How Mass Effect Fixed Video Game Storytelling

I'm Commander Shepard, and this is the future of video game storytelling.

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Mass Effect is far from Bioware's first foray into a cosmic setting, with the superb Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic bringing the developer their first smash hit.

Tackling the Star Wars license in the summer of 2003 before a quick pit stop in Chinese myth, Bioware returned to the sci-fi genre by creating an entirely new IP. Mass Effect's immense attention to detail in its galaxy-wide lore enamoured those who picked up the first entry in the series, and though the storytelling reached a somewhat uninspired conclusion, the journey through the stars was simply unforgettable.

The galactic groundwork of Bioware's crowning space opera brought with it a cast of characters who's unrelenting charm and surprising depth are at the centre of the series' critical success. Erudite Asari, brutish Krogan and mysterious Quarian people litter citadel space, each offering intriguing narratives and curious beginnings, many of which are uncovered throughout Shepard's journey.

The interplanetary races and their relationships with one another provided the backbone for an otherwise formulaic plot to unfold, as the quest to banish a faceless evil was wonderfully decorated by foreign affairs with radically different bunches of compelling races.

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Mass Effect's emphasis on character development and its conservative approach to choice-based storytelling forged an overarching experience spanning three games (covering Commander Shepard's heroics in bringing down the Reapers) that rivals that of long-standing sci-fi counterparts like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, and Bioware's crowning achievement is proof that video games can stand beside such fictional titans.


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Fan of ducks, ice tea and escapism. Spends much of his time persistently saying 'I have so much studying to do' before watching Zoey 101 for the millionth time. Thinks Uncharted 3 is the best one.