Mass Effect

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Mass Effect
Mass Effect Box Art
PublisherMicrosoft Game Studios
PlatformXbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Release Date(s)NA November 20, 2007

AUS November 22 2007

EU November 23 2007
GenreAction Role-Playing Game
Rating(M) Mature
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Mass Effect is set 200 years into the future in an epic universe. Gamers are thrust into a vast galactic community, in danger of being conquered by a legendary agent gone rogue. Mass Effect challenges players to lead a squad of freedom fighters as they struggle against threatening armies to restore peace in the land.


[edit] Overview

[edit] Setting

Mass Effect takes place in the year 2183 AD. Thirty five years prior to the events that start the game, the human race had discovered the Mass Relay, an ancient , advanced technology first built by the Protheans. After unlocking the relays secrets, humankind was able to travel to distant parts of the galaxy that they never knew possible.

Within the game, players will travel to many different locations. Whether it be a volcanic and unstable planet, or atop the surface of a fast moving asteroid, Shepard is able to explore a good bit of the Milky Way galaxy. However, most of the players time is spent aboard the SSV Normandy and the Citadel.

[edit] Plot


Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers. By proceeding to read the following content you run the risk of spoiling something contained within this article!

The game opens with your character, Commander Shepard, aboard the SSV Normandy, a newly created Alliance ship that is under the command of Captain Anderson. The crew is being sent to a human colony called Eden Prime, where you have been informed an ancient Prothean beacon has been found during an excavation. To help them in their mission, the Citadel Council has sent one of their top Spectre agent, a Turian by the name of Nihlus Kryik. Upon arrival, Captain Anderson, Shepard, and Nihlus are shown video from Edem Prime revealing human soldiers being attacked by a giant alien-like ship.

Commander Shepard patrols the ground with soldiers Kaidan Alenko and Richard Jenkins. Nihlus takes off ahead and runs into a fellow spectre, another Turian named Saren Arterius, who kills Nihlus when his back is turned. After rescuing Ashley Williams from an oncoming Geth attack, the trio (Jenkins was KIA) is able to locate the beacon and Shepard activates is, receiving a vision as the Prothean artifact is destroyed.

Once arriving back on the Citadel, Ambassador Udina lets the crew know that they have a hearing with the Council. Shepard attempts to convince them of Saren's betrayal, but the council doesn't have sufficient proof to revoke his Spectre status and issue an arrest. After doing some investigating, Shepard is able to locate a Quarian by the name of Tali'Zorah nar Rayya who found a recording of a conversation between Saren and a woman named Benezia. On the recording, the two discuss their victory on Edem Prime while referencing the "Conduit" and "Reapers". After listening to this evidence, the council make Shepard the first human Spectre and order him to hunt down Saren. After convincing Urdnot Wrex and Garrus Vakarian to join his party as well, Shepard heads off.

After being given command of the Normany, Shepard is tasked with investigating three different planets that contain leads on Saren's whereabouts. The first is Therum in the Artemis Tau Cluster. On it, Shepard and crew find Dr Liara T'Soni, Matriarch Benezias daughter. She is an expert on Prothean history and Saren's men were attempting to kidnap her. After that, the Normandy travels to Noveria. Shepard is able to track down Benezia to a research facility and it is discovered that she has found a way to bring back the Rachni. After an intense battle, Benezia is defeated and killed. After that, you are given a decision of letting the Rachni Queen live or die. Then, the third planet they are tasked with visiting is Feros. After repelling a number of Geth attacks, Shepard discovers a creature by the name of a Thorian, a large planet-like creature that is capable of controlling minds. Apparently Saren received a vision from the being about the Protheans.

Saren and his Geth troops on Virmire.

Back on the Normandy, Shepard is told by the Council that operative agents have uncovered a base Saren has occupied on the planet of Virmire. Shepard travels there and meets up with the Salarian team before invading the base. It is discovered that Saren has found a way breed an army of Krogan warriors, a race once thought to be near extinct. After setting a bomb to detonate within the complex, Shepard receives a vision from another beacon and is then greated by Saren's ship called Sovereign through an AI. It warns Shepard that the Reapers will soon wipe out his entire existance, much like it did with the Protheans. Afterwards, while attempting to escape, Shepard is forced to choose between saving the life of Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko. Following this, Saren shows up and battles Shepard quickly before the two escape and the base blows up.

