On Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment released “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” on DVD and in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, so we took the opportunity to delve deeper into the “Mass Effect” game series’ universe.
Fair warning, there are spoilers ahead if you haven’t played the games.
“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” takes place during the early events of the second “Mass Effect” game, as a series of attacks on civilian colonies leaves them abandoned with no traces of the residents and no Commander Shepard to save the day. It follows “Mass Effect 3” newcomer James Vega, an Alliance marine who joins Shepard’s crew in his/her battle against the Reapers.
Before James Vega joins Commander Shepard he served as a Special Forces squad leader sent to the planet of Fehl Prime in order to protect the human colony, which is key to the production of medicine and has come under the attack of the Blood Pack, a group of mercenaries led by a Krogan named Archuk. Narrowly escaping the fate of their fellow marines, Vega’s squad survives their landing and joins in on the fight, becoming heroes as they protect the colonists. To Vega’s dismay however, instead of heading back into the fight the marines are assigned the task of staying in the colony and serving as security and for a number of years enjoy a relative peace.
All good things come to an end though and while investigating a mysterious artifact a strange ship lands at the colony and an alien race known as The Collectors begins kidnapping all of the colonists. It falls to Vega and his squad to save the colonists before they can be taken away, but being outnumbered by an unknown enemy equipped with advanced weaponry along with a Cerberus spy to deal with the battle won’t be easily won.
Admittedly after playing “Mass Effect 3” James Vega was one of the characters that made the least amount of impact and I didn’t really like the idea of adding a new character to the party after establishing so many others in the first two games. That did begin to change for me after reading the “Mass Effect: Homeworlds” comic book series and learning more about his character though. This made me curious to see the film and learn about the hardships that Vega experienced before joining the crew, as they were only talked about in the game and not a lot of detail was given.
I actually enjoyed the story of the film quite a bit, though things did move a little too quickly it still felt like a science fiction action film, lots of fast paced action and gunplay as well as heroic characters making choices for the good of the team and humanity. The film was a great introduction for Vega’s character and it really does help to build him up as someone that you can like.
Visually the film has a more stylized look but the animation is smooth and the picture quality is clear and vivid. The combat scenes all have nice pacing and the familiar weapons have the same levels of destruction that gamers will remember. The characters look a little different and it can take some getting used to, but the anime style isn’t a bad choice for their designs, especially the alien races. Though Vega is built like a professional wrestler, he looked a bit more young and naive than he does in the game, but that also seems to fit in with when the story takes place. This review is based on the DVD version of the film so you can expect that the Blu-ray version will have better quality.
The English language dubs are the only option for “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, which may upset some anime fans. That said however the cast actually did a nice job and maybe because it was based on a Western game it didn’t bother me very much that there wasn’t another option.
Included as on-disc features were the regular trailers for other FUNimation Entertainment releases as well as a few extras that give fans a glimpse at the work put into the series. These include an inside look at Electronic Arts and their “Sims” studio as well as an early look at “Dead Space 3”, an inside look at the “Mass Effect” universe and a video titled “Directing Mass Effect”, which offers more insight into the game series.
All-in-all “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” is an entertaining addition to the “Mass Effect” storyline that gives gamers a glimpse at one of the sometimes forgotten crew members. James Vega really needed this film, he entered so late into the series that fans didn’t get the opportunity to see him for the person that he really is. The choices he made during the film, whether good or bad, made him what he is and without seeing this adventure I don’t think fans will really be able to understand him and what he went through before meeting his hero, Commander Shepard. This is also where he learns a very valuable lesson that gamers learn through their journey as Shepard, not every choice is easy and sometimes there really is no right answer.
Though the film takes place midway through the game series’ story it isn’t too difficult for those new to the series to pick up on and the action should keep newcomers entertained throughout, even with the cheesy dialog. It isn’t going to live up to the games, but as long as you don’t go into it expecting the same level of storytelling then it should be fun to watch.
If you enjoyed “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker”, “Mobile Suit Gundam” or are just a fan of the “Mass Effect” games then “Mass Effect Paragon Lost” is a definite watch.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 95 minutes
Number of Discs: 1 DVD
Age Rating: TV-14
Release Date: Dec. 28, 2012
(A review copy of “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” was provided on DVD by FUNimation Entertainment.)