Mass Effect - Xbox 360 - First Look

Mass Effect is a story-based first person shooter set in the future. We were allowed to battle our way against the forces of evil. So what do we think? Read on to find out.

Three and a half years in development the storyline follows you determining the fate of humanity as you lead an elite tactical strike force in an effort to stop an entity so malevolent that it threatens to tear apart the very fibre of galactic civilisation.

Get past all that storyline which gives it an incredible film like quality to it all and you've got a game that is one-third first person shooter, one-third RPG, and one-third tactical squad based shooter that allows you to lose the other elements where you see fit.

Bringing the RPG element into play, Mass Effect has a heavy focus on character history and development. Starting with six classes that range from soldier grunt to engineer to infiltrator and more, each character has a set range of skills that you can then grow and develop accordingly.

You, of course, set off as one of those characters and, depending on how you fare, get more points to add to your fighting or defence skills. Taking it one step further you can even opt to build on your charm and intimidate capabilities, which come into play later in the game.

Rather than having to blast your way through situations you can charm your way past guards or let them know that you're a mean man or women.

Just as charm takes things perhaps a little too the extreme (in a good way) you can also spend hours making your character look just right adding scars alongside hair colour and nose shape.

It makes no difference to the game and considering there is no online multiplayer element to Mass Effect there's not much point in our minds, but we are sure someone will enjoy it. Disappointingly you won't be able to map your face on the character using Microsoft's video camera either.

Getting back to the game and as we've said, it is all about the story. Clearly trying to appeal to the Halo market, there are plenty of aliens, intergalactic conversions and vehicles to command, drive and crash.

Gameplay itself is either first person shooter style with guns blazing, role play where you have to interact with other characters to find out what is going on, or tactical squad based allowing you to bring up a secondary HUD and control other members of your team.

Not as advanced as Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter series, Mass Effect is neither straight first person shooter nor tactical squad and so for most will sit uncomfortably in the middle.

Loading up that HUD freezes the game and then allows you to position your attacks accordingly, however you can't set up your squad members to act aggressive or stealth, a strange omission.

Verdict

For some Mass Effect is an role playing game with a built-in shooter, for others it will be a first person shooter with built-in RPG. It is one of those games that can be played on many levels.

No we aren't just talking about the Casual, Normal or Veteran difficulty modes but in that you can opt to get into the character development, opt to get into the tactical side of things and opt to have conversations with everyone you meet. Or you can treat it like a standard FPS and blast your way through the levels without much thought.

Depending on your gaming style will depend on your enjoyment of the game. BioWare are obviously keen to sell the movie like storyline, the orchestral score and the great graphics as your forced to make decisions on an intergalactic scale.

From what we've seen so far, if you tire and bore easily it looks like you might be left wanting more; like multiplayer co-op.

Mass Effect is due out on 23 November later this year.