The first Mass Effect turns five this month. Today, developer BioWare kicked off the first annual N7 Day to commemorate the series' birth. There's no doubt Mass Effect had its ups and downs. But there's also no doubt that it's one of the finest additions to popular culture’s sci-fi canon, right up there with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. Note the lack of hyperbole in my tone.
We took a moment to recount some of our fondest memories of the series -- not to put a tombstone on the Mass Effect universe, but to appreciate an impressively drawn-out galaxy populated with deeply affecting characters and an epically conceived storyline. Mass Effect rooted its space operatics into a game world populated with hard science-fictions and plausible science-facts. With as far-reaching an impact Mass Effect has had on popular culture, not to mention the mindshare it owns in a lot of gamers’ mental scrapbooks, it's actually hard to imagine the series only being five years old.
Nathan Carter | staff writer | Twitter @natedoggcata
I can't think of another series of video games that brought out so much emotion in me than the Mass Effect series. This is probably my favorite video game trilogy of all time.
As for a favorite moment, it would be going through the Omega 4 relay in Mass Effect 2. They did an amazing job throughout the entire game letting you know that you better be as well prepared as you can. Once you go through that relay, there is no going back.
Luckily, I had all the ship upgrades the first time I went through, so I had no problems there. The final assault on the Collector base however, oh boy, I didn't put two and two together and realize they basically tell you who should do what task. I ended up losing Garrus, Tali, Jacob, Mordin, and my ship’s crew didn't make it back to the Normandy alive. Sure, it was depressing, but I loved every second of that game.
This is one of the only games I've ever played to make me cry. I mean for the entirety of Mass Effect 3, I just had this feeling of sadness and depression. They did an amazing job of getting across the "universe extinction level event" message, knowing that all these species and characters I have known to grow and love over the course of all three games would just be gone soon.
I'm pretty excited for whatever the new Mass Effect game is going to be, but I'm just worried that I won't like it as much as the original trilogy. I'm perfectly fine with Shepard being gone and it being a new story, but if it doesn't have the supporting cast and different species I have grown to love, I'm not sure if I could enjoy it as much.
Nathaniel Cohen | staff writer | Twitter @seven_hells
*Rubs hands together.* Honestly, a list of favorite gaming moments that doesn't have to do with Mass Effect would be shorter, but here are my highlight and lowlights:
The original Mass Effect was what was in my Xbox when I got my first RROD back in early 2008. I'm not saying there's a connection... The original is still the most "promises fulfilled" big title I've ever played.
I've always found the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2 to be utterly terrifying. From the moment the Normandy crash lands on the Collector station that may as well be in another galaxy, I have a panic attack that lasts until Shepard makes it back aboard the Normandy some 90 minutes later (not taking into account time-outs to hyperventilate). The simple fact that my choices can mean permanent character death is both chilling and thrilling and I still will never forgive myself for getting Garrus killed on my first playthrough. I mean, I got Garrus killed! I did. Me. Just thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye.
And then there's Mass Effect 3's ending. That's my Mekong Delta, Bastogne, Waterloo, and Gettysburg all rolled up into one. I always bought the original ending. Yeah, it's half-assed compared to the expanded ending and should have never been released in that state, but I've stated several times for Gaming Nexus that it was perfect for the kind of game Mass Effect is/was. An alien-deity did it was always going to be how it ended because so much classic sci-fi ends that way.
Much like my fellow Nathan C., I loved it from start to finish. I still play them, and those characters rank right up there with the Skywalkers and Starks of the world in the pantheon of favorite fiction characters. To this day, the ending of all three games can individually make me cry all for different reasons.
Travis Huinker | staff writer | Twitter @travishuinker
Following my love for the Knights of the Old Republic series from BioWare, Mass Effect truly lived up to its space opera classification. While I wasn't blown away by the first game in the series, the sequel was one of the few games I've played in which I completed every primary and optional quest. From the characters of Miranda and Garrus to the various locales you traveled to, it was an amazing experience. And let's not forget Mass Effect is one of the few games that allows players to have their own spaceship with a crew and ability to cruise around space.
Setting aside the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, the overall gameplay experience leading up to that point was great in my opinion. I'm even more excited about the future of the Mass Effect series and what BioWare will do with the massive universe and setting. I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite day of the year.
Charles Husemann | editor in chief | Twitter @chusemann
My first (and favorite) memory of the Mass Effect series was seeing the game for the first time at E3 2007, the one in Santa Monica. It was my last appointment of the show and the buzz around the game was intense. The press meeting was held in a hotel room and there were a few journalists along with a ton of other developers who were crashing the presentation.
The folks from BioWare began their spiel, and the scope of what they were trying to do was enormous. They were pitching three huge, interlocking sci-fi role-playing games with a huge cast of characters and more complex storytelling. So they fired up the game and walked us through one of the missions from about the midpoint of the first game. We saw the conversation between Shepard and Wrex about the next steps of the mission. The dialogue got heated and the end result was Shepard gunning Wrex down in cold blood. The room went very quiet as everyone mouthed "WTF" as we were all stunned that you could actually kill one of the main characters of the game and lose him for the rest of the series.
It was at that point that I decided -- no matter what -- Wrex was going to survive as he was one of the coolest characters in the game. During my playthrough, it actually took me over five times to get through the conversation so that I didn't have to kill Wrex.
Randy Kalista | staff writer | Twitter @randykalista
I remember happily bouncing over xeno landscapes in the reviled (and later removed) Mako. I remember falling asleep a time or two to the glossary narrator's soothing fireside-chat voice, not to mention feeling for the gamepad's telltale rumble as I mined alien planets for resources with my eyes closed on the couch. I remember angling for some blue alien poontang and becoming a part of Fox News Network's "Sex Box" "controversy." My most memorable feels in Mass Effect don't so much come from any one baptism as they do come from sitting in the pews, letting its sci-fi sermon brainwash me.
I'm trying to think of video games -- heck, even movies and novels -- that've assembled a more thoroughly considered universe or a more entertaining ensemble cast, and it's a short list I'm coming up with. That's much to the chagrin of my wife; and possibly my kid, once she's old enough to hold an intelligent conversation about the game's addressing of racism, ethical decision making, strife and striving, and our general significance and/or insignificance in the universe. I will probably end up talking about Mass Effect for the rest of my life, and I still don't think every possible concept in these games have sunk into me yet. Here's lookin' at you, Commander Shepard. You'll pretty much always be with us.