mass ef­fect

Pub­lisheR EA / De­vel­oper BioWare / For­mat Xbox 360 / re­lease date Novem­ber 2007

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Adam Bryant

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.

Gal­axy quest

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”

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