After doing some investigating into Shepard's visions, Liara is able to pinpoint the location of the Conduit, which is on Illos. Shepard returns to the Citadel in hopes of convincing the Council to supply a fleet to go after Saren, but instead, the Normany is locked down because of his outlandish claims. With Captain Anderson's help however, Shepard is able to regain control of the Normany and head out for Illos.

Once there, Shepard tracks Saren deep into an ancient Prothean facility. Inside, he encounters a computer program by the name of Vigil. It explains how the Protheans hid within the complex from the Reapers, and how the Citadel is in fact one giant Mass Relay used to bring the Reapers to this plain of existance. Apparently, Sovereign is using Saren to activate the Conduit, a smaller size mass relay, so that the Reavers can travel through the Citadel. With this news, Saren and crew travel through the Conduit.

At the Citadel, everything is in ruins. It is obvious that Saren and the Geth have been there already as building are on fire and dead bodies litter the ground. Above, Sovereign and a Geth fleet destroy Alliance ships and Sovereign lands within the Citadel, attempting to activate the relay. Meanwhile, Saren activates the Citadel defense system to protect his ship during this process. At this point your given your first choice, save the council or allow them to die to save the fleet. Next you confront Saren, one of two things happen: Either you battle him and eventually kill the Turian, or you persuade Saren to kill himself after he feels bad for his crimes. Eventually Saren will be revived by Sovereign and he returns as a deformed creature. After battle again, Saren is defeated for a final time. The Normandy, along with other Alliance ships, is also able to cause great damage to Sovereign and it is destroyed. In the end though, Shepard realizes that the Reapers are still a great threat to the galaxy and knows a battle is coming.

[edit] Characters

Full List: Mass Effect Characters

In Mass Effect, players assume the role of Commander Shepard. Before beginning the game, players are given the opportunity to customize Shepard to their liking, from his name and gender to his hair and skin color. Along these lines, there is also an option to choose a unique backstory for Shepard which will result in different side missions opening up for players later in the game.

As the story progresses, you are presented with the option of choosing from six different characters to assist you on missions. Two of them are human alliance soldiers, while the other four are of a unique alien race. Each character has their own reason for joining your cause and they approach battles differently due to seperate abilities. You are able to control some of the powers they use, but normally, the other characters act on their own.

[edit] Gameplay

[edit] Character Specialization

For Additional Information: Character Classes

Character classes available at the beginning of Mass Effect.

Along with being able to choose the appearance of their Commander Shepard, players will also be given the opportunity to choose from one of three backgrounds for the character. The options are a "colonist" (Living just outside of Earth's atmosphere in hostile environments), "earthborn" (You lived a rough chlidhood in the slums of Earth's cities), and "spacer" (You have lived and breathed aboard starships for your entire existance). Each background offers unique dialogue early in the game aboard the Normandy, and later on, different sub-missions will become available.

Also, players will be able to choose from six different character classes. Each class contains a number of talent, and as you progress in the game, you gain stats (such as increased health or the ability to decrypt tougher locked items) or new abilities (such as Marksman for the pistol which increases accuracy and damage). There is also another talent you can unlock later in the game on Luna that will either boost your defensive or your offensive abilities.

The six different classes available at the start of the game are Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Infiltrator, Sentinel, and Vanguard. The Soldier class is extremely skilled with weapons, the Engineer is good with Omni-tools and different tech abilities, and th Adept class is exceptional with biotic powers. The other three classes are basically a combination of the first three. The Sentinel is a combination of the Engineer and Adept classes, Infiltrators are a Soldier and Engineer combination, and the Vanguard is combination of the Soldier and Adept classes.

[edit] Dialogue

Much like in previous Bioware games such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect features a dialogue system in which the player chooses from a set of responses after another character has finished speaking. However, in this game, instead of the exact words being spoken that the player chooses, a ganeral tone is given to a pre-set sentence so that Shepard fires back at an NPC character.

Different dialogue options can have quite a drastic effect on certain situations within the game. For instance, there are times when players must choose whether to save or kill certain crewmates. These decisions can have a long lasting effect on the playthrough. Along with this, by adding talent points to the Renagade and Paragon skills, new dialogue is opened up that provide Shepard with greater influence in coversations with those around him. The Renegade option will often be spoken in a very harsh and angry tone, while Paragon is used in a calming and tranquil tone.

