Sunday 11 July 2010

Mass Effect: Revelation, by Drew Karpyshyn

When playing a game, I’ve little to no interest in reading characters’ journals, game encyclopedias or watching any cut-scenes. I just want to get on with playing. It’s ironic then that I’ll lap up a tie-in novel like this or the Elder Scrolls novel, The Infernal City.

As a result this novel filled in much interesting background information for me, stuff that probably wouldn't have come as a surprise to other players of the game – that there are no Asari men startled me – and if some sections felt like info-dumps, it was information I was happy to have dumped on me.

The feel of the game is here in spades, and I don’t just mean the long lift rides, though they are present and correct! Conversations here are crucial, poised on a knife-edge, just as in the game. Descriptions of the awe induced by a fully-armoured krogan will resonate with anyone who’s played the game.

It’s surprisingly brutal – Saren, villain of the first game, is here in his uncorrupted prime, the Jack Bauer of the spaceways, torturing his way from one nonce to another, on a route leading him inexorably to his fate at our hands at the end of the game.

A good, exciting novel, and if reading it felt like something of an indulgence, I don’t think this book would have been at all embarrassed to have been published, for example, as part of Baen’s line as an original novel.

Mass Effect: Revelation, Drew Karpyshyn, Del Rey, pb, 323pp.

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