Mass Effect: Paragon Lost - Review

In years past, gaming franchises such as Nintendo's Mario Brothers and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog managed to infiltrate the mainstream. Hell, the Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo Super Mario Brothers film won multiple awards after its release and gained worldwide theatrical release. 

Sure, everyone has heard of the Super Mario Brothers but not all of those people will be fans of the property. Bioware's Mass Effect, however, seems somewhat more restricted to current gaming fans and RPG fans at that. Regardless of how subversive the fan base seems to be, the Mass Effect franchise is a best selling, multiple award winner and continues to be a fan favourite to this day.

Enter Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, a bridge between Mass Effect 2 and 3. It tells the tale of Alliance Marine James Vega and his elite squadron who are posted to a remote colony and tasked to combat the "Collector" invaders. Of course, things don't go according to plan.

When judging animation quality, it's hard not to expect the very best when speaking of a feature film which is produced by Production I.G (Ghost in the ShellEden of the East), no less. Thankfully, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost lives up to expectations and delivers animation that is polished, dynamic and sharp as a tack. It is for this reason especially that this film should be purchased on Blu Ray. Madman have done a fantastic job on the high definition transfer and have produced a super sharp picture with nary an artefact in sight. The Blu Ray release also appears to have a better colour contrast, making pictures slightly less subdued than its DVD counterpart.

In terms of story, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is a must own for Mass Effect fans. Bioware have already delivered an experience that is far more immersive than many other gaming experiences and in doing so, have created an innumerable amount of opportunities for universe expansion. Much like legendary sci fi properties Star Wars and Star Trek,  Mass Effect is becoming just as important in terms of codex and universe buliding as it is in its core function, gameplay. In supplying a story that connects two releases it establishes itself as more than just a game. Mass Effect is now an all encompassing, world dominating entertainment franchise. 

Unfortunately, this film is not at all friendly to those who are not initiated into the world of Mass Effect. There is very little by way of explanation as to the Alliance Marines, different alien races or even the skills that each team member possesses. What's an Omni-Tool I hear your ask. You'll just have to figure that out for yourself. This truly is a film for fans of Mass Effect and, in a certain sense, it makes it all the more attractive. Instead of pandering to the everyman, this film acknowledges that there are enough Mass Effect fans out there to make this film somewhat of a necessity. Every little detail, right down to the original Mass Effect score, makes this a fantastic experience for fans. Anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 will be familiar with James Vega and this film provides a great deal of context, and more importantly, gravitas to his story. All to often, anime adaptations seem to pander to the masses, trying to bring in new fans to an already established property. Thankfully, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost approaches things in the reverse. This film is strictly for fans.

An almost seamless blend of traditional and CGI animation, Production I.G never fail to satisfy and this film is no exception. Endowed with the quality that one would expect from a feature film, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost manages to deliver a number of scenes that "wow" on so many levels. The only thing that presents itself as a detractor is the fact that this film is not for everyone. It is not for garden variety anime fans, Naruto fans or even Dragon Age fans. This film is only for the most dedicated of Mass Effect fans. Fans that pride themselves on having an indelible  knowledge of the inner workings of the Mass Effect franchise. Mark my words, in years to come, Mass Effect fans will be up there with Star Wars fans and Paragon Lost will be quoted in the same breath as Caravan of Courage. 

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is available now on DVD and Blu Ray from Madman and all good retailers.

©2012EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. Mass Effect, Mass Effect logo, BioWare and BioWare logo are trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. EA and the EA logo are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. © Mass Effect Project. All rights reserved by FUNimation Entertainment/Production I.G

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