Mass Effect review

Few games deserve the word "epic". This fantastic sci-fi, role-playing shooter is one that does.

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Despite the quality of the cut scenes and conversations, everyone knows most problems are solved with firepower. At any given time, you'll be accompanied by two of your six crew members, who range from human soldiers to Wrex, a hulking, reptilian alien with the teeth and temperament of a crocodile with a toothache. And regardless of appearance, they can all use guns.

Thus, despite heavy RPG roots, Mass Effect's combat feels more like a squad-based, third-person shooter than anything else. You can use cover, you have customizable firearms, grenades and a melee attack, and the D-pad gives your wingmen instructions to go there, come here, shoot that, or take cover.

If you want to get even more tactical and RPG-like, pressing the right bumper freezes the action and enables you to select each team member's special moves. These range from making enemy weapons blow up in their faces to summoning a small black hole, so they make a big difference in battle. Constantly pausing to issue commands admittedly gives battle a more stuttery feel than the smooth gunplay inHalo 3orGears of War, and it can still get chaotic during the bigger battles. But it's nonetheless the shootin'-est role-playing game you've ever seen.

In fact, combat's only real weakness may be your enemies' low IQs. Few use coordinated attacks or flanking maneuvers, and many either just run straight at you or stand more or less in one place, firing away from afar but neglecting to give chase if you just back up. We'd really appreciate some more elaborate strategy next time.

More info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionThe first entry in BioWare's space opera, detailing the rise of Commando Shepard in the face of a mysterious enemy.
Franchise nameMass Effect
UK franchise nameMass Effect
Platform"Xbox 360","PC"
US censor rating"Mature","Mature"
UK censor rating"",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Eric Bratcher
I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.