If anyone were to ask what my favorite science fiction game series was that took place in outer space, I would answer “Mass Effect” without hesitation. This is not to discount other great space-related games such as the Halo series, Outer Wilds, Stellaris, Elite Dangerous, and No Man’s Sky. There are plenty of fantastic games made over the years that take place in the furthest reaches of the galaxy. But my heart is with Mass Effect as developer Bioware was able to craft nothing short of a masterpiece that I’m certain will stand the test of time in gaming. Even though I’m sticking with the original trilogy, I’m thrilled that the Legendary Edition is giving current gamers the chance to experience this fantastic saga that involves you stepping into the shoes of a male or female Commander Shepard as he or she seeks to save the galaxy from extinction. While that summary sounds very simple, once you play the games, you’ll realize there is much more to it than that.
I’ve played and beaten the first two Mass Effect entries, but I’ve never completed Mass Effect 3. It is in Mass Effect 3 that everything comes to a head with the Reapers. They are the organisms that seek to extinguish life in the galaxy and reset it again. No race of beings in the galaxy has the capability of stopping the Reapers alone. But Commander Shepard, who throughout the series has befriended and earned the respect of the various species within the galaxy, has the best chance of uniting the races to give all species their best chance of survival. The best way to describe the Mass Effect series is that it is like Star Trek but much cooler and modern. It’s not meant to be a knock against Star Trek (I enjoyed the Next Generation television series), but it’s just that Mass Effect is that good. There are a lot of different memorable alien races that you’ll discover during your journey. Furthermore, at least one representative from the more prominent species will join your crew at some point. The amount of detail put into the lore of Mass Effect’s universe along with its consistent world-building makes it one of the deepest collections of games I’ve ever played.
Being a BioWare title, the games are filled with dialogue choices that have relational consequences that play out throughout the story. The Mass Effect series allows you to decide if you want to be the type of commander that everyone will want to rally around or if you wish to be a tyrant to the many people that you encounter. Supplemented with the terrific character development is an equally impressive battle system as the game switches into a third-person shooter mode when encountering enemies. The action feels great and utilizing your weapons and abilities, along with commanding your AI teammates on screen leads to good variety in battles. Because Mass Effect does such a great job at marrying such a fabulous interactive story with more than solid gameplay, the overall package is one of the best that I’ve ever seen in gaming. And just in case the story, dialogue and, action isn’t enough, the graphics, voice acting, and music are sensational as well.
Back to Mass Effect 3, the 20-plus hours that I’ve put into it have been some of the best I’ve experienced in the series. Before starting the third game, I was certain that nothing would top the second entry. For many Mass Effect fans, Mass Effect 2 stands as their favorite. Yet I feel the overall sense of urgency to create a resistance against the Reapers as the main backdrop for Mass Effect 3 has me more invested. When you encounter one early in the game and realize the destructive power just one of the Reapers possesses, it really underscores just how much of a perilous situation the galaxy is in and why time is of the essence. The fact that the Reapers are so huge and just one of them can take out thousands really makes me weigh every decision I make as I press forward in Mass Effect 3.
Throughout the trilogy, I’ve been fully captivated by the Mass Effect universe in a way that few games have ever been able to do. The series offers so much and you just want to get to know every nook and cranny of its world. I can name several of the species in the game right off the top of my head with ease (Krogan, Asari, Turian, Geth, Salarian, Quarian, Protheans, Arachni, etc.). All the main characters are very memorable in their own way. Garrus, Ashley, Liara, Admiral Hackett, Captain Anderson, Tali, Wrex, Miranda, Jack, Mordin, and many others all leave an imprint of significance. And I always know that Joker (voice by Seth Green) will always have something witty to say following a mission. There are even romantic options as well.
With the amount of remaining missions I still have yet to complete, I have no idea when I will complete Mass Effect 3. But the series undoubtedly represents the very best in gaming. In my opinion, it represents the best work of BioWare. Dragon Age and the Star Wars games focused on the Old Republic are certainly great works of the developer as well, but Mass Effect stands in a class of its own. It’s certainly the best trilogy I’ve ever played and seen in video games.
HAVE YOU PLAYED THE MASS EFFECT SERIES? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?