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What is Mass Effect?
Mass Effect is an action-based science fiction RPG heavy on story, dialogue, and combat. It's up to Commander Shephard and his squad to travel to distant planets in order to stop Saren from unleashing something destructive enough to harm every race in the galaxy. For a general overview check out this Mass Effect review.
The game's developer, Bioware, is known for their love of Star Wars, and they bring some of that passion to Mass Effect, by creating a light vs dark side, political tensions, and numerous alien species working together for common goals. It can be a challenging game so if you want a bit of help and don't mind cheating then check out the article on Mass Effect Cheats.
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Use Teamwork In Combat
In battle, the best way to win is by using teamwork. Since you can only have three characters in your squad, your main strategy should be to establish several roles for each player, where some may have to be a tank/healer, buffer/rogue, healer/rogue/fighter, etc. Don't be tempted to create a squad based on offense only, when you will need a rogue to open security doors and crates, a buffer to protect the party from enemy fire, tech, and biotics, and a healer to restore large amounts of health.
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Improve your Tech and Biotics
Biotics are able to put enemies in uncomfortable spots, pushing them away from you, leaving them in vulnerable states, and paralyzing them temporarily.
Tech talents are for the de-buffer, allowing you to destroy enemy shields, hack into robots, and shut down their weapons.
Make sure to improve biotics and tech talents so they can be effective enough for several situations, at times when enemies are running towards you, hiding behind walls, carrying heavy power, recharging their shields, or casting tech and biotics. If you face stronger opponents like Krogans and Asaris, it's best to use Electronics to destroy their shields, Damping to shut down their tech and biotics, and Throw to keep them away from you. You can't easily take down enemies like these by just firing your weapons, so trust your tech and biotics by improving them so they become stronger.
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Decryption And Electronics Is Necessary
Mass Effect generously offers many kinds of equipments and items to help you have success. These goods are especially handy for players limited to only one weapon or light armor. Their stats and abilities can be significantly improved by finding the right guns, grenades, weapon and armor upgrades, and other accessories. Some of these can be received from the main missions, side quests, containers, and the shops, but the rest are located in secured objects.
It's important then to always have characters with Decryption and Electronics, so they can open crates and other objects that contain these pieces of equipment. Even better, some of the crates you unlock will actually reveal new side quests and other hidden secrets.
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Be A Good Businessman
You'll find many inferior and duplicate items, and they are a burden to carry since there's a limit to how much you can have in your inventory. Get rid of this problem by selling them to merchants and you should be able to earn some good money in return. One of the most important roles in Mass Effect is to be a good businessman in the galaxy. Make a habit of visiting the shopkeepers to sell your useless items and you can quickly fill your wallet with enough to purchase some better goods.
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The Six Classes
Mass Effect has a robust combat system with six classes to choose from. Here is a description of each and a web link to a guide on each one.
The Adept is all about biotics so she can toy around with her enemies in various ways, being able to lift and throw enemies, suck them out of cover, and lower their defense.
This class has all the tech talents, making him the best buffer, but even better is that he can also repair vehicles, improve shields, and heal the party.
The Soldier is all about the front lines of combat, since he can master all the weapons in the game and is able to withstand the most firepower thanks to his ability to wear heavy armor.
This class can use tech, pistols, and snipers, so he is great for long range combat, as well as being able to disable enemies and then take them out.
Anyone who likes to throw and lift their enemies around while firing their weapons at them should consider the Vanguard since she can use biotics, pistols, and shotguns.
With a mix of tech and biotics talents, the Sentinel is a rogue, healer, and buffer, a class who can stay back to protect and support his squad during combat; he can heal his party, shut down enemy weapons, paralyze them, suspend them in the air, and lower their defense.