Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mass Effect has effected me, massively


What you see here is fanart for the action-adventure RPG video game, Mass Effect, which I have been playing pretty much every day for the past week. First fanart. First steps into accepting my new obsession.

It's been a while since I've been this worked up over a game, but I couldn't help it. In a way I feel like Mass Effect just allows me to indulge in my eternal fantasy of being an astronaut, exploring space, being friends with sentient aliens, stuff like that. Star Trek stuff. The game is also extremely well made, the animations are excellent and the voice-acting and cutscenes are nothing short of cinematic. Perhaps what intrigues me the most is how you can make choices to effect small parts of the game. It's not entirely a sandbox game like Fallout 3 or anything (which I've only played minimally), there is a definite plot and you do have to go through with it. But you, as Commander Shepard (male or female, your choice), get to make choices—do we kill the rogue doctor who's been harvesting organs and creating zombies, or send him to jail? He's begging for his life but your alien squadmate, Garrus, insists that it's him, he's had a case on him and those horrible things you fought in the other room were his own creations. I told Garrus to go to town. The doctor is dead.

You can upload your save file from Mass Effect into its sequel, Mass Effect 2, so the same character you played in the first continues his/her adventures in the second. That's just brilliant, it's such a simple concept but it's so fascinating to me. The continuity! Remember that side quest where you can tell Garrus to go ahead and kill the rogue doctor, or choose to arrest him instead? Apparently what you chose effects how Garrus develops as a character (I read spoilers...): if you told him to stand down, he'll be a little more law-abiding, knowing that you as Commander Shepard don't approve of solving problems with killing. Do the opposite and Garrus goes full rogue that believes violence is always the answer. Looks like I have a lot to look forward to—this really gives the name Mass Effect a whole other dimension.

See, it originally refers to the ancient technology developed by an ancient alien race called the Protheans that enabled them to travel across vast stretches of space into other nebulas, systems, planets. I won't get into details here because there are too many, but I love the fact that Mass Effect is hard science fiction—even though it's fiction, it pays attention to the science. Like how turians and quarians, other alien races, are life-forms based on dextro-amino acids or something, so they can't eat the same food as humans. Also, every system you travel to has several planets, but most have only that is inhabited or habitable. Some have none. Talk about keeping it real! When I noticed that detail, I fell in love with the game.Is that weird?

Yeah, it's pretty weird. I think the last time I was this obsessed with a game was when I was still playing Kingdom Hearts. Maybe the Zelda games too. But here I am, devoting at least 2 hours each day to advancing my game and levelling up my character.

And I drew fanart. That's a good indication as any in showing how much I love this game.