17 June 2013

Expanding Fandom: The Mass Effect Paraphernalia Post

Right, so over the previous winter and spring I finally played the Mass Effect trilogy for the first time (and naturally blogged about it — see the 'Mass Effect' label for posts on each game).

Not only are they pretty entertaining games, the sci-fi universe they're set in is pretty fascinating as well, and obviously has a lot of potential for more than just the original three games. And of course the games' creators at BioWare are aware of this as well. There are several novels, comic books etc. out there. This summer I've been collecting a few of these items. I guess this proves that in the relatively short time since I first started playing the games I've become a fairly big fan of the franchise...

I already wrote about the anime movie Paragon Lost. It was a... decent work, although it pales in comparison with the games.

Probably most significant for me are the comic books. I bought the four trade paperbacks published thus far. And... they're actually pretty good. I found them generally more interesting and true to the games' feel than Paragon Lost. The art is (mostly) decent, as are the stories, mostly by Mac Walters, one of the main writers of the game trilogy. The stories tie in heavily with the games (and I wouldn't necessarily recommend the comics to anyone who hasn't played them yet).

As some of you may know, I'm a big music fan, and also a fan of game soundtracks, so naturally these were also on my list of items to acquire. Alas, much to my confusion and disappointment I could only find a soundtrack album of the first game. But I naturally bought it, and it's pretty good. The music is mostly pretty synth heavy, influenced by the likes of 80s sci-fi movies. (I must complain a little about the liner notes though, namely the ambiguity of the credits. The cover lists several composers who contributed to the album, but nowhere is it clarified who composed which track. In this age where people mostly listen to music on computers and other devices I think it is important to have accurate metadata in music files, but how can I tag them if the publishers don't provide me with accurate information?)

Lastly, I bought the book The Art of the Mass Effect Universe. This is a pretty nice looking large volume containing primarily concept art from making the games, with little notes written by the creators. Now, what I really would have liked was a source book about the universe (the people, technology, places etc.) in print form. This is largely because I've been contemplating running a tabletop RPG adventure set in the universe. The art book isn't quite such a thing — the text is more 'making of' commentary than proper guide material. But at the very least it should be a nice visual reference to use at the table, if I ever get around to running that game (even though the book's not perfect in this respect — it lacks images of few important species, for instance, and also contains some early sketches that differ radically from what ended up in the games).

In the meanwhile, I just started my second playthrough of the games. It's rare for me to replay games this soon (heck, it's not that often I get around to replaying games at all), but I do seem to be a little obsessed right now...

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