Voted the Most Anticipated Game at the 2011 Videogame Awards, Mass Effect 3 is set to be released March 6, and while this release date is still around 3 months away, fans are going wild and showing off their loyalty to the series with costume contests, forum discussions, and game play-throughs; crazed fans are even stalking Casey Hudson (the head game developer) on Twitter. The franchise has more than earned its obsessive following; the first two games (Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2) were seen as revolutionary to the gaming industry.
From the moment the players pick up the controller, they take on the identity of Commander Shepard. Players have near-total freedom of character customization; gender, appearance, past, and personality are all picked by the player at the beginning of the first game. If a player finishes the first game and wishes to go on to the second, he or she can import the character from the first game into the second game; however, all of the choices from the first game will have repercussions in the second. Players also have the option to start the second game without an import, and instead can play through an interactive comic in the second game to get them up to speed with the plot, and allow them to make game-altering choices.
Every action and verbal response is chosen by the player, and, like in real life, poor decisions can come back to haunt you. Say you punch out a salesman in the first game; in the second game they may not be willing to provide you with a discount on supplies. Therefore, accomplishing your goals will be much harder if money is tight, which it often can be. To further add to the realism, squad mates can also be killed, and with the incredible amount of character development put into the game, losing a squad member can be quite depressing.
The third game places Commander Shepard at the head of an intergalactic effort to stop the Reapers, a race of ancient sentient machines bent on destroying all organic life. To even have a slim chance of saving the galaxy, Shepard has to unite the different races, something that can prove very difficult depending on past alliances and actions in the previous games. Judging by the trailers, which promise enhanced combat mechanics, new weapons, spectacular graphics, and excellent voice acting, Mass Effect 3 appears to be a game that will leave all players on the edge of their seats from start to finish, especially since in the Mass Effect series, failure is a very real possibility (and nobody wants to be seen as the failure that let all organic life be destroyed, right?)