After eight months of wondering since that initial announcement, the day finally came. Today, after a few weeks of beta testing, Mass Effect: New Earth was officially opened to the public at California’s Great America. This new motion theater ride takes guests inside the world of the Mass Effect games on board a shuttle for tour company Mass Relay Getaways. The idea is to take a peaceful tour of timeshare destination Terra Nova, but of course, something goes terribly, terribly wrong.
If it sounds a bit similar to Star Tours, it is a bit similar to Star Tours, although it’s a motion-seat ride rather than a full motion simulator, and it gets the bonus of being inside the Mass Effect universe. The ride includes two of the most popular characters from the game and two of its most memorable villains to face off against as your tour shuttle plunges through the universe.
The other main difference from Star Tours comes in the animatronics, or lack thereof. Instead of a C3-PO or Rex to guide you through, there’s a live, human actor playing much maligned Commander Sherpard fanboy Conrad Verner to guide the tour and interact with the ride. This interesting idea recalls the dearly missed Jaws ride at Universal Studios, and adds a level of immersion where there otherwise might be none. We saw two different performers take on the role, and both had a great level of energy to befit the ride. They also both brought the crowd on board, interacting with us in a way that made the show feel just a little more real.
The queue area of the ride does its absolute damndest to be immersive, despite being smackdab in the middle of a fairly unthemed park. There are statues of both Male Shep and Femshep, and little pieces of art around that tell riders the story of the ride, where they’ll be headed on their trip, and what kind of ship they’re riding.
All in all, the ride is much, much better than we initially expected and definitely worth a trip this summer to check it out. We’ll have some more content from today’s media day up later this week, so stay tuned! Check out a gallery of other pictures from the ride below.
(Full Disclosure: Mike Fatum, the author of this article, is currently employed by Great America and working on the Mass Effect ride. As a long time Mass Effect and theme park fan, he tried to give this as fair a review as he could – unfortunately, no one else from the Ace of Geeks staff was available today to cover this event.)