My first impression of Mass Effect wasn’t a particularly favourable one. Too much dialog and exposition and no real sense that dialog choices make any surmountable difference to the story being told.
However, get beyond the first hour or so and the game opens up into a fairly commendable, if some what hocky, Sci-Fi romp that will excite Babylon 5 and Firefly fans alike. Thankfully as the game progresses the action helps you past the wooden acting and dodgy plot lines.
Outside of the dialog trees Mass Effect plays very much like a third person Halo. Indeed graphically it doesn’t feel too far removed from the first Halo game on the original XBox console. They’ve just pulled the camera back a bit.
However things get more interesting when you finally start exploring the Citadel and gain your promotion. Interestingly enough I found a lot of the game, especially on the Citadel, to remind me of the excellent Flashback. You could say a lot of running back and forth to get things done, and in a weird kind of way I enjoyed that.
Still some of that might be in how I approached the game. I’m not one for deep customisation and turned on all the auto-level up options I could find. I also concentrated heavily on the main story and interacted very little with the side stuff.
The main story was over in just shy of 11 hours. With the side stuff you could easily approach 30 hours of gaming time.