The newest addition to video game fan films comes to us from digital video students at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona. For over a year, this team has been working tirelessly to produce the short movie, filmed entirely on a dirt parking lot next to the school itself. Being a huge fan of the series and having watched Red Sand, I am happy to say that this film is a great contribution to the Mass Effect universe.
The story begins with the study of the ancient ruins left on Mars, led by a team of scientists and their security patrol. The film stars Ayman Samman as Dr. Averroes, head of the research team exploring the technology that the Protheans left behind. The other lead in the film, Mark Meer, will be familiar to viewers as the voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series. He is featured in the film as Colonel Jon Grissom, head of the security team protecting Averroes’ group.
As the story progresses, the audience learns about a band of marauders who are addicted to a drug known as “Red Sand”. The powerful toxin is made out of refined Element Zero and has granted the bandits “biotic” powers, in a manner akin to the games themselves. Once this group comes into play, Col. Grissom and his task force must stop the outlaws from taking control of the ruins and depleting the site of its Element Zero supply.
Red Sand features an impressive series of visuals, a huge feat stemming from such a small team. The lighting effects, holographic displays, visual tricks, and spanning environments of Mars lend a lot to the plausibility of this movie taking place within Mass Effect lore. A lot of care was taken into making this feel like something that BioWare would be proud of, and it is surely worth the 14-minute runtime for any ME fans looking for more content.