Posted on January 3, 2008,

Mass Effect Ain’t So Bad After All


A particular harsh review was written of Mass Effect by Dean Takahashi recently, in which he went so far as to call the game “Mass Defect.” Many others, myself included, were taken aback by the review – were we playing the same game as Takahashi was? As it turns out, Takahashi only put eight hours into the game and didn’t level up his character, which would obviously make the game a pretty boring and difficult affair.

After hearing so many complaints about his review, Takahashi decided to go back and replay part of the game with some of the recommendations he had received from readers, and sure enough, Mass Defect this is not. While he still has a number of issues – which even I have to agree with, despite how much I love the game – he did offer an apology to BioWare and Microsoft and has as much as can be expected from someone. Good for Dean for admitting his mistake and doing what he can to reconcile the situation.

You can read his mea culpa (fancy way of saying an admission of mistake) here and his original review here.

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14 Comments on Mass Effect Ain’t So Bad After All


On January 3, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I wonder if Microsoft and BioWare advertise in Takahashi’s publication and he was just worried about getting fired for giving a bad review.


On January 4, 2008 at 6:25 am

I personally don’t buy his apology. He’s probably been doing sloppy work for a long time and finally got caught when his review made no sense.


On January 4, 2008 at 8:11 am

I don’t think he’s been doing “sloppy work”. I think he just wasn’t paying attention to the gameplay.(Though I’m baffled by how you could “forget” to spend your stat points after the first world/mission.) I don’t think many of his complaints about Mass Effect are wrong. I’ve seen them repeated in a number of reviews, including here at Gaming Today – like unskippable dialog scenes, sloppy AI responses, etc..

But at least he admitted to being mistaken, which is the right thing to do. He put his credibility on the line and admitted when he was incorrect.


On January 4, 2008 at 8:47 am

So just what is the standard amount of time game reviewers put in to review a game? Shouldn’t they actually finish a game before they make comments on it? Movie critics don’t watch half a movie and then go make comments on it. Shouldn’t game reviewers be held to the same standard???? ……..I’m just saying…. :neutral:

Ron Whitaker

On January 4, 2008 at 9:03 am

Honestly, in this day and age, it’s just not feasible for reviewers to complete every game they review. However, they should put a decent amount of time into playing a game before forming an opinion on it.

I will say this: If you haven’t formed an opinion on a game within eight hours, then the developer should realize they have flunked game design. Games should be set up to draw you in and hold your attention, and if I’m eight hours in and that hasn’t happened yet, there’s something wrong.

I don’t think all his criticisms of Mass Effect are wrong; however, it’s obvious that he didn’t play the game through the way most people did. (Yes, it baffles me how he managed it as well.)


On January 4, 2008 at 10:32 am

I think it’s sad that he went back to it. I think his credibility suffers more for the retraction. Not everyone has to like the same thing. It’s part of what makes us human. And a review is a very subjective thing, personal to each and everyone’s own life experience. So he didn’t like it, and ended up getting a ton of publicity for that fact. Where was the motivation ? I played Gears for a few hours online through some of the campaign with some friends, and thought it was ok, but didn’t go bonkers for it like a lot of the reviews had. Does this mean I should be obligated to play it again until I like it as much as the gaming population in general ? Do I HAVE to finish it just to confirm my opinion ? No, because my opinion is just that, an opinion, which is also another word for review. Not everyone loves Halo-3, but I don’t make them sit through 40 hours of multiplayer to change their opinion of the game, now do I ?


On January 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Somewhat – It wasn’t the sort of situation where people were like, “This is good! I can’t believe you didn’t like it!” and he caved. People cited specific things he had mentioned that weren’t true, so he decided to go back with that knowledge in hand.

“I’ve seen them repeated in a number of reviews, including here at Gaming Today – like unskippable dialog scenes, sloppy AI responses, etc..”

There ARE unskippable dialog sequences and the AI can be absolutely stupid at times, so I’m not sure why you cite those as specific examples of false claims.

Shawn Sines

On January 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Chris: LdySabella was agreeing with you, I don’t think she called those false claims.. she was saying that just because he made some false assumptions it didn’t invalidate the claims that the AI was poor or the unskippable cutscenes frustrating.

QFT: “I don’t think many of his complaints about Mass Effect are wrong. I’ve seen them repeated in a number of reviews, including here at Gaming Today – like unskippable dialog scenes, sloppy AI responses, etc..”


On January 6, 2008 at 4:32 am

@Ron Whitaker

I believe that most reviews the reviewer will play through the full game. If what you do is basically play games for a living i.e. a game reviewer its easy to complete multiple games. There are a few select games that can take a huge amount of time to complete (e.g. RPGs), but most games can be done in


On January 6, 2008 at 4:46 am

@ somewhat

Difference between a review and some guy’s opinion is one serves to inform readers. As a reviewer, yes they should complete a game to a reasonable length. That can mean completing the single player campaign. There are certain “endless” games like fighting and racing games. I understand it can be hard to decide how much time to sink into a game before forming a fair opinion on it. 8 hours for an RPG is hardly fair though. Joe Smoe can play 1 hour and call the game crap if he wants, he shouldn’t expect anyone to take him seriously though and if a publication wants to retain its readers they will want to be taken seriously. I have long since stopped caring about reviews because of things like this. Word of mouth and user reviews tend to be far more reliable.


On January 6, 2008 at 9:43 am

I was looking at getting a 360 to play mass effect, but I figured I oughtta spend my money on a girlfriend so I can get mass erect.

Ron Whitaker

On January 6, 2008 at 10:05 am

@Kareem: In a perfect world, yes, we would finish every single game before we reviewed it. However, in today’s gaming environment, where new games hit the market every day, it just can’t happen.

There’s a difference between playing a game for an hour before making a decision and playing a game 8-10 hours before doing so. With the demands on time for reviewers, and the deadlines and number of games they have to deal with, it’s not always going to be feasible to finish every game. Anyone who tells you that they do is either misleading you, or reviewing a fraction of the available games.

The best barometer is to simply play the game. You’ll know when you’ve formed a valid opinion on it, if you’re honest with yourself. I’ll reiterate one thing, and that is that 8 hours into an RPG, I should know if it’s a good game or not. If I don’t, it’s poorly developed.


On January 6, 2008 at 10:14 am

I completely agree with Ron. You guys have to keep in mind that most game journalists these days have several consoles and the computer on top of that. Right now, I primarily play games on the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PS2, PSP, PS3, Nintendo DS, and the computer. That’s 7 platforms. I also have other systems I still play from time to time.

It’s not possible to play every game through to the end for a review. I do feel that at least 5-10 hours needs to be put into a game for a decent review. It also completely depends on the game. Ron is definitely right that you should know 8 hour into an RPG if it’s a good game or not.


On January 6, 2008 at 10:26 am

I think you oughtta take up renting games again, I mean, you can’t trust journalists and reviewers.

A lot of people said that game Zack and Wiki was awesome, and I’m certain it is once you get past all the inane demon monkey speak.

that little er, I hate that game because of that guy, constantly yapping about crap that nobody cares about. It’s like they in’ reincarnated Navi!

anyway, your best bet is to just rent games, reviews are garbage, figure out what you like for yourself.