Mass Effect is a third-person science-fiction action-RPG developed by BioWare and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 on November 20, 2007. It was later ported to the PC (by Demiurge) on May 28, 2008 and to the PlayStation 3 (by Edge of Reality as a digital download) on December 4, 2012, both published by Electronic Arts.
Set in the year 2183, almost three decades after humanity discovers a physical phenomenon known as “mass effect”, players control a customizable soldier of the Human Alliance (either male or female) known by the surname Shepard, as they explore the Milky Way galaxy (where humanity is still a newcomer in galactic politics) in order to investigate the actions of a rogue alien named Saren Arterius.
Like some of previous BioWare RPGs, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, Mass Effect utilizes extensive character building, engaging dialogue trees, consequential morality, and a branching narrative. However, the game controls like a standard third-person shooter (like the Gears of War franchise), complete with a cover mechanic and over-the-shoulder aiming.
Mass Effect eventually became a trilogy of action-RPG games, with Mass Effect 2 released in early 2010 and Mass Effect 3 released in early 2012. Players can import completed characters from Mass Effect into Mass Effect 2, transferring both Shepard’s appearance and all consequential plot decisions for continuity. The franchise also spawned several spin-off games, comic books, and novels.
Mass Effect draws its gameplay from two distinct lineages: KotOR with its various trees of dialogue, and an action based third person combat system. This is a shift from the turn-based combat BioWare has dealt with extensively, to a third-person shooter with a cover system, a first for the company. Conversations are carried out via dialogue trees on Mass Effect‘s “conversation wheel”, which instead of telling you exactly the line you character will deliver, gives the general gist and tone of your response, in an attempt to make conversations flow better. However, you can wait as long as you want to choose a response after the other person is done talking, with no difference in the dialogue or reaction from the NPCs. Occasionally, a dialogue tree option will appear red or blue, which means it requires a certain skill level in either charm (blue) or intimidate (red) to unlock that dialogue option. Pressing the correct button while someone is talking (“X” on the Xbox 360 version) will interrupt their line with yours, but they will not react to being interrupted. It is a function to speed up the pace of the dialogue, or skip over it entirely if you have already heard it before.
Combat is third-person, gun based, with biotic abilities (comparable to Force Powers form the KotOR games). Combat is set in real time, although you may pause the game and select a power or readjust your aim at any time by holding the designated key or button. This brings up a circle menu listing the powers of you and your two squad-mates. You can choose any power from any party member currently in your squad to queue up from this radial menu, and your teammates will use it when you resume the game. The cover system works by simply going up to a wall (high or low) you wish to hide behind. Shepard automatically takes cover and you can move left and right and shoot over the cover (if you are crouching behind something) or around it.
There are a number of choices in the options menu relating to your AI squadmates determining how frequently they use their abilities. The strictest of these requires the player to individually command the AI to use an ability, whereas the loosest allows your teammates to use abilities whenever they are available. Both of these have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is left to the player to decide which option best suits their own style of gameplay.
The player has a pool of six companions, two of which can be chosen to accompany Shepard on any venture outside your flagship, the SSV Normandy. There is one character of each class as described below, giving the player a variety of options when it comes to combat. These teammates can be controlled using the D-pad, where each direction corresponds to a squad command. Up directs your squad to move to a certain location, down tells them to hold position and take cover if under fire, left orders them to regroup on you, and right tells them to attack a specific enemy.
In the true spirit of open-world RPGs, the player can choose where to go via an appropriately futuristic galaxy map. There are multiple star clusters available to travel to, each with one or more smaller systems inside it. Each of these systems has its own planets in orbit around a sun, and they player is free to use the galaxy map to explore each of these worlds. Every single world has an individual description, and the majority can be surveyed at the push of a button, which allows the player to find (for example) rare minerals, or ancient artifacts, which are used to complete side quests. One planet in each system can also be manually explored by the player, which takes place via a vehicle called the Mako.
Players can choose from six different classes for Commander Shepard, each focusing on a different set of abilities for use in combat situations. These abilities are split into three categories:
Combat – Focused on weapon efficiency and physical fitness. Combat users primarily have the ability to improve their weapon handling.
Biotic – Focused on special abilities using the character’s bio-amp implants. Biotic users primarily have the ability to manipulate dark energy fields, which can cause direct damage and disarray to enemies.
Tech – Focused on special abilities using the character’s omni-tool. Tech users primarily have the ability to incapacitate enemies with ranged shock attacks. They also have the ability to decrypt electronic locks.
Pure combat specialists who, due to their tough physical training, have specialized in both weaponry and physical strength. Despite their lack of technical and biotic abilities, they can specialize in any weapon given to them, utilize any class of armor, and have the strongest physical health (giving them the passive ability to slowly regenerate health).
Armor Specializations: Light, Medium, Heavy (unlockable)
Weapon Proficiency: Pistols, Assault Rifles, Shotguns (unlockable), Sniper Rifles (unlockable)
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to health capacity and health regeneration. After rank 6, users can pick between the Shock Trooper specialization, which grants the user bonuses to health capacity and damage resistance while improving the recharge time of Immunity and Adrenaline Burst, and the Commando specialization, which grants the user bonuses to weapon damage while improving the recharge time of Immunity, Assassination, and Marksman.
Pure technical specialists who are most effective at debuffing and incapacitating enemy units through tech-oriented attacks while also being proficient in both electronic lock decryption and medical assistance. Despite their limited armor and weaponry, they can greatly improve the recharge time of all their technical abilities while resisting damage from technical attacks. They have the exclusive ability to hack into enemy synthetics, making them go berserk and attack each other.
Armor Specializations: Light
Weapon Proficiency: Pistols
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to damage resistance (against tech-oriented attacks) while improving the recharge time of First Aid and all tech-oriented abilities. After rank 6, users can pick between the Operative specialization, which improves the user’s recharge time of all tech-oriented abilities while increasing the effectiveness of Sabotage and Overload, and the Medic specialization, which improves the recharge time and effectiveness of Neural Shock and First Aid (allowing medi-gel to revive fallen squadmates).
Pure biotic specialists who are best at manipulating enemies and objects with the power of biotic attacks. Despite their limited armor and weaponry, they can greatly improve the recharge time of all their biotic abilities while resisting damage from biotic attacks. They have the exclusive ability to launch a gravitational mass effect field (known as Singularity), which leaves enemies helpless in orbit for a short time.
Armor Specializations: Light
Weapon Proficiency: Pistols (unlockable)
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to damage resistance (against biotic-oriented attacks) while improving the recharge time of all biotic-oriented abilities. After rank 6, users can pick between the Nemesis specialization, which grants the user bonuses to the duration and damage of all biotic abilities while increasing effectiveness of Warp and Lift, and the Bastion specialization, which improves the recharge time of all biotic abilities while improving the effectiveness of Barrier (improving the shield regeneration speed while in effect) and Stasis (allowing enemies under Stasis to be damaged).
Tech-savvy combat specialists focused on long-ranged combat due to their training with both sniper rifles and offensive technical attacks. Physically stronger than Engineers and Sentinels, thanks to their physical fitness and ability to wear medium armor, they also have the ability to decrypt electronic locks.
Armor Specializations: Light, Medium (unlockable)
Weapon Proficiency: Pistols, Sniper Rifles (unlockable)
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to heat buildup reduction of both pistols and sniper rifles and damage of tech proximity mines. After rank 6, users can pick between the Commando specialization, which grants the user bonuses to weapon damage (while improving the recharge time of Immunity, Assassination, and Marksman) and the Operative specialization, which improves the user’s recharge time of all tech-oriented abilties while increasing the effectiveness of Sabotage and Overload.
