When we look back on this current console generation, the Mass Effect series stands out as one of the best and most successful of the new IPs. BioWare’s sprawling sci-fi RPG series has been keeping both gamers and critics enthralled since the first game debuted in 2007, and the blockbuster release of Mass Effect 3 in 2012 brought a fitting (albeit controversial) end to the series. Not content to to leave the franchise sitting dormant, BioWare has just announced that the entire series will be re-released as the Mass Effect Trilogy, which will arrive in time for the holidays. For those who have yet to fill the boots of Commander Shepard, or for those who have strayed from the series, your time to enlist has arrived.
The story of Mass Effect follows Commander Sheppard as he leads a war against a hostile alien race called the Reapers, who become a more formidable opponent as the games progress. To delve deeper into the story would risk giving spoilers, however we can say that the player determines the fate of Sheppard and the Normandy crew through various choices and actions. One of the key distinctions of the Mass Effect series is how moral choices and actions factor into the game. They can impact everything from how people react to you and what perks you receive, as well as what ending you will view when the credits roll. These choices also transfer from game to game, so your actions in Mass Effect 2 would carry weight in the third installment.
All three of the Mass Effect games are stellar action RPGs, with real time combat and a unique conversation system that has become standard in other BioWare titles. The original game set up the story well with expert pacing and exiting twists, however the combat felt unpolished and cumbersome at times. This was corrected in Mass Effect 2 and it turned out to be a great mix of the RPG elements in the first game and a solid third-person shooter. Mass Effect 3 refined the combat system further, making it the most accessible game in the series. The quality of the games will vary depending on who you talk to, especially with the polarizing ending to Mass Effect 3, but many fans (myself included) have sunk over 100 hours into the series without regret.
The Mass Effect Trilogy will be released on November 6, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PC platforms, at the suggested retail price of $59.99. The Playstation 3 release date has yet to be confirmed, and there is no word on a Wii U port at this time. Of particular note for PS3 owners, this will be the first time that the original Mass Effect has been released on Sony’s console. This will be available as part of the trilogy and as a standalone download in the Playstation Network. There is also no confirmation about what will be included with the trilogy, such as the previously-released DLC expansions. More details will be posted as they become available.
In celebration of the Mass Effect Trilogy release, BioWare has declared November 7, 2012 and “N7 Day” and this will involve a “worldwide celebration of the Mass Effect franchise”. Celebrations involved will include a number of live, in-game and online events centered around the series. The details have yet to be disclosed, though those wishing to follow this news can visit the official site to await further updates.