[edit] Combat

Shepard fighting off a Geth Warrior.

Fighting in Mass Effect takes place in real=time, although players are able to pause the game at any time to issue commands to their other squadmates or when changing weapons. A handful of different weapons are used by Shepard and his allies, including snipers, pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles. Each weapon class has many different options to choose from, along with each weapon being customizable with power and stability upgrades. Players are also able to use tech abilities which help to weaken enemy shields and weapons, and then there is biotic abilities which are force-like powers capable of knocking an enemy off of their feet or making them unable to move.

The directional buttons are used to issue generic commands to teammates, such as hiding behind cover or moving to a certain location on the map. The left bumper allows Shepard to change his own weapons or those of his team, while the right bumper commands the tech/biotic powers. The type of powers available are decided by how points are divided up in the skills available to each unique character. Some characters will be better off in close range combat, while others will fare better from far away.

Combat in Mass Effect takes place both on foot and in the Mako. While within the vehicle, a machine gun and cannon are both available to fire. While the Mako packs quite a punch, oftentimes it is easy for enemies to damage the vehicle, and players also get less experience points for kills in the Mako.

[edit] Equipment and Weapons

For Additional Information: Weapons & Armor

Mass Effect has number of weapons that are available to players, along with different suits of ammo and upgrades for both of them. Both long-range and close-range firearms are available, along with grenades that can be used to take out a group of enemies. The guns have unlimited ammo, although they will overheat if fired at a constant rate. A cooldown period ensues where you will be unable to fire your weapon for a period of time. Applying skill points to the different firearms will result in less cooldown and greater power. Firing from the hip without proper aiming is also more difficult and results in a larger target reticle.

Armor is broken up into three different categories; Light, Medium, and Heavy armor. Certain character classes, such as a Soldier, will be able to wear all three, while an Engineer can only wear light armor. The armor is unique in its appearance and it can be equipped with upgrades to give the character longer lasting shields or health regeneration.

[edit] Abilities

For Additional Information: Biotics

The two main types of abilities used in Mass Effect are biotics and tech abilities. The latter of which are powers that are used by the Engineer, Infiltrator, and Sentinel classes. The Omnitool carried by these individuals is capable of overloading and damaging enemy shields and weapons, while also being able to hypnotize robotic enemies so they turn on their comrades. Outside of combat, knowledge in tech abilities also allows you to decrypt crates and safes while also increasing the strength of shields on the Mako.

Biotic powers are those which are accessed through implants within certain individuals which allows them to use their natural gifts as powerful energy that can be emitted from their bodies. Adept, Vanguard, and Sentinel classes are able to use this power. When it battle, biotics can be used to lift an enemy off the ground, toss them back against the ground, or create barriers around themselves to protect against enemy fire. Each power can be made greater using skill points so they affect stronger enemies as well.

[edit] Decision Making

Player's morality plays a huge part in determing side missions received in the game, as well as greatly affecting the story on numerous occasions. For instance, players will be forced to choose between the survival of either Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko at one point, while another instance involves determining the survival of Urdnot Wrex. Bioware has stated that gamers should keep their save files for the sequel because previous decisions made in Mass Effect will have an impact on future games.

Paragon (Good) and Renegade (Evil) points are awarded based on the type of actions taken in the game. As a way of offering up more dialogue options, players can use skill points on increasing the number of phrases that can be said during conversation. This includes offering more harsh or polite options that can be used to calm a situation or set one off. At anytime though, a player can go from making a very honorable decision to making a cruel one.

[edit] Travel

Most of the travel done within Mass Effect heppens aboard the SSV Normandy, a state of the art Alliance vessel. On it, players have access to a Galaxy Map that gives them an overview of the Milky Way. From there, a selection of star clusters becomes available that stores planets and asteroids within it.

Commander Shepard standing on a planet next to the Mako.

Traveling between the far-away clusters is made easier through the use of Mass Relays, which are giant Prothean artifacts that allow ships to travel at extremely fast speeds across the solar system. Once within a cluster, players will oftentimes have the option of landing on a local planet. Besides that, there are often other planets and asteroids that can be investigated for minerals and other artifacts. On a few occasions there will even be another ship that players can land on, ones usually inhabited by enemies.

