|System: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC|
|Dev: Edge of Reality|
|Release: December 4, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
by Jenni Lada
I've never met Conrad Verner. I didn't get to hear Major Kirrahe's "Hold the Line" speech. I missed out on skirting the law by scanning Keepers. I never played the original Mass Effect.
It hurt, because I knew I was missing out. There were things I wasn't seeing in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 because I wasn't one of the chosen ones. I hadn't sided with the Xbox 360 and I don't keep up with PC games. I backed the PS3, and that meant I never got to see how Commander Shepard's saga began.
But I am the red-headed Spectre stepchild no longer! Mass Effect has finally arrived on the PS3 and I'm glad. Part of it is because I'm finally getting the full story, but part of it is because it means I got to play Mass Effect 2 and 3 without realizing how many cool RPG elements were stripped from the series.
I'm sure we all know what happens in Mass Effect now, but let's review: Mass Effect begins with Commander Shepard on-board the Normandy as it's headed to Eden Prime. A Prothean artifact, some sort of beacon, was discovered there and Captain Anderson and his crew have been tasked with heading in to grab it. Onboard is a Turian Spectre named Nihlus—Spectres are the James Bonds of the 2100s—and we quickly learn Commander Shepard is on the short-list of candidates for becoming the first Human Spectre. Her (or his) actions on the mission could influence the Council's decision.
It doesn't go well. Geth comes to the colony, attacking soldiers and citizens alike. The beacon is grabbed. Nihlus comes upon Saren, another Turian Spectre, who proceeds to shoot him, interact with the beacon, and direct his Geth minions. Commander Shepard gets there when all the hubbub is over, Kaiden accidentally triggers something with the beacon, and Shepard knocks him out of the way and sees the vision of the Reapers wiping out the Protheans.
From there, it's about proving Saren is the bad guy, building a team to deal with Saren and his Geth forces, and finding out what's happening. We all know what happens, but I'm going to go ahead and make this spoiler-free by stopping here. Rest assured that if you haven't played any Mass Effect game before, you're in for some awesome twists and turns.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm glad I didn't play Mass Effect first because I would have been Very Sad if I had. Yes, that is Very Sad with a capital V and S. I am a RPG fanatic and seeing all of these fantastic RPG elements at play is glorious. I loved all of the extra weapon, armor, and accessory options. I relished the upgrade process where there were multiple skills and additional abilities unlocked as points were put into them. It feels more complicated, like I have more of a choice, which I appreciate.
Then there's the exploration. Can I just say how much I love the Citadel? While there is something to be said for the more streamlined versions that appeared in Mass Effect 2 and 3, I prefer the sprawling Citadel of Mass Effect. There are empty spaces, but that's okay. It gives you time to look around and appreciate the scenery. It reminded me of the sprawling towns I'd encounter in JRPGs.
The story is fantastic as well. I mean, this is BioWare, and we know that they can put together a fantastic tale when they really put their all into it. Mass Effect is quality. The story is very well done. The characters are well written, and it’s amazing to see how they were at the beginning. It's like I got to see them as they were, and can now appreciate how they've grown from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 and 3. I have to admit that I'm also gaining a new appreciation for Ashley Williams, who I’d never met before. I always let Kaiden live during the Mass Effect Genesis interactive comic before Mass Effect 2 because I wanted the additional biotic and male romance option for my Commander Shepard.