It’s no secret what a huge Mass Effect fan I am. The trilogy of videogames remains amongst my most beloved and the decisions I made game-to-game still remain with me, months and years after I played through them. While I’m a fan of the franchise, however, I’ve never stopped to read any of the comics, novels or any other media tie-ins that have been released over the years.
A new movie called Mass Effect: Paragon Lost from FUNimation Entertainment takes place before the events of Mass Effect 2, but ends in a way that ties into the beginning of Mass Effect 3.
In an extended introduction, we see how James Vega becomes well-respected amongst his crew of somewhat homophobic, slightly racist dude-bros. (Though there is a female on the team.) There is true camaraderie amongst the team, though as someone who felt that as well amongst the video game equivalents, the heavy use of swear words and dirty jokes did seem a little off in the Mass Effect universe.
While stationed for two years (in what was supposed to be a short visit) on Fehl Prime, Vega and his team first encounter the Collectors, the alien enemy collecting human beings that Commander Shepard will fight in Mass Effect 2. While fans of that game know exactly what the Collectors are up to, Vega and his team spend the majority of the game learning what gamers already know. Plot-wise, it makes sense, but it can be frustrating to hear the same thing you already know for true fans.
Commander Shepard has no problem working with any race – at least my Shepard did – but Vega has to learn to work with a Krogan to help his team once some of them are kidnapped by the Collectors. Cerberus, the pro-human terrorist group, of course is largely present in the film and Vega winds up having to make a decision that involves the fate of all or the fate of a few that Shepard (or you as the player) had to make multiple times in the Mass Effect games.
Paragon Lost was my first exposure to the Mass Effect universe outside of the games—games which I have cited as amongst the finest of this generation. (The third game was my second game of the year in 2012.)
The story takes a bit to get going in Paragon Lost and a lot of it seemed repetitive. The ending, however, felt earned and nicely ties into the game franchise. Vega, who remained a bit of an unknown entity in the third game for me, is brought to life surprisingly by continuing voice actor, Freddy Prinze Jr. (Any cameos from other Mass Effect characters like Liara and Hackett are unfortunately voiced by different actors.)
The animation was an interesting style. Faces of characters were a bit pale, but I liked the old-school animation. Oddly, it seemed like vehicles were done in a different style—almost Pixar-like. Combat scenes are bit bloodier than you might be used to in Mass Effect and some of the alien races might look less realistic and less imposing in the movie as opposed to the games.
While the writing wasn’t as strong as I would expect from something with Mass Effect in the title, Paragon Lost should be enjoyable for any Mass Effect fan—especially if you wanted to get to know Vega more after playing the third game.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack now.
* Disclosure: A copy of Paragon Lost was provided to this reviewer by FUNimation Entertainment. *