'Mass Effect: Redemption' Review

Mass Effect: RedemptionIn just a few short weeks, gamers will explore the galaxy once again with Commander Shepard in "Mass Effect 2." No need to wait until then to reacquaint yourself with BioWare's refreshingly original sci-fi scenario however. On newsstands today is issue one of "Mass Effect: Redemption," the fruits of a collaboration between's the game's developer and Dark Horse Comics.

Let's get the simple facts out of the way first: if you haven't played or aren't familiar with the "Mass Effect" universe, "Redemption" is not the best place to start. The beginnings of a story laid out in the first issue entertain, but newcomers will be lost without the proper context. The first game excelled at introducing players to BioWare's multi-layered intergalactic society in drip-feed helpings. "Redemption" expects that you know why Elcor talk the way they do and what bone the humans have to pick with everyone else.

As re-introductions go however, it's just what you're looking for. (Oh, and consider this your SPOILER ALERT.)

Commander Shepard is dead, or close to it. That's a fact we learn early on along with Liara T'Soni, Asari veteran of the first game. Liara is looking for her old companion, a search that leads her to Omega, a space station carved into an asteroid. She doesn't find the commander in this first issue, but she does link up with a number of characters who are known to play roles in the coming sequel: the Illusive Man, Miranda Lawson and a Drell named Feron who looks an awful lot like a new species pictured in the coming sequel's artwork.

Without spoiling too much, the story seems to be leaning towards a race to find Shepard. This first issue is all about introducing characters and establishing early alliances, but the Big Bad seems to be tied to one of the more intriguing yet ultimately underutilized story elements from the first game.

The artwork is evocative of hand-drawn promo materials from the games while still maintaining a distinctly comic book-y feel. Character and background designs are colorful and complex, sometimes to the point of feeling to busy. The overall presentation is well done though, as good a representation of the "Mass Effect" universe as a fan could ask for.

"Mass Effect: Redemption" hits shelves Wednesday, January 6, with a story by Mac Walters and John Jackson Miller, and art by Omar Francia (a), Michael Atiyeh (c) and Daryl Mandryk (cover). A preview is available at Dark Horse Comics.

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