Mass Effect is an amazing action role-playing game. Those familiar with Bioware's pedigree will know just how much attention to detail and expanse of story-telling there is to be had here. Previous outings such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, can give you a faint taste of what Mass Effect is like.
There is a level of customisation to the gender and look of your character, right into their upbringing and personality. These choices you make at the beginning can change or vary the story throughout. Though that doesn't limit you from pushing your orientation from neutral to more paragon or more renegade. Think of it as a form of good vs. evil.
This in return can change the way that you converse with other characters in the Mass Effect universe. Will you be more paragon and try and sweet talk your way through a situation to obtain extra info and weapons? Or will you go renegade and threaten the character with extreme prejudice and squeeze the info out of them or take their items by force? Ultimately, your personality will shape and determine the outcome in these situations.
There are times when your decisions will force you to make some tough moral decisions. Will you sacrifice humanity, help a friend or turn your back on them? Feelings of loss and heightened emotion await you in Mass Effect.
The game features an R13 rating, which is quite relaxed for the adult themes provided and that's what you can expect here. An adult game with great gameplay and sharp graphics. As others below have stated, the side missions can sometimes be a little tedious. But also quite fun just to check out, if you need extra credits or for extra experience points to use to upgrade your character and team. Some of these side missions can have an effect on decisions in the story and/or access to exclusive items.
I purchased Mass Effect when it first was released, before the NXE update. I really enjoyed playing through the game, and even when there were moments with minor loading times or texture pop-in, this didn't detract from my experience at all.
However, with the NXE update and the ability to now back the game to the X360's Hard Disc Drive, this game benefits greatly from it. If you have the space, back the game to the HDD. It will shorten load times, eliminate intermittent load times and texture pop up. Making it even more appealing to play.
Mass Effect is an exciting romp into another universe, where you call the shots, and is worth every dollar of your purchase.