Mass Effect: New Earth isn’t exactly what I was expecting when I heard a California theme park had been fitted with a Mass Effect-themed ride. First off I pictured some kind of roller coaster, as that’s typically what comes to mind when theme parks are discussed. While New Earth was smaller in scale than what I imagined, it did a really nice job of capturing the tone of the Mass Effect universe in just a few short minutes.
New Earth is, in effect, a ride comprised of tilting chairs, sensory triggers, 3D glasses, and a single live action actor. As you arrive at the ride you queue up outside a large N7-branded hanger reading informative plaques about the Mass Effect universe and seeing very nicely made props, like sets of N7 armour. As someone who has made N7 armour for cosplay in the past, I was very envious of the quality of the suits on show.
As you near the entrance to the ride, a short video is shown informing you that you are about to ride a decommissioned military vehicle turned tourism vessel to visit a potential deep space holiday destination and time share. The video is cheesy, featuring heavy doses of Mass Effect loading screen graphics to save on rendering new 3D models, while people smile a lot and impress on you how safe and positive this trip into space will be.
Once the doors open you are greeted to rows upon rows of large, comfortable. deep chairs and a physically present actor explaining the galactic tourism journey you are about to embark upon. The set around him is very nicely built, featuring glowing glass panels and levers which help sell the idea he is a part of the experience playing out on the 3D screen stretching out above him.
For the most part, the ride is a mix of chair movement and rumbling to simulate ship movement, as well as air puffs and a brief spray of foul-smelling vapour used to simulate a Rachni attack. Moments where the ship is meant to be at an angle are sold by the live-action actor hanging himself at odd angles to imply gravity is acting on him, and when put together it’s easy to forget you’re actually just sat in a static room.
I think my main disappointment with Mass Effect: New Earth is its relatively short length and sudden anticlimactic ending. There’s no real wind down to the narrative, it just hits its stride and then stops rather abruptly. Also, while the ride features voice acting from well-known characters in the games, the music is all very clearly not music from the franchise, and feels like it is distinctly not music from the games for some form of legal reasons.
While it wasn’t as wide in scope as I imagined going in, it was an enjoyable and well contextualised short experience that would, in a perfect world, be how I played actual Mass Effect games. It’s just a shame it was over so soon and had to skirt around the series’ iconic soundtrack.