Norman Spaceship from Mass Effect

The Normandy SR2 CIC, seen in Mass Effect 3.

The Normandy SR2 CIC, as seen in Mass effect 3.
Screenshot: Bioware / EA

Creating a sense of belonging is fundamental for this runs video games. Video games give us the opportunity to interact with and be part of a fantastic space on a personal level. the Mass Effect series is no different, mapping us a galaxy to explore and defend. But her best moments aren’t in her vast sci-fi world, but in her response at home.

the Systems Alliance Space Vehicle Normandy is at the heart of the whole Mass Effect saga. It is a one-of-a-kind stealth reconnaissance ship built as a peacekeeping project between humanity and an alien species called the Turians, who had briefly been at war with settlers from Earth decades before the game. . Within the opening hours of Mass Effect, your player character –Commander Shepard– inherits the ship from their mentor figure and the closest thing to a real friend at this point in the series – Captain Anderson – after a series of events at a distant human colony catapults Shepard to a presence of galactic importance.

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Screenshot: Bioware / EA

As you interact with the ship’s teammates in these early sequences, you get the feeling that the captain is a respected part of the crew; a capable leader otherwise the captain of the ship, appreciated if not really known. Inherit from Normandy Anderson is just one of the things that suddenly propels Shepard onto a bigger stage – no longer a cog in the machine, but right now a figurehead, the person of the people who call the Normandy at home to seek for advice. Suddenly, this ship that you hardly know as a player and of which you only have a vague meaning, becomes yours.

Yes Mass Effect were not a game, we would see this adoption of Shepard inheriting the Normandy by character and dialogue. They were talking about how the ship is theirs, and that of their allies, and we saw them navigate its spaces here and there between the momentum of the larger plot. Even if Mass Effect if that wasn’t the game it is, maybe a lot of what you would do aboard the ship would have been relegated to menu-driven work – adjust your party load here, upgrade a skill over there. Our interactions with the crew could have been based entirely on cutscenes, rather than conversation, the physical act of having to navigate. Normandyspaces, walk towards them and press a button to engage.

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Screenshot: Bioware / EA

It sounds simple, and it is, but the physical interaction of moving through your space is part of what helps make the Normandy feel so welcoming. If you want to get the most out of Mass Effect, you have to engage with the ship in a personal way, more than just the vehicle to go from mission to mission. You develop a routine, walking from the CIC to its dining room, from its engine room to its infirmary to (in matches two and three) places like your captain’s quarters or the observation room. The fact that conversations on board the ship “unlock” after completing a major mission encourages this routine, this navigation in space: Normandy. Pace its rooms. Talk to people. Do this over and over again, until you know which floor everyone is on like the back of your hand.

Because you do this over the course of not one game, but three, there’s a huge time investment in the physicality of the ship. It’s the beating heart of every game, the place you walk through more than any other place in the series. When your knowledge of its structure and layout is challenged by the time spent and Normandy like a space evolving in Mass effect 2 and 3, in a big and small way, you begin to realize how intimate your relationship with this intangible object is. It becomes more than just a hub, but begins to forge those bonds of being home, a safe haven in a vast and often dangerous galaxy.

This is further affected not only by how Shepard owns and navigates the Normandyspace, but their party comrades. Lesser experience, perhaps, would have thrown all of your friends into one common space, so you could line them up and work through their dialogue – or perhaps as an option for them to come to you, summoning them into. your quarters (as you might occasionally by Mass effect 3, but only for certain conversations). But by distributing the members of your party to different parts of the ship, not only the Normandy feel lived through throughout the series, parts of the ship become theirs, as much as they are yours as Shepard and the player.

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Screenshot: Bioware / EA

This is particularly the case at the time of Mass effect 2 when party members have specific roles in Shepard’s team and therefore inhabit specific sections – cop turned bounty hunter turned alien, Garrus Vakarian is your weapons expert, then of course he’s in the game. NormandyThe gun battery spreading to a dizzying abandonment. Mordin Solus is your scientist, carving out a research lab to work in and work his way through Gilbert and Sullivan.

This is not only reflected in the role, but also in the characterization. When you recruit an Experimental Biotic Convict Jack to your team Mass effect 2, the space she adopts for herself is a hassle under the stairs, away from the rest of the crew – dark, harsh, and worthy of her tumultuous persona. Thane, an assassin of a reptilian species called Drell, adopts the ship’s survival center as his own space, not just for the humidity of his atmosphere, as he has a sense of serenity that complements the peace he is trying to achieve. center in itself. These locations evolve over the course of the series from aspects of the ship – life sustaining, CIC, armory, engineering – and into people’s rooms. As party members progress through the games, whether in death or just doing their own things, the loss of those in these places feel tangible, now defined as much by the absence as by the presence of someone.

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Screenshot: Bioware / EA

The personification of NormandyThe ego in these moments is hardened in that sense of home – a safe, personal and intimate space, far from the danger of your missions – in the moments when the series chooses to violate that sense of security, making it one of the most powerful moments in the franchise. They can be moments of joy, like the climax of romantic encounters, or they can be moments of tragedy, like the destruction of the world. Normandy SR1 and its rebirth as SR2 during the opening hours of Mass effect 2. Moments of tension, like Shepard is anchored in Mass effect 3‘s opening, or even in the Citadel DLC, when a sinister doppelganger’s attempt to rob the ship (yes, that’s as wonderfully silly as it sounds) is the primary focus of the storyline. These are the moments that are made memorable because of what Normandy becomes for you as a player. These moments hit hard because the Normandy is reflected more as a place between the actual narrative of the games.

None of this would work if the Normandy was just menu layers, a place to fall asleep between the beats of Mass Effectthe story of. If this were just a place, not a separate character – not really a home for Shepard and the player – there would be a disconnect which, realizing how fundamental the ship is for the saga as a whole, would threaten to undo the whole trilogy in an instant.

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Screenshot: Bioware / EA

The latest story addition published for Mass effect 3, the above Citadel, is an intentionally nostalgic game. It was, at one point, meant to be the end of this Mass Effect had become, at least in the form of Commander Shepard’s story. In its final moments, once your crew has saved the day (and the Normandy himself) and ready to resume the fight, Shepard and their allies all take a brief moment to recognize how far they’ve come, the bonds they’ve made, the struggles they’ve overcome together. As they all march past your hero to return to the Normandy, one character among the cast will notice in one form or another that whatever those struggles it’s been a hell of a trick, as they too come apart and leave Shepard alone.

The commander looks up to look out a viewing window Normandy. “The bestThey say to each other quietly, as they too now leave the scene, leaving us – leaving the Mass Effect trilogy – on one last lingering photo of the house we have made for ourselves throughout its history. A fitting reminder of the place in his galaxy that has always mattered the most.


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