Less Shoot-'Em-Up, More Interactive Cinema
Strip away the graphics and generally well-played voice acting, and Mass Effect still tells the second best sci-fi story you'll experience in a video game this year (BioShock
is the first). If you have $100 and a couple dozen hours to kill, you might find Mass Effect curiously engaging--if only to compare its gritty austerity with the cartoony esotericism of Halo 3. On the other hand, save for the old "multiple-different-endings" shtick developers have been trotting out like a reward for enduring linear gameplay for decades, choosing different responses in Mass Effect merely unlocks alternative dialogue choices that shape the narrative tone but virtually none of the game mechanics. Play Mass Effect more than once and, while you can unlock tougher difficulty settings that make the abbreviated action sequences more punitive, you'll still have the same story experience, start to finish.