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11 Reviews

Mass Effect

Don your space lycra...

The excitement in the air was thick as toothpaste. Mass Effect has already established itself on the 360 as a classic RPG and one that corrects many of the complaints directed at BioWare's previous epics.

Having twice played through the console version, the true source of my nervous excitement was to see this great game arrive on my platform of choice.

Porting a console game to PC is a process that can go very wrong - but thankfully Mass Effect reaches its apex on the PC.

BioWare have made a game that flatters the PC's controls so perfectly that the 360 version feels, in comparison, as effective as a papier-mâché hammer.

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Gone without trace are the clunky UI and irksome combat of the 360 - with the mouse and keyboard, players can look forward to a smoother, more enjoyable and better-looking escapade than their sofa-bound siblings.

Sure Shot

You take on the part of Shepard, a Commander in the Human Alliance. You can gently customise his looks with a few sliders, or leave him as the generic space stud from the front of the box.

He can be given one of three character histories. These will affect the occasional dialogue tree but, ultimately, don't have much meaning.

Switching genders is an option too, but playing Ms Shepard doesn't make any impact on the storyline, unless you have sweaty palms for a spot of xenomorphic sapphic love.

Once your face and upbringing have been set you're able to choose a class, and that's where you really get to nail down your own style.

There's a choice of three classes. Soldier places the focus of combat on gunplay and has you leading the party in a storm of precision shooting.

The Adept class specialises in biotic powers - science-magic that will make Star Wars fans think of the Force, and demands a combat style that has you taking cover and popping out like a angry gopher to deliver your damage.

Then there's the Engineer - a debuff class that lowers your enemies' defences, allowing party members to kill them more effectively. This is an unusual, and initially difficult, class to play.

At the game's start, you can also select one of three combo-classes: the Infiltrator - a gunner that specialises in long-range attacks, backed up with the Engineer's debuffing; the awesome Vanguard - a balls-out warrior who blends the close-range attacks of the Soldier and the Adept; and the Sentinel, who focuses on defending and healing allies.

The early stages of the latter can be challenging, but Sentinels' more powerful abilities - such as higher-end biotics - are more devastating than the most powerful guns.

Scrappy Shepard

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Combat plays out a little like Gears of War - having you dash behind various barriers searching for cover and pressing forward to deliver damage and use and abuse your various sci-fi talents.

Oddly for BioWare, combat is all in real time - mostly. Unlike Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire you don't have the option to stack attacks up in a paused queue.

The only time you can take a break from combat is when you give orders to your teammates.

This stops the combat briefly, allowing you to target your teammate's opponents and designate the next attack you'd like your buddy to use.

However, you never get to control their every move, as you can in KOTOR and Jade Empire. For this reason, you'll need to choose your class carefully to make sure you like its fighting style, as you'll be fighting a lot.

Most importantly though, fighting is fun. A common issue with KOTOR and Jade Empire was how floaty and distant combat felt, but in Mass Effect you
can turn the tide of battle with a well-placed shot, cunning use of cover, using appropriate weaponry or manipulating distance to your advantage.

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