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    Flamojo14's Mass Effect (360)

    [January 15, 2008 02:26:39 AM]
    For my second session of Mass Effect I found myself exploring the Citadel Station, a massive space station that is the hub of galactic politics and houses embassies for all of the allied alien races. The station lives up to the character's description of it being a massive complex as I explored it for two hours and have only covered about half of the layout. The Citadel Station was fun for me because the main actions are speaking with people and learning about the various alien cultures. After exploring for awhile you start to meet people who have problems that you can help them solve by running around and finding other people and delivering messages or convincing them to do things. This style of solving minor problems for locals while being on a planet for a greater more plot motivating reason really reminds me of Knights of the Old Republic. This section of the game was almost completely lacking in action sequences but kept me entertained by building in depth histories of different alien species and giving a complex history of the world that the characters live in.

    The multitude of sub quests and running back and forth between people started to feel a little confusing but the well designed journal in the menu helps keep track of all missions and quests. The journal helps keep track of which quests are integral to the main plot and which are superfluous yet still fun for building a full picture of the amazing depth of world the designers created. There is also a nice variety of conversation choices, you can be polite, indifferent or a complete jerk and the way you speak to people affects how others react to you later in the game.

    The endless amounts of talking and errand running did start to leave me wanting more action and I found myself shooting my gun randomly in hallways just to remind myself that I had a gun. I think the designers must have known that more action would be required and added the pleasant surprise of an ambush by assassins that let me get out some of my itchy trigger finger issues.

    So far my favorite elements of this game are the decisions that you must make with how to interact with the other characters in the game. Two characters may be in a conflict and you must make a decision about how to resolve that conflict based on who you think is right or wrong. The player must use their own ethics and opinions based on the knowledge they have gained in conversations and the decisions they make will shift the way the game is played afterwards. If you make the decision to help one person then they will be more likely to help you later or conversely, if they don't like the way you handled a situation they may ignore you when you ask for help or advice. As you go through conversations with characters you can earn 'paragon' or 'renegade' points based on how civil you were in your discussions. This reputation building is similar to whether you become a jedi or a sith in Knights of the Old Republic. I think that this style of game is very innovative because it opens up many new possibilities every time you play. When one conversation can change the outcome of the game, you really have to be careful how you behave and with who you choose to become allies.

    The level design of this game really opened up as I suspected it would. The first level seemed to be rather linear, but the level of Citadel Station is expansive and huge with many options and no required order for how to explore it. While mildly stressful for me because I always want to explore ever single nook and cranny, this open city to explore really contributes to the freedom the gamer has to experience this game in their own way. I really enjoy learning about the different species and how the decisions you make changes the way people react to you and speak to you. This aspect really makes it feel like you are in a fully interactive environment and not just running through it and watching watching what happens.

    The expansiveness of the station is exciting to explore because each district and area looks different depending on the purpose of that area or the demographic of the people who can be found there. By interacting with the varying people in each area and hearing their opinions and problems you get to feel like you really see the inner workings of the city and complexity of the alliance of so many different alien species. This really shows how the world of the game is fully flushed out and well designed.
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    [January 14, 2008 10:36:41 PM]
    In Mass Effect you control the character John Shepard, a soldier made famous for his skills as the sole survivor of an attack on one of Earth's early colonies on another planet. Through conversations you learn about the alliances and feuds with various alien races and the governments that they have formed to manage the galaxy. Humans are relatively new to intergalactic diplomacy and colonization and their relations with the varying alien species promises a story that will be full of political intrigue. The game starts out on a secret mission to pick up a valuable alien artifact before rival groups can claim it. On arrival you find that the site has been taken over by a race called the Geth and you must control two squad members while shooting your way through the demolished research facility.

    First off, the high quality of the graphics in Mass Effect makes it enjoyable to watch. In the opening hour of the game the majority of the story is revealed through conversations with other characters. The details on the faces of characters makes them look very realistic. When you interact with other characters their facial expressions and movement look so natural and match so well with the dialogue that just watching a simple conversation turns out to be very exciting. The voice acting and the writing are also done extremely well so I was able to really focus on the complex state of intergalactic politics and not be distracted by blocky or jerky movements and silly voices or bad writing. The characters all had a very organic feel to them that made it very easy for me to really get immersed in the game.
    The complex relationships between humans as an emerging power in space and the alliances that they have formed with pre-existing factions are constructed through conversations that give a sense of the many varied opinions on the political situations. The set up of a very interesting political background plot gives the ominous visions of war and destruction at the end of the first level a sense of urgency and excitement.
    Once your character is finally set down on the planet you have full access to the menu where you can read files full of historical information, upgrade the various skills of your character and his squad and view and upgrade your weapons and armor. Experience points are gained through fighting and exploring and items like med kits and equipment upgrades are found in crates hidden throughout the levels. The sheer volume of menus and options was a little overwhelming at first, but I took my time and read all the explanations and I came to find that the high level of customization in equipment, squad actions and how you level up each character really lets the gamer tailer the game to their own style of play.
    The level design was fairly linear, but seeing as this was the first level of a complex game I found it comforting to not have to worry about finding every single hidden item and exploring every inch of the map. The graphics and detailing of the world were amazing and made it fun to explore. The large amount of debris and rocks in the area I played in made the fighting fun as I could take cover and snipe or rush in with a shotgun. This game really lets you explore with gameplay so you can maximize your fun with your own style of fighting.
    My favorite aspect of Mass Effect so far is the various conversation options that let you shape how the story unfolds and how your character interacts with others. I always tend to be polite and honorable in my interactions, but I know I'll play again so I can be a jerk and bully people into doing what I want. This feature adds to the customization level and makes the replay value high. I know I will want to try out all the varying conversation options to see if I can access new plot lines and relationships with other characters.
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    Flamojo14's Mass Effect (360)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 14 January, 2008

    Flamojo14's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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