Gears Of War's Cliff Bleszinski caused a stir back in May when he argued that Mass Effect is this generation's answer to Star Wars. Now blogger Tone Hoeft argues that it's really true.
Who doesn't love an epic space story? Many years after the release of A New Hope, people are still clamoring about the Star Wars universe. It's not just because the story of the movies was great (though that helps). It's because the universe is expansive and so well thought out.
But that was 1977. Surely there must be something since then that could generate the same type of longevity and passion. There must be a universe and story that could get sci-fi geeks excited for years to come.
Enter Mass Effect. I'm not saying there haven't been epic sci-fi franchises that have come before Mass Effect to build large and passionate audiences (Doctor Who, Firefly, Stargate, etc.), but I'm talking "Star Wars" crazy here. You know what I'm talking about.
Mass Effect can contend against all of the things that made the Star Wars universe so great. Mass Effect's story is one of the greatest space operas of all time. Of course, I say this prematurely since the last game hasn't come out yet, but if it's as wonderful as the first two, then it'll be epic. You've got all of the things that make a great story: galactic wide crisis, insurmountable odds, romance, friendship, betrayal, etc. I hope that when it is all said and done, I can say that Mass Effect is one of the greatest stories of all time.
And it's not just because the story hits all of the right notes either. Everything in the narrative is well thought out. There are many times when something happens and I ask myself, "Why would a character do that?" Conveniently enough, BioWare usually puts an option like that in one of my dialogue choices. They always address my question of why. The answers may not always answer every plot hole, but you've got to admit, at least they try.
But let's get to the real heart of the matter: the universe. I am certain if you took all of the primary and secondary entries in the codices from the games, you would be able to publish a large encyclopedia series. Akin to the plot of the story, the universe it takes place in is one of the most defined and deep universes we've seen in a long time.
Not only do aliens exist, but they all have a deep and rich history about how they came to exist and what makes them tick. You've got planets and locations with their own stories and histories and worlds that are so expansive that we can only see a sliver of them in the game. How sick is it that I could write a full featured essay on one of the species from this universe? Heck, if you wanted to get all academic about it you could write a research paper about the symbiotic relationship between the Hanar and the Drell.
It's this kind of room for depth that I think could really fuel fandom for ages and ages. It's the reason that fans over the years have learned languages like Klingon and Elvish. You can get as invested as you want to about the smallest of details. The world feels real and alive.
Only time will tell if Mass Effect fever catches on. Chances are that when Mass Effect 3 comes out, it won't get the same kind of excitement and anticipation as when The Phantom Menace came out (and hopefully not the disappointment), but the potential to build this sustaining fan base is out there.
Will Mass Effect's legacy take on the lifespan of an Asari or will it fade away like a human's? It's in our hands.
This post by Tone Hoeft originally appeared at Inproximity.org.