With early access becoming more and more popular, you don't need to wait for games to be complete to start playing them. And, with mods, you don't need to wait for games to be complete before you start changing them, either. The Mass Effect Edition mod for Starbound (which is currently in early access beta) lets you play as a Turian or an Asari, gives you control of the Normandy SR-1, lets you craft some of Mass Effect's guns and armor, and even includes biotic powers.
You can start by creating a little Mass Effect alien: build yourself a miniature Garrus or tiny Tali, or, I guess, a boring human like Shepard or Kaidan or Vega. Once done, you'll find yourself aboard your new ship: The Normandy SR-1 in just about all of its original glory.
The detail of the SR-1 is great. There's the cockpit (sadly Joker-less), the engine room, the CIC, and a couple of empty chambers to fill with your belongings (or maybe just in case an alien assassin, a scarred mercenary, or an ancient Prothean is added later by DLC and needs a place to hang out). Even the navigation console is one of those swirly galaxy maps that Shepard has in the CIC. Only this is a tiny blocky Starbound version. IT'S SO DARN CUTE.
Once you've explored the Normandy, blip down to the planet below and start playing as usual, though bring along your omni-tool, that glowing wrist-mounted hologram Shepard uses when she wants to hack or decrypt something, or when she needs to dispense medi-gel, or when she decides to violently ram a glowing blade through someone's torso.
While it's fun attacking everything that moves with a giant orange omni-blade, you might want to avail yourself of Mass Effect's biotic powers, which include Lift -- to levitate your enemies and hold them in place -- and Slow, which will slow you down if you're falling.
I found Lift to be especially useful, mostly because I've never played Starbound before, and it turns out I'm really horrible at it, particularly in the way I charge my enemies and then they jump on my face and murder me. Now, though, I can keep them at arm's length without actually touching them.
You can even use Lift on vendors, thus making this mod a realistic recreation of Mass Effect, because man, was I a dick to shopkeepers in that game, and I've got the deep orange glowing scars to prove it.
Though I personally did not progress particularly far with the gathering of materials and the crafting of useful items, diligent players can also build themselves a set of Mass Effect Phoenix armor, and a bunch of guns from the game, including the Mantis and Viper sniper rifles, the Revenant and Avenger assault rifles, a Geth pulse rifle, and pistols like the Carnifex, Phalanx, or Predator. You know, the Predator pistol, the one Shepard insisted on having in her hands in every cutscene despite you NEVER EVER ONCE USING IT ARRRRGGGH.
Anyway! This mod is adorable and charming and even includes a little custom Mass Effect music for the full experience. If you're whisking around the universe in Starbound, you might as well do it in the Normandy, no?
Installation : Keep in mind, Starbound is still in beta, and I have to imagine that updates to the game will be breaking mods regularly. First, create an account at the Chucklefish forums (it only takes a second). Then, find your Starbound folder (on Steam, it's Steam > steamapps > common > Starbound > mods). Download the Mass Effect mod , as well as Kawa's xbawks-mode character creator and the Simple Extended Character Creation Mod (the ME mod requires them). Extract all three of those into your Starbound mod folder, and you're done.