*This post has a pretty major Mass Effect spoiler.*
The first BioWare game that I played was Knights of the Old Republic. I remember my friend bringing his Xbox over to my place and saying that this game came with his console and it really wasn't quite his cup o tea. We played Halo for a bit until I finally talked him into letting us pop in this Star Wars game. We played it for three hours straight that night and had a lot of fun. I ended up beating the game on his console, playing it on the weekends for around a month. To this day KotOR is one of the best games I've ever played.
I'm sure you can understand how excited I was when I first heard that BioWare was making a new sci-fi RPG set in an all new universe. Not only that, but shooter elements as well? Sign me up! I read through the prequel book and pre ordered the game months in advance. When I finally got my hands on the game I ended up playing through the main campaign in one night, playing it for around twelve hours straight.
I now have played through the campaign twice and have also gone through all of the extras. I have visited every planet, found all of the minerals and artifacts and killed countless amounts of baddies. I've clocked over thirty hours with the game and plan on playing it through again differently than I have the past two times.
It can be quite easy to nitpick at certain faults that Mass Effect has. When going through reviews, it's not hard to come by one that point out how horrible the driving mechanics can be in it with the Mako or how clunky the menu system is. Instead of focusing my attention on these sorts of things, I want to point out things that Mass Effect did right and what I would like to see more often in similar story driven games.
The Shepard that I made is a Vanguard, which means he can use both biotics and weaponry, with a colonial background and is an all around badass. As soon as my character stepped foot in Mass Effect, he already had made an impact on the society. He was a known entity and that is brought up in dialogues throughout the game.
The way in which these dialogues are presented is the most distinguishable feature. The over the shoulder view for conversation works very well and gives it a cinematic feel. Having the Shepard I made making responses and actually talking to others adds a great deal to the game, making the character created actually seem apart of the game world instead of just an observer. Mass Effect does a great job making the game feel like a movie experience.
The dialogue trees in the game are extremely well made. To do a paragon response is up right, a renegade response is down left, and an in between response is left. There's also parts where charm or intimidate can be used, when these are available they are up left and down left respectively. I've heard both positive and negative about this, but I think it was an excellent choice. This assures that my badass Shepard can continue to be a badass.
*This is your last warning. Entering spoiler territory.*
The charm and intimidate talents I never thought much of until my second play through when I starting using intimidate whenever it was available. During my first play through Wrex starts going berserk when it is decided that a potential cure for the Krogan is going to be destroyed, causing Wrex to pull his gun on Shepard. Shepard attempts to talk it out with Wrex but, in this instance, Ashley steps in and kills Wrex. I was in shock when I played it for the first time and I was extremely pissed that Ashley would do such a thing, even though I did end up getting Shepard to do a little something with her later on in the game to unlock an achievement. During the second time around there was a point during this heated, guns drawn conversation between Wrex and Shepard that I was able to use intimidate and Wrex ended up backing down. I didn't expect it at all and was pleased to find out that I could indeed have Wrex straight through until the end of the game.
Mass Effect is an extremely enjoyable and has some great moments that could be used in other similar styled games. The visual style used in Mass Effect is excellent, having a well developed system for making conversations and more appealing visuals. Some of the big choices that face Shepard can really change key points in the plot. Mass Effect is an excellent RPG and has some excellent elements in it should become more prominent in this style of games.