[[quoteright:335:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mass_Effect_title.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:335:[[TropeOverdosed So many tropes...]]]]

->''In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization.\\
In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars.\\
The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time.''\\
''They called it the greatest discovery in human history.''\\
''The civilizations of the galaxy call it...''\\
'''[[TitleDrop MASS EFFECT]]'''

''{{VideoGame/Mass Effect|1}}'' was originally a [[SpaceOpera space opera]] [=RPG/=][[ThirdPersonShooter third person shooter]] game for the Xbox 360 and PC. It was developed by Creator/{{BioWare}}, which also developed ''Franchise/StarWars: [[VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic Knights of the Old Republic]]'', ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGate Baldur's Gate]]'', ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'', and ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights''. It was released for the Xbox 360 in November 2007 and PC in May[=/=]June 2008. The PlayStation3 version was released in late 2012 as part of the ''Mass Effect Trilogy'', and as a standalone digital download for the [=PlayStation Network=]. The second chapter, ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', was released for the Xbox 360 and PC in 2010, and for [=PlayStation=] 3 in January 2011. ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' was formally announced on December 11, 2010, at the Spike Video Game Awards. It got simultaneous release on all 3 platforms on in early March 2012, with a WiiU port being released at the console's launch in November 2012.

The series makes heavy use of a large number of science fiction tropes. Nearly every aspect of the setting is well thought out, with hefty amounts of technical, cultural, and historical background data provided by an EncyclopediaExposita. It's a {{reconstruction}} of the space opera, with a decent chunk of LovecraftLite thrown in as well.

The games' protagonist is Commander Shepard, who, in true [=BioWare=] fashion, is customizable across the board, from gender to family background to previous military experience. A distinguished military officer, Shepard is selected to become the first human Spectre, an elite group of galactic peacekeepers given carte blanche to go about their job as they see fit. Unfortunately, nothing about the review process goes as planned, and Shepard is soon thrust into a life-or-death struggle with Saren Arterius, a rogue Spectre, who plans to seize control of the galactic capital with the help of an immense warship named Sovereign and an army of robotic [[MechaMooks Geth]]. Nothing is as it seems, however, and soon the very survival of organic life is at stake due to the shadowy threat of the legendary [[EldritchAbomination Reapers]].

The franchise is primarily a [=RPG=], with third person shooter combat. The games combine the [[RegeneratingHealth regenerating shields]] and integrated vehicle sections of ''{{Franchise/Halo}}'', the stop-and-pop cover mechanics of ''[[VideoGame/GearsOfWar Gears of War]]'' and [[WideOpenSandbox wide open sandbox]] exploration elements as you fly around the galaxy in your [[CoolStarship cool starship]], the ''Normandy''. In combat, [[RPGElements RPG elements]] are present in the form of a [[ClassAndLevelSystem class and level system]] for your party members, in addition to new guns and armor, while outside of combat you are able to influence the story in a lot of ways, and even transfer your story decisions to the next game. Gameplay elements, and their revisions for the sequels, saw a [[BrokenBase mixed reception]].

The classes presented to you are divided up between three affinities: [[FighterMageThief Combat, Tech and Biotic]]. Combat classes have abilities based on amplifying their weapons and [[BulletTime own reflexes]] to make them more vicious in combat. Tech classes counter the opponents' technology (jamming their weapons, overloading their shields, sending out attack drones) and hacking {{mecha mook}}s to attack their own. Biotic classes project the eponymous Mass Effect with their own bodies, giving them [[MindOverMatter mind over matter]] powers that are based on warping space and gravity and providing [[DeflectorShields biotic barriers]]. Shepard can choose one of three specialized classes for maximum effectiveness in one style, or one of the three hybrid classes, [[NecessaryDrawback sacrificing the full range of options and abilities of either class type]] for maximum flexibility. Your own team tends to be an eclectic mix of all three and you are only allowed to take two members with you on any given mission, so choosing which ones would be helpful for the circumstances is vital. Because gameplay evolved quite a bit over the course of the trilogy, it's hard to pin down just how the classes work, but here's a brief overview:
* Adept: Full Biotic, based on manipulating gravity and providing crowd-control. Signature powers include the stunners Stasis and [[UnrealisticBlackHole Singularity]], but the basics are things like Pull and Throw.
* Soldier: Full Combat, powers are focused on dealing as much raw damage through the use of weapons and grenades, as well as maximum damage protection. BulletTime skills and a huge arsenal are typical.
* Engineer: Full Tech, very useful in stripping away enemy defenses and distracting them via automated turrets and drones. They can also reprogram enemy technology and (in the first game) get bonuses to unlocking minigames.
* Sentinel: The Tech/Biotic combo. In the second game, they got their signature power, Tech Armor, which: doubles shields but also cooldowns, staggers nearby enemies when depleted, and lets the Sentinel alternate between frontal assault (when it's on) and support spellcasting (when it's not).
* Infiltrator: The Tech/Combat hybrid, has a variety of debuffs and offensive abilities. In the second game they got their signature abilities: an InvisibilityCloak and a BulletTime that activates automatically when they use the scope on their SniperRifle.
* Vanguard: The Biotic/Combat class. Formerly bland, the second game gave them the signature power "[[FoeTossingCharge Biotic Charge]]", a FlashStep cannonball move that also recharges their shields. This encourages them to [[ICanStillFight stay in the fight]].

