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August

Mass Effect - New Retrospective Video

by Couchpotato, Friday - August 15, 2014 05:58

Noah Caldwell-Gervais sent us a link to a new video retrospective he put together on his Youtube channel that takes a look at the entire Mass Effect series.

This is a whole-series retrospective on the Mass Effect trilogy and all of its DLC. It looks at the games in terms of design, character development, and plot. It also tries to put a finger on what's special about the Mass Effect experience and why it's so beloved. This takes a long time to do-- don't think I made the video thinking you'd sit there listening to me for two and half hours. It's like an audio book-- choose a chapter and watch as much or as little as you like. It's also got major spoilers for all of everything Mass Effect, but if you haven't played the games by now, maybe spoilers is what you'd need to change your mind about it.

Mass Effect - You Should Love Dr. Chakwas

by Couchpotato, Saturday - August 09, 2014 06:53

The Mary Sue posted a new article with reasons why you should love Mass Effect‘s Dr. Chakwas. Here is a brief sample of the article.

The Mass Effect universe is full of incredible women. Tali, Liara, Jack, Miranda, Samara, Ashley, Aria, Kasumi, Nyreen… the list of motivated, intelligent ass-kickers goes on and on. And, of course, FemShep herself—has there ever been a more beloved video game protagonist? Even at her most Renegade, FemShep makes me want to be a better person. I could talk about the women of Mass Effect until the next Reaper invasion begins, but today I want to focus on one particularly fantastic character whom I feel doesn’t often get the due she deserves: Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karin Chakwas.

I can't wait to see your replies in the comment section. Tongue out

July

Mass Effect - Six Alternate Box Images

by Couchpotato, Thursday - July 24, 2014 15:38

Well did you guys know Bioware created six different Box images for boxed version of Mass Effect.. If your interested in what they looked like then head on over to Twinfinite.

We all know that final cover art for the first Mass Effect game, a title that sparked a franchise that many of us on staff are absolutely head over heels with. As such, you can bet that we’re just as intrigued to see 6 of the other box art designs that didn’t end up making the cut for various reasons. There are actually a few here that I would have really preferred over the final cover, but what we wound up with is still good too.

Mass Effect - 7 Deranged Renegade Moments

by Couchpotato, Monday - July 14, 2014 06:07

Outsidexbox has a new video for Mass Effect where they talk about the seven most Deranged Renegade Moments in the series.

As the last generation of consoles recedes into the distance, Show of the Week takes its eyes off the road to the future of videogames, peers over one shoulder because it has a shoulder in this metaphor, and looks back to the Mass Effect trilogy: as glorious an RPG space opera as we could have have hoped for. Join us to salute BioWare's sci-fi saga and recognise Shepard's most violently erratic Renegade interrupts.

As a science fiction fan with a taste for RPGs, a soft spot for romantic subplots and a fantasy about having my own spaceship, I am someone whose interests were laser-targeted by Mass Effect. It stole my heart in 2007 with the original game and never gave it back, so I can't wait for what comes next for the Mass Effect series. For now, I'm more than happy reliving the Mass Effect glory days on Xbox 360.

Show of the Week commemorates the near-irresistable options for interrupting conversations in Mass Effects 2 and 3. Of those options, these Renegade interrupts were the most entertaining for lurching between Commander Stern But Fair and Commander Borderline Psycho. Watch out for spoilers.

Mass Effect - Follow the Captain Shepard

by Couchpotato, Tuesday - July 08, 2014 09:44

RPGamer has a new auido podcast about Bioware, and  Captain Shepard.

BioWare wanted to convey the ineffectual nature of the human race when compared to other species populating the galaxy. This naturally took the form of having a human lead others into combat, while undertaking decisions that might one day have galactic consequences. Perhaps the human race doesn't deserve all the scorn it receives if that's the case.

May

Mass Effect - Retrospective @ Continue Play

by Couchpotato, Tuesday - May 13, 2014 01:32

If you feeling like reading another retrospective then head on over to Continue Play where they take a look back at Mass Effect . Here is a small sample of the article.

There’s not much we can really say that’s negative about Mass Effect, other than what we’ve already noted. It’s a sober, subtle transition for new players, and it hides a wonderful layer of complexity, waiting to be uncovered by returning players.

It effectively replicates a feeling of wonder with its exploration – as damning as some of it may be – and through the space opera wraps around the fables of the Reapers, we come to understand the origins of the reporter-punching, galaxy-saving Commander Shepard.

January

Mass Effect - Retrospective @ Gamemoir

by Couchpotato, Tuesday - January 21, 2014 01:38

Gamemoir takes a a look back at the Mass Effect series, and talks about what made it stand out from other games.

Mass Effect was announced on October 4th, 2005 and in retrospect the description afforded the game fell far short of doing justice to the product which was eventually released in 2007.

Team Xbox’s Brent Soboleski wrote:

“As the first human Spectre – sworn defenders of galactic peace – your mission is to halt the advancing armies of a legendary agent gone rogue. But as you lead your elite team across hostile alien worlds, you will discover the true threat is far greater than anyone imagined.”

It sounds so utterly generic, doesn’t it?

When players ultimately got their hands on the game those “hostile alien worlds” were found to be worth visiting time and again for the story BioWare had crafted and the species which populated those planets.

The characters which populated Shepard’s team proved to be so popular that Garrus and Tali both became love interests in the later games while Wrex returned as a squad mate for Citadel. Their conversations in the elevators of the galaxy’s heart of government, the Presidium, illuminated a universe with an ornate history dating millennia.

As time passed and gamers delved deeper into the overarching narrative of the trilogy, it emerged that Mass Effect’s past covered hundreds of thousands of years if not longer and as with the Halo series, the technology which powered the galaxy was built on the remnants of those who had come before.

December

Mass Effect - Retrospective @ Zero1Gaming

by Couchpotato, Monday - December 02, 2013 04:26

Zero1Gaming has a short article taking a look at the enite Mass Effect trilogy.

The series has something of a dichotomy as it progresses through its various iterations, however. The first game has you travelling across the galaxy, visiting planets, landing and exploring, which made you feel like you were really a space explorer and lent the game a feel of a vast physical scale. This was reined back extensively in the subsequent games, with planet visits limited to scanning for ore from space (just as exciting as it sounds that) and the galaxy hubs feeling not much more epic than a given region of Super Mario Land. Also, the areas in the latter games are much smaller and you’re more conscious of them being levels, in the true sense of the word in gaming context, which does hurt the immersion a bit. This narrowing of the feeling of physical scale is in complete contrast to the scale of the storyline, which build and builds to an epic crescendo as your focus expands from a single planet to a whole universe. The term space opera is one that sounds kind of silly, but that’s what it is; a modern sci-fi tale in the tradition of the epics of old.

So, taken as a whole, is the Mass Effect trilogy perfect? No, but then if you’re waiting on a perfect game, I suggest you give up now. What it is, though, is a game quite unlike any other you will have ever played. If you value a game with a narrative that will captivate you and keep you coming back and you’re one of those gamers who can’t help but do all the side missions and want to see a story develop, you must give this a go. The trilogy, given the chance, will account for several hundred hours of your life and, you know what, you’ll really feel it was time well spent.

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of those series of games you’ll tell your kids about in 20 years’ time and after all, isn’t that really the hallmark of a defining game of a generation?

November

Mass Effect - Retrospective @ StickTwiddlers

by Couchpotato, Saturday - November 09, 2013 00:21

StickTwiddlers  has a new retrospective that takes a look back on Mass Effect, and the history of Commander Shepard from 2007-2012.

