Ascension: Book One of The Allaince Chronicles 2nd Edition

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mass Effect: Review

I started playing Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 a couple weeks ago and quickly realized I was missing quite a bit of back story on the game which led me to purchase Mass Effect.  The first thing that I’ll say is this is not a game for kids.  Do not play this game around children due to the graphic nature of some parts of this game.  While to this point the most sexual content I’ve encountered has been to venture in to a ‘gentlemen’s club’ in search of intergalactic scum, there could be other content that could be encountered as you progress in the game.
This game focuses on the main character, Commander Shepard (who you can designate to be male or female), an Alliance Officer who is tasked with hunting down a rouge Alliance operative who is bent on destroying the Alliance.  For the purposes of this review, I will be referring to Shepard as male.  I don’t want to give away too many specifics about the game in the review as I went in to the game without knowing the background of the game.  I will say that as you progress through the game, which is a combination RPG and second (or third) person shooter that you will assemble an ‘A-Team’ of aliens who are full of personality and make this game much more interesting.
To date, this is the best science fiction RPG I’ve played.  Previously, my favorite RPG has been Final Fantasy X which had some scifi elements in it even though it was primarily a fantasy RPG.  Mass Effect is similar in gameplay to Bioware’s Star Wars:  Knights of The Old Republic, which was a very robust video game in itself.  It features a galactic map where key locations can be visited based on need and desire, and large open maps used during game play.  While exploring the maps, many of the non-player characters can be interacted with.  During interactions, you are given options on how to respond during conversations which can shape relationships, unlock additional side mission and can result in gained XP.  This format of game play gives the game a ‘choose your own adventure’ style of game play which I really like, and a nearly non-linear way to play the game.  Granted there are linear elements to the game but you are allowed to determine the direction you take to progress through the story.
Graphics in the game are top notch.  The game looks excellent on an HDTV and there is little discernable difference between cut-scenes and gameplay.  The voice acting is excellent, and in reviewing the game credits, I noticed several familiar actors and voice actors such as Marina Sirtis, Seth Green, Grey Delisle and Armin Shimerman.  I swore at times I even heard Jonathan Frakes as a voice at the beginning of the game.
The only criticism I’m going to make of this game is vocal interactions between teammates during casual situations in the game.  When selecting a teamed character to talk to, or when they converse in elevators, its near impossible to hear them without turning the volume on the TV way up, which can be very annoying.  I’m doing my best to overlook this.
I can’t think of anything else I want to say about the game to this point, however I will provide a review of Mass Effect 2 as I work my way through that game.  From what I’ve seen so far, it’s already excellent.
I highly recommend Mass Effect!

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