I recently finished up Mass Effect. This Bioware game was originally
developed for the console and later ported to the PC. While this is
clearly evident in some places, they did make a strong effort to do a
proper port. I've heard they did a lot of revision to the inventory
system, which I can't comment too much on since I haven't seen the
The gameplay is singularly driven by a forceful main story. There are
quite a few optional side missions available, though these suffer from
being A) a tad repetitive after a while and B) entirely disconnected from
the plot, so you need to make an effort to ignore the constant pressure of
your primary goal in order to do them.
Combat is typically fast and frantic. You can pause to give orders to
your squadmates, though for some reason there is a quite noticeable pause
when hitting the spacebar to bring up the orders menu; long enough for the
situation to change in certain instances. Squad members are generally
useful, as their combat skills are decent and most will have effective
powers that your character does not. I found the game's cover system to
usually work really well. This is a model you don't see too often in PC
games, except for console ports. Running up and pressing against a solid
object (wall or battlefield obstacle) will put your back up against it.
Strafing sideways to the edge of the wall will let you peek around it and
when you fire or sight, your character will peer from around cover.
The main story is fleshed out effectively. Characters all have their
motivations, no matter how misguided they may be. The one question never
answered is the big "Why?", but the characters recognize this and at least
bother to pose the question. I had a lot of fun with the dialog options.
There's a system of player "paths" in place. Act like an angel (save
innocents, be nice, pet kittens) and you receive Paragon points, which
open up certain options. Performing your job ruthlessly, responding
brusquely, ignoring orders, and demanding payment will earn you Renegade
points. I played a female Renegade and really enjoyed what a bad ass she
was. (Voice acting was also really good.) The drawback to the main story
is that it felt so short. If you neglect the side missions, the game will
go by pretty quickly it seems.
The inventory system, apparently the source of several complaints on the
console version as well, definitely could use some improvement. There's a
hard limit of 150 items, and with all the weapons, mods, and ammo types
you come across, it's easy to hit this limit. The problem when that
happens is that you're forced to scrap the new stuff and not given the
option to do so with the older items (scrapping an item turns it into
"Omnigel", generally useful only for opening locked containers). There's
an overwhelming quantity of mods and ammo and weapons and the problem here
is that the upgrade process is just uninteresting. I'm a gun guy; I
drooled over the options available in the 1.13 fan patch for Jagged
Alliance 2. Even with all the varieties of weapons you come across in
Mass Effect, they're all just 3 stats. They don't even look any
different, aside from color (you can't even see the items in the inventory
screen itself). Worst of all, there's hardly any give and take with the
weapons. Some seem just better than everything else you've found. So it
hardly ever felt like a matter of prioritizing certain stats over others.
Equipment modifications are a little better in that respect. They're more
interesting, clearly useful, and force you to choose. There's so many
though and spread across so many levels (some mod types change names while
keeping the same effect at different levels, a real puzzler).
Overall a really good experience. There's clearly been a lot of serious
thought put into the game (vastly fleshed out backstory and history are
available for reading, though optional). I wish every game was this well