Specialists in both biotic and tech abilities who act as support for their squads. Despite their very limited armor and weaponry, they excel in protecting their squadmates (via biotic barriers and advanced First Aid), manipulating the environment (with biotics), and decrypting electronic locks (with tech).
Armor Specializations: Light
Weapon Proficiency: none
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to the accuracy and damage of pistols while improving the recharge speed of both biotic and tech abilities. After rank 6, users can pick between the Bastion specialization, which improves the recharge time of all biotic abilities while improving the effectiveness of Barrier (improving the shield regeneration speed while in effect) and Stasis (allowing enemies under Statis to be damaged) and the Medic specialization, which improves the recharge time and effectiveness of Neural Shock and First Aid (allowing medi-gel to revive fallen squadmates).
Biotic-savvy combat specialists focused on close-ranged combat due to their training with both shotguns and offensive biotic attacks. They are physically stronger than Adepts and Sentinels, thanks to their physical fitness and ability to wear medium armor.
Armor Specializations: Light, Medium (unlockable)
Weapon Proficiency: Pistols, Shotguns (unlockable)
Class Talent: Grants the user bonuses to the damage of both pistols and shotguns while improving damage resistance against biotic attacks. After rank 6, users can pick between the Shock Trooper specialization, which grants the user bonuses to health capacity and damage resistance while improving the recharge time of Barrier (also improving the shield regeneration speed while in effect) and Adrenaline Burst and the Nemesis specialization, which grants the user bonuses to the duration and damage of all biotic abilities while increasing effectiveness of Warp and Lift.
Weapons in Mass Effect come in four basic types (five if you include grenades), and each one has a variety to choose from, ranging from the most basic weapons that can be bought at almost any store in the game to highly sophisticated rare weapons that are a lot more difficult to obtain. It’s possible to upgrade weapons along the way in a variety of ways. The ability to pause the game at any time and swap weapons adds to the strategic element of Mass Effect, and choosing the right weapon in a combat situation can mean the difference between victory or defeat. Guns don’t require ammunition, but can overheat if fired excessively, prompting the player to fire in controlled bursts or upgrade weapons with heat sinks. Depending on the character and their attributes, some weapons will prove more efficient than others.
Best at close-to-medium range. Particularly useful as a backup weapon for when your shotgun or assault rifle overheats. Thanks to its great accuracy it’s a great weapon to use when you need to stay on the move. Slowest to overheat out of all the weapons and can stay accurate for longer bursts as well. Early in the game they are the most accurate weapon to use. If you plan on investing in shotguns it’s a very viable strategy to skip assault rifles altogether and just stick with putting points into your pistol and shotgun talents. With marksman the pistol can even become a viable option for long range combat, especially once you unlock master marksman. Pistols are highly accurate, fast to draw, easy to use on the run, and have minimum recoil. All classes except for the Sentinel can train in this weapon.
Shotguns are powerful weapons burdened with a high recoil, high overheating and slow rate of fire. They compensate for this by being extremely damaging in close range combat and for their tendency to knock enemies off of their feet. Soldiers and Vanguards can train in them. Characters with specialization in shotguns can activate a special ability which adds a significant increase to both bullet spread and damage for the next shot fired.
These are somewhere in between pistols and shotguns. Good at balancing between accuracy, range, rate of fire, overheating and raw firepower. Can also be highly effective in long distance combat for high level characters. Only Soldiers train in Assault Rifles, though Vanguards may choose a specialization option to do so. The special ability of the Assault Rifle is giving the player 30 seconds in which their weapon will not overheat.
Sniper Rifles have a very long range, very high accuracy, and are very damaging in well trained hands. However, the rate of fire is very slow, and are poor choices for close combat situations. Soldiers and Infiltrators can train in them. The special ability of the Sniper Rifle is a triggered mode that will make the next shot extremely powerful.
Unlike the other weapons available for use, you do not “switch” to the grenades to use them. A different key stroke or button press is used for grenades, and they can be used at any time that the player has them available. Grenades are handheld devices that act as either a timed (10 second ‘fuse’) or remote explosive, set off by hitting the grenade button a second time. They also stick to most surfaces. Only Shepard can use grenades. The player can buy upgrades that increase the number of grenades they can carry at one time. Mods can be applied to grenades for a variety of different effects.
- Light Armor gives some protection while minimizing penalties to weapon accuracy and movement. All classes have access to light armor. Most light armor has low protection versus projectiles and high biotic resistance.
- Medium Armor gives both more protection and more penalties than Light armor does. Soldiers earn them automatically, Vanguard and Infiltrators may train to use them. The majority of medium armor averages out base armor versus projectiles and biotic resistance.
- Heavy Armor awards high levels of protection but the most severe penalties to movement and weapon accuracy. Only soldiers can use it, and even then they must train to do so. Generally, it has lower biotic resistances and higher base armor versus projectiles.
- Bio-Amps increase biotic power, resistance, and decrease recharge time. Typically they are attached behind the ear or at the base of the skull.
- Omni-Tools can hack, decrypt, and repair many items found in the game. They provide a shield, tech recharge, or tech power boost, depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the tool.
- Omni-Gel is gained from breaking down your items, or picked up from enemies and various containers. It is used for electronic work such as repairing the Mako and bypasses for most mini-games, such as decryption.
- Medi-Gel heals all your team damage, and attempts to cure any status ailments (poison, burn etc.) Upgrades to ‘First Aid’ and ‘Medicine’ skills vastly improve the effectiveness and recharge time of medi-gels. Upgrades can be purchased to increase the maximum number of Medi-Gel packs Shepard can carry, and most medical facilities contain a free medi-gel dispenser.
- Weapon Upgrades can be used to enhance weapon stability, accuracy, damage, and heat dissipation, and can be used to override enemy radar jammers. All weapons have at least one weapon upgrade slot, and advanced weapons carry two upgrade slots.
- Ammunition Upgrades can be used to inflict various types of damage on the enemy. Most enemies have weaknesses and resistances to certain damage type, and proper use of ammunition upgrades is necessary for success against high level opponents. Some ammo types also provide knockback, bypass shields, or can affect enemy accuracy or auto-healing. All weapons have one ammunition upgrade slot.
- Armor Upgrades increase the damage resistance, shields, and ‘physics thresholds’ of armors found in the game. Some also affect accuracy, talent cool down speed, and auto-healing rate. These upgrades can be particularly important for classes without buffs for such abilities. Basic armors carry one upgrade slot, and advanced armors carry two slots.
Mass Effect is one of the few titles that allows in-game rewards for achievements. By unlocking certain achievements, the player can gain tangible in-game rewards that will apply to all future characters they create. Below is a list of these achievements and their in-game rewards. A new character can only select one bonus talent to use, although all passive buffs are transferred over.
