So, Mass Effect is my least favorite of the series. I'm just going to say that right off the bat. Most of the time, I don't even play it when I'm doing another play through; Mass Effect 2 has a lovely comic DLC that allows me to make important decisions.
But as I played it again for this review, I remembered what made me fall in love with this series in the first place. And that is the characters and the relationships that you can build with them. If there is one thing that Bioware can do well, it's their companion characters. Each and everyone of your squadmates are fully realized characters with hopes, dreams, likes, and dislikes.
I will always and forever have a special place in my heart for Garrus Vakarain. He's awesome, even if he doesn't really come into his own until the next game. And Urdnot Wrex is such a lovable, bloodthirsty korgan. I was forced to kill him during my first play through, and that hurt me more than choosing between Kaidan and Ashley. (I was romancing Kaidan. Ash didn't stand a chance.)
But a game is nothing without it's protagonist. And Commander Shepard is a fantastic protagonist. I place a lot of the praise for that on Jennifer Hale. She's the voice actress for the female Shepard, and she is absolutely phenomenal. She makes Shepherd come alive to me. To the point where I can't even stand Mark Meer's voice acting. It just feels wrong and monotone.
The story as a whole is very well done. Saren works as a villain, especially after Virmire. He was compelling and so convinced that he was doing the right thing. But, of course, he isn't the one pulling all of the strings. Sovereign works in a way that few Reapers after him does. He comes across as genuinely intelligent, and his sheer hatred for all things organic is palpable. The conversation that you have with him on Virmire is downright chilling.
But beyond the villains, the story is just fun. Each planet that you go to presents its own challenges and obstacles to overcome. And you're constantly given choices about how to proceed with your mission. Do these choices actually matter in the long run? Well, that could be the topic for a whole separate discussion. But in the first game, at least, they feel like they do.
Mass Effect may be most infamous for its romances. Having played all three games (well, the three that are currently out), they aren't that good here. The dialogue is a little rough. Not going to lie, there are times where it comes off as creepy. And this goes for all three romance options. If I had to pick one, though, I would probably go with Kaiden. If only because he's voiced by Raphael Sbarge, who also voiced Carth Onasi in KOTOR.
Now, this game was released in 2007. (Holy shit, that's a long time ago.) So, it's age shows. The is perhaps most noticeable in its graphics. The character models simply just don't hold up anymore. The gameplay hasn't aged all that well either. Combat and movement feels clunky to me, and going into and out of cover has always been a bit finicky.
I realize that the Reapers are essentially robotic cuttlefish, but the video of them over Eden Prime always reminds me of a hand reaching down.
Was Saren a cyborg? I realize that Sovereign implants him with cybernetics later on, but even on Eden Prime he definitely seemed more metallic than his other turians.
Joker is awesome. Enough said.
This review is long enough as it is, but I feel like I'm leaving so much out. If I have missed one of your favorite parts of the game, let me know in the comments! I love talking about this game series.
9.0 out of 10
~An Honest Fangirl