Since BioWare first revealed that they would at long last be bringing their science fiction RPG series Mass Effect to the PS3, there have been a few problems for them to overcome. Any Mass Effect fan came up with the same question when hearing that Mass Effect 2 and 3 would see a release on Sony' platform: what about Mass Effect? Even an outsider would recognize that it's hard to tell a story without the beginning, and for a series so attached and devoted to player choice, the question is even more pertinent.
BioWare already revealed that they would be using an interactive comic to let players make important choices from the first game on the fly, and now thanks to Stephen Totilo of Kotaku, more details on the animated story have been revealed. As it turns out, a game that seemed to be filled with player choice has been reduced down to six key decisions for the PlayStation audience.
The comic, named Mass Effect Genesis is not meant only to be read but experienced, giving players the feeling of controlling the story's progression as it unfolds. The digital comic book begins shortly after the introduction to Mass Effect 2, as fans of the game are aware that the first playable section of ME 2 is removed enough from the story to allow gamers to step into the franchise with some intense action.
BioWare's recent releases in the RPG genre, Dragon Age and Mass Effect, have been marked by their emphasis on players controlling their own story. After many gamers spent an obscene amount of time making their way through the dozens of missions and moral conundrums they entailed, it appears that BioWare has reduced the 700 plot-points of the first title down to a half-dozen decisions that need to be made to create a unique story for PS3 owners.
Here's the six we can think of, listed in as ambiguous a way as possible, so as not to spoil any plot points for the Sony fans:
- Rachni: How bad are these things?
- The Citadel Council: You aren't that evil, are you?
- Urdnot Wrex: Just calm down, buddy.
- New Ambassador: Was this really a hard one?
- Kaiden or Ashley: Toughest dialogue option of the game? Agreed.
- Since this might be our last night alive...
For those who have played through the series to this point, it's clear BioWare has picked out the choices that were the most obvious moments of plot decisions, so this list isn't too shocking. Now the question has to be whether or not those six moments were the only choices that mattered.
Numerous quests had Commander Shepard come face to face with crime syndicates, corrupt politicians, clandestine organizations, even comrades who had been presumed dead. The choices the player made regarding those carried over to Mass Effect 2 in the form of dozens of NPCs and email messages from family members or government officials that helped to show that the first game's story really had been imported into the larger narrative.
That is something that PS3 owners will never have the chance to experience, although they will get the advantage of making further decisions in even better quality now that we know Mass Effect 2 was redesigned in the Mass Effect 3 engine. But the fact is that while hundreds of minor plot points may have been carried from the first game to the last, how many of the 1,000 variables for Mass Effect 3 have automatically been left out for the PS3?
We can only assume that BioWare has used the data collected on player decision to narrow down what choices seemed to matter to the majority of players, but that doesn't change the choices that mattered to individual players. PS3 owners will get the chance to change around the details of the first game to see different outcomes much more conveniently than playing through the entire story.
We'll have a better idea of how different Mass Effect 2 feels on the PS3 when the first demo for the game hits the PlayStation store on December 21, so our final judgments will have to wait until then. No matter how it turns out, the trailer for Mass Effect 3 will keep us looking forward to the end of Shepard's trilogy when it arrives in November 2011.
This news may entice newcomers and Xbox 360 owners alike to take a look at how six little decisions can take the place of an entire game when Mass Effect 2 is released for the PS3 on January 18, 2011.