- Sniper Expert – Unlocks Sniper rifle talent tree for all future characters
- Assault Expert – Unlocks Assault rifle talent tree for all future characters
- Pistol Expert – 25% Marksman cooldown bonus
- Shotgun Expert – Unlocks Shotgun talent tree for all future characters
- Singularity Mastery – Unlocks Singularity talent tree for all future characters
- Warp Mastery – Unlocks Warp talent tree for all future characters
- Throw Mastery – Unlocks Throw talent tree for all future characters
- Lift Mastery – Unlocks Lift talent tree for all future characters
- Barrier Mastery – Unlocks Barrier talent tree for all future characters
- Stasis Master – Unlocks Stasis talent tree for all future characters
- Neural Shock Specialist – Unlocks Medicine talent tree for all new characters
- AI Hacking Specialist – Unlocks Hacking talent tree for all new characters
- First Aid Specialist – Unlocks Medicine talent tree for all new characters
- Sabotage Specialist – Unlocks Decryption talent tree for all future characters
- Overload Specialist – Unlocks Electronics talent tree for all future characters
- Damping Specialist – Unlocks Shielding talent tree for all future characters
- Dog of War – 10% Health bonus
- Geth Hunter – 10% Shield bonus
- Completionist – 10% EXP bonus
- Tactician – 10% Shield bonus
- Power Gamer – 5% EXP bonus
- Long Service Medal – 5% Damage increase
- Rich – Spectre weapons unlocked at Normandy Requisition Officer and C-Sec Requisition Officer
- Quarian Ally – 10% quicker cooldown for Sabotage and AI Hacking
- Turian Ally – 10% quicker cooldown for Overload and Damping
- Sentinel Ally – 10% quicker cooldown for Throw and Lift
- Soldier Ally – 10% Hardening bonus
- Asari Ally – 10% quicker cooldown for Barrier and Stasis
- Krogan Ally – Regenerate 1 HP per second
- Medal of Valor – “N7” Gamer Pic
- Distinguished Combat Medal – Saren Gamer Pic
Saren is the antagonist in the game and throughout the game you fight his loyal cohorts. Formerly a Spectre for the citadel council, he was stripped of his status and declared “rougue” after proof was found that he had allied himself with the geth, a race of synthetics, and was behind the events that occured on Eden Prime. He hates humans, who he believes are expanding and gaining political influence in citadel space much too fast, and seeks to put them in their place. Later on in the game it is learned that he is in league with Sovereign, who is a Reaper. Later in the game it is revealed that Saren is being controlled through introdicnation by Sovereign, who is using him to find the conduit and bring back the reapers to exterminate all organic life. The geth follow him because they view him as a messiah, who can bring about the return of the Reapers, who the geth view as the pinnacle of A.I. Evolution.
Along with serving as the flagship for Saren, Sovereign is also the Vanguard for the Reaper fleet. The Reapers are an ancient race of machines who pillage and cut a swath of destruction in the galaxy once every 50,000 years. By Citadel space faring species standards, Sovereign is an extremely advanced ship. It is able to land on planets, which is an almost impossible feat as the amount of mass effect field it would have to generate is almost incalculable. In addition, it can indoctrinate organics and make them its puppets.
An asari matriarch, Benezia is looked up to as one of the elders of her race. A Matriarch’s wisdom is trusted above all, and they have many followers. Benezia originally attempted to dissuade Saren from his genocidal course by joining him and attempting to stop him from within his organization. However, Benezia (and all her disciples that had followed her to Saren’s service) slowly fell under the spell of Sovereign’s indoctrination, and they now believe completely in Saren’s cause. Benezia is Liara T’soni’s mother, although the two have not spoken for many years, and have an estranged relationship. Benezia can be found at the Peak 15 research facility on Noveria, where she is attempting to calm the rampant Rachni Queen.
The game begins on the Human Alliance vessel, the SSV (Systems Alliance Space Vessel) Normandy. As the player stands near a window, a conversation by Captain Anderson, Ambassador Udina and Admiral Hackett plays overhead. They debate whether Shepard is the right individual for a certain task with large political implications. After a brief introduction to some key crew members, including Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko and the pilot, Joker, the player is summoned to the briefing room. Some optional small talk with personnel onboard reveals that the Normandy is on a ‘shakedown run’ to one of humanity’s most stable colonies, Eden Prime. They relay concerns that something is amiss with this explanation, as the presence of a full crew would not be standard protocol for such a task.
The Citadel has also sent one of their agents, a turian SPECTRE (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance) named Nihlus, to observe the proceedings, which further fuels the crew’s suspicion. When Shepard arrives in the briefing room, Captain Anderson informs him/her that the Normandy is actually being sent to Eden Prime to recover what seems to be an ancient Prothean artifact. Nihlus, who is also present, reveals that, in addition to helping with the recovery of the artifact, he will also be evaluating Shepard. On this and several more missions, he will determine whether or not he/she has the skills for induction into the Spectres, the elite shadow operatives under the Citadel Council. The political implications of such a placement would bolster humanity’s status into one of the elite races within Citadel space. Anderson further explains that humanity would then use this position as leverage to obtain a position on the Citadel Council.
Once Shepard is briefed, the Normandy intercepts a distorted distress call from Eden Prime. The planet is under attack by unknown assailants, and the local militia have been all but wiped out. After landing and a few engagements, Shepard learns that the invaders are sentient robotic life forms known as the geth. The geth haven’t been seen outside their region of colonized planets, ‘the Veil’, for many centuries, so it is odd that they have attacked Eden Prime in force. Shepard guides them through the killing fields and rescues a trapped Marine, Ashley Williams, who becomes a pivotal character in the plot. Elsewhere, Nihlus encounters his friend and mentor, a turian Spectre named Saren Arterius. Relieved to see a familiar face, Nihlus lets his guard down and confesses to Saren that he is confused about the proceedings on Eden Prime, and why Saren is here. Saren calmly explains that he was sent to help him and, when Nihlus turns his back to him, Saren shoots him the head.
Shepard, Alenko, and Williams continue to search for the beacon, which leads them to tram station leading to the docks, and Nihlus’ corpse. On their approach, the massive ship, Sovereign, is seen taking off. They discover a dockworker who was hiding behind a crate and after a brief interrogation they learn Nihlus’ fate. Shortly there after they defuse several charges intended to eliminate all evidence of the geth invasion, and Shepard manages to find the beacon. The team member whose gender is the opposite of Shepard’s approaches the beacon, and it begins to pull them forcibly towards it. Shepard leaps to the rescue, and consequently is lifted into the air. The beacon imprints on his/her mind a confusing and fragmented vision. After this brief succession of images, the beacon explodes, and knocks Shepard unconscious.
Shepard regains consciousness in the Normandy’s infirmary. Conversing with Captain Anderson it is revealed that the human ambassador, Donnel Udina, has recalled the Normandy for a full explanation of the events on Eden Prime. He also informs the Commander that Ashley Williams has become a permanent member of the crew. After a cut scene showing the majestic Citadel Station and the Normandy Docks, the team proceeds to the human embassy. Some deliberation occurs with the Ambassador, and he informs Shepard that he has set up an appointment with the Citadel Council to bring Saren to trial. In the council chambers, Saren appears via hologram and vehemently denies any charges. Using his position of trust with the councilors, he attempts to manipulate them into believing the incident was caused by human error and accuses humanity of trying to cover up their own mistakes, citing his past with Captain Anderson as proof.
He comments that humanity’s aggressive expansion needs to be stopped and humanity needs to be put in its place. Having no substantial proof, the Council rules that Saren is innocent and all charges are dropped. Commander Shepard, in conjunction with Capt. Anderson and Ambassador Udina, devise a plan to find evidence that would prove Saren’s involvement in the whole incident. During the course of his investigation, Shepard finds out about a local crime boss, named Fist, who is dealing with Saren. Depending on how you conduct the investigation, Urdnot Wrex, a krogan mercenary, and/or Garrus Vakarian, a hot-blooded turian C-SEC (Citadel Security) officer, leads you to his base of operations and assists you. After confronting Fist, Shepard learns that in exchange for a large amount of cash, the crime crime boss has set up an ambush for a young Quarian who approached him with information regarding Saren. Shepard rushes to assist the Quarian in the ambush.