After landing on a planet, travel can then be done while within the Mako, a vehicle armed with a machine gun and cannon that is capable of traveling over any type of terrain. Some planets have harsh weather conditions such as extreme cold or heat that will kill the characters after a certain period of time, meaning foot travel is nearly impossible in these situations. Planets often contain enemy bases and cargo that can be investigated by Shepard and crew.

[edit] Achievements

For Full List: Mass Effect Achievements

There are 46 achievements found on the XBox 360 version of the game, totalling 1050 points. Since there is no multiplayer found in the game, all of the achievements can be achieved through the single-player campaign mode. Along with the basic story-based achievements, such as completing certain required missions, others can be unlocked through registering a certain number of kills with a weapon. For example, 150 shotgun kills will unlock an achievement.

Along with receiving points, Mass Effect is one of the few 360 video games that awards gamers in-game rewards for certain achievement gains. After getting 150 kills with the Pistol (for example) and unlocking the achievement, new games can be started where a character is offered the Pistol skill as an add-on to their character class.

[edit] Downloadable Content

A new adventure became available for players when "Bring Down the Sky" was released as downloadable content on March 10th, 2008. In it, Shepard and crew are drawn to a nearby asteroid floating through space by a distress call from an unknown woman. Once landing on the giant rock, it is discovered that a rogue Batarian group has taken control of the asteroid and they intend to rash it into the human-based planet of Terra Nova. It is then up to the player to shut down the blasters propelling the asteroid and put an end to the Batarian uprising. Completing the "Bring Down the Sky" mission, which can take anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes, will earn players another 50 achievement points.

Along with this, there have been an XBox Dashboard theme and some gamerpics released showing off Mass Effect characters.

[edit] Books

There have been two books written based around the Mass Effect universe. The first one is titled Mass Effect: Revelation (May 1st, 2007) is a prequel to the first game. It focuses heavily on the relationship between Saren and Captain Anderson. The second novel, titled Mass Effect: Ascension (July 29th, 2008), helps fill in the gap between the first and second games. It tells the story of Kahlee Sanders and her relationship with a biotic girl named Gillian Grayson.

Both books were written by Drew Karpyshyn.

[edit] Soundtrack


The Mass Effect Original Soundtrack was composed and produced by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick, featuring additional music by Richard Jacques and David Kates. The soundtrack was published by Sumthing Distribution and released on November 20, 2007. According to the press release accompanying the release, the music was inspired by classic sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner and Dune. Here are the 37 tracks featured on the soundtrack:

[edit] Media Reception

Mass Effect has received high praise around the video game industry, oftentimes being called one of the best RPG-experiences of all-time. On Metacritic, the game has an average rating of 91/100 from 74 reviews, earning "Universal Acclaim" status. That total includes eleven 100/100 scores.

[edit] Reviews

Game Informer gave the game a 98/100, saying that "It takes interactive storytelling to new heights, and brings players closer to content than ever before. It's easily one of the year's best titles and is one of the most impressive games to date." Game Trailers, another respected reviewer, gave Mass Effect a 96/100, declaring the title as "Involving, ambitious, and beautifully executed." The website IGN awarded the game with a 94/100, saying "This is a game that takes the aspect of film that makes cinema so compelling and crosses it with the interactivity of games with unprecedented success." Although, the highest praise might have come from OXM (Official XBox Magazine), who not only gave the title a 100/100, but said "It's the best game I've ever played."

The few complaints that are usually attached to Mass Effect are that of sometimes incompetent AI and bland environments when inside enemy bases. Loading times have also been a spot of contempt.

