Parent reviews for Mass Effect

Common Sense says

Ambitious space journey with mature themes.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 56 reviews
Adult Written byWhybot April 3, 2021

Commonsense Media’s assessment is spot on.

The concepts in this game are definitely for a more mature audience, between the violence, language and sexual themes. As a parent, an actual one, I would not let my child play this game until they were older. Yes, I have played through the game from start to finish. The game is alright it’s nothing fantastic. In terms of game play it’s actually pretty broken. Your planet-side missions are under developed busy work and half finished environments and are amazingly boring. Controls are clunky and graphically, even at time of release, this game was never anything impressive. There is a lot of tedious grind to this game too.

Ultimately the only thing this game has going for it is it’s story which you can watch on YouTube and you won’t missing out on anything.

You legitimately cannot say this game has “Great Messages” or “Great Role Models” since the make up of the lead characters personality is entirely on you as a player. Honestly I feel like giving it 3 stars is a little much however when I first played the game it was “revolutionary” with its moral choices, however the gameplay tanks that and the game itself does not hold up well today.
Adult Written bykathy221 December 2, 2009
I am a teacher and a parent of two teenagers and a 10 year old. I asked one of my students in sixth grade what a good video game was that I should get my fourteen year old for his birthday. He recommended Mass Effect, so i got it and my teenagers loved it! After seeing the game being played, i realized that it had little blood and almost no explicit content. I let my 10 year old play it, on the grounds that any innapropriate content would be reported to me. A few swear words came up, but that was all. It really does not deserve an M or a Not for Kids.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byPaladin357 March 17, 2012

Awesome, but a little short.

This is an amazing RPG with a good solid storyline that is engaging and entertaining. The player takes control of Commander Shepard, who serves as the main character through the game, as he works as a peace keeping agent, beyond the law. The game gives the player tough choices as the travel the galaxy, helping people, or dishing out brutal punishment. As far as the combat is concerned, it is towards the tame end of things, with no blood, and more often than not, inhuman and machine targets. There are instances in which you will end up in gun battles with human targets though, so if this is a problem, then this game should be avoided. The RPG elements, allowing the character to choose to be good, bad, or neutral, present difficult choices, some forcing you to choose between two very grim choices. The violence also extends into these elements, as there are choices that allow you to kill an enemy that has surrendered, or at times, hurt civilians. Sexuality also plays a role in the game, allowing the player to choose a romantic partner in the game, which when dialogue options are follow a particular way, can lead to a sex scene. The scene is brief, with nothing shown, but there is little doubt of what is taking place. As far as replayability is concerned, there is some available, allowing to choose different dialogue and the like, but the overall combat and missions do not change. For 18 and up, this is a fun game.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Adult Written byBlumieus August 29, 2020

Nothing inappropriate for a 10+ kid

The game tells a great story narrating around moral values so universal that are unequivocally applicable across the galaxy between the species as different as chalk and cheese. The main protagonist is a human male or female with incredibly strong moral grounds and integrity. The violence through shooting scenes is rather mild and serves more than an interlude for an engaging story. The only reason I did not want my 10 years old kids to play this game is the complexity of the story. Finally, the “sex” scenes are in fact very scarce and mild, and express passion, closeness and care for each other. What a beautiful game...

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Ease of Play
Parent of a 3-year-old Written bymessenger December 13, 2008

not bad

the story is good i have played it and did not see the sex scene but i do know about personally if it can happen but it is not likly or a forced part i think you have to look at it in a different light and i dont understand why common sense media talked about the same sex option was brought up i dont want m kid seeing sex but that goes either way it should only be judge on how graphic it is but i digress the game in all is not that bad with violence or anything else and should be reduced to a teen rating
Adult Written byShadowstorm Vash May 27, 2021

Great game for 16+

Mass Effect is a game that often explores complex and simple moral choices revolving around a cast of well acted characters that draw you into their personal dilemmas all the while you are trying to save the galaxy. While most of these quests can be fairly simple or straight forward several of these quests lead to disturbing situations that could make a parent of a younger child quickly turn off a real world news broadcast.

First off there is no escaping sexual references or strong language.
Your character is in the military there will be "strong" language. Enough said.

