5 Best Space Opera Sci Fi Console Games That Aren't Mass Effect

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With Mass Effect: Andromeda just around the corner, gamers will once again be taken on another epic adventure through space.

The ending aside, the first three Mass Effect games helped prove that video games were as good a medium as books, television, or even film for creating a space opera -- at least one that is on par with Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse.

Whilst looking forward to Andromeda, I realized how few space-based adventure games out there actually tell a story -- at least on console. But that doesn't mean there aren't any at all. Here are five epic space opera experiences you can find on Xbox, PlayStation, and handheld consoles.

DarkStar One: Broken Alliance  

Xbox 360/PC

DarkStar One is, at its heart, an Elite clone with a story. The game doesn't tell a very complex tale, but does have enough of a narrative to pull you in and persevere through the game. Who doesn't want to play as a Han Solo type trying to unravel the mystery behind his father's death?

There are some RPG-like mechanics to play with, as you can choose to be a brigand, mercenary, privateer, merchant, or a combination of the four. Your goal is buy or capture alien technology to upgrade the DarkStar One so you can do battle and explore space.

Project Sylpheed

Xbox 360

Project Sylpheed was published by Square Enix and developed by Game Arts -- the studio responsible for the Lunar and Grandia series. So you'll be getting a story in the form of a typical JRPG, combined with a very fast-paced and colorful space shooting simulator.

The arcadey nature of the game feels similar to the Rogue Squadron series, only much faster paced. The game's plot tells a fairly familiar tale of rebels versus an evil empire, but its narrative is interesting enough to keep the action moving.

The visuals are definitely up to the standard seen in a Square Enix-published title, and hold up pretty well today. They are still a beautiful sight to behold despite being on last generation's Xbox.

Xenosaga Trilogy

PlayStation 2

Now we're moving away from space shooting sims and more into the story-based space opera. The Xenosaga games are an epic sci-fi JRPG trilogy that began a decade before the first Mass Effect was released.

The Xenosaga trilogy was developed by Monolith Soft, which is known for the classic Xenogears on the PlayStation 2 and the current Xenoblade series that's exclusively on Nintendo systems.

Xenosaga takes place thousands of years into the future, where humanity exists only in deep space and is fighting extinction against a hostile race known as the Gnosis. The main character Shion and an android known as KOS-MOS join a cast of ragtag characters that are on a journey to unlock the secrets of the universe. 

The thee games combined make a sprawling space opera, and their stories dabble heavily in philosophy and various religious themes. If you're an RPG fan and lover of complex sci-fi plots, I definitely recommend checking this series out. Hopefully Namco will release the full trilogy on the PlayStation Network.

Infinite Space

Nintendo DS

Infinite Space is a JRPG/strategy and space sim hybrid by Platinum Games (Nier, Bayonetta, and Metal Gear Rising). It's also one of the best and most overlooked games on the Nintendo DS.

The game is split in two halves, both of which are centered around the main protagonist, Yuri. The first half is spent learning about and defending against the evil Lugovailian Empire and its emperor Taranis, who has plans to destroy Yuri's galaxy.

The second half is set ten years into the future, and you find yourself protecting the same galaxy while engaging in politics, rescuing civilians, and taking on quests as the game's story continues to open up.

It's a huge game with a ton of content and an intricate story that could have easily made two games. And although it's on handheld, it is absolutely on par with games like Mass Effect or the Xeno series.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Xbox/PC 

If you love Mass Effect and Star Wars, then the Knights Of The Old Republic series worth investing in. For many, the original KoTR is one of the best RPGs ever made.

The combat is more akin to what you find in CRPGs, rather than the over-the-shoulder third-person shooter style we see in the Mass Effect series -- but the interaction and exploration mechanics will be very familiar to fans of ME.

The story is where the game really shines, as you can choose the light side of the Force or take a path to the dark side. The events of the game take place 4,000 years before the rise of the galactic empire portrayed in the films, and you'll get to engage with some very memorable characters -- especially the assassin droid HK-47.

If you haven't played Knights Of The Old Republic yet then you definitely should. And avoid spoilers at all costs, because you'll be treated to one of the best plot twists gaming has to offer.

Are there any epic space adventures on home or handheld consoles I've missed? What other galactic games are you playing while you wait for Mass Effect: Andromeda? Let us know in the comments below!

Published Mar. 14th 2017

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