Strategy Guide Review Policy:
My goal for these strategy guide reviews is not to discuss whether one needs the guide to complete the game. Every gamer has different strengths and skills, and one may need every bit of a guide, another may need to look up information for quick assistance once, and another may laugh at the idea of ever using a guide, even the online freebies. My goal is to determine whether the guide is 1) helpful in the first place, 2) does it encompass gamers who need hand-holding as well as those who need a quick reference and 3) how much information does it really have.
Mass Effect was NEVER a planned game for me. The reason why I even had the game was because a friend gave it to me as a “Welcome to Xbox” present in 2008. It’s sat on my shelf unused and unopened for 3 years until last year, when friends started to hound me to play. Considering I’m not a sci-fi fan at all, and I only recently got into shooters, I knew I was going to need all the help I could get, and fortunately for me, this guide came through.
The RPG schematics of ME are a bit overwhelming–to say the least–at the get-go. First you learn how to aim and shoot, switch weapons, etc. Then they suddenly throw all of these RPG stats at you with very little build-up. If you put the game down for a couple of days early on and then come back, like I did, it is very easy to become confused and overwhelmed all over again. The guide at least breaks down every nuance of the game to explain exactly what is going on in your RPG spreadsheet, which is very useful for those who want complete control of how their squad levels up from the outset. Throughout the walkthrough, the guide also offers tips on what characters can do IF players apply their Talent Points to certain skills, such as Charm/Intimidate or Tech/Electronic skills.
The layout of the guide is simple, clean, and really makes it easy to find whatever you’re looking for. By simply looking at any page, I can point out exactly which sections guide me through the game, where scenes change, where key locations/characters are (screenshots), and I can clearly see all notes, tips, and warnings. There is no excuse for a player to miss anything while playing, and this includes all of the sidequests and the paramour subplot. The only part I had to really dig for was the list of Achievements. It wasn’t listed in the table of contents, but the “How to Use This Guide” pages right after the ToC pointed out where this appendix was hiding (they all fit on one page, something I haven’t seen in awhile, which is why I kept missing it).
Most importantly, the maps are also quite extensive. There is not a map of just the Milky Way galaxy, like an overworld map, but this is hardly needed given the nature of the galaxy map in the game. Each chapter begins with a map or maps of the entire world Shepard visits, with all codes entries, medical kits, and stores plotted out. None of the weapons lockers or locked items are on the maps, but these are easily found while walking through the game, so it’s not a huge detriment that they are excluded. In the back of the guide, all of the uncharted planets and star clusters are also mapped, complete with every significant landmark or mining site displayed.
The Mass Effect strategy guide is one of the best strategy guides in existence. This team of writers truly outdid themselves with the undoubtedly cumbersome task of unearthing everything Mass Effect has to offer. Those who truly don’t want to miss a thing, from mining to sidequests to Paragon/Renegade points, this guide will not disappoint.
Final Rating: 5/5