It is nearly 6 years since Bioware released the first instalment of its space opus Mass Effect.
The adventures of Commander Shepard proved to be a smash, as gamers took up the reigns of the the first human Spectre in a battle for survival against the formidable Reapers.
Whilst Bioware tinkered with certain elements and the ending left some ‘dissatisfied’, this epic RPG is one of the few games which has stood the test of time.
The desire to sink my teeth in to something with some meat to it, combined with ‘budgetary restraints’, brought Shepard and his team back in to my disc tray. One instalment is quite enough to while away the hours, and the full trilogy is on a scale few can match.
Tweaks to the combat system and the addition of integration with Kinect in the final chapter all represented a sort of natural progression for the series; but the games heart and soul lay in one area that wasn’t changed – the narrative.
Mass Effect was a gaming world driven by some of the finest story telling in the art form. It spanned an entire galaxy, whilst commanding an intimacy seldom seen on console or PC.
The idea of a world in peril is not new – we’ve all seen the likes of Independence Day or played games like Doom; fighting back invading forces to protect what we know is ‘good and right’. Mass Effect upped the scale, both in terms of what was in danger, but also who represented the danger.
Compared to the Reapers, a fireball tossing Imp might as well have been a common mosquito.
But amid the chaos of the fight for survival, players were drawn in to inter galactic politics and relationship troubles whilst setting their own moral compass.
On the surface that does sound a little dumb perhaps. Equally you might say it is ‘common place’ in some respects; it’s not like other games don’t have stories, require ‘moral choices’ or push you off on various side quests. And that might be a fair view point – it’s just that very few have done it as well as Mass Effect did.
And that is what sets it apart from so many other titles – it served up solid FPS and RPG elements underpinned by a tremendous interactive story. It is almost a ‘build your own sci-fi movie’.
Playing through this wonderful series again has turned initial feelings of ‘leave it alone’ to ones of excitement over Mass Effect 4.
And even if Mass Effect 4 is awful; I’ll still have the first three to play again and again.