In debt, the quarian agrees to help with the trial, and the group heads to a more secure location, the human embassy, to reveal the evidence. The Quarian, who introduces herself as Tali’Zorah nar Rayya, plays a recording taken from a geth. In it, Saren’s conversation with an unidentified person, possibly female, reveals his involvement in Eden Prime. As well, a cryptic reference to ‘the Conduit’ and the return of the Reapers is mentioned. The humans take this new evidence to the council. The evidence gives the edge required to sway the council. Saren is found guilty, his Spectre status is revoked, and he is named an enemy to the Citadel. Udina demands that the Citadel send its fleets after him to track him down. However, the council denies the request, pointing out that a fleet cannot track a single person, as well as the political implications of such an act (a war with a number of rogue systems). Shepard volunteers to go after Saren, if he/she were given the authority. The turian representative opposes the move, saying that humanity is not ready for this honor. Shepard points out that it was a turian who broke the law. He relents and the Citadel Council appoints Shepard Spectre status, a first for humanity. The council informs Shepard that it has a few leads that may tell them what Saren might be up to, the player is given a couple of options as he can go to investigate reports of geth in Noveria and Feros or look for Matriach Benezia daughter, Liara in the Artemeus Tau cluster.
Artemeus Tau Cluster
After heading to the cluster, the player finds a mining colony and after landing on the planet the player finds that it is under attack from the geth and that the mining colony that was there has been wiped out. After the player journeys through an underground cave, he/she finds Liara. She is trapped behind a force field that she claims she activated to protect herself from a krogan and geth that were looking for her. She denies any involvement with her Mother and Saren and Saren’s men who seek to use her expertise in the Protheans for their own benefits in fact attack her. Being a researcher on the Protheans, she is also very interested in Shepard because he/she has had contact with Prothean technology and attempts to help the player decipher the information in the form of a mind meld. She also makes an astounding claim that the evidence she has managed to piece together shows that the Protheans were not the first civilization to disappear from the face of the galaxy, rather this cycle has continued for eons.
After rescuing Liara, Shepard goes to the colony Zhu’s Hope on the planet Feros which is under attack from the geth. The colonists seem to be barely hanging on and Shepard does what he can for them in the form of helping take out the geth command post and communications. He also learns of the Exo-Geni headquarters that can be reached using the Prothean skyway. On the way there, the player finds a small group of colonists hiding in an underground bunker of sorts, they claim that they have been separated from the rest of the colonists. Julianna Baynham is one of the few present there alongside a representative from Exo-Geni named Ethan Jeong who is extremely jumpy. Julianna asks you to look for her daughter Elizbeth who she thinks is still stuck at the headquarters. Jeong repeatedly warns you not to go about snooping in Exo-Geni matters and to make the excursion as short as possible. After fighting their way through the skyway the team reaches the headquarters and locates Elizbeth who is alive and well. Shepard ventures into the complex to find answers and runs across a krogan who is demanding information from an VI.
After dispatching of the krogan, Shepard learns about the Thorian that is buried under the colony, Zhu’s Hope. Shepard proceeds to disable the force fields and damage the geth ship that is attached to the headquarters. He returns to the group in the bunker and confronts Jeong on the issue of the Thorian. Meanwhile, Jeong has reestablished contact with Exo-Geni and has orders to purge the place. The player can either talk him down if his charm skills are high enough, or threaten him. Alternatively, the player can shoot Jeong in the head and kill him instantly. The player also learns that the Thorian is controlling the colonists and that using a simple anti-Thorian gas will temporarily paralyze them and allows Shepard to continue unhindered. It is the player’s choice, but regardless, Shepard battles his way to the freighter that is near the heart of the city. There, he encounters the colony leader as he is struggling with the Thorian for control of his mind; it seems that the Thorian has ordered him to kill Shepard for his transgression but he ends up shooting himself in the head, then saying that he is free now. The player goes on to move the freighter and descends a stairway. There he spots an massive plant-like creature that spans many levels, after approaching it the Thorian “secrets” an asari who claims to speak to him. The asari/Thorian tells him briefly of Saren and how he betrayed him, he also refuses to talk to the Player and the asari along with multiple Thorian Creepers attack the player.
After defeating them, the player goes on the offense and targets the Thorian’s neural nodes. There is a brief cut scene which shows that the asari is reanimated, suggesting that the Thorian and the asari are somehow connected with each other. After the player destroys multiple nodes, wave after wave of Thorian creepers, and the asari clone, the Thorian crashes down and is “killed’. An asari bursts free and thanks the player, although she confesses that she wished the Player had not killed the Thorian. Shepard asks her questions about Saren and the Conduit and she agrees to him the “cipher”. It will help the player better make sense of the images. She also gives her back-story about how her along with Benezia went to Saren to try and guide him down a gentle path. However, on Sovereign, he was all but unstoppable as the ship had an effect on all of them. Soon they found themselves allying with Saren and executing his plans. It is the players choice whether he kill the asari for her transgressions or let her go so that she can help the colonists that she had harmed.
If the player completed the optional side quests, then you will find that the power, water, and food is restored to the colony. In addition, if you used the Thorian gas then the casualties are minimal. The citizens thank you and vow to continue on with their lives.
The second planet that Shepard visits is Noveria, which is a icy world that is more or less ruled by the corporations on it. Although it is technically part of the Citadel, it operates outside the Citadel laws and, for that reason, many companies have set up research stations there. The research varies from Biotic implants to A.I. development, which is strictly forbidden in Citadel space.
Upon entering the planet it is immediately made clear that the authorities are the no nonsense type. They warn you that if your identity as a Spectre does not check out, your ship will be commandeered and you will face charges. Furthermore, the security chief refuses to let you enter the main complex with your weapons on hand. You can force a standoff with your weapons drawn, or you could stand down your party. In either case, Gianna Parsani, who is the assistant to Administrator Anoleis, confirms your identity and admits you into the facility. When you inquire about the location of Matriarch Benezia, Parsani informs you that she has gone to peak 15, which is rented by the company Binary Helix and cannot be reached because of a snowstorm.
Due to the blizzard, the shuttle system on Noveria has been rendered inoperable and therefore Shepard is forced to use the Mako to get to peak 15. However, to do so he is told that he needs a garage pass from Anoleis, who obstinately refuses his request. After much probing by Shepard, he says that there has been a Code Omega at peak 15 and that all communications are cut off. He is visibly agitated by Shepard’s questions and curtly tells Shepard to get lost. Anoleis Then, Parsani informs you that there are other ways to get the pass, and tells you about a man named Lorik Qui’in who needs help. He turns out to be a turian who is investigating Anoleis for corruption, but has run into some problems with Noveria’s corrupt security. He tells you that if you can retrieve from his office some data, which carries incriminating evidence, he will give you a garage pass.
Unfortunately, the office is overrun with security, and a fight ensues that forces Shepard to kill a lot of mercenaries in the service of Anoleis, who was trying to retrieve that information. You can either give that information to Parsani who says she is investigating corruption charges or you can give the information to Lorik Qui’in in exchange for a garage pass. Alternatively, you can give the information to Anoleis in exchange for a garage pass. Regardless of your, choice you acquire the pass. After you head out to the garage, a squad of geth ambushes you, and you learn that the Matriarch and her asari commando bodyguards have been covertly carrying geth in large metal boxes.
The local security seems stunned and speechless as to how geth soldiers could be hidden in the boxes since they had checked out as negative for element zero, which is a key ingredient in the geth power pack.