[edit] Awards

  • RPG of the Year: 11th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards - Academy of Interactive Arts & Science
  • Game of the Year: 2007 Game Awards - New York Times
  • Best Writing for a Game Production: 2nd Annual Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts - ELANs
  • Best Game Design: 2nd Annual Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts - ELANs
  • Best Art Direction: 2nd Annual Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts - ELANs
  • Best Character: 2nd Annual Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts - ELANs
  • Game of the Year: 2nd Annual Canadian Awards for the Electronics and the Animated Arts - ELANs
  • Best RPG: Game of the Year Awards - MSNBC
  • Best RPG: Best of 2007 - IGN
  • Best Story: Best of 2007 - IGN
  • Best Story of the Year: Game of the Year Awards 2007 - TeamXBox
  • Best RPG of the Year: Game of the Year Awards 2007 - TeamXBox
  • Game of the Year: game of the Year Awards 2007 - TeamXBox
  • RPG of the Year: GamePro Editors' Choice 2007 - GamePro
  • Developer of the Year: GamePro Editors Choice 2007 - GamePro
  • XBox 360 Gamers' Choice Award: 2007 Video Game Awards - GameSpy
  • Best Voice Acting: 2007 Video Game Awards - GameSpy
  • Best Soundtrack: 2007 Video Game Awards - GameSpy
  • Best Role-Playing Game: Game of the Year Awards - Yahoo! Games
  • Best RPG: Best of 2007 Awards - Action Trip
  • Best Original Score: Game of the Year Awards - GameZone
  • Best Role-Playing Game: Game of the Year Awards - GameZone
  • Best Console Exclusive Game: 2007 Game of the Year Awards - Voodoo Extreme
  • Best Console Role-Playing Game: 2007 Game of the Year Awards - Voodoo Extreme
  • RPG of the Year: 2007 Video Game Awards - Spike TV
  • Editors' Choice Award: November 2007 - TeamXBox
  • Editors' Choice Award: November 2007 - GameSpy
  • Editors' Choice Award: November 2007 - Action Trip
  • Best Console Game: E3 2007 - 2007 Game Critics Award
  • Best Role-Playing Game: E3 2007 - Game Critics Award
  • Best RPG: Best RPG - Kotaku
  • Best RPG: Winner: Best RPG - TeamXBox
  • Best RPG: Winner: Best RPG - GameDaily
  • Best Overall Game: Winner: Best Overall Game - CinemaBlend Games
  • Game of the Show: Best of E3 2007 - Meristation
  • Game of the Show: Best in Show E3 2007 - IGN
  • Game of the Show: E3 2007 Game of the Show - Evil Avatar
  • Best Game of E3: Game of E3 2007 - CVG
  • Best of E3: Best of E3 2007 - Shacknews
  • Best 360 Game: Best of E3 2006 Awards -
  • Best XBox 360 Game (Finalist): E3 06 Editors' Choice - GameSpot
  • Best RPG (Finalist): E3 06 Editors' Choice - GameSpot
  • Best Stage Demo (Finalist): E3 06 Editors' Choice - GameSpot
  • Best RPG 2006: Annual E3 Awards - GameSpy
  • Top 10 Console Games 2006: Annual E3 Awards - GameSpy
  • Best Graphics Technology (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN
  • Best Role-Playing Game (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN
  • Best Role-Playing Game: Best of E3 2006 Awards -
  • Best RPG: Best of E3 06 Awards - GameHelper
  • Best of E3 2006 - Microsoft (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - CV Games
  • Game of the Show: Best of E3 2006 Awards - CV Games
  • Best RPG (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards -
  • Best of Show: Overall: Best of E3 2006 Awards - Daily Game
  • Best of Show: RPG: Best of E3 2006 Awards - Daily Game
  • E3 2006: Nod Awards - GameDaily
  • Best of Show: XBox 360: Best of E3 2006 Awards - Daily Game
  • Console Game of the Show (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN
  • Game of the Show (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN
  • Best Sound (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - Team XBox
  • Best XBox 360 Game: Best of E3 2006 Awards - Team XBox
  • Best RPG: Best of E3 2006 Awards - Team XBox
  • Top 10 Games of E3: Best of E3 2006 - The Mercury News
  • Top 10 Games of E3: Best of E3 2006 - XBox Evolved
  • Editors Pick: The Best of the Best: Best of E3 2006 -
  • Best Role-Playing Game of Show: Best of E3 2006 - Game Critics Awards
  • Top 10 Games of E3: Best of E3 2006 - Salt Lake Tribune
  • Best of Show - 360: Best of E3 2006 Awards - PressStart Blog
  • Best of Show - RPG: Best of E3 2006 Awards - PressStart Blog
  • Best Artistic Design (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Most Innovative Design: Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Best Graphics Technology: Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Best Overall Xbox 360 Game (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Best Role-Playing Game (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Best of Show: Best of E3 2006 Awards - PressStart Blog
  • Best Technological Excellence (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards - IGN Xbox 360
  • Game of the Show (Runner Up): Best of E3 2006 Awards -
  • Best of E3: Best of E3 2006 - Life Teen
  • Bronze Award: Best of E3 2006 - Primotech

Source: BioWare

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Last edited by cwf97 on 17 November 2012 at 08:08
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