The history behind the Mass Effect series is a tumultuous one filled with huge critical acclaim, massive controversies and even an actual trip into space. It also cemented Bioware as one of the few developers who were truly willing to push the envelope not only in terms of typical RPG mechanics and storytelling, but with their attempts to create truly inclusive games that could directly appeal to anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Whilst Commander Shepard’s journey may be over, Bioware have confirmed that the Mass Effect series will continue into the next generation of consoles. Bioware have even gone as far as asking the fans for direct feedback as to what they want to see in Mass Effect 4.

Everyone who has been involved in the development of this series, no matter how big and small, should be incredibly proud of this incredible gift they’ve given to gaming. Mass Effect is a series that has left a firm imprint on gaming and will forever live on in the fan-favourite lists of the many gamers who still listen to the spectacular soundtracks, don their N7 gear and continue the fight in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer – patiently awaiting the arrival of the next instalment of a universe they have grown to love so passionately.

October

Mass Effect - Retrospective @ Playdar.co.uk

by Couchpotato, Saturday - October 26, 2013 00:40

Playdar.co.uk has another retrospective this time focusing on the entire Mass Effect Trilogy. I must warn you of spoilers though for those that still haven't played the games.

I've discussed before how deeply I can involve myself in the mythology of a game's universe. It's one of my favourite things and I'd be lying if I said that the ending of the main story didn't leave me unedified. Enough has been written about that for me not to need to add my pointless penny's worth.

What I will say however is this: BioWare did give me the ending I wanted. Forget the arbitrary red pill blue pill Crucible bullshit; what I wanted was the goodbye. And in that long walk through the command centre at London, speaking to all your squadmates past and present, that's exactly what I got.

They might have ballsed up their story - and I won't pretend that that doesn't bother me, because it does - but more important for me was the people that had brought this massive, remarkably rich and detailed universe to life. Every entry in the codex, every planetary biography, every Reaper attack, every historical inter-species conflict... All would have been redundant without there being people in the galaxy to care about. With the Citadel DLC and that final walk, BioWare did at least do right by their characters. The ones that weren't Shepard, anyway.

The Mass Effect games are not the first and will not be the last to inspire these kinds of reactions in people. They're also far from perfect from a 'game' perspective: in places broken, janky and just poorly thought out in so many ways. But my experiences in their universe are some of the most profoundly affecting and meaningful ones I've had with any form of media.

For all their issues, they remain a masterful triumph of characterisation. In that respect they are not unique - but they are rare. I already miss them.

Mass Effect - Editorial @ Gamemoir

by Couchpotato, Wednesday - October 09, 2013 00:14

Gamemoir has a new article about the Mass Effect games, and the biggest thing that is wrong with them. Hint it's the giant space lobster with lasers.

In ME3, the Reapers are basically just the apocalypse, and all the interesting stuff happens when everyone is pushed to the edge and they show what their true priorities are. Mass Effect 3 becomes a story about people struggling to come to terms with the end of the world. The reason ME3‘s story works so well is that it finally realizes that the Reapers are the least interesting part of Mass Effect and relegates them to the background for much of the game as a kind of slow motion catastrophe and set-piece generator.

Playing it again, I can see little hints and shadows of what might have been, the game we might have gotten if the Reapers hadn’t been tied so tightly to the center of the trilogy’s plot arc. The final showdown and reconciliation between the quarians and the geth. Udena’s attempted coup. Mordin’s grief and remorse over what he did to the krogan. These are the things I remember most about the game, and I wonder how much brighter they could have shined if these plot threads had been left to stand on their own, without the artificial monsters from beyond the stars.

Despite appearing more frequently and in greater numbers than ever before, the Reapers are little more than the catalyst for the final events of Shepard’s story. All the last minute bickering, the politicsconducted at the end of a sword, that’s where the focus is, and that’s why it shines.

Because Reapers?

Reapers are fucking boring.

September

Mass Effect Trilogy - Under $12 at GMG

by Couchpotato, Tuesday - September 10, 2013 01:40

Green Man Gaming has the Mass Effect trilogy on sale for under $15, but you can get it for under $12 with the promo code GMG20-8MUTY-M21VN. Just remember some of the DLC is not included, and you will need to use origin.

May

Mass Effect - The Need for Strong Female Characters

by Couchpotato, Wednesday - May 22, 2013 00:11

IGN has a new 19 minute video in their Up at Noon series about Mass Effect and the need for strong female Characters.

FemShep -- Jennifer Hale -- swings by Up at Noon to talk about the franchise, and we make some Pokemon/Star Trek jokes.

Forbes - Please Don't Make A Mass Effect Prequel

by Couchpotato, Wednesday - May 15, 2013 00:01

Forbes has a new opinion article on the topic of Mass Effect prequels.

I’m going to go ahead and declare the Mass Effect trilogy done for good now that the Citadel DLC arrived and finally gave (almost) everyone the ending they wanted for the series. But it’s a big universe, and just because Shepard’s arc is over, that doesn’t mean the universe will dissipate. Rather, it’s likely only just getting started.

Going backwards is cheating. It’s the easy way out when you don’t want to innovate and move your story forward in any meaningful way. You already have the ending written, and have probably established some of the pieces along the way. Making a prequel, you simply have to fill in the blanks, and people fail to realize that sometimes it’s a lot more interesting to leave blanks blank. Just ask Boba Fett.

I like some of these ideas. I think Mass Effect 4 starring Liara or Garrus (or both!) would be a pretty cool  idea, though honestly I’d love an entirely new series where you once again got to create your own character. Maybe you could even choose your alien race this time?

Perhaps such a game will exist at some point, but until it does, I do imagine we’ll see at least a handful of Mass Effect spin-off prequel titles like the ones mentioned. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they could be great, but I think like so many other series Mass Effect would be better moving forward than looking backward.

 

 

Mass Effect - Revisiting the Series @ D+PAD

by Couchpotato, Tuesday - May 14, 2013 00:06

D+PAD talks about and looks back on the entire Mass Effect Saga.

The first time I played through Mass Effect 2 I was nonplussed; it seemed to have less of the rough and experimental charm of the first game, which seemed to be a haphazard evolution of Knights of the Old Republic into an attempt to create the definitive, ne plus ultra, science-fiction RPG which would encompass everything the genre had to offer. It had aliens, and a planet-hopping plot, and exploration of uncharted worlds, and xenophilia if you liked, and upgradeable weapons with dozens of options. The result was uneven, and often clumsy, but it was quite unlike most games in its attempted scope and as a result I defended it quite vehemently as a good game. The second, by contrast, was more elegant and simplistic – all of the aspects of Mass Effect were present but in a form which worked without any inconsistencies or awkwardness – and as a result at first seemed too clinical and perfunctory.

Disregarding this sleight of hand and playing the games long after the arguments have died down, long after their value and nature have been discussed – their real merits show through. What remains, beneath the promises and the shortcomings, are a series of games that tell a story and allow the player to alter the fine details – the memorable ones. The actual story missions of both of the first two games are quite unremarkable. What I remember of my most recent playthrough are things like my character failing to resolve a row between Tali and Legion just before the final mission, and so I made the decision to keep the one I agreed with by my side and let the other take their chances (with tragic results). Or that my constant pangs of conscience and attempts to do the best for friends while being disdainful of others resulted in my character being neither forceful enough nor conciliatory enough to successfully press their viewpoint in big arguments and having to rely instead on threats and bluster to muddle through.