The player fights their way to Peak 15 encountering numerous geth along the way. After disposing of the enemies, the player enters an area where the geth are facing off against what seem to be giant insects. This is the player’s introduction to the Rachni, a species that was presumed to be wiped out by the krogan a long time ago during the Rachni wars. Once within the main facility, it is discovered that the main power is off and that the V.I. (Virtual Intelligence), Mira is offline. After the player reboots her from her memory core she advises him of the situation. She tells him that a Code Omega was issued at the hot labs and as a result, safety features kicked in. She informs the player that the “landlines” have been cut and the main reactor has been shut down. After defeating hordes of Rachni, the player is able to reconnect the landlines, and, after fighting off the geth, the reactors are turned on, restoring power to the facility. Mira informs the player that there are survivors in the Rift Station and that Matriarch Benezia is likely to be there.
Shepard takes the tram to the facility and finds out that there are indeed people holding out there and that they are led by Captain Ventralis, who is the head of the station’s security. He informs Shepard that the Rachni have been attacking them for a week and that everyone, including his men, are at their limit in terms of endurance. Rachni don’t make good pets. In addition to the small security team that is holding out, there are also a number of scientists, who look shocked and on edge. However, one asari seems almost bored and is very disrespectful to you, accusing you of breaking her concentration while she was relaxing. The player can do a side quest to help one of the doctors develop a cure for the patients who have gotten sick. If Shepard chooses to help, he or she needs to talk to Ventralis for permission. Shepard is granted access to a medical facility where the cure can be concocted. There, Shepard and his fellow marines find a few more survivors, and after they develop a cure, the asari that was seen earlier, and a squad of geth ambush them. She informs him that she is an agent of the Matriarch, and is under orders to eliminate him if the opportunity arises. After defeating her, you can confront Ventralis, who will deny any knowledge of the incident.
Then, the player ventures to the hot labs in search of the Matriarch, but finds only the director of the facility. He explains to Shepard how they brought back the Rachni, who were seemingly extinct. It turns out that a Queen egg was left frozen on a derelict Rachni ship that had been floating about for untold centuries. Binary Helix found the Egg, and decided to clone it in order to make themselves an Army of Rachni. However, once the youngsters were separated from the Queen, they went rogue and killed anyone on sight. He conveys that the neutron purge must be activated and that the labs must be cleansed. However, before he can give you the activation codes, a Rachni warrior kills him.
After killing the Rachni, Shepard takes the codes and tells MIRA (V.I) to activate the purge system. Meanwhile, outside the room, Rachni gather by the hundreds. The player and his party escape in the elevator and the hot labs are purged. If you had done the previous side quest for the doctor then you can use the garage pass he gives you to sneak through the back of the facility and face Benezia. However, if you did not do the optional side quest, you have to go back through the facility. Ventralis and his men inside inform you that they have orders from Benezia to kill you, and attempt to do so.
After defeating them, you continue through the station. You encounter and defeat numerous other geth and humans, then come face to face with Benezia, who is standing on an elevated platform near a glass tank that harbors the Rachni Queen. Even if the player has Liara in the party, Benezia will not be dissuaded, she mocks Shepard and launches wave of wave of deadly asari commandos who are backed up by the geth. After the player fights though waves of these enemies, he can finally engage Benezia. She temporarily weakens and in her moment of weakness, she pleads with you to listen to her. She too talks about Sovereign’s indoctrination powers and claims that she had no control over her actions once she fell into its vice. She also informs you that the reason that she came to the facility was so that she could extract the location of the Mu Relay, which has gotten “lost” after a star that was nearby went supernova.
However, the Rachni found the relay and since the memories of the Queen are carried onto other Queens, he forced the information out of the Rachni. She confesses that she was not gentle and if Liara is present in the party, lets her know how proud of her she is. She once again loses control and Shepard is forced to put her down for good. Once she is dead, one of the other asari that was near her is reanimated, Shepard and the rest of the squad look on cautiously as she speaks, however it is the Rachni queen that is talking. The queen explains that she can use people temporarily when they are either unconscious or close to dying. She asks you what you will do to her, whether you would condemn her to the same fate as the rest of her species or if you would give her a chance and set her free. She claims that because she had no part in the War, she can be neutral and promises that she desires nothing more than peace. If Wrex is in the party he is extremely annoyed at this and points out that millions of his people died to put down the menace. However, the other person in your party interjects and says that you will be committing genocide if you do kill her. If you decide to kill her, she pleads with you once more and if you still do not listen she will look helplessly as you fill the tank with acid and thereby kill her. However, if you do free her she promises you that she will remember your kindness and will sing “songs” about you. If you have Wrex in the party he will slyly comment “Great, Bugs are writing songs about you, Shepard”. Regardless of you choice, your mission in Noveria will come to an end.
You will have pieced together another piece of the puzzle; that the Mu Mass relay will lead to a planet and that is somehow related to the return of the mysterious Reapers. After you make your report to the Citadel, you are informed that there is an Infiltration team on Virmire that has sent an emergency transmission and that the council believes that it has something to do with Saren. They also inform you that they have lost contact with the team on Virmire and have very limited data on the ground conditions.
Once the player gets to Virmire and enters orbit, Joker informs you that there are a lot of anti-aircraft turrets and that you will have to take the MAKO and shut the turrets down. You are dropped in a little river of sorts and in addition to some harmless local wildlife, the place is overrun with geth. They are there in force and include armor units, like the monstrous Colossus. After fighting through a plentitude of enemies, you reach the first barrier of sorts, which has controls to the anti-aircraft barricade. After you disengage another turret, the Normandy is free to land. You are also informed that there is a Salarian encampment a few clicks from your position, and you precede there. As you reach the encampment, you are greeted by a Salarian named Captain Kirahee. He informs you that he is part of the STG (Special Tactics Group) and that he is here to take stalk of the situation.
He looks shocked to see that you have only brought a small crew, and he tells you that he requested for the Citadel to send a fleet. He goes on to tell you that Virmire houses Saren’s main medical base and that he aims to develop a cure for the Genophage. He also tells you that the Base must be destroyed so that the krogan are not unleashed again. If you agreed at the Citadel to take Wrex aboard, he makes an appearance and warningly tells you that the krogan are not a mistake before angrily stalking away. Captain Kirahee looks extremely perturbed by Wrex and asks you if you can deal with him, and make sure things don’t get out of hand.
You tell him that you will do so, and go to confront Wrex, who is busy trying to shoot down birds. Immediately upon entering into the conversation, Wrex accuses you of not giving back to him, and points out that he has stuck behind Shepard in every instance. If your charm/intimidate skills are high enough, you can convince him to stand down. If you use the charm action you can point out tactfully that the krogan are not really a part of his race, as they work for Saren, who is using them as cannon fodder. Alternatively, if you choose to use intimidate, you can drive home that point more bluntly. However, if your charm/intimidate skills are not high enough, Wrex must be killed. You can do this in one of two ways: You can signal Ashley to shoot him from afar, or you can shoot him yourself. Otherwise when the conversation starts going south, Ashley will kill him without your consent, saying that it’s better that Wrex dies than you, Shepard.
After this confrontation, you go and talk to Captain Kirahee, who gives an uplifting speech to his men, and informs you of his plan to attack the facility. This plot involves splitting the troops into two squads, with Kirahee’s main force directly attacking the facility, which will almost certainly end in death. He says that this diversion will allow Shepard’s smaller squad to infiltrate the facility through the less fortified back entrance. He asks for one of your squad mates, either Kaiden Alenko or Ashely Williams to join his team. He reasons that this would improve communication between the squads. Along the way, he advises you to look for opportunities to undermine the geth operations in the area, such as knocking down communication towers and such. After you decide on either Kaiden or Ashley, you proceed with the mission.
