Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mass Effect: Revelation Review

Mass Effect is the much anticipated, upcoming RPG exclusive for the Xbox 360 that's being developed by Canadian developer BioWare. While the game itself is rumoured to be pushed to a fall release date, the prequel novel has been released on schedule.

Mass Effect: Revelation is written by the game's own writer, Drew Karpyshyn, and it's a solid if predictable piece of military science fiction. I will say the single most interesting aspect of the novel is that the reader is exploring a brand new video game universe before the game itself even comes out, allowing the reader to examine and envision the different species, worlds, and political set-up without having any other preconceived notions. That alone lends an air of freshness to Mass Effect: Revelation.

Beyond that though, the story is fairly generic. Humanity is the newcomer on the galactic stage and doing everything it can to stand out among the other races of Citadel Space. The story mainly follows the investigation of Lt. Anderson as he attempts to unravel what happened to the human Alliance research base on Sidon, and to find the lone survivor who is also the primary suspect for the base's destruction, Kahlee Sanders.

The dynamics of the races really stands out, since not every species likes the other, even though they are all allied, and there are a lot of undertones, especially between the humans and the turians. Humanity's first encounter with alien life was a conflict that escalated into a full on war, the First Contact War, which the Citadel Council intervened in and ended, ultimately forcing the turians to back down and brining humanity into the fold. Needless to say, many turians weren't pleased with this outcome, and that tension is ever present between the two species.

The novel is much less action oriented and more plot heavy than the traditional military sci-fi I read, and it really does a nice job of perking interest for the game. Should the game's storyline be this strong, especially since it'll be interactive, BioWare will have another winner on its hands. And thus, unless you're interested in the game itself, I'd give the novel a pass as you can find better sci-fi elsewhere.

If you are interested in BioWare and specifically Mass Effect, then you will want to check Mass Effect: Revelation out to tide you over until the game's actual release.

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