The biggest achievement of the two “Mass Effect” games comes from the sprawling, richly populated universe that the action takes place in. Tons of details lay in wait, biding their time until intrepid players stumble upon them. Even if you leave aside the game’s main story arc–player-created hero Commander Shepard’s mission to stop a marauding machine race called the Reapers–BioWare’s crafted a saga that’s ripe for transmedia exploitation. There’ve already been novels, action figures and comics and talk of a movie deal has been a constant since “Mass Effect 1” came out in 2007.
That deal’s finally been struck, as EA announced that they’ve reached a deal with Funimation Enetrtainment to create an anime feature film based on the sci-fi adventure saga. Funmation’s best known for their Japanese movies and TV shows, with “Full-Metal Alchemist” and “One Piece” being some of their best-known productions that have made it to the United States.
Of course, as good as any adaptation of “Mass Effect” is, it’s going to be missing one crucial element: player agency. The reason “Mass Effect” is so beloved by those who play it is because they shape the main protagonist and story with how they play. No two Commander Shepards are the same, be they benevolent Paragon or bad-ass Renegade. And the side of the games’ moral continuum that players aim at influences the way tertiary characters react to you. The script of the animated “Mass Effect” is going to have lock in a sensibility for practical reasons, but the true joy of “Mass Effect” has always been how singular you can make it feel.
On that note, gamers will get the chance to close out the stories of their cosmos-saving Sheperd avatars when “Mass Effect 3” comes out later this year. We probably won’t see the “Mass Effect” animated feature for a few years yet. Quick hint for all involved: interspecies romance. Wouldn’t be “Mass Effect” without it.