Mass Effect (game)
Mass Effect is a science-fiction shooter/RPG trilogy developed by BioWare, with spin-off novels and a comic book mini-series published by Dark Horse. The project director for the games is Casey Hudson, and the lead writers are Drew Karpyshyn and Mac Walters. As of March 2012, all three planned installments have been released.
The first game met much critical acclaim, and could be described as a "flawed masterpiece"- there were certainly badly handled or unpolished features to the game, but the core story was good and the gameplay had many innovative features. The second met even more critical acclaim, solving all the problems from the first game, while adding only one questionable feature. The third game is generally receiving good reviews, as well (although the last 10 minutes...let's just say they took all the bad parts from neo Battlestar Galactica and Lost's endings and threw them together).
Outside of the main game trilogy, there is a considerable expanded universe, including three novels written by Drew Karpyshyn, a *horrible* novel by William C. Dietz, several comic book mini-series written by Mac Walters and published by Dark Horse, a direct to video anime movie, and the iOS games Mass Effect Galaxy and Infiltrator.
The games take place in the late 22nd century. After finding alien ruins on Mars, humanity has recently gained FTL technology and joined the greater galactic community, which has been around for millenia. The face of humanity to alien nations is a military organization called the Systems Alliance. You play as Commander Shepard, a Systems Alliance special forces operative who has uncovered evidence of the threat of the Reapers.
In Vs. Debates
Mass Effect's technology level is clearly defined by the in-game codex, making it a good candidate for debate threads. The technology itself is rather low compared to other science fictions. Visuals from the game occasionally contradict the codex, but the precedent set by the writers is that the codex supersedes what is shown onscreen.
Mass Effect is often pitted against Halo in vs. threads, likely owing to the aesthetic similarities between the universes.