As for the unavoidable sexual content the main character MUST visit a "gentleman's club" in order to progress the story and save Tali. There are "female" aliens (Asari) in skimpy clothing giving "dances"
You are also lead to the club optionally (but with heavy narrative nudging) by: Captain Anderson (to track down Harkin a corrupt cop for the main quest but it is optional to visit him at all), The Consort (for a side quest but people won't shut up about the Consort so you will most likely go there if you don't know where it leads to), to Rescue Jenna (for a side quest), a News reporter (side quest to dig up info on crime rings)

Additionally you can accidentally get the sex scene with Kaidan Alenko if you are spamming paragon options or are playing for the first time and trying to be nice as a female character. It is a known thing with original players and is one of the dialogue options that acts like fallout 4's in that what is said differs from what was written.

With the Asari Liara there are discussions on the ship about some misleading information (in game) about how the Asare are perceived both in sexuality and spirituality (but not necessarily religion) by the other Species of the universe that I find interesting but parents might want to look into first.

There are several instances of Specisiest behavior; this games stand in for racism. Ashley Williams is a known bigot in the beginning and has several lines confirming this. Most often she compares the Alien races to animals without giving any thought to their nature as sentient beings. One of the worst lines "I can't tell the Aliens from the animals" when talking to her while walking around the presidium. This can change with influence from the main character. Similar things happen with Presley and even Garrus when he talks to Tali and Wrex in the elevators.
The Main character can also be a bigot this is a little more concerning as when the main character does this the behavior is often played as a joke. There are also some misleading dialogue wheel choices that sound like innocent curiosity that come off as a bit bigoted after they are selected.

Garrus has a personal quest about a doctor that clones organs inside patients and then harvests them for money. These patients are often very poor and are only paid if the organs are "healthy" most patients also died.

Terrorism is a major topic and your character is often called in to stop several major incidents, starting off in the first mission where you FAIL to stop it. Several charred civilian corpses litter the ground(also right in the beginning about 5 steps away in the first mission they are easy to spot near a fire as ash wafts off of the burnt body in a small cloud). This is also the main theme of DLC Bring down the sky where the choice of save the civilians or stop the terrorists once and for all is the last major choice with no option for both. Terrorism is also apart of Captain Anderson's backstory with Saren.

Several reanimated cadavers called Husks and Thorian Creepers litter the game and mindlessly charge the player. (you can google the images, most kids over 13 shouldn't be affected unless they are more delicate)
There are themes dealing with unethical experimentation on civilians by: The Government, CIA/MI6 equivalent organisations, Private Corporations, and Cthulhu-like entities.

Topics of Genocide come up when talking to Wrex and on the planet Virmire and is unavoidable. Furthermore your character can commit genocide while on Novaria.

The least concerning issue in the game is actually the physical violence. Gun violence is low detail outside of recruiting Garrus and even then it is very tame by even the standards of the time of its original release. There are a few scenes where people get impaled; once in the first mission and again on Noveria.

Religion is briefly touched upon in a small side quest on the Citadel but is not very controversial and revolves around the preacher preaching in an area of the Citadel without the appropriate license. A cop is asking him to just obey the law and either leave the area or buy the correct permit. The cop has every right to make an arrest but is trying to resolve the issue peacefully. You come in as an arbiter of this situation.

This game touches a little bit on whats War is like but is not a heavy focus in this game as it is in ME 3. There are some quests that deal with ptsd in soldiers.

Despite these warnings this game is great. I would recommend this for any parent with more mature teens. Most quests have interesting issues or motivations behind the people involved or the conflicts presented. The most repeated question would be "whats more important to follow the law or justice" or Questions about "due process" and the game explores each of your answers through consequences in game. This game is often heavily philosophical. Even the paragon renegade game mechanic can be seen as a sort of test between game mechanics and actually paying attention to what's going on in the narrative like in "bring down the sky".

For those with kids asking for the Mass Effect Legendary Edition that comes with ME 1, ME 2 and ME 3 and ALL the prior dlc these same themes only gets more graphic or detailed as the series progresses.

