Field Report: Mass Effect PS3

Today, PS3 owners will be able to get their hands on a long-awaited port: the original Mass Effect. After years of being exclusive to Xbox 360 and PC, the port can be purchased as part of the Mass Effect Trilogy at retail, or as a standalone $15 download on the PlayStation Store.

We had a quick test of the retail version of the game, just to see how the Edge of Reality-developed port stands up.

The original Mass Effect is based on an older version of the Unreal Engine, and the consequences are immediate from the get-go. Remember when you had half-hour long multi-gig installations on PS3? Well, get ready to make a sandwich as the retail version of Mass Effect for PS3 starts off with a mandatory 3GB install.

It's clear that the PS3 version of the game is a port (and not a remake), as many of the technical shortcomings of the original Xbox release are recreated in the PS3 version. There's still quite a bit of texture pop-in, a glitch that's all-too-familiar on many Unreal Engine releases. The elevator rides are still painfully slow, although the mandatory hard disk installation may have hastened them slightly.

Saving games also takes quite a while, with the game freezing for a significant period of time every time an auto-save kicks in. But considering the lengthy load times and infrequent checkpoints, you may want to create a manual save pretty regularly. PS3 players that are expecting ME1 to play like 2 or 3 will be in for a world of shock: the original Mass Effect definitely feels antiquated after becoming accustomed to the updated gameplay engine.

While the mandatory hard drive installation will frustrate some players, the PS3 version of Mass Effect is quite a solid port. The framerate is steady, there's brand new trophy support, and the inclusion of Bring Down the Sky into the main game is a nice addition for PS3 fans.

Field Reports provide our first-hand experience with the latest games and expansion packs. This report is based on the PS3 version of the game.