In conclusion I think replaying the first two Mass Effect games taught me two things about the series. The first is that neither is, on a fundamental level, a mechanically sound game. The first game is over-ambitious in its attempt to be comprehensive and ends up feeling like awkward busywork. The second is far too pared-back and focused on story-telling over providing mechanical choice and so feels superficial. This is where the third succeeded; it found the missing mid-point on a fundamental, behind-the-scenes level and was probably the best game. Yet here is where my second point comes in. Properly seeing where Mass Effect shines relies on understanding what it is – and that it is not what it was described as. The amount of agency that the player has the illusion of was ultimately unsustainable across three games and so the continued claims that it existed ultimately fell through. The result is a story with fixed start and end points and a procession of known events in the meantime – not an open-world RPG with divergent or emergent stories. And this, ultimately, is where the first two entries – mechanically unsound as they are – succeed far more than the third. The illusion of agency is far better presented, the superficial choices far more memorable. The third game overreached in trying to exceed this foundation and as a result the failures in suspension of disbelief – a constant shortcoming around which the early games skirted – became too great.

April

Mass Effect - Revisiting the Series

by Couchpotato, Sunday - April 21, 2013 05:49

Moarpowah has an editorial on replaying Mass Effect 1, and comparing the series changes.

While I’ll try to keep this as objective as possible, a few points should be clarified before I begin. 1. Mass Effect is my favorite game series period. Well, maybe it’s tied with KotOR. 2. Mass Effect 2 was, and still is, my favorite in the series. And 3. Despite some disappointment with the direction and mechanics in Mass Effect 3, it, and its ending, did not ruin the series for me. It’s still a series with a lot of power, personality, and emotion. What that out of the way, let’s take a long, hard look at some points I collected and carried whilst entrenched in the Milky Way.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, but I really do think that the inherent changes to the Mass Effect formula by the second game were positive and necessary. While the first game had its head in the right place, it just doesn’t have the direction necessary to pull it off. I would expect a world that rich and deep to have a cinematic quality to match. There were a surprising moment in a specific side mission when I encountered a strange Prothean ruin that, when approached, fed me a four page long description of a hallucination Shepard is given after touching it.

While the description itself was fascinating (a lengthy exploration of the Prothean interaction with cavemen), I was just so blown away that the designers felt the need to give me this amazing story through text. In later Mass Effects, this would, of course, be given a beautiful cinematic, maybe even a playable sequence. Reading it in a text blob seemed so antiquated it hurt.

In addition, the combat is so stagnant and choppy that part of me is glad that they seriously reworked that whole aspect of the game by the time that ME2 rolled around. While I was dissatisfied with how action oriented ME3 was overall, I thought ME2 found a nice balance.

Again, I want to reassert that I absolutely love this game. It was, after all, one of the first current gen games I’d ever played, and absolutely brings back similar emotional feelings that came from playing Knights of the Old Republic back when I was much younger and more impressionable. This is, after all, a pretty old game by now, and it’s nice to see that there’s constant evolution in the RPG genre.

Mass Effect - Where The First Mass Effect Failed And Succeeded

by Couchpotato, Wednesday - April 10, 2013 11:46

Drew Karpyshyn was one of main writers in the beginning of Mass Effect. As we all know he left before he could finish the trilogy. In this interview from Kotaku he shares what the story should of been like. I found it informative, and I hope others here do also.

“When we started planning out Mass Effect, before we started development on the game, we had a very small core team,” remembers Karpyshyn. “I was one of the people. Casey Hudson, Preston Watamaniuk, Derek Watts, David Falkner, were the key leads on the project. We spent about a year trying to find out exactly what kind of science fiction universe we wanted to make. We were all about the same age and all kind of grew up with those classic ‘80s what we call the Golden Age of sci-fi movies. Things like Alien and Aliens, and Terminator. A lot of us were big Star Trek and Star Wars fans too.”

“We were very familiar with the archetypes of science fiction or the standard stories that get told over and over again,” Karpyshyn told me. “We got together and took our favourite ideas and thought how do we combine these into something that will capture the spirit of that Golden Age of science fiction but still maintain a fresh look to it?”

“If I’m going to play 30 hours of a game and invest my time and effort, I want to make sure that the payoff is worth it. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be saving the entire galaxy, but I want the end to feel like the time I invested makes me feel like I accomplished something worthwhile,” he observed.

”Whether I’m good or evil, Paragon or Renegade, or whatever I’m trying to do, I want to feel like, ‘Yes, that was worth spending hours and hours and hours of time to get there to the end.’ Not that it wasn’t a great game, but the days of Mario lets the princess in the castle [in Super Mario Bros.] probably are done in some way, because it doesn’t necessarily feel like that’s enough of a payoff for the kind of time and effort you would put into playing a game.

You don’t want to do a bait and switch on the fans. If they’re expecting one thing, you don’t want to give them something completely different. It’s OK to have surprises, or even twists, or things that go in different directions, but you still have to fulfil those basic needs that they’re looking for. If they’re looking to be the epic hero, you better make sure that they’re an epic hero by the time everything is said and done.”

December

Mass Effect - PS3 Verdict @ Eurogamer

by Dhruin, Friday - December 14, 2012 00:22

With the Mass Effect series now available on the PS3, Eurogamer breaks down the technical proficiency in one of their Digital Foundry articles:

The wait is over, and PS3 owners now have the ability to sculpt their own Shepard from the beginning of the Mass Effect series right the way through to the controversial conclusion. Technically, there are a swathe of genuine advantages to playing the latest Sony release too. To reel off a few of the major points: texture pop-in has been minimised hugely thanks to the install, frame-rates have been improved for cut-scenes, and there's now absolutely no screen-tearing throughout. There are a few design choices that may be preferable to some players as well, such as the reduced intensity of the bloom, and also the minimised film grain filter that characterises the game's 50s sci-fi aesthetic.

It's not a perfect transition though. Negatives points such as the lower-resolution normal maps may pass many players by, especially without an alternative image to compare it to. However, the use of flickering PCF shadows on character faces stick out even more than the 360's dithered approach, and produces sharp bands of shade across enclosed environments too. It's also a shame to see the PS3 can't break away from the incessant 15FPS feedback around Chora's Den or Noveria's wintry cliff-sides. In this respect, it's only marginally improved over the 360 in the performance stakes.

November

Mass Effect - Available for PS3 on December 4th 2012 - Kotaku Says

by Aries100, Thursday - November 01, 2012 20:59

Kotaku brings news that the original Mass Effect game will be released for PS3 on
December 4th 2012.

The quote:

The Mass Effect Trilogy, due out for PC and Xbox 360 on November 6, will be available for PlayStation 3 on December 4, BioWare announced today.

Ryan Warden has made a post on the Bioware blog on this subject as well.
In it, he discusses what will be on the Mass Effect 3 PS3 disc:

The PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect Trilogy will have the original Mass Effect with Bring Down the Sky integrated into the game, both on-disc and on the PSN download. Mass Effect 2 will still have the same DLC on-disc that it was originally shipped with: Cerberus Network; Kasumi; Overlord; and Lair of the Shadow Broker. Finally, Mass Effect 3 will also be exactly as it originally shipped.

The Xbox 360 version will include all DLC that came with the original games – Cerberus Network with Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 remains unchanged as well. The PC is the same as Xbox 360, except both Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station are available for free – just as they are for all PC players who purchases each standalone product today.

David Hulegaard from Bioware has a made a thread about this on the BSN forums here.

September

Mass Effect - Movie Update

by Dhruin, Wednesday - September 21, 2011 23:37

I don't normally cover this stuff too much but it's a fairly quiet day. An update on the Mass Effect movie from the official site:

The much anticipated Mass Effect movie was the topic of conversation during a Legendary Pictures panel at Comic Con. Sitting on the panel was scriptwriter Mark Protosevich and Mass Effect series executive producer Casey Hudson.

