an end, awesome twists and good endings, unlike the cheesy Mass Effect ending. 
 
Also it had a deep moral/philosophical background, which it doesn't happen with ME. The story isn't much deeper than paper thin.
Online
Posted by Veektarius

If you took every Bioware game's story and played it from start to finish with no side-questing, I think Mass Effect would be the best one.  If you took each of their combat systems, for all its flaws, Mass Effect's was the most tactile.  While I guess I would join the chorus saying that, with the addition of the other stuff, it's not their best game, all the problems are things that are easy to fix (part of the reason why the original shouldn't get *too* much credit.

Posted by Nictel
@Jeust said:
"Also it had a deep moral/philosophical background, which it doesn't happen with ME. The story isn't much deeper than paper thin. "
Could you explain to me what you find deeply moral about KOTOR? It was basically: kill people == dark side or save people and give money away == light side.
 
I then find the choice of saving the council at the cost of the human fleet or letting them be killed somewhat deeper on the moral side. I don't mean to say that ME has any big moral issues though. It's still very black and white. They seem to have learned looking at Dragon Age, where everything is a shade of grey. I do hope they throw out the paragon system in ME2.
Posted by Claude

I played the PC version, but alas the old reg cannot handle anything new. I read of the problems with the dual analog control pad controlling the Maco and long load times, now I'm curious if all those will be ironed out for the Xbox 360 as that's my only way of playing the next version.

Edited by Jeust
@Nictel said:

" @Jeust said:

"Also it had a deep moral/philosophical background, which it doesn't happen with ME. The story isn't much deeper than paper thin. "

Could you explain to me what you find deeply moral about KOTOR? It was basically: kill people == dark side or save people and give money away == light side.  I then find the choice of saving the council at the cost of the human fleet or letting them be killed somewhat deeper on the moral side. I don't mean to say that ME has any big moral issues though. It's still very black and white. They seem to have learned looking at Dragon Age, where everything is a shade of grey. I do hope they throw out the paragon system in ME2. "
it's not so much in that perspective, though i liked it more in KOTOR where you can track down your depravity or sainthood thru a bar, instead of mass effect where you don't have any visual aid. 
 
Besides that, mass effect choices and consequences tended to be much more on the gray area than on KOTOR, true. 
 
Then again i wasn't talking about choices, but the philosophical implications and ramifications of the story. That's where mass effect lacked, having little content to that effect. It's only hinted by the Krogans with their way of life, much similar to the mandalorians, and by Sovereign. Most of the story doesn't have any deeper meaning, than what is read.
 
In KOTOR you have a main character that was trapped inside the codes of the Jedi and their dilemmas, though much moral choices were laughable, some where very emotionally impactful. Choices like the one you make rightly before you arrive at the Star Forge. 
 
In Mass Effect the impact of your choices is much less noticeable. Almost all of your choices don't really amount to anything. 
 
Also for me the Jedi are much more interesting than the Spectre. The Jedi (and the Sith) have very deeply rooted moral and philosophic codes, and the Spectre are mostly agents with a green pass to deal with each situation the way they want to. There isn't any entrapments for the Spectres, nothing to really care about, even your companions, as though most of them have their missions, what you get of each of the scenarios is almost meaningless.  If you're good you are still a spectre, though reaching the level of paragon, if your naughty you're too a spectre, though a renegade. You're always a spectre.  
  
Mass Effect traded philosophy for politics, giving a more easily understandable background, with much less depth. The Star Wars universe, though less diverse, seems richer. A trade between reality and fantasy if you like, though i appreciate the metaphor more.

Most of this can amount to the fact that the game is divided in three parts, though the first one, was lacking in various aspects. 
 
This is why i'm not all that hyped about the game. 
Online
Edited by Sparky_Buzzsaw

While I think Mass Effect was entertaining, I didn't really see it as much more.  It felt like Knights of the Old Republic 2.5, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing.  It was just pretty much average in every respect in terms of a Bioware styled RPG, save for the pretty darned good dialogue at times.
Moderator
Posted by Kazona

The game was flawed in a lot of areas. But despite those flaws, it was still better than a lot of other comparable games released that year. I can't think of many (if any) games that have the same number of flaws in them, yet still provide a rock solid experience. I think the fact that it can still stand toe-to-toe with the other triple A titles of that year, despite its shortcomings, says a lot about the overall quality of the Mass Effect.
 
So, yes, I think it does deserve all the praise it's gotten. And if Bioware really fixes all those issues, then Mass Effect 2 will absolutely be a game of the year contender for 2010.

Posted by threeve
@TheKidNixon said:
" Mass Effect is a game that excels far past the sum of its parts. The Mako sections are terrible, the combat can be unnecessarily frustrating, the coding is honestly a buggy mess and the side missions eventually become rather soulless grinding, moving through room filled with one of five enemy types and often rather uninspired loot. But the whole experience of playing the game is pretty inspiring. The Universe, while sparse in parts, is thoughtfully crafted, with each species having their own identity, even if they only appear in one or two optional side characters (see hanar or those lovable elcor). Each of the main missions with the exception of Therum (which was actually supposed to be much larger, but had to be cut for being too damn broken at the last moment) offers a different flavor, and each serves as its own episode. While I do think that the inventory system was a mess, the actual equipment I felt was pretty entertaining to look at (though nothing compared to, say, Borderlands.) In the end, I'd say the main reason I love Mass Effect, and can't wait for the sequel, is that it felt like I was participating in the creation of a fully realized science fiction world, a slightly more adult Star Trek or Babylon 5. I enjyoed the tactical nature of the combat, but I constantly pushed forward because I wanted to see what happened next. That is why its memorable for me, for completely sucking me in and selling me on its world. "
 
This sums my thoughts up well.  The Mako sections were terrible. And the side missions were soulless grinding.  Those were my two main problems and they went together.  So my first playthrough (on PC) I basically realized I wasn't enjoying the side missions and empty-except-for-a-crashed-probe planet exploration and so I just did the main story.  And I loved it.  Holy cow, one of my favorite games ever.
 
Then I did a playthrough maybe a year later.  On Xbox this time and I was trying to get the completionist and NPC achievements so I had to do most of the sidequests.  And I still loved it.  But I probably loved it more the first time.  Because the Mako sucks so badly.  Honestly I find certain side missions a lot more fun if I get out of the Mako frequently to kill things.
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