by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Sci-fi treat in three parts
I doubt it is necessary to tell the reader what Mass Effect games are about, but I’ll give you a short summary. Basically, it is an RPG series where you create a would-be spec-ops hero, gather some allies and explore the galaxy and solve its problems in an epic storyline. In the first game in the series, Commander Shepard started to discover rumours about an ancient race of machines, and in the second, these machines were revealed to be sort of culling devices, called Reapers, designed to keep any one species from becoming too powerful. Commander Shepard, in a typically human attitude, decided that he knew better than any ancient race and started to fight against the upcoming extinction cycle in order to save humanity and other species currently existing in the galaxy. The second game ended with a great showdown as Shepard took down one of these Reapers. In an epilogue, we found out that this was only a beginning of a major showdown as a great fleet of Reapers approaches the part of the galaxy where humanity, and Earth, is located. And, conversely, in the early peeks of Mass Effect 3, we have seen a devastated Earth, taken over by the Reapers.
The third and final part of the story was originally going to be released for the holiday season of 2011, but it was officially delayed in order to “ensure that it exceeds everyone’s expectations” and to “address a far larger market opportunity.” Anyone with a pair of brain cells will realise that if it had been released for Christmas 2011, it would have been fighting head-to-head with The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and EA’s other baby, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Faced with such competition, it is no surprise that someone at the top made the decision to delay one of the titles to “address a far larger market opportunity.”
In the previous two titles, Shepard has practically been the demigod-like saviour of the universe on several occasions, finding and fighting the enemy that is too devious for anyone else even to detect. And even when Shepard had fed loads of evidence to the decision-makers, they usually still had trouble believing that there was any sort of danger facing them. Well, now, as the Earth is going to get destroyed, Commander Shepard will have his chance to gloat. But as the man who’s saved everyone else already too many times to count, he is once again forced to act in defence of all the species of the galaxy. Really, I must wonder if there’s not a thought lurking at the back of his mind by now: “If they really are this dumb, don’t they actually deserve to be eaten up by these Reapers?”
But no. Commander Shepard was never the thoughtful type and he relies more on brawn than brains (just look at the archetype Shepard of Mass Effect 2 with his wide chin and limited-size brain casing). As such, Shepard will again fight the odds to save humanity as well as the other species. But instead of gathering a small team of specialists to fight the enemy, as he did in the previous titles, he is called to rally the entire civilizations of the galaxy to fight as one against the horrendous armies of the Reapers.
Room for a team?
But, even Commander Shepard cannot accomplish the task alone and thus there is still need for a team. As everyone knows, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 introduced a plethora of characters and some of them will be coming back and be included in Shepard’s team, while others will pop in to say hello at some points in the story. Of course, those who died during the first two games will not be making a return, meaning that you will be seeing either Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams, depending on which one you had to leave behind during the events of Mass Effect. And, naturally, if you managed to get half of your team killed in the showdown of Mass Effect 2, you will have to say goodbye to the deceased and move on with the people who still live.
However many characters may be left over from the previous titles, Mass Effect 3 will focus on a smaller team than Mass Effect 2 did. This, according to Project Director Casey Hudson, will allow for “deeper relationships and more interesting interplay.” Personally, I’m all for that. For one, it will make for fewer forced roundabouts around the ship to make sure that you talk with everyone every two missions or so, so as not to miss any side quests or developments in your personal relationships. For those who courted Ashley in Mass Effect and someone else in Mass Effect 2, Ashley’s return to the team will certainly provide some interesting relationship troubles. Other returning team members include, but are not limited to, Tali’Zorah, Liara and the always charismatic Garrus Vakarian.