Mass(ive) Effect(s on my free time)

Posted By on August 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

I suspect I may be doing more talking than usual* about computer/video gaming over the course of the next six or seven months. That’s due in part to my recent acquisition of an Xbox, but mostly it’s because of the March 2012 release of what may be the most anticipated game since… well, maybe ever: Mass Effect 3.

If you’ve never been a computer or video gamer in the sci-fi adventure, shooter and/or role-playing genres, now may be the time to jump in and give it a try. Not with just any old game, though. Get yourself one of the best-rated games ever produced: Mass Effect 2.** Currently priced in the neighborhood of $15-$20 on Amazon for the PC and Xbox versions, it’s the best bargain around in dollars-per-hour-of-enjoyment. Pricing is rather higher for the PS3 version, but it’s still a bargain.

This isn’t just a “guy thing,” by the way. There are plenty of women playing the game, perhaps in no small part because the game allows you to customize your character. In the starring role of Commander Shepard, you can be male or female, Paragon or Renegade, be in different classes (soldier, engineer, adept, etc.) and have different skills — and you can develop your character over time.

And while it’s a game, it isn’t just a game. Think of it more like a movie in which you get to decide what happens, and how it happens. Any choice you make might have long term repercussions that carry over into the next installment of the Mass Effect saga.

That includes who lives and who dies. It all depends on the choices you make as the protagonist.

One caveat: these are not games for kids. There isn’t a lot of objectionable content, but there’s some.

To get an idea of what you’ve been missing, check out the trailer for ME2 (click on the image to open the video):

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Mass Effect 2 Trailer

The voice characterizations are terrific — the cast includes Martin Sheen… Yvonne Strahovski… Adam Baldwin… Keith David… Seth Green… Tricia Helfer… Michael Dorn…

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Mass Effect 2 Cast

The list goes on and on: 90 voice actors playing over 500 roles, and over 25,000 lines of dialog. It’s so well done that it’s easy to forget you’re not looking at real actors on the screen. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself liking some of the in-game characters and seriously annoyed by others.

[Tali and Thane rule, Samara and Jacob drool. — ed.]

So why would now be a good time to plunge in? Because you’ll want to be thoroughly familiar with the “Mass Effect universe” in time for the release, in March of next year, of Mass Effect 3.

If it’s anything like as good as the executive producer (in this video, which seems to allay some fears about the direction of the franchise) and the trailers make it out to be, it’ll be beyond incredible.

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Cinematic Trailer Live-Action Trailer Gameplay Trailer

I particularly like the live-action trailer. It compels me to me wonder: how long until video games outperform silver-screen movies in gross income?

By the way: what do you think about this method of embedding videos?*** Please let me know in the comments.

* The usual being “not at all.”

** At this point I would not bother with the original Mass Effect. It’s middling good, but nowhere near the level of ME2, which has been nominated, or won, darn near every award there is. The critical choices you can make in ME1 are either already made for you in ME2, or if you buy the “Genesis” DLC, you get an opportunity to go through the ME1 story in graphic novel form and make those key decisions yourself.

*** The main point of which is so that I can embed more videos using less screen real estate, and yet pop them up larger than the 540 pixel width to which I am restricted by the blog layout.


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