It is immediately clear that Capt. Kirahee’s distraction has succeeded as you face a very small contingent of enemy forces. You will enter the facility through the backside, so to speak, and you have to work your way to the middle-front of the facility to reach the main lab section. Eventually, after wading through geth and krogan forces, you will reach a holding area staffed by mindless Salarians, the same who were part of Captain Kirahees STG commandos group. In fact, if you talk to him before you start the mission; he tells you that he sent out scouts who did not return. After you kill them, you will have the choice of taking a elevator up to the labs, or proceeding through another door. Captain Kirahee’s distraction should give you a clean shot at the base There, you will encounter another Salarian, who seems hell-bent on getting out of his holding facility. He tells you that he hears an incessant noise coming though the cell wall. If you have Wrex or Ashley in the party they will advise you not to let him out. Either way, he will freak out and end up knocking himself out by running into the cell door. After, you take the elevator up to the labs and are promptly encountered by a multitude of krogan and geth. The lab area is large, and you will have to work your way through the facility.
Of note is the fact that the organics in the facility are genuinely immersed in their work; on one occasion, a krogan will come running to face you, shouting about how the work benefits his race and that he will not let you destroy it. They almost seem a little mad. After you succeed in destroying everything in the facility, you proceed through a door to further reaches of the facility. Also, Captain Kirahee and the rest of the main squad warns you that they are under heavy attack and have taken casualties. As you make your way through the facility you will run across an asari doctor who has barricaded herself in an office. She will beg you not to kill her and offers to trade information for her life. She makes a startling revelation that Saren’s ship has the power to completely indoctrinate living beings, and that if this process is repeated long enough, said organisms are lobotomized.
In addition, she says that Saren constructed the medical facility in the hope that he could uncover a way to nullify and protect himself from the mind controlling powers of Sovereign. She also informs you that the outlook on nearly every organic on the medical facility is bleak, as they have either been killed or completely lobotomized by Sovereign. She also tells you that she can give you a pass card to Saren’s personal office if you spare her. If you choose to kill her as punishment for her crimes, she will attempt to run away, but be shot in the back by Shepard. Alternatively, if you let her live, you will take the pass card from her and tell her to evacuate because you plan to blow the station once you are done. Regardless of your choice, you enter Saren’s lab and you notice that there is another Prothean beacon… similar to the one that you found on Eden prime in your first mission.
After you activate it, you are shown more of the same in the sense that the vision that you saw earlier is replayed but with somewhat of a better quality. In the vision, you are able to make out people screaming in the distance and horrible distorted figures on their knees almost as if they are begging for their lives. After you view the beacon, you notice that there is another Holographic station on the upper level and you proceed to activate it. In one of the most enigmatic twists in the game, you are greeted with an image of what looks to be almost a long eight legged creature… it is in fact, Sovereign, which is Saren’s ship. The player is presented with an opportunity to ask a multitude of questions, regarding the reapers and Sovereign itself.
Sovereign reveals that the Reapers, originally created the Citadel and mass relays, as well as the majority of the ‘Prothean’ legacy. This technology was purposely left behind so that galactic society would follow paths that the Reapers could anticipate. “I am the vanguard of your destruction.” It tells Shepard that a massive Reaper fleet is awaiting Sovereign’s activation of the mass relays in order to wreak havoc and destruction upon the entire galaxy. It informs the player that the Reapers have repeated this process for millions of years; wiping the galaxy clean of sentient organic life once every 50,000 years and retreating to dark space. Sovereign holds the organic races of the galaxy in low regard as it says that itself and its fellow Reapers are the pinnacle of technological advancement and cannot be surpassed in any shape or form. It views the geth as nothing more than tools to reach its end goal, and finds their worship to be pitiful. It is implied that Sovereign is the true enemy and that Saren, like so many others, is just a pawn in Sovereign’s scheme. When asked for a motivation for its actions, it merely responds that its reasoning would be beyond the comprehension of an organic being such as Shepard. He then cuts off the transmission after claiming that there is nothing more to be said. Shepard receives a transmission from Joker that Sovereign just pulled a 180-degree turn, and was headed back for Virmire.
The strike team rushes out of the room, blasting geth as they go, and race to the anti-air tower, which they take out while Captain Kirrahe’s team destroys their target. Shepard and his crew arrive at the bomb spot, and Joker flies the Normandy into the compound, delivering the bomb. However, while the bomb is being armed, Shepard recieves a transmission from Kirrahe’s team that they are pinned down by the AA tower. Shepard and team set out to save them, but halfway there they get word from the bombsite that geth reinforcements are pouring in, and they can’t hold them off. Shepard is faced with a choice to rescue either the team with Kirrahe, or the team at the bomb. One party member is at each location, and Shepard can’t rescue both.
The player is presented with a choice of who to save here. Whichever party member is not saved will remain at their post and try to hold off the geth for as long as possible. After Shepard saves the team member Shepard chose to, Saren arrives. The two have a brief fight, and Saren reveals his motives to Shepard, thinking that he will save the galaxy by siding with Sovereign. Shepard defeats Saren in their confrontation, but Saren narrowly escapes. Joker arrives to pick up the survivors of the assault, and the Normandy escapes to orbit as the nuclear device detonates on Virmire, creating a giant explosion visible from orbit, which kills whomever Shepard did not save.
Mutiny on the Normandy
Thanks to the undamaged beacon on Virmire, Shepard’s Prothean vision is now complete. During the debrief, Liara touches Shepard’s mind to interpret it fully. The vision was a distress call intended to warn the Protheans about the Reapers. Liara realises that the landmarks in the vision are on Ilos a planet she has studied as part of her Prothean research. Ilos had been impossible to reach because it was only accessible through the Mu Relay, which is why Saren needed the Relay’s location from Noveria. After the debrief, Joker has a message for Shepard from the Council: they’re putting together a massive multi-species effort to face Saren.
Thrilled the Council are finally taking this seriously, Shepard returns to the Citadel, wanting to personally lead the assault. But once back at the station, Shepard discovers the Council are only putting up a blockade around the Mass Relays to stop Saren reaching the Citadel. Neither they nor Ambassador Udina believe Shepard’s story about the Reapers and they refuse to send a fleet to Ilos. The Mu Relay is in the Terminus Systems and a Citadel fleet there could start a war. Shepard knows the Normandy’s stealth systems can get them there discreetly, but the Council are getting tired of Shepard’s insistence that the Reapers are the real threat. Udina, wanting to make nice with the Council, locks out the Normandy’s systems and grounds the ship.
Frustrated, knowing Saren is close to finding the Conduit and they’re losing time, Shepard is grateful when one of the squad offers support, but a real breakthrough comes when Captain Anderson gets in touch, asking Shepard for a discreet meeting at Flux. Anderson believes the commander’s story and knows the Normandy is the only ship that can get Shepard to Ilos. He is going to unlock the Normandy’s systems, allowing Shepard to steal the ship and take her to Ilos. Shepard is concerned that Anderson will be arrested and charged with treason – or worse – but Anderson sees his future as a small price to pay for stopping a galactic menace. Shepard goes to the Normandy and waits with Joker on the bridge. With Anderson’s help the Normandy’s systems are unlocked and they escape the Citadel, heading to Ilos.
After Shepard’s love interest spends a night in the commander’s quarters, Joker announces that they’re about to pass through the Mu Relay, and they soon arrive at Ilos. Shepard sees that Saren has already arrived with a fleet of geth dropships, though the Normandy’s stealth system is keeping them safe for now. Navigator Pressly picks up some readings on the planet that must be Saren, but there’s no landing zone nearby. Shepard suggests dropping the Mako, but they need about 100m of open terrain for a safe drop and Pressly can only find 20m. Joker insists that he can do it. The Mako is successfully dropped outside an ancient bunker, but Saren and his geth have already made it inside, shutting a heavy security door behind them.
