March 6th, 2012 is a day that I have been anxiously anticipating for nearly four and a half years. Granted, I didn’t know back in 2007 that I would be embarking on an epic journey that would encompass three separate video games but that’s when it all started.
In November of 2007 I came across a brand new video game called Mass Effect. I didn’t really know much about the game but I recognized the name Bioware. From Baldur’s Gate to Jade Empire, Bioware was a name that I associated with quality RPGs and the blurb on the back of the box of this Mass Effect game was good enough to grab my attention. I’ll admit that I was disappointed that this wasn’t a Star Wars game. Bioware’s work on the Knights of the Old Republic really knocked my socks off and I was leery of this foray into a new IP.
To say that my disappointment with Mass Effect vanished in the first few hours of gameplay would be a gross understatement. It was as if someone had taken everything that I enjoyed about science fiction, put it in a game and then expounded upon these base concepts in a manner that I would have never thought of myself.
The story was outstanding. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, it was implemented in a manner that made it all seem fresh. You assume the role of Command Shepard, a man (or woman) who gets caught up in events that will shape the course of the galaxy. The game allowed you to make decisions and it gave you the impression that they really counted. By the end of the game, Commander Shepard had saved the galaxy but it’s here that you learn that you may have only delayed the inevitable.
Enter Mass Effect 2. It was clear at the end of the first game that the story was meant to go on. With my interest in the game piqued I paid more attention to the development cycle of the next game. There were rumors that the Mass Effect series was meant to be a trilogy but honestly I had no idea of what I was getting into. Details leaked that the save file from the first game would be used to transfer over some information to the second game. Then the game arrived in early 2010 and I figured out exactly what that meant.
With Mass Effect 2, the brilliance of this series was finally revealed. Plenty of games have multiple entries in their series. Most slap a higher number on the end of the title but have nothing to do with the previous entry. Think of a Final Fantasy game as an example. Other games are designed as a sequel but have no way of knowing what you did in the previous game. Ultima VII and Ultima VII part 2 by Origin are definitely linked story-wise and even though you can import your character over, it really doesn’t make a difference. Mass Effect on the other hand in my opinion, is completely different.
With Mass Effect 2, the player was able to import their character from the first game. This included a number of important decision that the player would have made in the first game. The end result being that the galaxy in which Commander Shepard ends up playing in, does feel like it was shaped by the events of the first game. What this did in my mind is create the sense that the second game was a continuation of the storyline in a manner akin to a movie sequel (a good movie sequel). I wasn’t playing a new game that happened to have a similar title. I was picking up where I left off and continuing the story of Commander Shepard. My Commander Shepard.
That was two years ago. Now the third entry is right around the corner and I can’t wait.
I’ve tried to fill the void by reading the Mass Effect novels and comic books but those pale in comparison to the experience that I am anticipating in the third game. I never would have imagined five years ago that I would get to play a story that is spread across three games. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that my decisions from the first two games have and I’ve even recently completed a fresh playthrough of the first two games with a completely new character just to see how different things can turn out.
This time around there is an optional multiplayer element so if you play on the Xbox and you are looking for some help to save the galaxy from the Reapers, feel free to hit up the gamertag Sardel for assistance.
I’m going to do my part, I hope you do yours.