Published on Aug 25, 2020

Mass Effect Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Developed by BioWare for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows, Mass Effect is an action role-playing game. The Xbox 360 edition was released worldwide in November 2007. The PC edition was published by Electronic Arts, and released on May 28, 2008. Mass Effect’s player takes the role of an elite human soldier named Commander Shepard, out to explore the Galaxy on a starship, the SSV Normandy, in the year 2183.

Although not necessary to understand the main plot line, the episodes that BioWare plans to release episodic content online to fill in the story between each game, in addition to two sequels to complete the trilogy. The first of these downloadable content packages was released on March 10, 2008 for the Xbox 360, and July 29, 2008 for the PC.

Within the game universe, the physics phenomenon called mass effect, newly discovered for humans is one that has properties like other physics forces such as gravity and electromagnetism. In real life, it’s what physicists are calling “dark energy” as an explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe, a notion that contradicts the previous stance that the universe’s expansion should be slowing down from gravity.


Like real-life creatures (such as electric eels and sharks) who can sense and manipulate electromagnetism in strange ways, some creatures have evolved to sense and manipulate mass effect. Trained manipulation of Mass Effect, or Biotics, are abilities available to humans through prosthetics, explains Hudson.


Exploring themes like space colonization, intolerance, vigilantism, and artificial intelligence, Mass Effect’s story lights in the space opera genre. Mass Effect’s story has drawn comparisons to both Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker novels and Battlestar Galactica, as well as to Frederick Pohl’s Gateway novels, all in common with man vs machine elements. Project director at BioWare, Casey Hudson notes that influences for the game included Aliens, Runner, Star Wars, and Wrath of Khan.

The player enacts the role and customizes veteran soldier Commander Shepard. His appearance changes, too, depending on the armor and weaponry used, and players can not only adjust Shepard’s gender and appearance, they can also influence the dialogue throughout the game by choosing a back story or side missions for the character.

Along with Commander Shepard, two other characters can be chosen by the player to follow and contribute to dialogue and battles who, as characters are not created by the player, and are partially under his control. Each of the six characters met in the game will join the fight and have their own reasons for helping, and a detailed back-story. Two are human, the remaining four being aliens.

Amongst the six character classes, the game gives each class several talents, and as each talent is applied, the character will gain stats for extra health and stamina, or have new abilities unlocked (like using the Shotgun talent unlocks the Carnage ability that lets the character fire a focused explosive blast from that Shotgun), or unlocks other abilities. While the characters might have talents related to their background, unique talents owned by each class carry the same name as its respective class.

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