Over all this is a great game to get your kids thinking about what's right and wrong without them being told right out. It lets them explore consequences of their actions and reactions of other characters to those actions and they will respond due to how engaging the supporting cast and characters are. This is best after initial moral value are instilled by you as it provides situations that encourage understanding of base teachings.
I fully encourage parents to play this game as well and not just an hour or two as you won't get a real feel for it until after you get control of the Normandy and go on several missions with some of the most complex issues being side quests. This game is as much cinematic gaming narrative experience as it is a entry level philosophy book with the action used to break up conversations as your mind churns in the background.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Ease of Play
Adult Written byChris P. April 14, 2020

A great first game

This game is very fun to play, and there is so much to do. The story is fantastic, and I love how you influence what happens to the characters. As far as violence goes, the here is some blood, and other stuff but its not too bad. Keep in mind while this is a shooter game game its more about the story. There is languge, but I mean its fine, there are no F bombs or anything. Some shots of bars. Sex will probably be the main concern, though it really shouldn't be. In the early prat of the game you have to go to a strip club but there just aliens who are almost fully clothed, and its not realistic at all. You can pursue romantic relationships wit others characters, and it is possible to have a lesbian relationship, but if that concerns you more than a heterosexual relationship just Shut up. You can have a sex scene towards the end of the game, but it isnt graphic and you don't see any genitals.
Adult Written byTOTALLY A PARENT May 17, 2019

COMMONSENSEMEDIA SUCKS

My 10 year old son bought this game and he got it home and I said that he cant play it until he is 11 because it has lots of violence my son really wants to play this but I am making him wait till his 11th birthday
The problem I have with commonsensemedia.org is that they have give it an 18 this game is a pegi 12 yeah it has some inappropriate parts like using guns and stuff but I will give this a 11

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Ease of Play
Violence & scariness
Adult Written byVohaul February 16, 2019

Would be rated T if not for a few things

For the most part the game is actually more like a T game. Almost no blood. Some language. The main reason it got an M rating was because of the romances. These romances are entirely optional.
Adult Written byJack C. March 12, 2018

Who cares?

These games are fine for kids.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Ease of Play
Adult Written byOscar C. October 12, 2017

NOT 18s

OK I have 2 ideas here. 1: this is a mistake
2: This is the common sense medias normal bull.
I think 2. This game is not 18s!
in fact, here in Ireland, its 12s!!!!
Common Sense media, you need to step down.

This title contains:

Ease of Play
Adult Written byWill K September 3, 2016

Fantastic game, one of the best.

Okay, right off the bat I'd like to address the "sexual content". Commonsensemedia has failed to point out that sexual content doesn't appear unless the player makes it appear by building relationships with in-game characters. Males can romance a character named Ashley, females can romance a character named Kaiden. Both genders can romance a character named Liara. I do find it odd that commonsensemedia talks about the "same-sex romance" almost as a warning, but I'll let it slide. (Also, if you'd like to get technical, in-game Liara talks about how their species is genderless and doesn't base feelings on that.) Anyways, the gameplay is great, aside from a few hiccups here-or-there. It can be difficult in terms of combat during a couple fights, but it's not that bad. Sometimes you may get lost due to unclear directions, but most everything is told to you. In terms of great messages, there can be some! It really all depends on what you as a player does though, however. As events change in correlation to your decisions. In terms of great role models, it's the same thing. All depends on you. Although there are some party members who could be considered good role models, like Tali, who does whatever she can to help her people. The game isn't hard to play, but if you're bad at shooter games, then you could have difficulty. Aside from the obvious combat elements, there's not really much violence, save for some verbal attacks when addressing how species treat eachother in-game. In terms of sex, there is a club that you have to go in that has dancers, though not that bad. There's also the "romance scene" which you get from, well, romancing a character. It's a few shots and less than 10 seconds long. It's minor and shouldn't be held with a high regard. As for swearing, there's not that much, really. As for drinking and all that, there's a bar and references and such, but otherwise there's none, at least none that I've noticed. I'd honestly let kids 10 and up play this game, it's quite well done and doesn't have much negative content. So, that's that! I hope this review helped you in determining your purchase!

This title contains:

Positive role models
Adult Written bySam M. March 17, 2016

Good story. Mixed Gameplay. Mostly PG, PG13 at rare worst

Nothing worse said than B!tch. Some impaled humans seen early on with some blood and later on a human has his chest burst through by an arachnid like creature (most violently graphic scene in the game). Some occasional charred bodies Bare female bottoms and sides of breasts in optional sex scenes that only show preludes. Exotic dancers in skimpy clothing showing some rear end and nipples poking out.
The story, characters and worldbuilding are all very interesting. Too bad combat is floaty (sounds are there but barely any feedback, planet exploring and side missions get repetitive (so.many. repeated interiors and all planets are largely the same except for colors) altho there are still some that stick out. I for one actually enjoy driving the mako tank. More micromanaging of gear and squad prep if thats your taste. Story missions have intense battles. The framerate sometimes chugs, plot and writing isnt quite as tight as 2 and 3.
Adult Written byPakistanPEGI December 21, 2014

