Dear God, I have been waiting for this for so long that, in the interim between the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect and the Version For The PC Gaming Master Race being released, I’ve actually managed to go back and play through all of BioWare’s recent back catalogue.
And now, it is finally here for the PC – where it arguably should have been all along.
Mass Effect, for those not in the know, is BioWare’s latest RPG and is the first in a planned trilogy of games following the military life of space hero Commander Sheppard, the player character. Who exactly Sheppard is up to the player of course and you can customise the gender, appearance and skills of the protagonist however you want, but the game follows his progression through a mostly linear story.
That story is one firmly set in the space opera genre, around the date of 2183. Humans have confirmed that they are no longer alone in the universe and have flung themselves out into the ocean of inky and diamond studded blackness that we call space with the help of a newly discovered phenomenon called Mass Effect – more commonly known as Dark Energy.
The Mass Effect phenomenon was discovered in the ruins of an ancient alien civilisation now vanished from the galaxy known as The Protheans, much like Jack Chalker’s famous Markovians. Nearly all interstellar travel in the galaxy is the result of Promeathean technology, and as the Human race harnesses the power of it they realise that they aren’t the first race to master the ability.
In fact, nearly everyone has beaten them to it and we humans are very much a minority in the galaxy – a handful of primitives in the eyes of the Citadel Council, which runs most the Milky Way. Not content to be on the sidelines though, the humans start climbing to the top of the ladder and the player represents one very special rung – the first Human Spectre. Spectres in the game are the elite agents of the Citadel and having humanity represented in those ranks is seen as an important step for the race.
And then, on your first day on the job there’s some sort of big catastrophe. Some alien guy called Saren is using to an army of Geth robots to try and wipe out all organic life in the galaxy or something. We’d go in to it in more detail, but it probably isn’t all that important really.
As a member of the Spectres, it falls to you to assemble a team around yourself and stop Saren’s idea from becoming a reality – it’s down to you to oppose him at every turn and fight for what is good and pure in the universe. Chicks love that kind of thing.
The story then is pretty epic, stirring stuff already, but it’s worth remembering that this is only the first part in a trilogy – really we’re only scraping the surface here. Or rather, we’re only scraping one third of the surface.
It’s also worth mentioning that the story hasn’t been altered or tweaked since the Xbox 360 version either – there’s no extra quest content or new dialogue paths that we’ve been told about or found and the game doesn’t bundle in new romances or allies for your team. Plot-wise, this is very much the same Mass Effect we reviewed before.