Mass Effect XBOX 360 BUY THIS GAME!!

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I've always liked RPGs since the early days of the Final Fantasy series, so I was very exited to get this game recenty.

GRAPHICS: The graphics are almost flawless, the level of detail that has gone into the in game graphics, and the cut scenes is astonishing. However, I'm not sure if it's just my Xbox, but it seems to spend a while loading all the texture and shading for each area. This happened a lot in Halo 2 as well.

COMBAT: Unlike Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) this game's combat system is *not* turn based. It happens real time, with real time damage, and a system that allows you to take cover behind obstacles and give instructions to your team as to where to take cover themselves, what powers to use, and who to target. It works in much the same was as Ghost Recon in this respect. Health wise, you do have 'hit points' and a shield like in Halo, that will regenerate over time. To make the character more unique BioWare have taken away stats such as 'strength' and 'dexterity' and replaced these with a system that allows you to level up 'skills' and learn new ones as you progress, making each character different each time, though all have an area of expertise.

STORY: As you'd expect from an RPG, not to mention BioWare, the story is long, with the usual twists and plot turns. I found it to be very interesting and my first play through I pretty much talked to everyone about everything. It wasn't boring, like it can get sometimes with these games, but I was actually interested. You have a 'Codex' where all data you've learned is stored for you to look at at your own pace. Each character has a background, and own real personality and it really shows that they've put a lot of effort into this side of the game. Upon character creation you can choose all sorts of background for yourself, that will show different things about you during the game, and your choices throughout can sometimes carry a heavy weight.

PLAYABILITY: It's a long play through. The first time it can be difficult and takes a long time if you also go for all the side quests. I'd really recommend you do as it adds to your experience and really makes this game feel special. If you want to go directly for the story, it'll be difficult with lower level characters, and probably would get frustrating, but it would be achieveable. Once you've completed it once, there's a good chance you'll want to do it at least once (maybe twice) more.

OVERALL: I can't really fault it anywhere, graphics and story are two very strong areas, the character creations, and customisation are also excellent areas that really carry the game forward, and the combat is unique for this type of game, giving it the perfect balance of exciting past paced action, with slower, more interesting dialog than your average RPG. Lots of side quests to keep you entertained, lots of planets and things to find, though I will say it is more linear than 'Oblivion' it is still a very large game. Achievements are all obtainable, though some can be quite time consuming. I can't find a fault to talk about, except maybe that once you've completed it more than 3 times you might let it collect dust, but really it depends on the player.

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