If you've read our 2012 Futuregamez.net Awards then you will know just how much we loved EA's Mass Effect 3, so hearing there was a film in development, set before the events of the third game should generate interest from all gamers - it's just something of a shame that the film wasn't released 9 months ago, prior to the game hitting shelves.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost follows the early career of Alliance Marine, James Vega. Vega leads an elite Special Forces squad into battle against a mysterious alien threat known as The Collectors. Stationed at a colony in a remote star system, Vega and his soldiers must protect the civilians from a ruthless invasion determined to capture the population for unknown purposes.
Making a film set in the same universe as three of the most loved video games of the last decade was always going to be a difficult proposition. That's not due to a lack of detail in the universe as some may suggest about films based on video games - indeed the Mass Effect universe is probably one of the richest and most diverse in the games industry - but rather as the games are so open many of the main characters could live or die by your choices, while even the games main hero, Commander Shepherd, can be male of female and have a visual style dictated by your choices. Therefor it's impossible to include any of the characters from the main games in this feature film.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that it adds little to the massive universe set up in the games - you're talking 2 hours of film versus 100+ hours of video game (or, perhaps, 20 hours of story-telling cut-scenes and dialogue).
Freddie Prinze Jr. reprises his role from the games as Lieutenant James Vega but, somewhat disappointingly Keith David didn't return to voice Admiral David Anderson, although replacement voice actor Patrick Seitz has an uncanny similarity for the voiceover while Jamie Marchi has replaced Ali Hillis (who voiced the character in all three games) as Dr. Liara T'Soni. It would have been nice for some more original voice actors to return.
There are no other audio tracks on the Paragon Lost Blu-Ray, and only a single subtitle track - English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which from our samples at various points throughout the film are accurate to the dialogue, and with good pacing and clear to read.
Upon booting the Mass Effect Blu-Ray you will first encounter an unskippable trailer for Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker (1:36). There are a few extras on this Blu-Ray which may be of interest.
All Doors Open: A Look Inside Electronic Arts (8:36/HD): Presented by Pat O'Brien, the Vice President of EA Entertainment, this is more of a promotional piece selling Electronic Arts to Funimaion (who worked on the film on this disc). Not much to do with the movie, but it's a mildly interesting look at the gaming company for gamers (who, let's face it, are the audience for this disc). And yes, they even have a Starbucks at the head office! As for leaving the companies alone after acquisition - I think a few gamers would question that - including those that worked at Bullfrog, Pandemic, Origin Systems, NuFX and Bright Light.
An Inside Look At The Mass Effect Universe (12:39/HD): I was hoping this would be a summary of the main plot points from the video games however it's more of a "Making of" featurette for the game. Still quite interesting it's worth a look to see some details on how the games were developed including Character Modelling, Animation, Gameplay and Sound Design.
Directing Effect (24:19/HD): To be honest I wasn't really expecting an in-depth "Making of" documentary but this featurette looks at creating the Mass Effect universe for the games, and then the decision to create the animated film when the developers started working on Mass Effect 3 before looking at creating the storyline for the film, and then having Funimation create the film.
Previews: Also included on this Madman Blu-Ray are trailers for other animated films including Blood-C (1:16/HD), Deadman Wonderland (1:47), King of Thorn (1:02/HD), Hellsing Ultimate (0:58/HD), the non-animated/real-life Lost Girl (1:04/HD), Evangelion (1:32/HD), Steins;Gate (1:06/HD) and finally Funimation.com (0:32/HD) which is an advertisement for the Funimation website.
Review By: Dave Warner