During the panel, the studio revealed that the film will be a completely new story and will be focusing on the Male Shepard as the main protagonist. There is no word on whether the movie will turn into a trilogy at this point and casting has not been decided.

July

Mass Effect - Free Dark Horse Comics for 24 hours

by Dhruin, Thursday - July 14, 2011 00:22

The Mass Effect comics from Dark Horse are available free for 24 hours only, if that's your thing:

Free Dark Horse comics and preview for 24 hours:

Our fine friends at Dark Horse Comics are making all of the digital versions of Mass Effect comics available for FREE. Not only that, they have a seven page preview of the upcoming new series Mass Effect Invasion

This only lasts 24 hours, so act fast! Available from Dark Horse Digital Comics.

April

Mass Effect - MMO Speculation

by Dhruin, Monday - April 11, 2011 23:00

BioWare's Casey Hudson has generated pages and pages of furious web speculation by telling GameInformer a Mass Effect MMO "makes sense". Does that mean they'll make one or that ME3 has multiplayer as some sites are speculating? Who knows. Spotted at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

January

Mass Effect - Evolution Comic Released

by Dhruin, Thursday - January 20, 2011 21:37

BioWare has announced the new Evolution comic book for Mass Effect is now available:

The new Mass Effect comic book from Dark Horse Comics: Mass Effect Evolution, is now available. This new comic is written by Mass Effect 2/3 Lead Writer Mac Walters and features a look into the history of one of Mass Effect 2's powerful characters, The Illusive Man.

Mass Effect - Evolution Comic Preview

by Dhruin, Wednesday - January 05, 2011 21:42

The BioBlog has a preview of Evolution, a new 4-part comic book series from Dark Horse set in the Mass Effect universe.  Head over for some blurb and seven panels from the comic.

July

Mass Effect - Retribution Book Released

by Dhruin, Tuesday - July 27, 2010 22:49

Mass Effect - The Replay Value of RPGs @ Bitmob

by Dhruin, Monday - July 19, 2010 22:33

A strange article at Bitmob entited The Replay Value of RPGs compares Mass Effect (1) and Mass Effect 2 to presumably prove RPG streamlining has reduced replay value, although the point of the excercise isn't clearly stated.  From the intro:

For the purposes of this particular discussion I will compare and contrast the original Mass Effect with its sequel, Mass Effect 2. I will look at the four elements I find necessary for a game to offer replayability, namely:

  • Relatively deep character development customization
  • Strategic combat
  • Robust inventory management
  • A great story that gives the player choice

I will examine how these elements were implemented in the first Mass Effect and how they changed in the sequel. I will try to then try to argue why the first game is replayable but the sequel is not.

Mass Effect - Evolution Comic Book Series Revealed

by Aries100, Sunday - July 18, 2010 14:33

Another 4 part comic book series for this game, called Evolutionwill be released in January 2011,  IGN tells. As before Dark Horse and Bioware will be working together on this one. We'll learn more about the Illusive Man, it seems:

"One of the questions we asked ourselves when developing the Illusive Man for the game was who was this guy and how did he get here," Walters said, when asked to detail why Bioware chose to focus in on the Illusive Man. "How does someone come to have this much power and view this world the way he does? And really there's no way to explore that in the game otherwise he wouldn't be illusive! So the opportunity to explore him [made sense to us]."

Source: GameBanshee

May

Mass Effect - Movie Deal Signed

by Dhruin, Tuesday - May 25, 2010 22:07

BioWare has announced a Mass Effect movie deal with Legendary Pictures.  From Chris Priestly on the official forums:

I am very pleased this morning to announce that there will be a Mass Effect movie made by the fine folks at Legenday Pictures! I know there has been a lot of speculation amongst our fans ever since Mass Effect 1 came out as to whether or not there would be a movie, who should star in it, who would direct, would there be a Wrex sized bucket of popcorn, etc and I can now reveal that, yes, there will be a movie (popcorn deal is still unconfirmed.

Legendary Pictures, the studio behind great films such as The Dark Knight, Watchmen, The Hangover and 300 have picked up the rights to make Mass Effect. Legendary Pictures will produce with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni along with Avi Arad (who has been behind great films like Iron Man, X-Men and Spider-Man). From BioWare Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuck and Casey Hudson will serve as executive producers.

"At BioWare, we’ve always thought of Mass Effect as having the depth, emotion and plot twists perfectly suited for an adaptation to a motion picture,” said Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series. “With Avi Arad and Legendary attached, we believe that the Mass Effect movie will be an extraordinary entertainment event that realizes our vision for the franchise and thrills fans.”

I am super psyched for this and look forward to seeing the Mass Effect movie take shape.

Thanks to Omega for a similar submission.

January

Mass Effect - Steam Sale

December

Mass Effect - $5 On Direct2Drive

by Aries100, Tuesday - December 01, 2009 11:52

Direct2Drive is having a one day sale of Mass Effect for 5 US dollars  This means you can finish the first Mass Effect game before the release of ME2 in late January 2010. For some reason this is only available to those of you who lives in the US and in Canada. Anyone know why this is?

Source: GameBanshee

September

Mass Effect - Beyond Gender Choice @ GameCritics

by Dhruin, Friday - September 11, 2009 22:57

Beyond Gender Choice: Mass Effect's varied inclusiveness explores gender issues in Mass Effect - particularly the sexualisation of the Asari race:

Obviously, my problems with how one Asari character is written shouldn't condemn an entire species, but the Asari as a race are also problematic. In short, they are every female stereotype or cliche rolled up into one new species. According to the codex, the Asari have three stages of life: the Maiden, the Mother, and the Matriarch (otherwise known on Earth as the "crone"). These stages just so happen to correspond with what were, until fairly recently though arguably still today, the three acceptable roles for women in society. Making these archetypes an explicit aspect of an alien race that just happens to be all-female is at worst sexist and at best lazy and uncreative.

In addition, the Asari are sexualized to a much farther extent than any other species (partially as a result of point two, below). The first Asari the player meets in the game is called the "Consort," and yes, she runs what amounts to a brothel: clients meet her for her "services," which may or may not be sex. Walking through the Consort's chambers, the player overhears nervous aliens telling the Consort's aides that this is their "first time." While the consort is not explicitly a prostitute, the situation is clearly meant to humorously resemble a brothel. The player can also watch Asari strippers dance at the club called Chora's Den. Thirdly, Liara and the codex both describe how Asari can mate with any intelligent being through a sort of psychic mind-meld. Now, I am all for science fiction experimenting with different kinds of sexuality and sexual practices, but this is another case of pandering to straight men. It's no coincidence that the all-female race is the one that can mate with anybody.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Pinnacle Station Review @ AtomicGamer

by Dhruin, Thursday - September 10, 2009 01:08

A rare positive review for Pinnacle Station, with Atomic Gamer making the leap from "not bad value" to an 80% score:

Pinnacle Station is really not a bad value at all for $5 - when I compare it to Fallout 3's Operation Anchorage DLC add-on (which is very similar in nature to this one taken in the context of its respective game), I feel like you get just as much for half the price. That being said, anyone who didn't get into Mass Effect's tactical shooter action is likely to hate this add-on even more than the original. But if you're looking to get your Shepard battle-ready for Mass Effect 2 and want to beef up your combat skills, this is a damn good add-on to have - assuming you're fine with none of the actual accomplishments or loot you'll get actually carrying over into the sequel. I'll recommend Pinnacle Station to anyone who's been through the game at least once or twice and just wants to eke out a bit more fun before the sequel hits, but completionists or those who didn't fall entirely in love with Mass Effect can safely skip it.

