The galaxy is trapped in an endless cycle of extinction. Every 50,000 years, an ancient machine race invades the galaxy. With ruthless efficiency, the machines wipe out all advanced organic civilization. They leave behind only the scattered ruins of technology, destroying all evidence of their own existence.
Few believe this ancient legend. You, however, know it to be true. The fight to stop this extinction event has become the most important mission in the galaxy.
It is your mission. As Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy, you will take your elite recon squad across a galaxy in turmoil, in a desperate race to stop the return of an enemy without mercy. To stop this enemy, you must act without remorse, without hesitation, and outside the limits of the law. Your only imperative is to preserve the safety of civilized life in the galaxy - at any cost. You must become the tip of the spear of humanity, for you alone know the full extent of what is at stake if you should fail.
Mass Effect allows you to create your own customizable version of Commander Shepard (or jump in and use the pre-created character) and plunge yourself into the center of an epic science-fiction story. Choose your squad-mates, your weapons, skills and abilities, and customize your vehicles, armor and appearance - you are in complete control over your experience.
In the course of your mission to stop the machine invasion, you may choose to follow the path of the soldier, the tech-specialist, or the biotics-specialist each of which brings an arsenal of unique yet equally powerful abilities to use against the enemy. Wield a multitude of weapon types with precision accuracy utilize your technical skill to turn enemy war machines against their creators or unleash the full power of Dark Energy against your foe with devastating effects.
As you progress throughout the game you will improve your character's skills, abilities, and equipment (including weapons, armor, biotic implants and more) to ensure that you have the means to face the growing threat before you.
The role you choose to play in Mass Effect will have tremendous consequences on the galaxy around you. You will face moral dilemmas in which the decision you ultimately make will significantly alter the fate of civilized life in the galaxy.
Your mission will take you into the deepest reaches of known space - and beyond. Aboard your ship, the Normandy, you will choose which planets to investigate, and where to take your team. In addition to the major worlds of the main story arc, you will have the freedom to visit a wide array of uncharted planets and other locations such as asteroids and abandoned space freighters adrift in space. On many worlds, take your team planet side in the MAKO in order to explore and find alien life, ancient artifacts and ruins, rogue trader colonies and a host of other amazing discoveries.
Mass Effect combines astonishing photo-realistic graphics with innovative new dialog systems to create a cast of living characters to interact with. Engage these characters in real-time conversations that allow you to immerse yourself in dramatically charged situations.
Characters communicate with full voice-acting and amazing animation that displays their emotions right down to subtle nuances in their facial expressions. Every wrinkled brow and slight twist of the mouth is captured to infuse every interaction with a feeling of realism.
The struggle to stop the return of the machines will ultimately be a violent one. You will assume responsibility for the lives of your squad as you lead them into often uncharted, hostile alien environments. Each decision you make could mean the difference between victory and disaster. Although combat will take place in real-time, you will have the ability to pause combat and issue commands to your squad which they will then execute with the precision of a highly trained elite force. Upgrading certain skills and abilities as you level up your character will also allow you to increase your ballistic skill - this can ultimately lead to easier aiming, more damaging use of weapons, and biotic effects with the power to turn the tide of battle in your favor.