Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video Game Nerd Out Series


In 2007, RPG veteran Bioware came out with one of the biggest and most successful titles in recent history, Mass Effect. Bioware fans who have played through their titles will immediately see a similarity to its earlier hit based on Star Wars Lore, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect is similarly set in space but with a background closer to home. Whereas Star Wars was set in some galaxy far far away, Mass effect picked up on a fictional future of Earth where remnants of an alien civilization are suddenly discovered and this accelerates earth's technology by centuries. Soon, interstellar travel and navigation throughout the galaxy are enabled with the use of "mass relays", giant space stations left by an ancient alien race. Humanity is suddenly thrust into intergalactic politics when it makes its first contact and war with the Turians. The game itself takes place several decades after this war, with Humanity applying for a seat in the Council, the seat of intergalactic governance among alien races. The game's story starts to heat up when the true antagonists are revealed, ancient artificial intelligence machines called Reapers that systematically exterminate all sentient life every 50,000 years.

Mass Effect's gameplay was its most revolutionary feature. If Morrowind was one of the first RPG's to successfully integrate a First person shooter mechanic to an RPG, Mass Effect revolutionized FPS/RPG gaming. Combat in Mass Effect is literally an FPS experience. Shepard, the main character, utilizes all types of guns from pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles and assault rifles. Biotics are also available, offering powers and moves similar to Jedi powers using the force. 

The experience of playing this game is similar to watching a 20+hour action movie interactively. Everything from the soundtrack to the cinematography is outstandingly executed. Thousands and thousands of conversation lines are fully voice acted, all divergent dialogue paths are comprehensively covered.  The overall feel of the game is an epic space adventure. The final scene of the game is comparable to the charge of the Rohirrim in Return of The King. Fans of scif fantasy should definitely have this title on their shelves. 

Ernesto Mario S. Mascenon Jr. 
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