This game... so close to perfection and yet so far.
For the record: I really liked this game. I really did. I can't wait for Mass Effect 2 because I know Bioware can get their act together and fix the flaws of this game. But I don't think this game is 'the' RPG of the century, or even the year. In fact, this game is, in my opinion, barely a B game. Probably an 8.4 or so, not the 10 most of the media wants to give it. Maybe I'm just a tough grader.
First, "Huge game world" my ass. There's like, a planet a system you can land on and most of those have two or three things you can do: get minerals, clear dungeon. Add that to thirty or so systems? Maybe it's because Bethesda spoiled me, but I'm used to 'huge game world' meaning "there's ALWAYS something new, no matter HOW long you've been playing it." I felt rediculously cramped playing this game, and it didn't help that you visited all of like three colonized planets, excluding the tutorial planet. Seriously now.
Second, where are the goddamn rockets? The Geth and every single effin pirate in the galaxy has rocket launchers, and I'm supposed to buy that the council sends a fuckin' specter up against Geth tanks with an assault rifle? I can't even buy grenades! WTF is this?!
this second complaint is really just a subsidiary of the 'Golly Gosh Darn Gee Wiz it isn't my game' complaint. I heard this game would be 'open world' and 'free' to make my 'own path.' Instead I find out that no matter what I do it ends up with me, Shepard, shooting some guys and
I didn't feel free for one second in Mass Effect, I felt like everything was forced on me in one way or another. In the end I managed to find I hated every single goddamn member of the Alliance and as such when
Each level is linear. Sure, on some of the more stupid levels (like the one where you go rescue the asari) they wind the linear route around and artificially make you backtrack (hint: it's not a real puzzle if one of your crew members shouts out the answer) a bit before getting to the destination, but overall this game is Halo. Point A to Point B, killing everything that moves in between.
Hell, in Morrowind and Oblivion, and even Halo, I can shoot (and kill) whoever the hell I please. Well, not so much in Oblivion (stupid fucking crown of invincibility) or Halo (some guys, like Sgt. Johnson, are invincible [not that I'd ever harm a hair on Johnson's head]), but even in those games the vast majority of people, even good guys, are killable.
I can shoot up the presidium without the guards at C-sec even blinking an eye. There are no, read: 0 consequences to my actions, and when I finish a quest the last word on it is some kind of fake news report blandly telling me stuff like "Some Alliance member went and killed Asari Commandos." Goody goody gumballs!
The ONE mission that stood a chance of changing this game for me, rocking my world, and absolutely amazingly turning this game's story into the single greatest stories of all time?
As for the freedom thing, why don't I have the freedom to map my own controls? At last count there are buttons utterly unmapped for combat (the clickies on the two sticks) and two (or is it three?) separate buttons who's only function is to draw/store your weapons. All this would be fine, except that the Dpad is also unused and the grenade button is... the back button. Um well er um, WHAT?! All the options available for buttons, the limited (c'mon, you don't even need a jump button) actions we can do, and the best option you had for grenade was BACK?! Let me map my controls! I'd love to see a company use the sticks properly for magic, where you click the stick and point in the direction of the spell you want, and then release to cast the spell, but baring that at least give me D-pad functionality! Instead I can map 1 (count 'em, 1) power for my tech/bioticist who unleashes the fury with five separate powers per battle.
The system is nice and fluid, except the allies. I feel like I'm in this game
right here. I feel like any time my team wields a weapon their target is me, and any time they use stuff like Sabotage their target is Me. I have Ashley permanently on my team because her lack of biotics/tech means that she's less powerful, meaning she's less able to rip apart MY defenses. Though it must be noted that my second time playing through I have noticed that if I boss my teammates around less they shoot me less. I also got in the practice of staying the frack away from enemies, something that was the opposite of what my shotgun-soldier needed to do.
There are some grips about the system though. Why, pray tell, do I need to master pistols before shotguns? Throw before Lift makes sense, but pistols go to shotguns and assault rifles go to snipers? This is especially confusing because they can't even argue, "pistols and shotguns are similar like assault rifles and snipers" because when krogun battlemasters learn shotguns, they don't master pistols first, they master assault rifles. This is frustrating because I wanted to build a tech/bioticist who used sniper rifles to pick off enemies from a safe place while using techs and biotics to support the team and control the battlefield. No dice on that, though I can play a sniper/tech dude. Only problem there? Six of my skill points get sucked up in a skill I really don't want my character to have: assault rifle.
Custom classes would be a much welcome addition to ME2. And don't give me that "you can do the prestige class thingy and you get to chose how you progress and there's six options for classes!!1!!" crap. KotoR (the original) had a few things you could do, and only one or two of them were halfway decent, but at least I could chose to make a different style of character! At least I could make a sneaker who specialized in [choose weapon here].
The upgrade system was nice, but I'd like to see more of the crunch behind it. A before/after comparison (like when switching weapons) would have been REALLY nice, because I always felt like my upgrades did nothing, especially the combat scanner. And if upgrades really do nothing at all, please don't include them. Save the data for something useful, like a new planet.
Most of the fluff was REALLY cool. I read for hours about spaceship types and battle strategies, hungering to command, or hell, even see one of these. One problem: I have to go through two menus, one of them the start button, to get to it. Way to break immersion. Instead there should've been a computer on your ship you could look this stuff up in, or something. Immersion is so close to being there it's painfully absent. Also having more people tell you about the current politics would be nice. You hear a lot about "holy crap politics" in the beginning, though it's somewhat an unbelievable "humans are under the thumbs of the galaxy! onoes!" At least it's there... but I want more.
The music kills immersion. It takes immersion and stomps it to a bloody pulp and absolutely murders anyone near it. For one thing, while the opening theme is cool to hear once, when it's the only goddamn song in the game it gets grating. For another, WTF WITH THE GALAXY MAP PEOPLE?! Lots of information on those planets and I couldn't/didn't want to read it because a) the text is the size of a small virus and b) THAT INFERNAL RACKET WAS IN THE BACKGROUND.
I hate playing games with the music off, I really do. People put effort into the music and a lot of it works... but for Mass Effect, only the title worked. Also the elevator music worked, but that's just offset by the fact that...
loadscreens are everywhere. Haven't they heard of "one huge overworld"? Morrowind has a huge overworld and... it's 1 load. Sure, it sometimes pauses to load as you go along, and if you fast travel there's a load screen, but that's soooo much better than this "Hmm, I would go down and talk to Ashley about how the mission went, but I have to sit through a five minute elevator ride to get to her. I'd rather just click on the galaxy map and finish the story." The ship in particular is not that big... why is there a loadscreen, and why is it such a huge load screen? I'd rather have a smaller ship and just have everyone accessible without pain than the slightly larger ship I get out of the deal.
Mass Effect was a good game, but by no means a great game, or even nearly as good as it could have been.
I look forward to ME 2 because I have faith that Bioware will fix the product that is Mass Effect and release something truly substantial and noteworthy.