Finished Mass Effect for the second time a few days ago, this time on PS3 but again as default Shep and paragon on normal difficulty. Well, it's still great overall but it has undeniably aged since RPG shooters or at least shooters with RPG elements have become more common over the years and I like to think that games like the Witcher series have also shown how to do the RPG aspect itself better in a game like this.
Already mentioned some of the stuff in the "what game are you playing" thread but that won't stop me...
Anyway, I guess the story is still pretty great and the game still has this grandeur to it that I haven't seen in any other game yet, although the writing feels a tad infantile compared to the Witcher series. Everything's so "clean" and even the nastiest characters aren't remotely disturbing, usually kinda comedic or have still some sense of honor left. The politics also aren't nearly as developed or provocative as in the Witcher series. It almost feels like the characters in Shepard's immediate environment are the only thing that has any impact on anything, even the corporations, Cerberus and the Shadowbroker kinda feel pretty weak and meaningless in light of Shepard's kickassery. I'm pretty sure that these things get more developed in the sequels, which I still haven't played, but in this game alone everything feels kinda... small.
And besides that - the combat isn't too bad. It isn't as great as it could be but it generally works and is actually satisfying, it just lacks a bit of depth. It's kind of the same with the character development. It's there, it's functional but it also isn't great. The problem with the latter is that you can max out any particular talent very early (literally after only four levels ups!), halfway through the game you can max out all abilities that matter to you and by the end you basically put talent points in abilities that you will barely utilise. That's at least the case for the soldier class. The loot and equipment system is even a tad weaker with a system that is completely unable to create anything interesting. You basically keep finding the exact same items, they just keep getting stronger the higher your level is. And they are visually completely uninteresting. Meh.
As for the RPG aspect, I guess it holds up better than the other stuff, some players probably still consider it pretty much perfect - personally I already didn't like it back in the day, am even less of a fan now. The pretty much binary moral system is rather weak in my eyes and trivialises what should be really tough decisions. It's practically almost impossible to make bad choices. Now, I did a paragon playthrough again and rarely chose a dialogue option that does not fit in with that profile but even when I did, I pretty much always felt like it's the same result just delivered in a different manner, a bit like in David Cage's games. However, despite that I must admit that it is pretty cool that they managed to create multiple and highly different responses for almost any situation. Even if my choice doesn't change much in terms of mechanics, in a certain sense it does allow to express my opinion on almost any matter that comes up in the game. And I guess that's pretty cool and more developed than in most other RPGs.
Other than that: I felt like there's comparably little content. Don't get me wrong, my (almost?) 100% playthrough took dozens of hours out of my life and I still want to do more playthroughs to see how things can develop with a different character with a different class, profile and background but ultimately there's a crapload of low quality filler content, especially when it comes to the exploration of planets and side quests. After three or four planets it does get kinda old.
And yet, I had a great time and can't wait to finally, finally move on to Mass Effect 2. Alas... I still have to do another playthrough to finally reach that friggin' level 60...