Bio-Ware returns to the role-playing format with the excellent "Mass Effect." When BioWare made "Star Wars: Knights of the Republic" and "Jade" for the original Xbox system, they made a lot of gamers happy. They put some time and effort into it, and the result was great RPG storytelling that made Microsoft a major "player" in the console wars. Now BioWare is taking its turn on the Xbox 360 with "Mass Effect." The game publisher is so confident about the game that it plans a trilogy. In the meantime, it's providing downloads to bridge the gap between game releases.
As with BioWare's other RPG titles, you have the option of playing as a man or woman. The decision influences your interaction with other characters and enables you to customize the character's appearance. You also have limited control of two other characters that will help you along.
The story starts with Commander Sheppard, executive officer on the Human Systems Alliance frigate, SSV Normandy. The mission takes you to a human colony called Eden Prime. Your job is to recover a beacon built by a highly evolved, but extinct, race. The story unfolds based on your choices - kind of like the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I read as a kid.
Many great games end up a little under the radar, and "Mass Effect" is no exception. The graphics and sound are on the next generation level and serve the game well. But what truly sets this game apart is the dialogue. Rather than choosing a response from a list, you pick an approach to the conversation like "bribe" or "bully." This helps the game-flow and adds a cinematic element to the experience.
While some games go wrong by pushing the graphics and look of the game too hard, "Mass Effect" gets it right. It puts the focus on what's most important - the story, stupid! If the story is good, then everything else falls into place, and any smaller issues will be overlooked.
If you want a great balance in story, action and control of a character in a game, then you can't go wrong with "Mass Effect."Mass Effect
Rated: M for Mature, Single Player, Publisher: BioWare, Platform: Xbox 360, Retail: $59.99.