Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Mass Effect: Retribution

Lowdown: Cerberus experimentation with Reaper implants on a human subject proves disastrous.
Mass Effect: Retribution is the third Mass Effect novel out of four released thus far. It is also the last to be written by Drew Karpyshyn and the last to be accepted by fans. (The fourth book, which I might try for my amusement, is rumoured to be a total disaster.) Released in 2010, Retribution is set past the escapades of the Mass Effect 2 game and thus sets the scene up for Mass Effect 3; it is also the first of the series’ books to make direct references to one Commander Shepard (albeit by last name only).
A sequel to Revelation and Ascension, Retribution unites us back with the formers’ heroes: Kahlee Sanders, the scientist who is always capable under fire; her old love interest, David Anderson; and her former enemy now awkwardly turned into some sort of a love interest, Paul Grayson. Grayson is the pivot around whom the world turns: working as a mercenary for Aria T’Loak on Omega, he is traced by Cerberus who retrieve him with the aid of their best assassin, Kai Lang. Grayson arrives at the hands of the Illusive Man at the wrong time, with the latter looking for human candidates to experiment with Reaper technology on. These experiments turn Grayson into something completely different (and much more powerful than anything human like that the Mass Effect 3 game throws at you; either the book or the game loses credibility there).
The catch is that just before his capture, Grayson sends piles of Cerberus secrets to Sanders. Together with Anderson, she establishes an alliance with the Turians to fight Cerberus back and retrieve Grayson. The plot thickens in rather unconvincing manners through Grayson now being much more than meets the eye.
In my money, while Retribution is not a bad book – it is quite an entertaining read – it is also the weakest of Karpyshyn’s novel trio. The problem with it is the lack of anything but the core adventure story; flavor and depth are missing to a degree that creates an otherwise uninspiring read. Add that to the various continuity issues with Mass Effect 3, and you get a lesser book to go with this series of great video games.
Overall: An adventure story to spice up a good game with and not much more. At 2.5 out of 5 stars, Retribution is for the keen fan alone.

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