For this post I will be talking about my favorite video game franchise: Mass Effect. Now, I will talk briefly about the series and each game individually. But, I will try to not go into too much detail about the story, otherwise, we’ll be here all day.
Mass Effect was originally created by the main division of Bioware, located in Edmonton, Canada. The first Mass Effect was released on November 20, 2007 for the Xbox 360. Mass Effect 2 was released on January 26, 2010 for the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3 version would not be available until January 18, 2011. Mass Effect 3 released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on March 6, 2012. A trilogy edition containing all three games would be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on December 4, 2012. Mass Effect would then be placed on hiatus for some time, until Mass Effect: Andromeda, now developed by Bioware Montreal, would be released on March 21, 2017 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Mass Effect is a science fiction, third-person shooter, action/adventure RPG (role-playing game). In the original trilogy, the player assumes the control of Commander Shepard, a soldier in humanity’s Systems Alliance Navy in the late 22nd century. How RPG video games are different from most games, is that the player can customize their character to suite their preferences, and can make choices/decisions in the game that actively affect the outcome of the game’s story. It adds a more personal touch to the game. Before the game begins, the player can choose whether they would prefer to play as male Shepard, or female Shepard, customize Shepard’s backstory, and then throughout the game choose how they would prefer their character to be. The game uses a paragon/renegade system for dialogue and certain actions. Think of it like good karma and bad karma. If you are a paragon character, a “good” guy, you will be rewarded. It may be more difficult to take the paragon option for most situations, and may actually not suite certain situations, but it will be more rewarding in the end. Renegade will be the easier path for certain situations, resolve them quickly. But, it may have a negative impact on you’re character by the end of each game.
The original Mass Effect trilogy follows Commander Shepard, with the first game taking place in the year 2183.
In the first Mass Effect the player recruits allies, both humans and aliens, to join Commander Shepard on the ship called the Normandy, while hunting down a rogue alien, named Saren. For an example as to what Saren looks like, he is the same species as the alien to the left, on the image above. Saren has a massive spaceship that is classified as a dreadnought named Sovereign, and an army of what are essentially robots, called the Geth. Saren is traveling throughout the Milky Way galaxy, killing whoever gets in his way, while in search for something. Your objective, as Commander Shepard, is to stop him, and find out what he is looking for.
Later in the game, you discover that Saren is not actively acting on his own free will. His mind has been indoctrinated by his flagship, Sovereign. Sovereign is not just a ship, it is a machine with an intelligence. Sovereign is what is called in the game, a reaper. I’ll try not to delve too deep into the story and reasoning behind why the Reapers exist, and do the things that they do. Just know: the Reapers are a group of sentient machines that range from 160 meters to 2 kilometers in length, that return to the Milky Way galaxy every 50,000 years to wipe out all organic life. The organic species that they kill are harvested into the creation of a new reaper. Once they complete their objective, they return to what is known as dark space (the space in between galaxies), and they leave one of their number behind, in this case Sovereign, to signal when it is time to return. The Geth revere them as gods, so they follow them, they also have the ability to indoctrinate the minds of organics in proximity to them, which is why Sovereign controls Saren.
In the end, Commander Shepard is able to call in the majority of the human Naval fleet to fire upon Sovereign before it signals for the Reapers to return. In doing so, Sovereign is able to take down multiple human ships within the fleet, before finally being destroyed. The message: if it took an entire fleet to destroy one reaper, what will happen if all of the Reapers arrive?
Mass Effect 2 immediately follows the events of the first game. Commander Shepard and his/her crew of the Normandy are hunting down Geth remnants, when they are suddenly attacked by an unknown enemy.
Yes, the game kills the main character immediately, that is definitely something different. But, it isn’t that simple. A rogue organization, called Cerberus, that seeks nothing but human dominance in the galaxy, recovers Commander Shepard’s body, and for the next two years the Lazarus Project is activated, in an attempt to revive Commander Shepard. Ultimately, they are successful. Though, Shepard does not trust an organization such as Cerberus, and their leader (who is portrayed by Martin Sheen), the Illusive Man. The Illusive Man informs Shepard that during the time he/she has been unconscious, the unknown enemy responsible for killing Shepard, has been abducting entire human colonies. The human Alliance military has been unable to stop them. So, the Illusive Man gives Shepard a new Normandy to go and recruit allies to destroy this unknown enemy.
Shepard is able to recruit allies from the first Mass Effect, but it is mainly made of a new, and now larger team. Shepard later discovers that the enemy responsible for the abduction of the colonies, and his/her death, are a race of aliens known as the Collectors. The Collectors are a race of aliens that have been indoctrinated by the Reapers for the past 50,000 years, and are essentially kept around as a backup plan in the event the lone reaper that is left behind is killed. Once Sovereign was destroyed, they moved to eliminate Shepard, abduct humans, and create a reaper from the capture humans, in order to signal the return of the Reapers.
Once prepared, the player, as Shepard, will launch a suicide mission on the main Collector base to destroy them and the reaper they are creating. Regardless of well the player prepares, the base and the reaper will be destroyed. Where a difference can be seen, is whether or not Shepard survives the mission, depending on well the player prepared for the suicide mission.
Once the base and the reaper is destroyed, the reapers are now fully aware that they can return. But, since a signal was never sent, their opening to get to the Milky Way immediately is closed off, and it will take them a full year to arrive to the Milky Way. During this time, Shepard leaves Cerberus, disapproving of their methods, and returns to the Alliance military.
In the year that is between the story of Mass Effect 2 and 3, preparations are made for the Reapers arrival, but it is nowhere near enough. Eventually, they arrive, and war is triggered across the entire Milky Way galaxy.
In Mass Effect 3, it is no longer as simple as recruiting individuals to Commander Shepard’s side. The player needs recruit entire species, civilizations, and their militaries to fight the Reapers. The message is clear: united we stand, divided we fall. Shepard needs to convince everyone to work together, or else the Reapers will destroy everything. Once this is accomplished, Shepard leads the united fleet to Earth, for the final battle.
The ending for Mass Effect 3 is ultimately up to the player, as the game has four endings. There is no official “this is the canon/official ending”, because it is up for the player to choose.
After Mass Effect 3, the series went on a hiatus for a time, as Bioware planned how they will continue the franchise. The series was eventually passed from Bioware Edmonton to Bioware Montreal. Bioware Montreal would go on to create Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Mass Effect:Andromeda takes place outside of the Milky Way galaxy and the events of Shepard and the Reapers. It is set 600 years ahead of Mass Effect 3 as groups of large spaceships known as “Arks” travel with colonist in suspended cryogenic sleep travel to the Andromeda galaxy to ultimately, flee the Reaper invasion. The game avoids answering what is the official ending for Mass Effect 3, as the colonists on board have no idea what became of those they left behind. The player can choose to play as one of the two twins: Scott and Sara Ryder. Depending on who the player chooses, one of the twins is given the title of Pathfinder, who has the task of finding a new home for humanity. Obviously, things are not so simple, as there are already alien species that exist in Andromeda, both hostile and friendly, which as the Pathfinder, Ryder must learn how to deal with this situation.
Well, that is a summary of the Mass Effect franchise, my favorite video game series. One more thing, here is my favorite songs from the Mass Effect soundtrack.