August

Mass Effect - Pinnacle Station Review Roundup

by Dhruin, Sunday - August 30, 2009 12:13

Not a lot of love for Pinnacle Station across these three reviews.  Let's start with Kotaku who liked it the most, although their reasoning makes little sense.  Stephen Totilo seems to give it points for multiplayer potential, even though that doesn't exist:

Pinnacle Station is similar to Fable II's See The Future pack in that it's kind of crazy. It is not a satisfying addendum to a beloved adventure but rather an unneeded appendix some bizarro-surgeon decided to put back into the organism.

That's why I liked it. And, yes, I'd take some Mass Effect multiplayer if there's any to be had.

Gamespot gets straight to it - they don't like it.  Score - 4/10:

Like a diseased steak thrown to the wolves, so this travesty of a downloadable add-on has been tossed to hungry Mass Effect fans. Contrary to its high-reaching title, Pinnacle Station is a creative nadir in an otherwise excellent sci-fi universe. By downloading it, you get a simulated battle arena (one of video gaming's most arthritic cliches) and--a gun. There is hardly a smidgen of storytelling or role-playing, and the battle types and maps feel tossed together due to poor level design and problematic combat scenarios. Even at 400 Microsoft points ($5), Pinnacle Station is a condescending insult, the digital equivalent of scraps fed under the table to the family pooch.

...and IGN doesn't go much better, with a score of 5/10:

I'm not sure why this add-on was ever released. Nearly two years after we were regaled by BioWare with the idea of a constantly expanding Mass Effect universe through downloadable additions, we've now born witness to a grand total of two underwhelming expansions. Pinnacle Station is uninspired, poorly constructed, and offers none of what made Mass Effect a great game in the first place. Skip this, lest you want to sully your anticipation for Mass Effect 2. That's all Pinnacle Station has done for me.

Mass Effect - Pinnacle Station Issues

by Dhruin, Thursday - August 27, 2009 00:50

A number of sites are pointing out threads on the official and Steam forums that indicate problems with the recently released but never announced Pinnacle Station DLC.  Apparently Pinnacle Station conflicts with Bring Down the Sky, with some users fixing the problem by re-buying Bring Down the Sky for another $5.  a brief acknowledgement from BioWare QA guy, Jack Lamden:

This post is going to be short and sweet since I don't have much information at this point.

We're looking into this issue at the moment and are working to resolve it as quickly as we can.

I don't have an ETA for a fix as of yet.

Mass Effect - Pinnacle Station Walkthrough @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 26, 2009 11:49

GameBanshee has been quick to whip up a walkthrough for Mass Effect's Pinnacle Station, along with new Codex and database entries.

Mass Effect - v1.02 Patch

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 26, 2009 11:46

Being slightly confused by BioWare releasing DLC without any proper lead up or announcement, we forgot to point out the accompanying v1.02 patch.

Mass Effect - Pinnacle Station DLC Released

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 26, 2009 00:11

This seems a poorly handled released but Blue's reports that Pinnacle Station DLC has been released for Mass Effect on both the X360 and PC.  There doesn't seem to be an official announcement or even official thread on BioWare's forums but it is listed at Xbox Marketplace for 400 points and, according to Blue's, the PC version on EA's store for $USD5.  I can't see the listing, which may be a regional thing, but here's the description:

Test the limits of your combat prowess aboard a remote, top-secret Alliance space station. Do you have what it takes to hold the top spot among the best of the best? This module includes a new land-able space station, 13 exciting combat scenarios, and approximately 2-3 hours of game play.

Required: you must achieve Spectre status before embarking on this mission.

Compete in a series of high-stakes battle simulations to earn amazing weapons and armor that can be used in the main game. Unlock new achievements, and even win ownership of a dedicated base of operations for Commander Shepard. Challenge modes include Survival, Time Attack, Hunt and Capture and even a scenario modeled after the First Contact War.

Features:
     • Visit the military training center at Pinnacle Station and engage in a series of combat simulations.
     • Players of any level can hone their Mass Effect combat skills, shooting your way to the top in 12 unique combat scenarios.
     • Make a bet with the station Admiral in a final 13th mission. The stakes are high, Shepard risks his life and the life of his crew to prove that he is the best of the best.
     • Farm your main game achievements in an easy to access combat simulator.
     • Player can take their prizes and play with them in the main game. Making your next playthrough easier.
     • Combat is more dynamic and fast-paced.
     • Combat simulator feels like a holo-deck of sorts, environments and enemies look simulated.
     • Encounter Vadinos (Turian) and win his weapon. 

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - DLC Leaked

by Myrthos, Monday - August 24, 2009 21:02

VG247 reports that the second DLC for Mass Effect has been released onto the Swiss and Swedish Xbox Live Marketplace without it being officially announced. A mistake?

Thanks Lemonhead.

Mass Effect - Game Changers @ RandomNPC

by Dhruin, Friday - August 14, 2009 00:08

A site called RandomNPC calls Mass Effect a "game changer" for opening the door for more detailed sex scenes in games:

To understand the significance of the sex scenes in Mass Effect, you have to put the game in its proper historical context. Before Mass Effect, mainstream RPGs didn’t have sex scenes. Sex played a role in these games, of course, but it was always implied. Sometimes characters married and had children, like in Lufia II, the Harvest Moon series, Grandia 1 and 3, and Final Fantasy X-2, and there was a pregnant teen in Final Fantasy VI. Sometimes the game simply had wink-and-nudge fade-to-black cutscenes, like those in the Fallout series, Wild Arms 2, the Fable games, and The Witcher. Alternatively, the dialogue or narration had lines that suggested that something more had happened; Final Fantasy VII had a possible implied sexual encounter between Tifa and Cloud, and Persona 3 and 4 both had simple lines about characters spending the night together. Most blatantly, Xenogears showed two different couples at different times naked in bed. Similarly, non-RPGs like God of War, Metal Gear Solid 3, and the Grand Theft Auto series employed visual puns and fade-to-black techniques to cover sex scenes, and Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit) had an explicit sex scene that was removed from the US version.

July

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Revisited @ Destructoid

by Dhruin, Thursday - July 30, 2009 23:05

Whatever happened to that additional Mass Effect DLC?  This article says more is coming, if you can believe that after all this time.  Anyway, Destructoid revisits Bring Down the Sky with developer commentary from Christina Norman:

There’s no pretty bow to wrap “Bring Down the Sky” up with. It’s a constricted, linear piece of content that doesn’t add anything to the core narrative of Mass Effect or build any of its characters. An interesting moral choice presents itself along the way, but it seems flimsy, almost inconsequential. I’m left with questions that only future content can answer. (a) Why does the DLC act as a sidebar and dismiss the elements of the core Mass Effect storyline? (b) Do development time and bigger teams lead to better content? (c) Will every piece of Mass Effect DLC have the same components? (d) Will my response to this have any effect on Mass Effect 2’s sub-plot?

I can answer this question: did BioWare learn anything from “Bring Down the Sky”?

BioWare learned. Small teams can’t deliver the kind of quality the studio requires in a timely manner. By the time BioWare puts out another piece of Mass Effect DLC -- yes, more DLC is coming -- Bethesda will have released five DLC packs for their RPG Fallout 3. The formula hasn’t been ironed out yet, but the timing doesn’t really matter in the greater scope of things. BioWare is focused on giving players good and fresh content, and they’re aware that people won’t continue to buy if it’s a lackluster effort.

