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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Friday, February 3, 2012

ADVANCED REVIEW: Mass Effect: Invasion TPB

What's the best science fiction game series? Some might say Halo, others might say Metroid, and then there's the Mass Effect series. Mass Effect uses two of the things that make a great game: a compelling story and amazing gameplay. Over the years, comics would be released to compliment a game series. While some are fan favorites, some fall flat and earn the term 'cash in.' I had recently completed Mass Effect 2 on the PS3, (never played the first one cause I don't have an Xbox) and it's by far one of the best games I've ever played. So as the hype surrounding the upcoming third game continues, Dark Horse released a four issue mini-series called Mass Effect: Invasion. In two months the trade paperback will be released. If you haven't read the issues before, I highly recommend pre-ordering this. It does exactly what a game comic should do: Complement the game with using the pre-established universe and characters.

The story follows Aria, the leader of Planet Omega. At the start, a docking area is invaded by creatures of Reaper design. It turns out that Cerberus was experimenting, and these 'Adjuntants' escaped. Now the Illusive Man and Aria hold an uneasy alliance. However, expect some interesting plot developments, this is the Illusive Man after all.

Mass Effect 2 introduced a universe full of untold stories. Every planet had its own story and characters who have different motives. A Mass Effect mini-series is a sound idea, it could explore the characters and world that Commander Shepard had visited. Planet Omega is one of the most popular planets of the game, featuring the tough-as-nails Aria. She's definitely interesting, then again, all the characters from the game are. So using her as the focus I found would be good. She's a compelling main character, the mini-series did a good job with making her a lot more than just the tough-as-nails profit holder of Omega.

After playing Mass Effect 2, it was great to see all the familiar alien species, you'll appreciate the mini-series more knowing the universe behind it. Not to say newcomers wouldn't enjoy it, it's a compelling science fiction story anyway, fan or not. The two other main characters are Cerberus general Oleg, and Colonel Ashe. Oleg was very well-written, loyal to the Illusive Man, yet not a mindless drone. Ashe comes off as rather generic, the mindless drone of being too loyal. Other than him, all the characters are well written, which makes sense, since this was written by Mac Walters, the writer of Mass Effect 2 and 3.

The story is the classic case of a government experiment gone wrong. Of course, this is Mass Effect, so even though you might have read a thousand similar stories, this one stands above. For just four issues, it tells a really well thought out story, and doesn't get dull. It's fast paced, it's aliens, it's laser guns, it's Mass Effect in comic form. The art is solid also. (It's kinda disappointing when a mini-series' art beats an ongoing series' art like Amazing Spider-Man.) The character dynamics are fun to watch, some top notch writing. "Give up Omega? I AM Omega." It's also interesting to see the Illusive Man interact with people besides Commander Shepard. Mass Effect 2 players will find the references to the game very intriguing.

The paperback also comes with a bonus story by Mac Walters, previously only readable online. A good companion story with an intriguing ending. Also the book comes with a preview for the upcoming Mass Effect art book. I've had the chance to look that over also, Mass Effect fans will definitely want to pick that up, it's due on the 8th next week.

Overall, Mass Effect: Invasion is a great story. Mass Effect fans will get more out of it, but non-fans are still in for a treat. This is how game comics should be done, using the pre-established universe and characters to tell a compelling story. Not to mention it's canon and leads in to one of the most anticipated games of this year. Mass Effect: Invasion will be available in stores on April 4th, it is worth the pre-order.


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