Mass Effect Retrospective

Eurogamer seems to think that a two-year-old video game is already worthy of a retrospective feature, as they've put together a three-page editorial that focuses on Mass Effect's strengths and weaknesses. They even sprinkle in a little info about the sequel:
It's rather cool that the origins of Mass Effect 2 potentially lie strewn across the planets Edolus and Binthu - a shady organisation conducting illegal research on aliens, their plans disrupted by your noble/selfish endeavours. It makes you wonder what else you've seen in the first game that may matter in the second, or even third, not to mention what your actions in these side missions may yet determine. But they could at least have changed the room layouts a bit. And why is it always the third facility that has Kahoku in? Are they taking the piss? These are far from isolated problems, either. Those facilities? All the underground facilities in the game - in the galaxy - look much the same. And did I mention the lifts?

In equally traditional BioWare fashion, there's also so much back-story here that the devs can't help letting you gorge on it - to a fault. Conversations go on for ages as Shepard makes all sorts of background inquiries, segueing from an acid-tongued interrogation of a smuggler into asking directions or inquiring about the local harvesting arrangements in the same exchange. You're also encouraged to read up on everything you encounter in the Codex, with its Public Service Message narration. The fact that BioWare's universe is imaginative and interesting and not just blue horse blue horse is great, but it's also a bit of a hindrance and makes it difficult to maintain pace. Playing through it a second time, skipping all the extraneous fluff, it's sharp and aggressive; an intergalactic race against time to get to a fight against the odds. There's got to be a way to have both.

Perhaps Mass Effect 2 will discover it. It doesn't really matter if it doesn't though, because I will play it anyway. I want Wrex to continue commending me for shooting people. I want to teach Ash not to be a massive racist, even if she's just reacting to the stigma provoked by her grandfather's military "failings". I also hope Matriarch Benezia isn't really dead, even though she blatantly is, because she would have been a better villain than the ultimately slightly predictable Saren.