Mass Effect is a role playing game developed by Bioware. It was initially exclusive to the Xbox 360 but was later released for Microsoft Windows both at retail, and through the digital platforms Steam and Origin. PlayStation 3 enjoyed a release through the Mass Effect Trilogy, which is also available on Origin. Mass Effect was one of the first Xbox 360 titles that Microsoft confirmed would be backwards compatible with the Xbox One. Both Downloadable Content packs are available to those who have already obtained access to the DLC via the Xbox Games Store.
Del Rey Books released a novel that acts as a prequel to the events in Mass Effect titled Mass Effect Revelation. The book is 323 pages long and is written by New York times best-selling author Drew Karpyshyn.
Mass Effect is an action role playing game with third-person shooter elements embedded into the gameplay, similar to Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. A player has the ability to pause real-time combat and issue commands to his or her comrades and resume gameplay. The player also has the ability to upgrade the main character in many ways to allow special skills to be used during combat (i.e. more damage, easier aim, etc.).
During the adventure, the player assumes the role of Commander Shepard. The game features an avatar editor that allows the payer to choose Shepard's physical appearance, including gender. The customization system was heralded as very detailed and photo-realistic. Shepard is in command of a ship called the Normandy and it's crew. The Normandy is the primary space vehicle and carries the crew to their specified destination. The galactic map in Mass Effect houses 30 confirmed planets that range in different environments from Arctic to desert. Some of these planets are not part of the main story arch thus they additional missions to the game.
Mass Effect houses an extensive campaign that runs from between 18 to 30 hours long. The story surrounds an ancient prophecy that a technology-based race returns to the galaxy to eliminate all organic life every fifty thousand years.
Aside from the extensive story involved in the campaign, the game houses a complex dialogue system that allows for detailed character interaction. When a conversation is initiated, a player normally has three choices during the conversation. Each of these choices negatively or positively affects the way the NPC feels and responds to Shepard. For example, during an conversation a player can instruct Shepard to interrupt the NPC and demand an item from them. This same scenario could play out other ways with Shepard allowing the NPC to complete their thought and responding kindly. Not only does this game feature a different dialogue system, it also features realistic physical reactions from both NPCs and Commander Shepard.
The Novelization by Drew Karpyshyn introduces the potential player to the universe of Mass Effect. The story takes place around David Anderson, a Staff Lieutenant for the System Alliance Military. The story begins with an attack on a research station in Sidon in a section of the galaxy known as the Skyillian Verge. Once the SSV Hastings receives notice it is dispatched to investigate and sends Anderson into the base with a few other marines. To their horror they find that the base has been ransacked and all the scientists and guards have been killed. At the end of their investigation they realize that mercenaries rigged the base with a bomb. Anderson and company barely escape the blast.
After returning to the citadel questions start to arise. It is found that a member of the research team left the station before the attack. Kahlee Sanders is considered a fugitive and the ambassador for the system alliance sends Anderson to find her and bring her back for questioning. His investigation finally turns up a lead with Rear Admiral Grissom, an old earth hero. Grissom is found out to be Kahlee's long lost father.
When Anderson arrives at the Grissom residence Kahlee has already been to her father. He admits she came to him the night prior and asked for help, and he sent her on her way.
The game received rave reviews, Official Xbox Magazine gave it a 10 and said that it was "a great science fiction [story] in video game form." The game review show, X-Play, gave it a 5 out of 5.