Mass Effect

XB360, PC / RPG / Release: Nov 20, 2007 / ESRB: M

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Mass Effect Preview

Related Topics – Mass Effect, BioWare

Team Xbox has the latest Mass Effect preview, going hands-on with the BioWare sci-fi role playing game. More previews can be found at IGN, 1UP and GameSpot.

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Mass Effect Q&A

Related Topics – Mass Effect, BioWare, DLC, Greg Zeschuk

Computer & Video Games has been updated with a Mass Effect Q&A, asking BioWare's Greg Zeschuk about the sci-fi RPG. Topics include development of the game, DLC, and demo plans.

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Mass Effect Reaches Critical Mass, Gets Dated

Related Topics – Mass Effect, BioWare

Publisher Microsoft Game Studios has nailed down the oft-demanded final launch date for BioWare's epic sci-fi roleplaying game Mass Effect. The game will ship November 20, 2007 in North America. Along with the announcement, Microsoft sent over several new screenshots of the game's character customization system, displaying the breadth of multicultural diversity present in the conflict-ridden universe of the far future!

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"Mass Effect is only released in North America? Did they already forget about the rest of the ..."
- Lukiopimp    See all 53 comments


Mass Effect Preview

Related Topics – Mass Effect, BioWare

Over at IGN you can find a new Mass Effect preview, reporting on the PAX 07 demonstration of BioWare's sci-fi role playing game.

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E3 07: Mass Effect Preview

Saren's installation has to be destroyed. There are no two ways about it. The rogue Spectre's base contains the antidote to the genophage, a disease that is wiping out the entire Krogan race--and Saren is amassing an army of Krogan warriors for his own dangerous purposes. Leaving the base intact ensures galactic devastation, while destroying it condemns a race to eventual extinction. We also happen to have a Krogan in our party. He's working through some issues several yards away, cursing and firing his rifle into the ocean. It's a little awkward. This is the kind of emotionally conflicted scenario that BioWare president Greg Zeschuk and project director Casey Hudson hope will leave an impression on players of the company's epic upcoming space-set roleplaying game Mass Effect. Even after only having been familiar with honorable Krogan bounty hunter Wrex for a few short moments, the journalists watching Zeschuk and Hudson demonstrate the game in a closed-doors session were themselves visibly resistant to seeing the BioWare developers take the hard line approach and screw over protagonist Shepard's buddy. The dilemma can resolve--or not--in different ways, depending on how the player handles the situation, but in the interest of keeping the crucial plot points under wraps before the game is released, we were asked not to write about the particular route taken during the demo session. Of course, in addition to the various resolutions available once Wrex is faced with the nearly impossible decision of saving the world or saving his own race, it may well work out that during your playthrough you never bring Wrex into your party to begin with, bypassing that uncomfortable exchange. Earlier in the demo, Commander Shepard arrived at the space station and attempted to sneak by Wrex to get to an elevator. He had killed one of Wrex's bounty contracts--and Wrex is infamously fastidious when it comes to finishing what he starts. The BioWare folks failed at sneaking Shepard past--surely deliberately, for the purposes of the demo--and Wrex confronted him. Like the later Wrex situation, it can be handled in different ways. Wrex is a bit of a hardass, but he also respects integrity, and standing your ground when dealing with him can yield positive results. After a bit of back-and-forth, Wrex joined Shepard's party. Mass Effect's conversation engine, which is at the center of these encounters, is one of the game's strengths. As in most dialogue-infused games, conversations are fundamentally built around a dialogue tree, but here are presented in a more cinematic fashions. Rather than simply staying focused on one talking head, or switching between two, conversations are shown through a variety of cycling camera angles, sometimes pulling back to a groupshot, sometimes focusing in on a closeup, sometimes in between. Well-implemented depth of field effects put the spotlight on the speaking characters while retaining a view of the gorgeous surrounding environments. Conversation options are presented as soon as the NPC begins talking, and as you select choices the game will assemble them into a conversation--alternatively, a double dap of the button interjects the response. This actually affects the conversation, as your character comes off as rude. Certain additional dialogue options--beyond the standard three-tiered range--may appear depending on both the situation and on relevant skills your character may have. All in all, Mass Effect is a gorgeous game, with clearly a great deal of effort expended on both its locales and its characters. The level of detail extends far and wide: during a trip to a planet from which a static-obscured distress call had been sent out, the team dropped a six-wheeled personnel transport into a shallow body of water on the surface, and after zooming in it was possible to see droplets of water cascading off the vehicle's armor. Unfortunately, the dreaded "uncanny valley" makes an appearance from time to time, largely in characters' eyes--despite well animated body language and facial movement, characters often appear to be in a fixed gaze, which detracts from the otherwise extremely convincing presentation. Though the presentational elements were the focus of the E3 demo, Zeschuk and Hudson were also sure to show off the game's scale, via its galactic map. From your ship, you can manipulate a map that begins at the planetary level and can be zoomed out to a solar system scale, then again to a star cluster scale, and finally to encompass the entire galaxy. The developers were quick to point out that players can visit any planet, some of which are crucial to the story but many of which are entirely optional, offering subplots and additional exploration for players who want it. Meanwhile, a refreshingly retro synthesizer-tinged musical score permeates the world, evoking the kind of desolate but subtly epic old-school sci-fi that is more in line with Metroid than with Halo. Mass Effect's score has more of a 1970s flair than does Metroid, however, bringing to mind the early ages of synthesizers. The effect is completed by the light film grain effect applied over the game's visuals, creating strong, coherent atmosphere. Gameplay videos released on the internet in recent days suggest that not every scene in Mass Effect may be up to the same standard of writing and narrative impact as the standout Wrex incident, which might be an issue inherent to making a game on this scale. That said, the company has demonstrated plenty of top-notch material already created, built around what appears to be an extremely solid core. With BioWare's existing track record, it seems likely the studio will deliver.