Like previous [=BioWare=] games, ''Mass Effect'' employs a [[KarmaMeter karma meter]] with two moral endpoints. Rather than simply Good or Evil however, the meter essentially measures the player's place on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism; Paragon choices move toward idealism and Renegade choices toward cynicism. Most responses tend to be either nice or mean ways of saying the same thing ("I'm sorry, but please tell me what happened" versus "Get over it and tell me what happened"), but as you climb each meter, you unlock new conversation options which can take things in a completely different direction ("I'm an [[ActionSurvivor action survivor]] too, let's bond"; "GetAHoldOfYourselfMan! QuitYourWhining!"). These options also allow your character to influence people via their charisma or their intimidation factor, reflecting on the growing impact you are having on the galaxy.
* TheParagon is the more humane, compassionate, diplomatic end of the spectrum, one who tries to solve problems and disputes as peacefully as possible, or at least with the motive of protecting the innocent, but shows little if any pity towards [[GoodIsNotSoft corruption or immoral actions]]. Paragon dialogue also tends to take a more cooperative, egalitarian stance to the other sentient species of the galaxy and the Citadel Council. Succinctly, this path is [[TheFettered the fettered]].
* [[AntiHero The Renegade]] is a more ruthless hero who believes in solving problems and disputes by force, intimidation, and an "IDidWhatIHadToDo" philosophy, preferring to kill the enemy at all costs and allowing petty immoral acts to slip by to achieve the bigger goal. Renegade conversation options tend to show little regard for the council and more of a "humans first" position. To put it simply, this path is [[TheUnfettered the unfettered]].

The story largely remains the same regardless of the choices that you make but the multiple methods of how Shepard works through any given scenario is carefully monitored between the games, which creates a more enriching experience as ''your'' particular choices resonate throughout the story and [[OldSaveBonus across the games]]. The {{railroading}} on dialogue choices may not allow complete freedom of choice but it helps hold the plot together: whether you choose to play Shepard nice or mean, s/he is still a hero either way.

These choices are omnipresent, as every conversation in the game is interactive and most give a chance to score Paragon and Renegade points. Yes, Paragon ''and'' Renegade: you can climb both sides of the scale simultaneously. Instead of each choice pulling you in one direction or another, there are ''separate'' meters for Paragon and Renegade, and choosing towards one does not change your position on the other. This allows much more complex characterization; there's no reason you can't play (say) a moral xenophobe who is Paragon towards humans but Renegade towards aliens, a TrueNeutral character who adapts to fit each situation, or even [[BlueAndOrangeMorality alternate every time you're given a choice]]. Of course, there are benefits to committing to either end; in every game but the last, there are dialogue options and even missions you can't access at all unless you have a high Paragon/Renegade score (the third unlocks options based on your total Karma Points, and adds non-flavored "Reputation" points as well). And in terms of replay value, it's kind of brilliant, since no matter what path you choose, there's always ''at least'' one other branch ([[TakeAThirdOption sometimes more]]) you consciously turned away from.