“The next DLC for Mass Effect is really nothing like ‘Bring Down the Sky,’ or any other content in Mass Effect,” Norman tells me. “Many people enjoyed the content, but we wanted to try something completely different. It’s taken a while, but I hope in the end fans will really enjoy it! I think combat-focused gamers in particular will like it.”

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Comic Series Announced

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 22, 2009 00:11

Ea has annnounced a collaboration with Dark Horse for a Mass Effect comic.  Here's a snip from the lengthy press release:

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BioWare™, a studio of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) and Dark Horse Comics today announced a new comic book series based on Mass Effect™, the blockbuster sci-fi action videogame that IGN.com rated the #1 Xbox 360™ game of all time. In Mass Effect: Redemption, the story takes readers through the treacherous events leading up to Mass Effect 2 which opens with galactic hero Commander Shepard having mysteriously gone missing and left to fight for survival. What unfolds next will expose readers to new locations, aliens and extended storyline in the Mass Effect universe. Mass Effect: Redemption is scheduled to launch in January 6, 2010.

The Mass Effect: Redemption story is written by Lead Writer Mac Walters at BioWare. Walters is the script writer behind Mass Effect 2. He brings unique insight to the Mass Effect comic and nuance of the world within. The comic is scripted by John Jackson Miller (Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, The Invincible Iron Man) and drawn by Omar Francia (Star Wars Legacy). This first four-part series explores the exotic and dangerous future Milky Way of Mass Effect, revealing previously unseen locations, aliens, and enemies of this rich science fiction landscape.

Mac Walters and Omar Francia will be autographing a Comic-con exclusive Mass Effect signing card at the Dark Horse booth (#2615) on July 24th at 4:00pm – 5:00pm at Comic-Con International 2009 in San Diego, CA.

“Fans of Mass Effect are going to be pleasantly shocked by the events in these comics,” says Mac Walters. “We worked very closely with Dark Horse to make sure this story was built in to the Mass Effect 2 arc, right from the ground up. Reading the series won’t just add to your experience of the universe, it will change the way you look at Mass Effect 2… and beyond.”

...and in semi-related tangential Mass Effect news, Gamers' Creed writes in with a review of Mass Effect Galaxy for the iPhone, which carries a score of 2/5.

Mass Effect - More Than a Trilogy

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 15, 2009 22:01

Gamerzines is promoting an oh-so-obvious comment from Greg Zeschuk that suggests Mass Effect may extend beyond the expected trilogy.  Surprise!

"We've said Mass Effect is supposed to be a trilogy," continued Zeshuck, "so you're going to see at least a third Mass Effect, and even more if everything goes well."

June

Mass Effect - Galaxy Released on iPhone

by Dhruin, Tuesday - June 23, 2009 22:24

Shacknews writes that Mass Effect Galaxy has been released on the iPhone for $4.99.  Although we understand it to be primarily an action game, some story elements tie into Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect - More DLC Soon

by Dhruin, Saturday - June 06, 2009 00:34

Joystiq says Ray Muzyka has been playing the upcoming Mass Effect (that's the original one) DLC in his office:

While speaking to BioWare's leaders slash doctors, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, Joystiq managed to confirm that the second batch of DLC for Mass Effect (that's the first game!) would be announced and detailed soon. According to Muzyka, he was even playing it at the BioWare office slash fortress before departing for E3 2009.

Mass Effect - Galaxy Impressions @ IGN

by Dhruin, Wednesday - June 03, 2009 07:27

Presumably the last of BioWare's titles at E3, IGN has a look at Mass Effect: Galaxy for the iPhone.  It looks like a pure action title, so we'll probably bow out after this:

Now, is this the Mass Effect game that fans are hoping for? It depends on expectations. If you go into Galaxy looking for a deep RPG like the one you played through four times to get all of the achievements, you may be disappointed. This is most certainly an action game -- and it comes across as a pretty arcade-like action game at that. So, do yourself a big favor and adjust those hopes. As a big Mass Effect fan, I'm curious to explore more of Jacob's story and see how it serves to either link the two console games or at least set up Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect - iPhone Blog Post

by Dhruin, Monday - June 01, 2009 22:56

Jay Watamaniuk writes about BioWare's iPhone game, Mass Effect Galaxy, on the company blog, including an in-house interview with EP Kevin Barrett:

What is the connection of Mass Effect Galaxy to Mass Effect 2?

Barrett: Mass Effect Galaxy tells the background stories of two characters that will be encountered by the player in Mass Effect 2. The events of Mass Effect Galaxy take place between the time of Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, providing the player with more continuity for the ongoing story of the ME universe.

May

Mass Effect - iPhone Game Revealed

by Dhruin, Saturday - May 02, 2009 01:53

Chris Priestly has revealed an iPhone/iPod Touch game called Mass Effect: Jacob's Story on the official forums after a tester apparently broke NDA and leaked details.  Here's his full post:

There have been a bunch of rumors and guesswork on what was some leaked information about a Mass Effect game coming for the iPhone and iPod touch. I've been checking into the details and making sure I have my facts straight and here are the real deal facts:

1 - Yes, this is not a hoax or fake story. BioWare is making a game for the iPhone and iPod Touch based in the Mass Effect universe.

2 - We were going to announce this, but one of the testers at a focus testing group broke the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and things were revealed before we had the chance.

3 - The game is going to be available for the iPhone AND the iPod Touch.

4 - The story of the game is not a "bridging" story between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. It is a cool little side-story about one of the upcoming Mass Effect 2 characters. It is not "required reading" to enjoy the core trilogy, but if a fun optional "extra" game.

5 - The development on this game is being done by a separate, dedicated team with no connection to any Mass Effect DLC development or patches so this is not "the reason there hasn’t been new DLC or patches".

6 - BioWare and the Mass Effect team want to branch out in a number of ways with the ME universe, and this is just one example of such branching out. We think the iPhone and iPod Touch are exciting new platforms for games, and this game was designed for these platforms from the ground up.

7 - More information about the this game is coming later this month. None of the info that was leaked is ‘official’ by any means – it was research. We'll have much more information in the future.


So there you go. Hopefully this will answer some of the questions that have arisen around the game. As I said, this is just the start of the information on the iPod/iTouch game. It is also a part of the opening of the Mass Effect 2 floodgates with a heap of cool information that we'll be releasing in May and June. Make sure you stay tuned for more updates and more coolness.

Source: Shack News

April

Mass Effect - PC Beta Patch Coming

by Dhruin, Thursday - April 09, 2009 00:35

Remember the Mass Effect PC patch we reported back in January?  Chris Priestly comes in at the end of a long thread of skepticism to provide a quick update:

Work on the patch has gone very well. We should have a beta test of the patch in the next few weeks if everythign goes smoothly.

Speedy.

Source: GameBanshee

February

Mass Effect - More DLC?

by Dhruin, Tuesday - February 17, 2009 12:14

Joystiq reports that a documentary video included with a Platinum Hits release of Mass Effect includes comments by BioWare devs on a second piece of DLC.  An arena, gambling and "lighter", more combat focused gameplay are discussed:

Roughly one quarter of the way through the documentary [...], Preston Watamaniuk says, "Things we're working on right now, for the Mass Effect universe next ... we had something in Mass Effect 1 that again, we weren't able to pull off just because we didn't have the time and we didn't think we'd be able to do it well enough, which was a fight club or an arena. So we're actually working on that for our next downloadable content piece and we're hoping it'll be really special."

Head over to watch the clip.  What we don't know, of course, is how current the comments are.

