Mass Effect is a trilogy of science fiction video games created by Canadian developer BioWare and released between 2007 and 2012. The player controls Commander Shepard, an exceptional human being whose identity including race, gender and fictional personal background (chosen from a number of pre-designed options) are generated by the player, as is his or her personality as established through numerous in-game choices ranging from polite vs. rude dialogue to monumental decisions affecting the fates of millions. Save data is imported between games to give long-term continuity to each player's specific version of Shepard. Mass Effect has commonly been called one of the greatest video game trilogies/storylines of all time. The ending(s) of the third and final game, however, was/were criticized heavily, mainly for being too vague and the variations too similar to each other despite the supposed importance of choice in the series, and a patch was eventually released that expanded upon the end sequences and tied up several loose ends.
Topical content of interest
The trilogy's overarching plot ultimately relies on the full acceptance of macroevolution as the sole factor responsible for biodiversity and what organisms are like. The main antagonists are the Reapers, a group of malevolent super-machines who visit the Milky Way galaxy every 50,000 years to commit mass-genocide against all sufficiently advanced creatures, leaving only animals and primitive peoples populating the galaxy. The next time the Reapers return in 50,000 more years, those animals/primitives will have become advanced civilizations who are thusly wiped out. This has been happening for many millions of years in the games' backstory.
Atheism is the all-but-explicitly-stated reality of the Mass Effect universe. Commander Shepard is killed at the start of the second game and then revived through super-science; a deleted scene has been discovered in the third game's files where Shepard is asked what they experienced while dead by Ashley, the series only Christian character of note, and Shepard admits that he or she did not experience anything at all, basically confirming the nonexistence of any afterlife, and also suspects the possibility that they might not truly be the same person as they were before dying. Multiple fictional religious systems practiced by alien races in the games are also given very definite explanations.
Unlike most other action games where violence is the only option in dealing with enemies, there are numerous moments in the Mass Effect trilogy where Shepard can reason or negotiate with certain villains. These include multiple instances where antagonists are presented with suicide as the only possible means of "redeeming" themselves in any way.
The games contain mature, and entirely optional, sexual sequences with any of several romantic candidates, including homosexual and bisexual options. Of particular interest are the Asari, an all-female, all-bisexual alien species. The original game's supposedly explicit content caused some controversy/hysteria upon its release, including coverage on Fox News, but Jack Thompson, notorious for his attacks on many other games, actually defended Mass Effect's sexual scenes, on the grounds of them being presented in a mature, non-gratuitous manner and only occurring if the player takes very specific steps to trigger them.