Shepard: Good luck.
Grunt: I don’t need luck! I have ammo!
I don’t know how to quantify my love for Mass Effect and its universe. Even with it’s horrifically botched original ending, it is easily the most influential piece of media I’ve experienced in recent years. It’s a space opera with a corkscrew correlation to everything in our lives. It’s a truly huge universe that is so well-actualized, when Garrus tells a joke about Krogan women and scars, the world makes so much sense, it’s a genuinely funny joke. I have never seen another piece of media do that.
I have also never been handed a story like Shepard’s. A warrior woman, a diplomat, a sniper, an engineer, a consummate soldier, a reluctant war hero. Her arc is yours to direct Her footsteps are yours as you walk through the Citadel, as you drive over the geth-infested Illos, as you float into the dead of space with no hope of rescue.
And she comes back. And for me, she is my sugar and spice transhumanist prophet of the endtimes.
But it’s only half about Shepard. It’s more than anything about how BioWare has built a universe of colossal, staggering scale.
And then decided to make the narrative small.
Mass Effect’s brilliance is that it is a small picture story in a huge, brilliantly realized universe. It is not about the Genophage’s effect on Krogan history; it’s about Mordin’s reasoned struggle with ethics and science, and the hope Wrex has for Tuckanka’s return to glory. It’s not about Sovereign getting access to the Citadel; it’s about all the people you’ve met, who you’ve gotten to know, and who you have to save. It’s not about the heretic geth; it’s about Legion and his recurring question to his Creators. It’s not about the Quarians’ exile from home; it’s about Dorn’Hazt vas Rannoch, the first quarian to be “vas Rannoch” in so very long. It’s not about the invasion of Palaven, it’s about Garrus pointing out the bright fiery spot that was his hometown.
As Mordin says: Focused on the big picture. Big picture made of little pictures. Too many variables!