Shepard looks for some way to override it. After fighting through the geth left on guard, Shepard and the squad find a security station and open the bunker doors. While in the control room, Shepard discovers an ancient Prothean recording which is heavily damaged. The Cipher allows Shepard to make out some of the words – it’s another warning about the Reapers but it’s just too broken up. They return to the Mako and enter the bunker. After driving past cryogenic stasis pods, all apparently shut down, Shepard sees a mysterious energy barrier. As the Mako reaches the barrier, another barrier appears behind them, trapping the squad inside. The only way out is through a door at the side of the wall. After heading down an elevator, Shepard finds an ancient Prothean VI named Vigil, who has information Shepard needs to stop the Reapers.
The Citadel is a trap, actually a huge mass relay linking to dark space, outside of the galaxy, where the Reapers are waiting. The keepers are presumed to be one of the earliest races to be indoctrinated by the Reapers, who set them the task of maintaining the Citadel, and activating the Citadel Relay when Sovereign signals them. Sovereign is the vanguard of the Reapers. After every Reaper attack, they leave behind one of their kind to survey and gather information on what the civilizations are up to. Once the galaxy’s races have advanced enough, Sovereign will activate the Citadel Relay and usher in the next genocide. The reason the Reapers harvest the galaxy of all organic life every 50,000 years is currently unknown. According to Vigil, not even the Prothean scientists could comprehend why they do it. They may be driven by goals that organics find impossible to understand. Once the galaxy is wiped clean, the Reapers return to dark space to hibernate and save energy. In this state, they are apparently vulnerable, so they always seal the Citadel Relay behind them.
When the Reapers attacked 50,000 years ago, their genocide of the Protheans lasted for centuries. Ilos’ personnel hid in cryogenic stasis, watched over by Vigil. However, as his energy reserves ran low, he followed ‘contingency planning’, and shut off the pods of non-essential personnel to conserve energy, hoping that when the time was right, he could at least open some of the pods. Vigil managed to save a dozen scientists.
The Conduit was a small prototype mass relay, built by the Protheans, designed to transport personnel from the research center on Ilos to the Citadel, but only in one direction. (The ‘Mass Relay Statue’ in the Presidium is actually a working mass relay connected to the one at Ilos). After the Prothean extinction, the few remaining Protheans on Ilos traveled to the Citadel through the Conduit, and reprogrammed it so that the keepers would not respond to the signal to activate the relay to dark space. Sovereign needed to find another way of activating the Citadel Relay, and it used Saren to find it. Saren will go through the Conduit, and gain control of the Citadel from the inside. Meanwhile, Sovereign will head to the Citadel. Once Saren transfers control of the station, Sovereign can open the Citadel Relay manually. Vigil explains that Reapers are patient. If Sovereign assaulted the Citadel alone, the combined power of the Citadel Fleet could be enough to defeat the Reaper. But with someone going in the back door to give it control, Sovereign will be able to usher in the next Reaper invasion, and complete its mission. Sovereign has been planning this for centuries, after discovering the Protheans used the keepers to try to break the cycle.
Vigil gives Shepard a data file that will give the commander temporary control of the Citadel to stop Sovereign. After leaving Vigil, Shepard heads through the archives, down into an old aqueduct guarded by geth, and reaches the Conduit. It is a small mass relay pointing straight up, connected to the Citadel. Saren has already gone through and left more geth on guard. Meanwhile, Sovereign begins its assault on the Citadel, escorted by a large geth fleet. The commander of the Destiny Ascension attempts to close the Citadel but the station doesn’t respond – the operators at Citadel Control are all dead. Saren has begun his attack from within.
Back on Ilos, Shepard sees the Conduit is closing and drives the Mako directly at it. Just before the relay closes, the Conduit jumps the Mako through to the Citadel.
On the Presidium, now burning and heavily damaged, two geth troopers become curious about the strange blue glow around the Relay Monument. When they go to take a look, the Mako suddenly bursts through and crushes them, before rolling over and crashing against a wall. The race to stop Saren is on.
Siege of the Citadel
Shepard and the team manage to get out of the overturned Mako. Saren is heading toward the Council Chambers and the whole station is infested with geth. The squad tries taking the elevator to the Citadel Tower, but it stops halfway when Saren locks down the station’s systems. Shepard tells the team to suit up and blows out the elevator’s glass with a shot. They have to walk the rest of the way in zero gravity with their boots magnetized.
Meanwhile up in the Chambers, Saren – angrily shooting keepers as he goes – reaches the central console and uses it to take control of the Citadel. As Sovereign gets closer, crushing the Citadel Fleet ships in its path, Saren closes the Wards, creating an impenetrable shell around the Reaper and the geth dropships already inside. Sovereign settles on top of the Citadel Tower, preparing to open the Citadel Relay once Saren transfers full control.
Elsewhere Shepard and the team are fighting for their lives against the geth and Saren’s krogan warriors out on the Citadel’s exhaust plains, trying to get to the Chambers. A geth dropship appears and starts unleashing shock troopers on them; Shepard activates the Citadel’s defense turrets, and with their cover fire, takes the dropship out. Further along they run into several powerful geth turrets and have to use cover to get close enough to destroy them, or manage to sneak down a side route where krogan battlemasters are waiting. Eventually they reach a maintenance hatch that leads down into the Council Chambers, now burning and full of Saren’s geth. The stairways provide some cover as the team fights towards the central console.
At that moment Saren appears and throws a grenade. Shepard’s team are blown aside while the commander takes cover close to Saren. He urges Shepard not to be a fool – everything is lost if Shepard continues resisting Sovereign. Saren boasts that his faith faltered but Sovereign has implanted him, made him partly synthetic, perfect. This is the future of organic life. Shepard can’t believe Saren allowed Sovereign to implant him. Shepard can attack Saren straight away, or try talking him down – the more Shepard talks, the more Saren is convinced, but his Reaper implants cause the turian intense pain when he begins to agree with Shepard. With enough convincing, Saren thanks the commander for freeing him before shooting himself in the head. In either case, he falls to the bottom of the Chambers, falling through the glass floor and being impaled by a large shard.
Using the central console, Shepard uploads Vigil’s program and gains control of the Citadel. With advice from the team, Shepard opens a communication channel and gets Joker… who has the Fifth Fleet just waiting for the commander’s word once the mass relays are unlocked. Shepard has to decide between sending the Fleet to defend the Destiny Ascension and save the Council, letting the Council die, or focusing on Sovereign. Once the orders are given, Joker brings the Fleet through the nearby mass relay as Shepard opens the Citadel’s ward arms.
As the Fleet engages the ships outside – geth dropships and Sovereign itself – Shepard tells the squad to check Saren and make sure he’s dead. They drop down to the bottom of the Chambers – one coldly shoots Saren in the head, while the other confirms the kill to Shepard. Suddenly Saren’s body begins to twitch as his implants fire up, burning his flesh away until he is a cybernetic construct like a Husk, completely possessed by Sovereign. The shockwaves from his transformation cause the platform to collapse and Shepard falls into the bottom of the Chambers. The squad fights back against the creature, but it is fast and deadly.
Outside, the Normandy is leading the attack against Sovereign. The Reaper unleashes a terrible weapon that burns through several Alliance ships, but the Fleet is slowly getting the upper hand. As the squad finally destroy the cybernetic creature and it burns away to ashes, Sovereign begins to weaken under the Alliance attack and releases its grip on the station. A blast from the Normandy is the coup de grace and the Reaper is destroyed.
