If you're a Mass Effect fan, this will be 45 minutes well spent. It seems strange that the first game debuted in 2007 — an eternity in video gaming — but it did, and YouTuber Raycevick gives the series’ hold on the gaming consciousness a splendid recap in this retrospective.
Raycevick does not shortchange the viewer on the context. He establishes the landscape of role-playing games coming into the Xbox 360's generation, Japan's preceding dominance of the genre on consoles, and the fact a true science-fiction narrative, particularly an original work, was a relative outlier to the scene.
BioWare shook up that dynamic with a landmark work in 2003's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and a sequel one year later, and developed gameplay elements essential to Mass Effect's appeal with a rough draft in 2005's Jade Empire.
That said, this is no hagiography. Raycevick is clear-eyed about Mass Effect’s gameplay shortcomings and morality system paradoxes while acknowledging the bridge BioWare built from traditional role-playing games into the action environment expected of a console video game.
Still, for any fan whose blood gets pumping at the optimistic, surging notes of the original Mass Effect opening theme, this is the equivalent of flipping the channel over to an interesting documentary on a lazy weekend afternoon.
Mass Effect Andromeda, featuring all-new characters in a completely different galaxy, is coming March 21, five years after Mass Effect 3. You can meet the new crew in this video. But a good look back at how far the series has come, and what it has done for role-playing games on consoles, should tide fans over for a little while.