Source: Joystiq

Mass Effect - Final Thoughts @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, Wednesday - February 11, 2009 22:26

After wandering on to other topics for several weeks, Shamus Young finally returns to Mass Effect and wraps up his thoughts:

I think the morality system is a vast improvement over previous titles. Most games have a single good / evil slider, which moves up and down based on your actions in the game. This introduces oddities like murdering a guy for a dollar is morally neutral when balanced against being polite to ten people. Trying to calibrate the thing in a way that makes sense gets to be an impossible task.

But Mass Effect doesn’t do good vs. evil, but paragon vs. renegade. In both, the game more or less assumes you’ve humanities’s best interests at heart, and the alignment system is much more about how you pursue those ends. This isn’t a story about a ruthless jerk who happens to save the galaxy on her way to riches, it’s the story of someone who saves the galaxy but who might be ruthless about how she goes about it.

January

Mass Effect - New PC Patch Coming

by Magerette, Saturday - January 31, 2009 16:44

Voodoo Extreme posts a newsbit about a new patch in development for the PC version of Bioware's Mass Effect, quoting Chris Priestly in this post over at the Bioware forums:

We have been watching the different Mass Effect PC forum communities and gathering your feedback on issues encountered while playing Mass Effect PC. Thank you all for taking the time to provide feedback to help us make Mass Effect PC a better game.

BioWare is pleased to announce there will be a new patch for Mass Effect for the PC coming soon. This patch will be jointly developed by BioWare and Demiurge and will be available for all versions of Mass Effect PC (retail, Steam and other digital distribution sources). When we have more information on the content of the patch or when it will be available, we will let you know.

Mass Effect - Nitpicks #2 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, Tuesday - January 13, 2009 20:48

Shamus Young wraps up his complaints list for Mass Effect, looking at combat, weapons, loading screens, the mako and loading screens.  On combat:

Combat is mostly satisfying, but marred by the enthusiastic retardation of your teammates. They constantly stand in front of you during combat, forcing you to move. Or they’ll take all the cover and leave you to stand in the open like a target dummy. Or, if you do find a good bit of cover and they don’t, they will stand right beside you, in the open, and “catch” incoming rockets so you can enjoy the blast radius. On higher difficulties, this is an express route to the game over screen. But even when they’re not in your way, they have cover, and they aren’t trying to bring about total team explodification, they’re still of limited usefulness. The AI on both sides will often shoot even when they don’t have a clear line of sight. I’ve seen teammates facing nose-to-the-wall, drilling the scenery in a vain attempt to hit the guy on the other side.

Mass Effect - Nitpicks #1 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, Monday - January 12, 2009 21:12

Twenty Sided continues on from their Mass Effect First Impressions with of a list of "complaints, issues and little grievances".  This first part covers dialogue and interface issues:

In the past, dialog-driven games have offered you a bunch of possible answers and left you to read each and every one of them, looking for what you want to say. This is a lot of pointless skimming if you’re just looking for the one that boils down to, “How much will you pay me for killing ten rats?” This breaks the flow of conversation, and all that prose eats up a ton of screen real estate. Mass Effect has a much better system, where you’re offered a very short summary of your answers, and the option to select it appears while the other person is still speaking, letting you get your answer ready before it’s your turn to talk. When it works right it provides a smooth conversation with lots of options that doesn’t require a lot of reading and doesn’t obscure the visuals. You choose your intent and tone, and the dialog flows naturally. Wonderful.

But there are places where the summary doesn’t match what you actually say, and others where the tone isn’t at all clear. When I see the option to say, “What do you want?”, I can’t be sure if my character is going to say, “Can I help you, sir?”, or, “What do YOU want, anus-face?” They’re usually arranged in order from “nice” to “jerk”, but there are still times where you still can’t figure out what’s going to come out of your mouth when you hit the button. And there are plenty of rail-roadish moments where all of your possible responses are variants on the same stupid question or offensive remark.

Mass Effect - First Impressions @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, Friday - January 09, 2009 10:45

Shamus Young has kicked up the first part of his Mass Effect critique at Twenty Sided.  Here's the intro:

Mass Effect is the worst game BioWare has put out in over a decade.

…but it’s still a great game.

I guess that says a lot about BioWare, that they can slide this far and still have a quality product. The elements that I love in BioWare games are still there, just watered down a bit.

October

Mass Effect - 10 Sexiest Games @ CrispyGamer

by Dhruin, Saturday - October 18, 2008 23:09

Another silly Top 10 list but it's a quiet news weekend, so what the heck.  CrispyGamer has their list of 10 Sexiest Games of All Time and in with Leisure Suit Larry and some dubious card games, Mass Effect grabs a position:

"I didn't have a choice here. The game itself can be kind of dry because of the pacing. But the fact that you're able to build up relationships with aliens, humans and countless races makes it fascinating. The sex scenes are also quite beautiful, and very well done, and it's absolutely clear that a romantic interlude took place. The way that the female alien's wrist goes limp against the headboard, or way the game concentrates on the eyes and glides over small parts of the body without showing anything explicit ... The most important thing to note here, though, is that developer BioWare is able to put this into a game so focused on meaningful interaction. You have a relationship with every single thing, be it person or alien, that you come across. This isn't a scenario where you're just trying to get off, or an attempt to fetishize an experience. You're building a meaningful relationship, so that when climax does occur, you're truly experiencing the merging of two people who've built up a bond. That's the future of videogames, in my opinion. Whether the gaming public's ready for that yet though remains to be seen..."

Mass Effect - New Wallpapers

by Dhruin, Thursday - October 09, 2008 23:04

BioWare has rendered eight landscape vistas from Mass Effect to make desktop wallpapers - quite nice if you're looking for red-ish alien landscapes addorning Windows.

August

Mass Effect - Morality Tales @ RPS

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 27, 2008 00:23

An interesting piece at Rock, Paper, Shotgun with John Walker examining how BioWare likes to include serious issues in their RPGs as backdrops to moral choices the player must make - but then gives them trite treatment in the context of the presentation.  This is slightly spoiler-y for Mass Effect.  The problem:

One thing I really want to do is go and sit down with Dr and Dr BioWare, and be having a regular chat, probably asking questions about Dragon Age or something journalistic like that, and then suddenly in the middle of it all I’d shout, “MY SISTER WANTS TO GET AN ABORTION! WHAT SHOULD SHE DO?”

When they look scared and ask what I’m talking about, I’d only offer them the very slightest pieces of information about the situation, probably saying that the unborn baby might have some sort of horrible disability and she doesn’t want it to be born to suffer, but her husband is currently away at sea and unreachable (because it’s happening in the past or in space or somewhere where radio signals don’t work) and won’t be able to have his say. I’d only give them two possible answers, and their stuttering, unprepared response would decide the fate of this unfortunate foetus. And then I’d ask them about how the Sonic license first caught their attention.

Mass Effect - More DLC Coming?

by Dhruin, Thursday - August 07, 2008 22:45

MTV has a small snippet of a conversation with Greg Zeschuk, which hints at more DLC for Mass Effect:

Multiplayer: We got our first DLC for the 360. People can expect there may be some more more coming?

Zeschuk: We’re talking about that. You know how we are. We’re always very circumspect until we can go “Aha! There it is!” With everything we build now, we want to have this long-term relationship with the customer and always have something for them to try. So we’re definitely looking at that for “Mass Effect.”

