Mass Effect: Xbox 360 Game Doesn't Live Up to its Hype

Watered-Down Tactical Shooter?

When I call the combat "simplistic," don't mistake that for reference to what's often called "run-and-gun" in a game like Halo 3. Mass Effect's encounters derive more from Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Vegas squad-driven aesthetic than Microsoft's gung-ho solo sci-fi epic. Still, Mass Effect plays like a kid sibling to Ubisoft's sophisticated tactical shooter, with simpler, clumsier moves and less interesting "move here" or "target there" tactical options. It employs Gears of War's clumsy "sticks-to" mechanism for staying in cover (contrast with Rainbow Six's brilliant "hold-a-button" option). Mass Effect also gives you teammates so incompetent that you're either ignoring the pleasures of lifting and flinging enemies with powers like "lift" and "throw" because you're too busy babysitting, or desperately fighting solo because your tragically ineffectual squad's temporarily "dead." Worse, it's actually possible in some areas to run in and out of load-in areas too slowly, and unrealistically whittle away at cadres of bad guys who are apparently too stupid (or developmentally hamstrung) to follow.

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