Don't mistake Mass Effect for the next phase in the development of BioWare's trademark story-driven approach. It's not, and while it's certainly a visual sight to behold, Mass Effect doesn't mark the play-driven step in evolution over Knights of the Old Republic that BioWare said it would be. In an effort to simplify the gameplay and presumably engage a broader audience with an admittedly first-rate story, it trades tactical complexity for simplified real-time combat that's as dull as what the average blaster battle looks like in some B-movie equivalent. The action is endlessly interrupted. Scripted break-ins might as well be ripping the controller out of your hand, forcing you down this or that plot chute with nothing to do but react to your newfound circumstances. Even archetypically parallel developers like Square Enix know enough to include dozens of mini-games and superior tactical combat to break up the monotony of running and talking and relentless handholding.