For those who’ve been living underground the last couple of weeks, the third installment in the epic award-winning sci-fi video game series Mass Effect releases today for the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 systems. ME3, released by BioWare and EA Games, is intended to be the final part of a planned trilogy.
Set in the 22nd century, the galaxy-spanning Mass Effect, follows the story of Commander Shepard (playable as either male or female depending on the player’s preference), who must join up with a motley crew of space-faring misfits to fend off an invasion from invincible aliens known as Reapers. The game series broke new ground for interactivitiy and cinematic narrative in a video game, as well as putting a great amount of emphasis on the player’s choices (if you do a mission with a crew of 12, for example, your decisions may lead to everyone surviving or dying). Mass Effect 2 took things a step further, with the player able to import data and settings from the first ME to create continuity, allowing the player’s choices from the last game to play a part in the storyline of the second game, as well as creating many possibilities for who lives and who dies. ME3, which will reportedly conclude Shephard’s story, continues that trend, with a over 1,000 variables in the story available depending on earlier choices (but still playable if you’re new to the series, so don’t worry.)
ME3 begins with Shepard on trial for his/her actions at the end of the DLC Mass Effect 2: Arrival, when the trial is interrupted by an invasion of the Reapers. Like the others in the series, the game boasts a sprawling voice cast including Mark Meer, Jennifer Hale, Yvonne Strahovski, Keith David, Michael Hogan, Tricia Helfer, Seth Green, Freddie Prinze Jr., Lance Henricksen, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Martin Sheen. So say goodbye to your social lives for the next couple weeks, all you gamers; Mass Effect 3 is here.