16 and up

Not too much fun.
Intense Violence
Sexual Themes
Bad Language(a-s,sh-t,damn)

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Adult Written byRobbyboy37 May 11, 2014

Great game with the main issue being an occasionale sexual reference/Scene

My rating: 13+ for a strong sex scene, violence and a breif sequence of strong language.
It is possible to enter a lesbian relationship but the sex scene isn't that graphic. The ESRB is a lot stricter on what they allow in Teen games vs what MPAA would allow in PG-13 movie. I think you can have an occasional word like Damn in E10+ but anything stronger would get a Teen rating. The video game Happy wars would probably be rated PG by the MPAA but is Teen by the ESRB. I do not let my kids watch rated R movies but I do let them play some Mature games because ESRB makes it so easy to get an M rating. Halo 4 which is rated M would probably be rated Heavy PG to light PG-13 by the MPAA. Overall this game is suitable for ages 13 and older.
Adult Written bya deep gamer September 1, 2012

An epic with true to life characters and choices

I have been a gamer most of my life, and thinking about every game I've ever played, Mass Effect always stands out for me. This series has the deepest characters in any game, and, with the amazing story and interaction, you feel like they are actual people. You feel like these people are your friends, your family, not just some faces. If you betray one, you feel like you stabbed a friend in the back, not just kept a secret from some meaningless character. Everything in this game makes you think about the difference between right and wrong, between friendship and power. You will feel bad for someone suffering because of you. When you couple that with the stress of the war, there are moments where getting the job done feels amazing because you helped those you've grown close to. Yes, the gameplay and story stand up on their own, and yes, there is language, violence, and sexual themes. But all of these things take the backseat to the real as flesh and bone cast. If you let this game in, you will feel for these people. Don't be surprised if, during a particularly tender moment, you feel a tear form. More than one have admitted to it.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Adult Written byModernNija94 August 23, 2012

Mass Effect is a grate game

I happen to love the entire Mass Effect series however I would rate ME1 as #1 in the series as far as a RPG and #3 in the action department

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Consumerism
Adult Written bygameguy 2.0 February 12, 2012

one of the best games the world has to offer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if your kids want to play grand theft auto or mafia then start them off with this. it is like gta without the gore, sex, and strong language.-gameguy 2.0 ps I'm 17 not 42

This title contains:

Positive role models
Adult Written byCOOLREVIEWER January 7, 2012

A good game to teach Mature kids about relationships.

What commonsense doesn't take into consideration is that, not all of todays kids are hooligans and have to go to military academy until they are 18 and can play Mature games. This is a deep, political story, and the violence is minimal, with the exception of some torture scenes showing human characters hit close up, with some blood, however you are 80% of the time seeing alien violence. The sexual content is minimal, and most kids won't pursue a relationship, or know how, having no experience. There is no nudity outside of the sexual content, but it is all suggestive imagery, seeing shepard and liara kiss shirtless etc. Overall, this is a very good game to bring your mature child into the real life of politics and relationships.
Adult Written byeytchface December 23, 2011

Fantastic game; parents should be aware, but not afraid, of content

I'm obsessed with this game, and its sequel. It is one of the most intelligently written, beautifully crafted series I have ever encountered, including major motion pictures. Granted, I have always gone the heroic, or Paragon, route, because I find the relationships that you develop with your team members, allies, and even opponents are much richer when you choose honorable and noble interactions. I don't know what sorts of doors the Renegade path opens in ME1, although I know that going Renegade in ME2 as a male Shepard opens the door to an angry, casual sexual encounter with a psychologically damaged female crew member. Others have noted correctly that the violence in this game is minimal in comparison with other best-selling M-games--my teenage brothers are intense gamers, and ME1 did not draw them in at all, although they love the sequel, which contains more violence, harder language, and more risque content. I have always played as FemShep (female Shepard), and have never pursued the same-sex option, because I was more interested in Lt. Alenko. The relationship you build with Kaidan culminates in sex, as well, and you see a brief shot of Shepard's naked rear in the cutscene (nothing else, though, except Kaidan's somewhat clumsily animated pecs). It's nothing a kid wouldn't see in a PG-13 movie, but the encounter is more powerful to the game-player than the move-watcher, since it seems like you ARE Shepard, after spending so much time in his/her head.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Sexy stuff

Pages