The Good: The best production values available in games today, superb story, and dialog tree, great RPG/shooting mix up
The Bad: Only one vehicle, very short on BioWare standards
Where should I began? Well let's start with the story. You play (Put first name here) Shepard who is a US Navy Alliance officer and tries to work his/her rank up the galactic ladder. A Turian, named Saren, tries to unleash a supposed extinct alien race that's older than time itself. Can you stop him in time while uncovering the past?
With that out of the way let's start with presentation. Mass Effect has some of the best graphics, sound, voice acting, and production values than any game I've ever seen next to Gears of War (courtesy to Microsoft's bank account). The game is packed with tons of extremely detailed textures and models, remarkable never before seen character animations, and BioWare's next-gen dialog engine. Just like any BioWare game (KotOR, Jade Empire) you decide the fate of the game through your actions with people. You can intimidate them, charm them, or just plain use force. With the dozens of alien races and characters you'll encounter there is limitless possibilities.
The game has third person gun play mixed with role-playing elements. You can upgrade your character through an easy to use upgrade menu where you can upgrade tons of stats and attributes. You also have powers that you can use such additionally. Along with you accompanies two other squad members of your choosing and you can give them simple orders. You can hack objects to obtain new weapon upgrades, different types of ammo, and even more armor. There are even a few vehicle sessions as well and this helps mix up game play.
You travel around by using the Mass Effect relay system which can shoot you throughout the galaxy. You can travel to worlds to collect different types of resources, complete side mission and more. Now while all this is wonderful the game does have some major issues. The frame rate can never keep up. It's always skipping and chugging and there's constant texture pop-up as well. There are also random load times every so often. The game is also very short for BioWare standards ending in about 15-20 hours and with all side missions (about a dozen) maybe 25-30. While there is no co-op or online play the game is still fun and is very cinematic and is a wonderful masterpiece.