Get the Flash Player to see this player. Download the full HD Mass Effect footage @ FileShack

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Mass Effect Interview

Over at GameSpot you can find the latest Mass Effect interview. BioWare project director Casey Hudson, CEO Ray Muzyka, and president Greg Zeschuk all have their say about the company's upcoming sci-fi RPG.

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Mass Effect Q&A

Strong story lines and interesting, relatable characters are the core of any good BioWare game, and Mass Effect looks to be no exception. While many feel that a game prepared to offer such an enormous world might suffer from the lack of multiplayer, the development team at BioWare is, as always, confident in their product. I spoke with Casey Hudson, Mass EffectÂ’s project manager, to learn more about what this gargantuan space-themed action-RPG is set to offer Xbox 360 gamers.

Shack: What's the general storyline for Mass Effect? Casey Hudson: Mass Effect takes place around 200 years in the future, as human beings make their first steps into a larger galactic community. You're Commander Shepard, best of the best in the human military, and in line to be the first human Spectre -- an elite military operative charged with protecting the galaxy from its gravest threats. You'll quickly discover that this idyllic future has a very dark past: an ancient race of powerful machines routinely harvest the galaxy of advanced civilization -- repurposing and ultimately destroying intelligent life-forms. They're about to return. Shack: Tell us about character customization. What can be changed in terms of aesthetics, character classes and skill proficiencies? Casey Hudson: In Mass Effect you can develop and customize your character as much or as little as you want, going even beyond the depth of our previous games such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can adjust every feature of your face and create a unique Commander Shepard -- male or female. You can choose what class of skills (weapons, dark energy, or tech) your character will specialize in, and you'll be able to develop those skills as you progress -- even adding entirely new skills that add new dimensions to combat and character interaction. And throughout the game you'll develop the abilities of your squad as well. You will also have a huge variety of weapons and equipment to choose from, whether you find, buy or steal to get it. And there's a system that allows you to gather resources that can be used to construct new gear, or modify existing stuff. You can also customize your experience by your choice in squad members. You'll choose two other squad members to join you from a larger group, and they vary greatly in personality and skill-set. All together, this means that as you head into battle, your squad as well as your combination of equipment and skills will make your game experience very different from someone else's. And in times when you're not into detailed customization, you can use default choices. The Commander Shepard you see in screenshots and the box cover is a pre-made character that you can choose to get straight into the action if you want.
Shack: I've heard the conversations in Mass Effect are supposed to be very in-depth. Casey Hudson: Interacting with other characters in Mass Effect is now much more interactive and cinematic, allowing you to simultaneously have direct control of your character's responses while being able to appreciate the cinematic experience of watching your character as though starring in a well-filmed movie. Some of the examples we've shown are where you draw a gun on a bartender, or grab the collar of a squad member to get his attention. But even more surprising results can happen as plots start to culminate in an emotional climax. Without giving too much away, in one example you make the choice of either freeing or executing prisoners. At another point, you make a choice about how to give some physical punishment to someone who stabbed you in the back -- including sending your 7-foot tall Krogan warrior to do the job as you watch. Shack: Do party members react to your actions? Casey Hudson: Squad members in Mass Effect react on an emotional and moral level to what you're doing, so even basic combat takes on an actual meaning and relevance within the story. One example is when you work with a gang to expose a plot on one world, Ashley asks whether you should be essentially working with criminals. How you respond to that criticism is entirely up to you. Turn the page to learn about Mass Effect's travel system, plans for expanding the game world, and squad-based game play. _PAGE_BREAK_ Shack: What sort of exotic locales will we be able to visit in Mass Effect?