And these link up with the other theme of the franchise: [[ContinuityPorn continuity porn]], the [[ButterflyOfDoom butterfly of doom]] and the [[OldSaveBonus old save bonus]]. There are plenty of [=NPC=]s you can choose to kill, but if you don't, they will almost certainly appear in the next game (where, possibly, they can be killed a second time). ''Mass Effect'' has hundreds of named characters, and the list of ones who don't re-appear in the next game is a ''lot'' shorter than the list of those who do; this creates a sense of not only a living, breathing universe, but the feeling that you, Commander Shepard, have some significance within it. And these are just the casual choices -- what about the ones where you decide the fates of entire sentient species? Players of the franchise are known to run two or more saved games, playing and re-playing to see how their choices impact the galaxy.

In addition to the games, the series contains four prequel/interquel novels: ''[[Literature/MassEffectRevelation Mass Effect: Revelation]]'', ''[[Literature/MassEffectAscension Mass Effect: Ascension]]'' and ''[[Literature/MassEffectRetribution Mass Effect: Retribution]]'', written by Drew Karpyshyn, one of the writers for the games. As a result of Karpyshyn moving from working on ''Mass Effect'' to working on ''[[VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic Star Wars: The Old Republic]]'' and subsequently leaving [=BioWare=], the fourth novel, ''[[Literature/MassEffectDeception Mass Effect: Deception]]'', was written by outside writer William C. Dietz. It was released on January 31, 2012.

The series also contains several comics: ''Mass Effect: Redemption'', ''Mass Effect: Evolution'', ''Mass Effect: Invasion'', and ''Mass Effect: Homeworlds'' are graphic novels that consist of four issues each, while ''Mass Effect: Incursion'', ''Mass Effect: Inquisition'', and ''Mass Effect: Conviction'' are short 8 page stories and ''Mass Effect: Blasto: Eternity Is Forever'' is a one-shot comic about the [[ShowWithinAShow show within a game]] (and AscendedMeme) Blasto.

There are also two {{iOS}} games, titled ''Mass Effect: Galaxy'' and ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectInfiltrator Mass Effect: Infiltrator]]'', respectively, as well as ''Mass Effect: Datapad'', a companion app for ''Mass Effect 3''. An anime movie, ''[[Anime/MassEffectParagonLost Mass Effect: Paragon Lost]]'' was released on November 28, 2012.

[=BioWare=] Montreal confirmed in November 2012 that a new game set in the universe is already in development.
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!!The ''Mass Effect'' universe encompasses:

[[index]]
[[WMG:Games]]
* ''{{VideoGame/Mass Effect|1}}''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''
** MassEffect2/{{Tropes A-F}}
** MassEffect2/{{Tropes G-M}}
** MassEffect2/{{Tropes N-S}}
** MassEffect2/{{Tropes T-Z}}
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''
** MassEffect3/TropesAToD
** MassEffect3/TropesEToK
** MassEffect3/TropesLToR
** MassEffect3/TropesSToZ
* ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectGalaxy Galaxy]]''
* ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectInfiltrator Infiltrator]]''

[[WMG:Books]]
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectRevelation Revelation]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectAscension Ascension]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectRetribution Retribution]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectDeception Deception]]''

[[WMG:Comics]]
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectRedemption Redemption]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectIncursion Incursion]]:'' can be downloaded [[http://masseffect.bioware.com/resources/assets/market/books/incursion-01.pdf here]]
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectInquisition Inquisition]]:'' can be read [[http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/2010-10-25-masseffect25_ST_N.htm here]]
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectEvolution Evolution]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectConviction Conviction]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectInvasion Invasion]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectHomeworlds Homeworlds]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectBlastoEternityIsForever Blasto: Eternity Is Forever]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectFoundation Foundation]]''
[[/index]]

[[index]]
[[WMG: Films]]
* ''[[Anime/MassEffectParagonLost Paragon Lost]]''
[[/index]]

!!The ''Mass Effect'' series as a whole contains the following tropes:

[[index]]
* MassEffect/{{Tropes A-D}}
* MassEffect/{{Tropes E-H}}
* MassEffect/{{Tropes I-L}}
* MassEffect/{{Tropes M-P}}
* MassEffect/{{Tropes Q-T}}
* MassEffect/{{Tropes U-Z}}
* MassEffect/MassEffectRaceTropes
[[/index]]
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->''"It's been a good ride."''
->''"...the best."''
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