While exploring Mars in 2149 humanity discovers ancient ruins of a spacefaring civilization on Mars, leading to the discovery of faster-than-light travel through a phenomenon called Mass Effect. Within just 34 years humanity becomes a major player in galactic politics, human colonies are established on multiple planets, Humanities scientists contribute to groundbreaking discoveries across all aspects of galactic life. Whether you love them or hate them, humanity is here to stay and determined to make its mark in this vast and dynamic galaxy.
Enter Commander Shepard, the embodiment of humanity’s spirit and a highly decorated and dedicated soldier for the Systems Alliance. When humanity takes its next step forward on the galactic stage, Shepard is chosen as the first human Spectre, a special tactics force tasked with missions of paramount importance and given the authority to complete them by any means necessary.
Aboard the SSV Normandy, a cutting-edge starship equipped with an experimental stealth drive, Commander Shepard is presented with an opportunity to showcase their exceptional skills on a covert mission. The objective is to escort ancient technology recently discovered on the human colony of Eden Prime, which holds enormous scientific potential for the entire galaxy. The discovery of the ancient beacon was supposed to be kept secret, the situation quickly spirals out of control when the colony is ambushed by the Geth, a race of artificially intelligent machines, who until now have remained isolated in their own section of the galaxy and they seem intent on destroying the beacon. As Shepard rushes to save the colonists of Eden Prime and protect the ancient beacon, they become embroiled in a sinister plot that threatens to bring about the downfall of the entire galaxy.
I first played Mass Effect when the PC version was released. I was immediately enthralled, It felt like the game was made specifically for me tailored expertly to my interests. To begin I created my bald Commander Shepard and set out to explore the Milky Way with a spirit of discovery, a commitment to morality and justice armed with a keen sense of diplomacy. I loved the feeling that my choices mattered and I was having a significant impact on the galaxy.
The galaxy of Mass Effect is home to a vast array of fascinating alien species, each with its own rich history and culture. From the hulking Elcor to the pressure-suited Volus, each species is distinct and expertly crafted by BioWare, the game’s developer. I found myself spending as much time as possible learning all I could about these unique cultures. Despite their physically diminutive appearance, the Volus proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the galaxy, using their economic prowess to shape the standard galactic currency. Although the Volus are not prominently featured in the first Mass Effect game, their inclusion serves as a testament to the care and attention to detail that BioWare put into creating this rich and immersive universe.
The worlds that I explored on Shepard’s journey were visually stunning. I was particularly enamored with the secret research base operating outside the jurisdiction of the galactic government on the planet Noveria. The view of the raging snowstorm from the cozy corporate offices was particularly memorable, as I’ve always had a fondness for snow-covered environments in video games. Another standout location is Ilos, which is littered with ancient ruins and alien statues dedicated to long-deceased heroes.
The recently released Mass Effect Legendary Edition allows players to experience the entire Mass Effect trilogy. Although the mechanics of the first game, which is the focus of this review, may not have aged as well as other aspects of the series, it remains an essential component of the overall narrative. While some may appreciate the combat system, I found it to be clunky and unengaging. However, all other elements of the game are masterfully crafted and to fully appreciate the trilogy, it is worth playing through the first game despite its shortcomings in the combat department.