Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is the prequel to the highly-anticipated Mass Effect 3 and 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. Learn more about the Mass Effect universe with an unprecedented glimpse into the haunted past of Mass Effect's newest hero!
*This is only my second review so some feedback would be nice so I know how to improve my reviews in the future!*
I'd say I'm quite a fan of the Mass Effect universe. It's huge and is filled with amazing planets, alien races and ancient evils just begging to be used on another medium. When I heard about a Mass Effect anime I was ecstatic! I really liked Halo legends when it came out so why shouldn't I have been excited? How brutally disappointed I was...
The story... like I said The Mass Effect universe has so much potentia,l it's great source material for an anime.
The movie is set between the 1st and 2nd game. Commander Shepard is believed dead and a pro-human anti-alien organization known as Cerberus is on the rise. That was fine I had no problems there. What I did have problems with was everything that came after. The plot became predictable and awfully generic as well as an awkward and totally unneeded forced romance. It really just took different scenes from other sci-fi's like "Aliens" but adding the Mass Effect backdrop. If it wasn't for the character designs and the title it could easily have some other sci-fi anime it just didn't feel like Mass Effect. Then the ending... I preferred the ending to Mass Effect 3 over the way this ends it just felt very unnecessary.
The protagonist!!! Again, the Mass Effect universe is huge there are so many interesting characters to choose from! Who do they pick as the lead for this movie? James Vega!? Why? James Vega is the most uninteresting character in the game why make a movie about his past? He is uncharismatic, lacks any real leadership qualities and makes the most ridiculous out of character decisions. The only explanation for this was because Vega wasn't Shepard. The whole anime focuses on this. Vega is the paragon lost because he's flawed and isn't able to be the same man that Shepard is. Fair enough but then Commander Shepard is a god amongst men with the fate of the Galaxy in his hands! Of course Vega can't match up to him and you don't need to make him out as the shittest marine in the galaxy to do it!
The supporting characters are your average generic marines (Aliens) whom you can predict they're dying order most of the time. You really don't feel anything for them or for Vega when they die because character development is so poor, in fact some of them I couldn't wait until they had been killed off. They were boring and unemotional at the final battle I wasn't rooting for anyone I wasn't invested in the characters enough to care it's a damn shame.
The saving grace however would have to be the art. I liked it, if Mass Effect was going to get more anime this is how I would want it to look. The action scenes looked good and were enjoyable to watch just a shame they are ruined by the story and characters.
It did have some of the soundtrack from the games playing during which is always going to be good. Some of the VA could have been better but I put this down to a poor screenplay more than anything.
Apart from the action scenes there is really nothing worth watching here. If you are a big Mass Effect fan you will probably watch it anyway. I'm not telling you not to this is just my opinion I think you should take a look maybe you'll agree with me when I say that this was a wasted opportunity. Despite how bad this movie was I'm still open to more Mass Effect anime but I'm saddened to say that it probably won't happen due to this first attempt being so poor. It is such a great universe I don't understand how they could have came up with such a generic plot with really dull characters. I hope there is a second chance for a Mass Effect anime and I hope they do better.
I'm more than just a mass effect fan. I'm a massive mass effect fan! I've probably played the trilogy through about 6 times by now. Time well spent.
I saw this quite a while ago, but I will do my best to give my impressions.
When this was going to come out, I was very excited about it! I get excited about any mass effect related news. I remember seeing all the synopses on the wiki, and the trailers, and getting quite hyped. After all, in Mass Effect 3, when we suddenly see Vega on the Normandy, we think 'who the hell is he'? And I'm glad
this movie came along to answer our questions - even though his backstory was explained in an okay way during the game.
That said, he's probably the last ME character I'd choose to make a movie about. If this was a move 100% about Garrus or Wrex, I would probably have been so biased I'd give it 10/10 on everything.
Story - 8
Okay, onto the review of the actual movie. I think that anyone who is not a mass effect fan would have difficulty understanding all the story and the significance of the collector threat. But Bioware is known for being particularly talented with narrative, and I think that they did do well to vary the kinds of action that went on, as well as not making it feel too dumb with fights for the sake of fights. What really got me was the choice Vega has to make at the end. It's why Bioware called the movie "Paragon Lost," because what he does is most certainly a renegade move. I like a bit of grey morality in my movies, and this is something that Bioware can sometimes do very effectively, such as in the end of the movie. I always play as a Renegade, and I'm glad to see Bioware turning renegade themselves.
Art - 6
Having seen a lot of anime, I can't exactly say the art is brilliant. It's not bad. But seeing the 3D Vega translated into 2D was somewhat offputting. The explosions are average. The character design isn't particularly attractive, nor is it ugly. I mean, it would be wrong if they turned Vega into a bishonen, so I'm not complaining.
The music isn't anything memorable, especially compared to the glorious ME3 and ME2 scores which will always remain on my ipod. But the voice acting, on the other hand, is very good. I don't really like watching anime in English, but the VA's did a really good job. This is probably because Bioware called in Funimation, who, in my opinion, do the best dubbing of any studio. Plus they got Vic Mignoga to be in it, which automatically makes me think higher of it. Think I recognised J Michael Tatum, too. They managed to make english language anime actually sound somewhat cool.
