Too bad Steam does not allow for a more refined review system as this game is only very barely a thumbs up for me.
There is so much wrong with this game but also a lot of right and in the end I guess it is worth playing if only to experience the (so far) trilogy.
I'm guessing that in 2015 everything has been said and done about this 2007 game so I'll keep it in bullet point format.
- Commander Shepard is an interesting and straightforward character to play
- Attachment to crew and squad members
- The choices throughout the game are interesting (though there should be more smaller choices in addition to the big decisions you have to make throughout the game)
- The story is OK for a video game and after a very slow start motivates you to keep going
- The game is rather short
The Bad & Ugly:
- Very consolish feel to everything (UI etc.) - Took quite a bit of manual tweaking and editing config files to make it feel more like a PC game.
- No sense of a real game world but you just visit set pieces
- Empty and barren levels (looks more like a 1997 game than a 2007 one and that is WITH the excellent HD texture mod!)
- Gameplay sucks - It's both a poor shooter and a poor RPG
- Braindead squad member AI (they don't take cover or retreat or anything)
- Even more braindead enemy AI (combat seems to be very line of sight dependent so if an enemy is behind cover but parts of it are sticking out you can safely kill the enemy from a distance... they won't ever retreat further into cover or leave cover to attack... you can just pound on them till dead)
- Stupid save system that does not let you save when enemies are "nearby". The game has a very loose definition of "nearby". It also destroys immersion and tension/excitement since you will always know that enemies can't be far if you press 'F5' and it won't let you save.
- Horrible vehicle controls/gameplay - Luckily don't have to use it often (I skipped most optional content after I found out how crappy it was)
- Story has a few cheesy moments and some parts that don't make much sense
- Alien races are either an almost straight rip from Star Wars or look like walking genitalia
- Voice-overs of some alien races are.... odd.
- Extremely slow start into the story
- Non-consequential looping dialogue options (IMO if you select a dialog option it should be "consumed on use" and any genuinely important info should go to your journal ... it ruins immersion if you can converse with someone in neverending loops).
After playing part 1, I definitely don't get why this series was hyped as much and why this game's PC version has a Metacritic score of 89. That's insanely overrated in my opinion. Try a solid 7/10 or low 70-ish rating using MC's system.
I'm now playing part 2 and it's looking more promising from the start but it once again took a lot of tweaking to make it feel less consolized and the story opening/premise is a little strange so far. A lot better than the slow beginning of part 1 though so I'm looking forward to continuing my investigations. The shooter mechanics also seem to be improved. I hope the same goes for RPG elements and AI. Wish me luck! :)