In the Chambers, Shepard looks up to see a huge piece of debris from the Reaper heading straight for the Tower. The commander yells for the squad to take cover, just as it hits. Much later, rescuers enter the Tower looking for survivors. Under a pile of rubble they discover Shepard’s team… two of them, badly wounded but alive. Leading the rescuers, Captain Anderson helps them out, assures them that it’s all right, and asks where Commander Shepard is. One of the squad members looks sadly across the Chambers, where the Reaper debris has crashed into the floor. It would have crushed anyone standing under it. The rescue team help the squad out of the Chambers, and Anderson looks back and sees someone moving. Commander Shepard, with an injured arm, manages to climb out from behind the debris, limps toward them, and smiles.
As a result of Shepard’s decisions, there are three outcomes to the story:
• The Council is destroyed and the Alliance forms a new Council, with no other races involved (Renegade ending). Shepard can nominate either Ambassador Udina or Captain Anderson to chair the new Council, and they prepare to combat the Reapers with the Alliance Fleet at the forefront. If Shepard is a Renegade and claims humans should work with other races, Udina will remark that this is uncharacteristic of Shepard’s previous actions, and goes on to form the human-only council anyway.
• The Council is destroyed and the Alliance forms a new Council, with a human chairman but the other races remaining on the Council. Shepard can nominate either Udina or Anderson to chair the new Council, and they prepare to combat the Reapers with the Alliance Fleet at the forefront. This occurs if Shepard does not save the Council, but is not a Renegade.
• The Alliance Fleet saves the Council (Paragon ending). In gratitude for the sacrifices of the Alliance Fleet and Shepard’s help, they offer humanity the chance to become a Council race. Again, Shepard can nominate either Udina or Anderson to be the human representative, and they decide to unite all the Citadel races against the coming threat of the Reapers.
In all three endings, Shepard leaves the Citadel aboard the Normandy, intending to find a way to stop the Reaper invasion.
Main Characters & Voice Talents
|Commander Shepard (Male)||Mark Meer|
|Commander Shepard (Female)||Jennifer Hale|
|Cpt. David Anderson||Keith David|
|Jeff “Joker” Moreau||Seth Green|
|Ashley Williams||Kimberly Brooks|
|Admiral Steven Hackett||Lance Henriksen|
|Liara T’Soni||Ali Hillis|
|Garrus Vakarian||Brandon Keener|
|Urdnot Wrex||Steven Barr|
|Matriarch Benezia||Marina Sirtis|
|Tali’Zorah nar Rayya||Liz Sroka|
|Kaidan Alenko||Raphael Sbarge|
|Saren Arterius||Fred Tatasciore|
Bring Down the Sky
Bring Down the Sky is the first downloadable mission available for Mass Effect, it was released on March 10th 2008 for the Xbox 360 and on July 29th, the same year, for the PC version. For the mission BioWare inserted a new asteroid into the Asgard System. Shepard and his team are tasked with stopping this asteroid before it collides into Terra Nova and kills millions of innocent people. Batarians are also introduced into the universe. In this mission they are portrayed as an extremely hostile race with vengeance in their minds. They hijacked the mobile asteroid and put it in a crash coarse towards Terra Nova in order to avenge the batarian lives lost when humans colonized their home territory. Bring Down the Sky was originally released at 400 Microsoft points but had it’s price permanently reduced to 80 points in spring 2010 . The mission is free to download for those with the PC version as well as came on a disc for those who bought the Platinum Hits edition.
Pinnacle Station is the second downloadable expansion to Mass Effect, releasing on August 25, 2009 for 400 MSP ($5). The story is far less of a focus on this expansion than the last, with a larger focus on combat. Shepard enters a station dedicated to the training of Alliance soldiers through simulations. The DLC has 4 simulation modes, Time Trial, Hunt, Survival, and Capture. 3 maps for each mode, with a total of 4 maps are included. A total of 12 simulations can be run with a special final mission unlocked after first place is reached in all previous challenges. The entirety of the DLC runs 2 to 3 hours. Many questioned why BioWare would release a second DLC a year and a half after the last DLC and two years after the game released.
At least one more DLC was planned for Mass Effect. One of the game’s composers, Sam Hullick, uploaded a music track for an unreleased DLC. On Twitter, a BioWare employee (Ryan Warden) confirmed that they had started working on a DLC taking place on Caleston, but it didn’t get very far. Caleston was the name of the planet featured in the X06 walk through for the game. It is unknown what the DLC would have contained or why it was cancelled, though a possibility is due to a change in publisher.
The Mass Effect soundtrack was composed by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick. The music for the game was inspired by classic ’80s sci-fi films such as Blade Runner and Dune. The tracks focus on many synthesized and electronic tones and is notable for having a recognizable melody.
|01.||Mass Effect Theme||2:21|
|04.||Battle At Eden Prime||1:22|
|12.||A Very Dangerous Place||2:41|
|14.||Protecting The Colony||1:56|
|17.||The Secret Labs||2:38|
|18.||The Alien Queen||1:44|
|31.||In Pursuit Of Saren||1:37|
|35.||From The Wreckage||1:54|
|36.||The End [Reprise]||1:10|
|37.||M4 Part II [Faunts]||8:17|
PC System Requirements
Minimum System Requirements:
- Operating System: Windows XP or Vista
- Processor: 2.4 GHZ Intel or 2.0 GHZ AMD
- Memory: 1 Gigabyte Ram (XP) 2 Gigabyte Ram (Vista)
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6 series(6800GT or better) ATI 1300XT or better (X1550, X1600 Pro and HD2400 are below minimum system requirements)
- Hard Drive Space: 12 Gigabytes
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card and drivers
Recommended System Requirements:
- Operating System: Windows XP or Vista
- Processor: 2.6 GHZ Intel or 2.4 GHZ AMD
- Memory: 2 Gigabyte Ram
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX or higher. ATI X1800 XL series or higher
- Hard Drive Space: 12 Gigabytes
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card and drivers – 5.1 sound card recommended
Games on Demand and HDD Installation
Mass Effect is available on Xbox Live’s Games on Demand download service for $19.99 USD. The download as well as the installation of the game disc requires 6.8GBs of HDD space.
As with most games, Mass Effect went through many changes during it’s development. It’s initial unveiling at the X05 event showed a bald Shepard wearing white armor rather than the black N7 armor used in later promotions. Shepard’s default appearance would change again in the following year. At Microsoft’s E3 2006 press conference the game was briefly shown in a montage showing First Party games. After E3, a video walkthrough by project lead Casey Hudson was released online and on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The video showed off the dialogue wheel via a conversation at the club Flux on the Citadel. This conversation, as well as the characters Shepard talks to, are not in the final game. Combat also went through an overhaul. In the video demonstration, the player could switch between characters to directly control them, just like in BioWare’s original Xbox RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Months later, at the X06 another video walkthrough was released. One of the main features in this walkthrough was Shepard’s ability to interrupt who ever He was speaking to (Garrus in this case.) Interruptions were dropped from the original game, but brought back in the sequels, albeit in a slightly different way. The Planet shown in the X06 demo exists in the game, but is known as Therum rather than Caleston.
As the game approached it’s November 2007 launch date it started to look more like we know it now. Several small changes were made. Perhaps most notably was the inclusion of the Weapon/Power Wheel, which would later become a trade mark of the series. Before the wheels were added, the player had to use the D pad on the Xbox 360 controller to select a power to use. Different powers, weapons, and squad commands could be chosen by holding down one the “X” “Y” or “B” button on the controller. Another feature that was removed was an armor crafting bench in the hangar of the Normandy. The crafting bench is briefly shown in a stage demo with GameSpot. It is unknown how it would have worked or why it was removed.