is a series of sci-fi action role-playing video games developed by the Canadian company BioWare and released for the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and, from the second installment, for the PlayStation 3. The first game in the trilogy centers around a player-created character named Commander Shepard and his/her mission to save the galaxy from a race of mechanical beings known as the Reapers, and its followers, including Saren Arterius. The first game sees Shepard facing Sovereign, a Reaper left as a vanguard, who plans to allow the Reaper fleet currently hibernating in extra-galactic dark space to invade the Milky Way and destroy all sapient organic life, continuing a mysterious cycle of destruction. The second game takes place two years later, and sees Shepard battling the Collectors, an alien race abducting entire human colonies in a plan to help the Reapers return to the Milky Way. The third and final game will center on the final battle against the Reapers.
Since the beginning, the series has been a major critical success. Both games have received critical acclaim for their storyline, characters, romances, voice acting, choices, tolerance of diversity, and the depth of the galaxy. Video game website GamesRadar called Mass Effect
the best new franchise of the generation, saying that the galaxy was so well-constructed that it felt like a decades-old franchise and that it represented "a high-water mark for video games as a story-telling medium."
A trilogy of games has been released, each continuing the game's story in chronological order. The Mass Effect
series combines action role-playing game elements, with the main series games being in third-person perspective. The protagonist can use two AI-controlled squad members in battle; which usually consists of members he or she has recruited, from various places and for various reasons, and taken onto the Normandy
, Shepard's starship. Main trilogy
- Mass Effect (2007): The first game in the series was originally created as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 but was later ported to Microsoft Windows by Demiurge Studios. The game focuses on the protagonist, Commander Shepard, and his/her quest to stop the rogue 'Spectre' Saren Arterius from leading an army of Geth to conquer the galaxy. During pursuit of Saren, Shepard learns of a far greater threat in the form of the Reapers. Saren has been mentally enslaved by the Reaper 'Sovereign', a vanguard sent into Citadel Space to initiate the purge of all advanced sentient life in the galaxy, a cycle repeated by the Reapers every 50,000 years. Mass Effect was received with critical acclaim by many industry reviewers, and has garnered a large fan-following.
- Mass Effect 2 (2010): The second main game in the series was released on January 26, 2010 in North America and January 29 in Europe. A great deal of secrecy surrounded the game prior to launch, with few details emerging other than Casey Hudson, Project Director for BioWare, stating that "players should keep their save files, because decisions made by the player in the first game will continue to have influences on their character in the sequel." The game takes place two years after the events of Mass Effect. Human colonies are being attacked, their colonists disappearing without a trace. The game's protagonist, Commander Shepard, is forced into an uneasy alliance with the pro-Human paramilitary organization, Cerberus, in an effort to discover the cause. Evidence emerges pointing to the 'Collectors', an advanced, enigmatic race of insect-like humanoids. Adding to the threat is the revelation that the Collectors are working for the Reapers. Shepard sets out on a "suicide mission" to stop the Collectors, accompanied by a hand-picked team of soldiers, assassins, mercenaries, and specialists. Mass Effect 2 has received overwhelming critical praise since its release, for its characters, storyline, voice acting, and refined combat and gameplay with many critics calling it a major improvement over the original and an easy Game of the Year contender despite its January release. At Gamescom 2010, it was announced that a PlayStation 3 version would be available in January 2011. Although PlayStation 3 owners will be able to play the second installment, Microsoft still has publishing rights to the first.
- Mass Effect 3 (2012): The third and final installment in the Mass Effect trilogy, the game was released on March 6, 2012. Casey Hudson commented that Mass Effect 3 "will be easier [to develop] because we don't have to worry about continuity into the next one." However, decisions will still be imported from the two previous titles to Mass Effect 3, as to keep continuity within the series. In the final chapter of the trilogy, the Reapers have returned in force, and have begun their purge of the galaxy, attacking the human homeworld of Earth. During this attack Commander Shepard is on Earth and forced to flee. After fleeing Earth Commander Shepard must race against time to rally the advanced races of the galaxy to make one final stand, not only to save Earth, but also to break a cycle that has continued for millions of years. Casey Hudson stated in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show that Mass Effect 3 will complete the story arc of Commander Shepard, and will pull in over 1,000 variables from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to shape how players experience the final chapter. The first official trailer was unveiled on December 11, 2010 during the Spike TV Video Game Awards show.