Monday, December 31, 2007

Mass Effect (XBOX 360)

Warning: Potential very minor spoilers:

- finished in around 36 hrs and 445 saves (Yeah I save a lot), level 50, normal difficulty. Finished almost all side quests (except for a couple of the collection ones).
- great save system. You can pretty much save anywhere anytime except during combat.
- I went soldier -> Shock Trooper (akuze). I wanted to play this more like a shooter so I maxed out Assault rifle pretty earlier on. I went almost pure Paragon.
- Do the find Liara (Artemis Tau) mission first. You will get a new squad member. Actually I ended up using Liara and Tali for most of the game. I also finished the romance thread with Liara.
- Turn auto leveling completely off. You can still hit Y to see what auto leveling would have assigned which you can undo if you don't agree with it. For Liara I just pretty much auto leveled her (make sure she has good first aid though). Tali I would focus on Decryption and Electronics. If you get them high enough you should be able to open every container and salvage all the debris.
- The way the game works for first aid, decryption, and electronics is that it takes the highest stat of any member in your party and applies that. This means Liara covers first aid and Tali covers the other two so I don't have to spend any points on those skills.
- After about level 20 combat got pretty easy. This is true all the way to the end. I had no problems with the last boss fight. I don't know if this has to do with me grinding out to level 50 or not.
- Make sure you buy all the licenses, grenade, and medi-gel upgrades that you come across with the merchants.
- Talk to your crew after every major mission and even after some side quests especially if you leveled up.
- The spectre gear is the best. It was pretty much better than anything I found in the game. You'll get a chance to buy a second set that's even better near the end of the game.
- I went all out assault rifle then sniper (which I used only once in a while), I gave Liara the best pistols, and had Tali go shotgun. By the end of the game with 2 heat reducing mods I could fire my assault rifle on full auto indefinitely. Before that though use overkill a lot (along with adrenaline boost).
- Money isn't an issue in the end game. I got to a point where I maxed out my money at 9,999,999 which at that point the game just stops rewarding you money until you go spend some of it.
- To level up faster never kill anything inside th Mako vehicle. Instead soften them up with the mako guns, then get out and finish them on foot. You get a LOT more experience points.
- side quests suck. I mean they really really suck: boring, repetitive, cookie cutter, unimaginative....just a complete grind. You can waste a good 10-15 hrs doing these but you can make good money, items, and experience.
- driving the Mako just plain sucks. Steering while in reverse is opposite of what you expect. You can't shoot at targets below you. It's bounces around like crazy. Climbing steep hills suck. The thrusters are completely worthless (if they had just stuck them on the back to give me a boost up mountains it would have been so much better). All that mako driving just made those side quests that much less enjoyable.
- Long load times. I've never seen so many elevators in a game before.
- Inventory management got really tedious. You do get to hold quite a few items though (150).
- Story was great. Most of the dialog and voice acting was good too (Seth Green is Joker). There were some really great dramatic moments. I went back and replayed some of the hard choices and it didn't seem like it made that big of a difference. I'm hoping that they will use this save file in the rest of the trilogy and maybe see some greater impact down the road. The "love" scene was amusing. Great satisfying ending.
- Music was pretty good. Sort of what Tron would sound like if Michael Bay directed it.
- I really enjoyed the combat especially since I played it like a shooter. Your teammates get a lot less useless at the higher levels.
- Don't bother with the cover system. Circle strafe/side stepping works better most of the time anyways.
- Graphics/art are beautiful. Frame rate is acceptable most of the time. Some minor texture popping on initial load of an area. It didn't bother me much.
- In the 36hrs of play I had one freeze on a loading screen. I also got stuck once but managed to free my self by crouching and wriggling.
- I might go back and spend some time in the Codex. There is a LOT of information in there.
- I turned off film grain and motion blur.

Highly recommended especially for fans of bioware RPG's. I can't wait for the next Mass Effect game. Here's hoping they fix the mako and spend some time making quality side quests.

UPDATE: 1/2/2008
Major spoiler warning!
Here is a video of the ending with my character.
I've also started reading Mass Effect: Revelation

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