Everything that exists has its opposite- Superman has Bizarro, Wally has Odlaw and Mario has Wario. It stands to reason, then, that near to the release of Super Mario Galaxy– a title providing accessible gameplay at the expense of plot and (let’s face it) sanity- we would also see the appearance of something deeper, more meticulous and inconceivably huge. This, my friends, is Mass Effect.
The plot sees a young soldier caught up in an operatic confrontation between various races all vying for control over ancient technology. Commanding your own vessel, you explore the universe in the style of your favourite Star Trek captain, getting into scrapes and adventures along the way.
Firstly, the game boasts outstanding graphics, vast alien planets blooming with obvious attention to detail. Indeed, this is one thing this game does not lack- every minute point of interest can be pursued, whether it be the mating problems of a species of rock-faced rhinos or the economic pursuits of a race seemingly comprised entirely of wheezing gimps. It’s an OCD-sufferer’s dream, however for anyone else it can prove to be a waking nightmare, vast oceans of (admittedly skippable) dialogue serving to prevent the player from finally getting their arse in gear and shooting something.
Unfortunately, the third-person action sections are not much better. Controls are awkward and unintuitive, and progress is hindered by the constant need to micromanage your team of idiots, prone to wandering into enemy fire and dying repeatedly. Combined with a fiddly, poorly-organised and inconceivably complex menu system, the game is frequently frustrating and sadly inaccessible.
However, maybe I’m missing the point, as though the game’s complexities may not appeal to me, they no doubt will to many others. I may not have loved this game especially, but I certainly respect it, and I can see how many RPG fans will rate it as their game of the year.