Happy N7 Day!

7 Nov

If you’re a Mass Effect fan, you know what N7 day is. If you’re not… the N7 program is a military unit in the ME universe. Today is November 7th, hence, N7.

I’m just going to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about why ME is, as far as I’m concerned, the BEST GAME EVER (although, yes, technically, it’s three games). I am an unashamed BioWare fangirl, but as much as I love Dragon Age (and I do), it was ME that made me hand over my soul with a lovely glittery bow on it and some nice packing ribbon.

I played ME2 first, which was probably a good choice, given how very much I ended up hating the Mako (in ME1), and the narrative and characterization had me hooked from the minute Joker started explaining to me how I’d died and was brought back but he hadn’t given up on me. By the time I’d hauled Garrus out of his suicide mission on Omega, I’d decided that he was going to be my romance target if the game would let me (it did), because I have a thing for weird, nerdy, broody men (and yes, I married a game designer who’s nickname is Mr. Darcy because of his brood-face). Mr. Darcy is also the one who talked me into playing as FemShep, because he was playing a ManShep (who looked EXACTLY like him, which was super creepy) at the same time. And Jennifer Hale’s voice acting is far and away the best voice acting in a game I may have ever heard (although the DAI cast are all very good).

At the moment I’m replaying the series starting with ME1 with a ManShep (I’m going to romance Kaiden, I think, although maybe I’ll end up with Tali, I haven’t quite decided), and I have had to talk myself out of starting over with a FemShep again (I’ve played the whole series with my FemShep three times, ME2 by itself once and once with ME3, and ME3 by itself once) because I just don’t feel ManShep’s voice the way Hale’s makes FemShep. But I remember him being better in ME3, so I’ll keep going with him.

The best thing about ME for me is the variety of people (okay, yes, it was weird that there were no female turians until the DLC for ME3 or female Krogan until ME3 or female Elcor, Volus, Vorcha, or Yog at all) and the way in which the game encourages you as Shepard to make the most of interacting with and learning about all of them. There are a wide variety of viewpoints (including Ashley Williams, space-racist, who, to me, was always less creepy than Kaiden despite her racism), cultures, belief structures, cultural practices, sexualities, and even bodies (okay, so the models don’t really give you that much variety in body types, but they do play with colors of skin in all the species).

Most of all, I love how smart the series is. There’s an all-Elcor production of Hamlet that gets teased in ads in both ME1 and ME2, and they give quotations with emotional interpretations of the lines (because that’s how Elcor talk), and someone actually had to sit down and think about how they would read those lines. Ashley quotes Tennyson’s “Ulysses” about exploration and not giving up on adventure, and that made me love her, in spite of her racism, which my Shep constantly kept trying to talk her out of.

I think the thing that makes ME for me is that the people in it feel real to me in a way that they often don’t in most games. The NPCs are people who act like people – they’re racist, sexist, bigoted, funny, scared, stoic, wounded, depressed, ambitious, sexual… all the things that people are. And because of this, the stories that ME tells are stories that have relevance to the world we live in now – and show us the kinds of worlds that we should (and shouldn’t) be creating. They show us the damage we can do to ourselves and others by holding on to our bigotry, show us the friendships and relationships we can forge if we can embrace rather than reject our differences, show us the things that truly make us human and beautiful: our capacity for love, for curiosity, for altruism, for acceptance, for knowledge.

Happy N7 Day.