Bioware is good at characters when they really put their mind to it, but I think that in the space of 1hr30 they don't have the time or resources to flesh out any new characters so much. If it were a Bioware game, I would give it 10/10 on character. This perhaps suffered from having too many characters, such as there wasn't time to make them all good. A lot of the squad played on stereotypes and didn't really break from them. The Krogan acted like any Krogan ever.
Without having references to collectors, Krogan, Asari and Turians, I would probably see this like any generic sci fi anime. Without having played the games, I wouldn't be able to pick out anything particularly unique about it. There's nothing that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Nothing groundbreaking. I would say that you would only possibly enjoy this if you've played the games. I think it would be quite a waste of time to watch it without having the interest from the games.
Overall 7 - I'd call this decent. It is an additional part of the mass effect world, and therefore it is worth watching any day. But it could have been a hell of a lot better if Bioware had decided to go out of their comfort zone and introduce some new themes, rather than just following the backstory Vega explains to us on the Normandy to the letter. It is by no means essential. If you'd rather go and watch the 5 minute scene from ME3 that Vega has explaining all this to Shepard, you will get exactly the same information than if you watch the entire movie.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, the Mass Effect franchise alone has a lot of creditably, good and bad, but for the most part a lot of people know of it. This would be the second movie that BioWare has released for their games and unlike Dragon Age this movie fairs a lot better.
Story 9/10: Here the story is a very believable scenario, it is a bunch of space marines fighting in a space colony against an unknown alien forces. Genre wise this would action and drama with a lot of action but very deep dramatic moments. What is interesting is that is
mainly how the game is, and because it follows that essence so well you would really feel that you are in the world of Mass Effect. As for new comers they should be engage to this as well, it is very well paced and you most certainly feel the moments as they are meant to be felt.
Art 7/10: Another big difference between the Mass Effect and Dragon Age movie is the art style, here they decided to go the more traditional route on how to make their anime. It may not be as very lively, but it all does interact with each other well and everyone has a unique look in the world. Also the weapon and vehicle design do make the Mass Effect theme perfectly, they might not be used correctly, but they do match in design and sound.
Sound 8/10: If you read my Dragon Age review, you would see that I didn't think too highly to the sound because there wasn't much too it. Here they certainly made improvements. Here it has a lot more music has been add to give the scenes extra tension and VOs add extra emotion to their voices. This really does give the sense that the movie has a more realistic tone to it. It is very well done in here, it could have gone an extra step, but it is still solid.
Characters 9/10: One of the important aspects to Mass Effect franchise are the characters, if they aren’t relatable then they aren't likable. In here you are able to relate to them on some level very quickly. Spoiler alert this is space marines characters which means people are going to die. I actually felt a little something when some of the people die. Also some of the characters has an unpredictable element to them which does add more to the story. However, other than the main character, James Vega, the characters that are from the game that do make an appearance their original VOs aren't in it, sad but it isn't about them. But, Freddie Prinze Jr. (James Vega) does a fantastic job in this and I hope that we see (or hear) him again soon. Am kind of a fan of his when he was doing his acting job on the big screen. This is also possible one of the few animas that is only voiced in English, but that isn't a reason that you shouldn't watch just be aware.
Enjoyment 6/10: This has a lower score for one reason I didn't enjoy the ending as much as I wanted to. And before anyone says "BioWare can't make good endings for movies now!?!" I played Mass Effect 3 before watching this movie. It was released before the movie was which in turn was a terrible idea. If you played Mass Effect 3 and when you get the option to talk to James he tells you the ending to this movie. And it is the first conversation at the home base. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn't know what was going to happen, in my opinion they should have released the movie before the game and I would have got a lot more enjoyment out of it.
Overall 9/10: I really do enjoy this feel; the only real problem was that this came out after the video game, Mass Effect 3. If they just released this beforehand enjoyment would have been an 8 maybe a 9. However, that is no reason not to watch this it is better than BioWare's first film, Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a must own for Mass Effect fans and regular anime fans will enjoy this.
Mass effect is one of the most in depth gaming universes out there, and paragon lost certainly honors that heritage. To understand this anime you must play the games first or you will be lost. The anime builds on the background of James Vega, one of your companions from mass effect 3, playing the game you build a sense of comradery with him and he tells you one of his war stories, and paragon lost builds upon hist tale. It's one thing to hear it told in the game, but now you can watch it all unfold and truly understand the difficulty of his decision.
anime throws you right into the action with no real background, so again to understand you must play the games.
Not my personal favorite art style, they went with a more realistic appearance.
Some things didn't make sense in the mass effect universe, such as how the alliance marines were using the a variation of the M-76 Revenant when the standard issue alliance assault rifle is the M-8 Avenger. But small details such as this can be overlooked and will really only annoy hardcore mass effect fans.
The special features on the DVD were enjoyable if run of the mill, yknow the usual tour through the offices, and making of vids.
All in all this is a very good anime to watch, if you enjoy the action genre, And a must for any hardcore fan.