PublisheR EA / Developer BioWare / Format Xbox 360 / release date November 2007
Although last November saw the tenth anniversary of Mass Effect –a game that blew the doors open to what’s possible for science fiction RPGs – this month celebrates ten years since I first played it. So I thought it would be the perfect time to jump back into the boots of Commander Shepard and reunite with some old friends.
As soon as the start menu appears and the music beings to play, I’m hit with a wave of nostalgia. Like a fine wine, the track Vigil seems to have got better with age, with its tones carrying the weight of all the wonderful memories I had playing this spectacular space opera.
After starting a new a game and getting thrown into the mix of the narrative, I step foot on the Citadel. Visiting this colossal space station, which acts as the galaxy’s political hub, is always a treat for me. I read
Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C Clarke as a kid and would try to imagine what the inside of Rama looked like. The Citadel, with the curvature of its landscape to the mysterious Keepers that scuttled around maintaining it, actually showed me. I spend much of the next few hours just looking around and listening to the conversations of the people, the music and the ambient sounds.
Later, I meet Garrus Vakarian, Tali’Zorah nar Rayya, Urdnot Wrex and Liara T’Soni. Four companions, each of a different alien species, who grow to become some of Shepard’s most loyal friends. It’s through these complex and interesting characters, as well as others, that I became deeply invested in the Mass Effect universe.
Meanwhile, during these reunions, I become the first human Spectre, part of an elite group of agents responsible for preserving galactic stability. This moment never fails to give me goose bumps. The shared look between the council members as they make their decision, and all of the people around pausing to witness this momentous occasion while the music swells to heroic proportions, makes you feel like you’re taking part in something genuinely special. Other games have attempted to achieve this level of interactive drama, but none have managed to do it quite so well. After becoming a Spectre I’m free to explore the galaxy and continue with my mission to save it. However, that’s put on hold, because I get absorbed with refamiliarising myself with the lore, which is told through the in-game codex. I love delving into its entries, from the details of all the different alien races and the political climate of the galaxy in which they live, to the scientific explanations on how you seemingly have unlimited ammunition in your weapons and what colours you might see outside a spaceship while travelling faster than the speed of light. For some this might come across as a boring info dump, but to me it only enriches the already stellar universe that’s been created.
Suffice to say, I’m still going through the game, but in a way I don’t want it to end. Say what you will about
Andromeda but it’s a shame that its lack of success put the series on ice. I would love to see more games in the
Mass Effect universe, but for now that seems unlikely. There’s more hope of someone else creating a new science fiction universe, and I think I’d be happy with that. But until then, I’ll be sipping drinks with my pals in Flux.
“Say what you will about Andromeda but it’s a shame that its lack of success put the series on ice”