Articles tagged with: Mass Effect

Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander

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Before I even start this review, be forewarned: I am going to talk about Mass Effect like you already know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not a gamer, my apologies. I live in a weird bubble where I just assume everyone passionately loves the same things I do.

I'll meet you across the sea, Thane.

I’ll meet you across the sea, Thane.

Okay, so… You know me, right? Chances are, if you’re coming to this blog to read something I’ve written, you know at least a little something about me. If that something isn’t the fact that I’m a gigantic Mass Effect fan, I feel a little ashamed because my fan love for that franchise is more epic than my love for the Dragon Age franchise, and that love is pretty solid. I have played the original Mass Effect trilogy more times than I can count, I still cry at all the right parts, I love my imaginary drell boyfriend deeply, and I showed up at Gamestop at 8:45 the night before ME: Andromeda released wearing an N7 hoodie to pick up my pre-ordered, super duper fancy deluxe copy of the new game the minute they were ready to hand it over to me. I came home, started building my Sara Ryder before the game even finished installing, and was on Ark Hyperion faster than you can say, “NORMANDY!” Basically, this review is going to be me going on for a thousand words about how much I love space and aliens and Mass Effect, so fire up your jump jets and let’s leap into this thing.

Of course I was going to read the books they put out to coincide with the new game, the Dark Horse comics, too (keep an eye out for my review of the full collection once it’s done running). I rushed out on release day to pick up Nexus Uprising because after finishing my first playthrough of the game, I wanted to know more about how the Andromeda Initiative wound up in the state it was in when Liam, Cora, and I docked with the Nexus that first time.

A little background to set you up: About fifty-thousand colonists drawn from the major races who comprise the Milky Way Galaxy have decided to explore and settle beyond our home galaxy. Five arks are set to travel millions of light years to the Andromeda Galaxy, cryo-sleeping through the journey and waking to settle seven golden worlds large enough for all the species to thrive and grow. The Andromeda Initiative will be the Milky Way’s legacy, the first seeds to spread across the universe and make a new life, a new mark outside the home galaxy. They will leave all their old grudges and prejudices behind and start anew. Sounds great, right? When you look at the specs, it sounds damn near perfect, but since they made an entire game about it, and there are plans for at least three books and a comic series, it’s totally not going to go anyway at all like they planned. It never does.

mass-effect-nexus-uprising_470716The Nexus is a central hub, a space station meant to arrive several months before the arks so its staff can set up to welcome new colonists and get them ready to explore their new galaxy as they’re woken from cryo. The thing is, if the Nexus can’t get itself together before the arks begin to arrive, there’s gonna be trouble. Big trouble. I imagine you can already guess how this book is going to go… The Nexus totally isn’t going to be ready, and this book explores why.

Immediately upon entering the Heleus Cluster in the Andromeda Galaxy, the Nexus station takes heavy damage from an unknown force that will become known as The Scourge. No one quite knows what The Scourge is because getting close enough to study it is damn near impossible, and it’s already taken out more people than anyone ever imagined they’d lose in the moments after they were woken from cryo.

With the head of the Initiative and several other important players killed before they’ve even had a chance to rub the sleep from their eyes, it falls to Security Director Sloane Kelly to maintain order as the Initiative dream crumbles all around them. With the line of succession hacked down to the bare minimum, it falls to Deputy Assistant of Revenue Management for the Nexus, Jarun Tann, to take the reins as Director. As Tann’s ego clashes with Sloane’s desperate attempt to restore order, alliances form that promise to tear the very fabric of the Nexus to pieces. All those prejudices they were meant to leave behind rise like cream to the surface, curdling and festering until nearly everyone who’s been woken to help rebuild the Nexus is at each other’s throats. Mounting tension and drama mingle with secrets and lies to create a volatile cocktail guaranteed to explode in the very faces of the leaders meant to hold the organization together.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because we really got some insight and perspective into a character from the game I wanted to know more about. Sloane Kelly, as much as I loathe her in-game, is an intense and dynamic woman who found herself at odds, her leadership and her and her morals called into question, with a leadership that never should have risen to power in the first place.

Very well written, this was a great prequel and introduction to Andromeda. Hough and Alexander touched on all the right issues, and developed Sloane in a way that made it harder for me to hate her. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still think she’s scum, but I know what lurks under her layers now, and I sometimes feel kind of guilty about hating her.

I gave it four out of five stars, and definitely recommend it to players of the game who’d like to know exactly how the Nexus wound up off the rails long before you even arrive. If you’re not familiar with this franchise, but you love space and sci-fi, what are you waiting for?

Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn

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the illusive manThe ultimate betrayal still hangs heavy in the hearts of the galaxy, and the destruction at the Citadel brought on by Saren and Sovereign lingers in the minds of all who witnessed it. Commander Shepard’s team barely managed to stop the madness, though there are those who refuse to see Saren’s betrayal for what it is. The Illusive Man will not stand idly by and watch as humanity is destroyed. His tactics may be immoral, his work unethical, but he and Cerberus will stop at nothing to keep humanity safe.

Cerberus agent Paul Grayson has been nothing but a tool since the Illusive man assigned him his first hit, a memory that still haunts his nightmares and edges him ever deeper into the Red Sand addiction that keeps him level. But the reward for his loyalty was far greater than Grayson could have ever imagined. The Illusive Man brought him a child, a newborn baby girl, and asked him to care for her, to raise her as if she was his own, but nothing from the Illusive Man ever comes without a price. The child, Gillian, is a biotic and through Cerberus experimentation she will become one of the most powerful Biotics the galaxy has ever seen.

Kahlee_Sanders_h3Retired from the Alliance, Kahlee Sanders now works on the Ascension Project at Grissom Academy, which caters to the needs and instruction of children born with intense biotic powers. Among these children is Gillian,  with biotic children, including Gillian. Betrayed by an undercover Cerberus Agent whose been dosing and monitoring Gillian, her father takes her from the academy and runs with Sanders. But Grayson has his own instructions, and when his affiliation with Cerberus is uncovered, only Kahlee can keep the girl safe.

I liked this book well enough. The writing wasn’t bad, the overall story was fascinating, but at times it felt like there were two many side plots stopping the action’s flow. Which sounds crazy because this book is jam-packed with action and intrigue and backstabbing and Cerberus antics. Karpyshyn brought it all together before the end, but at times I really wished he’d cut back on a couple of the seemingly unnecessary side perspectives, or maybe merged them somehow so we still had that part of the story, but with less deviating perspective. The extra character side stories at times made the whole thing feel scattered and unfocused.

Overall, it was a good story, another opportunity to spend time in a world I enjoy a great deal, and at some point I will read the third Karpyshyn novel set in the ME universe. 3 out of 3 stars.

Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect RevelationThe Mass Effect franchise is one of those things I can’t seem to get enough of, but just like with Dragon Age, I was hesitant to dive into the books that coincide with the series. After playing through the trilogy again recently, I needed to extend my fix because you don’t just save the galaxy from Reapers and walk away. So, I picked up a copy of Mass Effect: Revelation (2007) by Drew Karpyshyn, which takes place several years before the games begin.

Humanity had no idea how far behind the rest of the sentient galaxy they were until they discovered a Prothean cache on Mars that sent modern technology spiraling into the now. Within the cache they found documentation about about a Mass Relay just beyond Pluto that granted them access to areas of the galaxy they’d been unable to explore prior due to lacking knowledge. The first team to pass through the Mass Relay became instant heroes upon their return, and within a matter of years humanity soared through the stars, colonizing every available planet they could land their ships on. Until they met with the militant Turians and the First Contact War made a hero out of a young soldier named David Anderson.

Eight years after the First Contact War, Anderson finds himself drawn to investigate a distress signal from a top secret, Alliance research facility. Anderson doesn’t know what they were researching, but the place is a slaughterhouse when he and his team arrive. Barely escaping with their lives, Anderson is called upon to track down the one person the Alliance believes may have escaped before the facility was destroyed–scientist Kahlee Sanders. Sanders quickly becomes the prime suspect, and the Alliance wants Anderson to track her down before and bring her in before the Galactic Council sends one of their Spectre agents after her.

If the council discovers what humanity’s been researching, it’ll wreak havoc on intergalactic relations, but embittered Spectre Saren Arterius is already hot on the trail, and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.

My skepticism about these books was quickly shattered. Revelation was like an in-game prequel mission that let me get closer to Captain David Anderson, who is one of Commander Shepard’s favorite people (in the galaxy, not just the Citadel.)  Karpyshyn effortlessly provides fans of the Mass Effect franchise with a solid leaping off point, establishing races, politics and the struggles humanity faces as they ascend to compete with the rest of the galaxy. He crafts an unshakable foundation for the expressed fear of advancing Artificial Intelligence much of the series hinges upon.

I highly recommend this book to fans of the Mass Effect universe, and think it’s a great starting point if you’re considering exploring the galaxy with the Alliance Navy. It provides a solid introduction to concepts that will definitely brief you before embarking on your first mission as Commader Shepard. Four out of five stars, though I don’t know how appealing these books would be for someone who isn’t interested in exploring the franchise in its entirety.

I have already added the second book in the series to my TO READ list, and will be diving in as soon as I finish Dragon Age: Last Flight, so stay tuned for my review.