Mass Effect is a series of sci-fi action role-playing video games developed by the Canadian company BioWare and released for the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and, from the second installment on, also for the PlayStation 3. The first game in the trilogy centers around a player-created character named Commander Shepard and his/her mission to save the galaxy from a race of mechanical beings known as the Reapers, and its followers, including Saren Arterius. The first game sees Shepard facing Sovereign, a Reaper left as a vanguard, who plans to allow the Reaper fleet currently hibernating in extra-galactic dark space to invade the Milky Way, and destroy all sapient organic life, continuing a mysterious cycle of destruction. The second game takes place two years later, and sees Shepard battling the Collectors, an alien race abducting entire human colonies in a plan to help the Reapers return to the Milky Way. The third and final game centers on the final battle against the Reapers.
Since the beginning, the series has been a major critical success. All three games have received critical acclaim for their storyline, characters, romances, voice acting, choices, tolerance of diversity, and the depth of the galaxy. Video game website GamesRadar called Mass Effect the best new franchise of the generation, saying that the galaxy was so well-constructed that it felt like a decades-old franchise and that it represented "a high-water mark for video games as a story-telling medium."