Casey Hudson: Much of the Mass Effect is about the thrill of the unknown -- seeing new and exotic locations, and having the freedom to travel to these places at will, never knowing what's around the corner. One of the most important locations in the game is the Citadel, a gigantic space station that is the center of political and financial power in the galaxy. With a population of over 50 million, it has a wide variety of locations ranging from the height of luxury to the seediest of dark alleyways. There are also many locations scattered across the galaxy that you can explore, from ships in deep space to hostile moons. And throughout the game your home will be the Normandy, a powerful stealth ship that can take you to the edges of the galaxy. Shack: How does the player travel? Warping, space ships...? Casey Hudson: You'll be able to navigate a lush galaxy map, viewing space from the galaxy level all the way down to an orbital view. And once your destination is selected, the Normandy uses gigantic Mass Relays -- essentially powerful antennae -- to create a beam of energy that allows you to make jumps of thousands of light years in an instant. Mass Relays, combined with the Normandy's "short range" faster-than-light drives, gives you access to much of the known galaxy. Shack: Seeing as how the universe is infinite, it would make sense for Mass Effect to somehow continually expand its own game world. Are there any plans to implement this, such as downloadable content via Xbox Live? Casey Hudson: We've got some pretty exciting plans for downloadable content that will allow you to continue your Mass Effect adventure throughout the life span of the Xbox 360. It may include new locations, maps, or equipment to modify your character, but we haven't officially announced anything yet. Needless to say, we see a lot of great opportunities with Xbox Live so we'll certainly be taking advantage of it in a big way. Shack: What sort of character development system has been crafted in order to make Mass Effect's characters unique? Casey Hudson: Mass Effect has a similar depth of character development as [seen in] Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but ... gives you more direct control over your character's progression. Things are expressed in a more intuitive [way], so you can see the results of improving your character in more concrete, immediate ways. Shack: Tell us about squads: How many squad members can accompany you; is each squad character customizable; what sort of special abilities does each squad member possess; can you give them commands (and if so, what types of commands?) or do they act of their own volition--or perhaps a bit of both?
Casey Hudson: You'll command a squad of up to 3 characters, including yourself. Each squad member has very unique skills, equipment and behavior, and you can develop these things as the game unfolds. In combat, you'll be able to issue movement and attack orders to your squad members, making excellent use of their special abilities exactly how and when you need them. For example, using single presses from the D-pad or shoulder buttons, you can get squad members to take cover at a particular location, attack a specific target, and even perform special abilities (such as "Suppression Fire" and the shield-smashing "EMP Burst") simultaneously on a target to take down some of the biggest threats. Shack: Thanks for your time! Anything else you'd like to add? Casey Hudson: Only that we're honored to see the excitement and anticipation that's building up for Mass Effect, and that kind of support encourages us to push even harder to make Mass Effect as good as it can be. It's been really rewarding to see it at the #1 spot on numerous "most anticipated" lists for 2007, so rest assured we're all working extremely hard to get it done so we can all play it! Mass Effect is scheduled to release for Xbox 360 in 2007.

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Mass Effect Screenshots

Related Topics – Mass Effect, BioWare, screenshots

Here are a couple of snaps from BioWare's snazzy looking Xbox 360 RPG Mass Effect

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"So is this coming out for PC? it seems Bioware is making more games for consoles these days"
- ballystix    See all 90 comments





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