Mass Effect - Review @ ComputerGames.ro

by Dhruin, Friday - August 01, 2008 13:05

ComputerGames.ro dropped us a line to point out their review of Mass Effect PC.  The score is an impressive 87% but they do have some complaints:

As for the allies I keep mentioning, they are too distant, compared to other RPGs. I don’t know if it’s only me, but I missed the philosophical talks I had with Kreia. And you can feel the absence of a real character influence system. Of course, each of your allies has an interesting background and a catchy story to tell, so they are not flat; but you can only interact with them between missions, on the Normandy, or in key dialogues. The rest of the game, they just come up with funny comments concerning their current surroundings. But these are not enough and truly leave a gap in the experience. Their slow AI further distances them from the player, as every fight can become a potential death-trap. Each time you’re on top of the situation, the team’s tank gets stuck on the battlefield while the plan B sniper has a hard time putting a bullet in the Krogan who is charging you, Banzai style. Not to mention that most of the time your two teammates will get stuck into each other. Thanks God the enemy AI has the same glitches and tends to be on the suicidal part, regardless of the difficulty level.

July

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Released

by Dhruin, Tuesday - July 29, 2008 23:59

Alongside with the v1.01 patch, BioWare has finally released Bring Down the Sky for Mass Effect PC.  The English version is 309Mb (with other languages going all the way to 512Mb for German).  Hit this page for links and instructions on getting the license key.

Mass Effect - PC Patch 1.01 Available

by Magerette, Tuesday - July 29, 2008 16:29

Bioware and developer Demiurge have released a patch for the PC version of Mass Effect. The fixes include:

* added some infrastructure support for additional downloadable content
* updated the image of the Batarian race in the codex
* fixed an issue where the center channel for hardware audio wouldn't play correctly sometimes
* fixed an issue where the hardware mouse pointer would disappear when first selected
* fixed an issue where Shepard did not auto-crouch when entering cover in some places
* fixed a tool-tip indicating a game restart is needed before enabling hardware or software audio if the option was changed
* fixed an issue where ambient conversation would not be heard from rear speakers sometimes
* fixed a text string to make it clearer on how to exit a vehicle
* fixed a text string so the tool top for dragging the map is clearer in French languages builds

Mass Effect Configuration Utility

* fixed a crash running on certain multi-core AMD systems
* fixed an issue where video RAM was not being reported properly on certain cards

The changelist and patch are courtesy of The Patches Scrolls. GamersHell and FileShack are also mirroring it.

 

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Review @ GameZone

by Dhruin, Thursday - July 10, 2008 23:01

9.5/10 is the enthusiastic score for Mass Effect PC at GameZone:

Until now. Courtesy of Demiurge Studios, Mass Effect is now available for PC gamers, offering the same great gameplay that 360 owners have been experiencing for half a year now. Whereas the developers could have rested on their laurels, put out a shoddy straight port and called it good, Demiurge went one step further and geared the gameplay experience for the PC, with an intuitive new interface that feels natural, unlike any number of console-to-PC ports over the years. If you’re a PC gamer looking to play one of the finest RPGs of last (or any) year, now is your chance.

Mass Effect - Review @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, Tuesday - July 08, 2008 12:49

GameBanshee dropped us a line to point out their review of Mass Effect PC.  The score is 8.5/10 and here's a snip:

Once you leave the Citadel and start exploring the galaxy, however, the game enters its Elder Scrolls phase and gets much more combat-oriented and much more disappointing. The worlds involved in the main plotline are detailed and interesting, and they work pretty well, but the 30+ optional worlds are a disaster. Each solar system has a single planet you can land on (or a ship you can board), and each planet has roughly the same make-up: two mineral sites to survey, a crashed probe to examine, a mummified explorer to loot, and some enemies to kill. That is, all of the optional solar systems are about the same, right down to the extensive re-use of building layouts. Having lots of places to go is a good thing -- but only if they’re fresh and distinctive, and Mass Effect doesn’t even come close to achieving that. (This issue might be somewhat addressed by the “Bring Down the Sky” download, which will introduce a new species to deal with, but this download isn’t yet ready for the PC.) 

Mass Effect - Review @ PlayTM

by Magerette, Thursday - July 03, 2008 16:47

Another glowing review for Bioware's Mass Effect(PC) is up over at play.tm, with a score of 96%. They particularly liked the end game:

All too often a game will exert itself trying to emulate the look, dialogue, action and presentation of Hollywood while ignoring one vital element - the conclusion. Time after time gamers would battle their way through hours of gripping gameplay and enjoy/endure increasingly complex narratives only to reach the climax and find out that, in fact, there wasn't any such thing to be had. It's as if developers forgot that at the end of each and every movie, (excepting oddballs like No Country for Old Men) there's closure, where the various stories and plots come to an end and are tied up, leaving the viewer with a sense of satisfaction from a journey well taken. Often I suspect this omission is down to time constraints, or if I'm in a cynical mood, because developers/publishers reckon only a minority of people will see the game through to its end so why expend resources in actually delivering one?

Therefore it came as a relief that despite its wonderful production values, it's hauntingly excellent score, interesting characterizations and an overarching plotline that gently veered from the hokey to the genuinely captivating that Mass Effect ends with a bang, not a whimper.

Source: Blues News

June

Mass Effect - Review @ PALGN

by Dhruin, Monday - June 30, 2008 11:43

PALGN has whipped up a review of Mass Effect that sees the game as a rather ordinary RPG but an excellent adventure:

Sliding block puzzles, though. They're cunningly designed as nuclear reactors, computer security systems and electronic gate openers, but if you're moving that over there, which puts this out of position until that bit is put there - it's a sliding block puzzle. And if sliding block puzzles scream one thing, it's adventure game. We spent a good few hours with Mass Effect wondering why it all felt so... wrong. The character development was rudimentary, the combat rough and unfinished, inventory management bafflingly unwieldy and it all felt slightly bent out of shape. It was only when we realised that the RPG elements were almost irrelevant to the story - the adventure - taking place, that everything clicked and we were spirited away on one of the most accomplished and professional slabs of storytelling we've yet encountered on any gaming platform. 

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Review @ Hooked Gamers

by Magerette, Thursday - June 26, 2008 15:49

Hooked Gamers posts a 3 page review of Bioware's Mass Effect(PC), scoring it 8/10:

Mass Effect is one of the best games Bioware has ever crafted. The combat is solid but not without its issues, something that has become almost standardized for them. Luckily for us, dialogue and an overall dramatic, epic, cinematic tone of the story more than make up for it. Add to that achievements, two higher difficulty settings, romance subplots, Paragon/Renegade parallelism, dozens of uncharted planets to explore, background dependant side quests and free downloadable content and you’ve got a significant amount of Mass Effect to play again and again.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Update

by Dhruin, Sunday - June 22, 2008 00:03

An update from Chris Priestly on the Mass Effect forums earlier in the week:

Hi Folks,

For those of you waiting for the “Bring Down the Sky,” free downloadable content, we’ve run in to some unexpected bugs which we are just about done fixing. We apologize for the delay and promise that we will get it to you as soon as possible.

When the downloadable content is available, you will be notified via the Mass Effect game launcher or you can check http://masseffect.bioware.com for updates.

Thanks for you patience.

Mass Effect - Review @ Games32

by Magerette, Friday - June 20, 2008 18:33

Another very positive review of Bioware's Mass Effect is up over at Games32, with a score of 96/100:

Mass Effect is that impressive game only Bioware can make, in which every decision counts, and everything matters. If you are known to be ruthless with your enemies, or maybe you were a pour orphan raised in the streets - everything matters - even the gender you pick. Dialog possibilities, decisions and eventually the actions you take are influenced by the choices you made when you've created your character, and your previous choices. You can take a path of evil or good, but this doesn't necessarily mean you can't chose an evil answer if you are good or vice-versa. Each course of actions will give you Paragon or Renegade points, and achieving a great number of them will unlock further dialog possibilities and skills...

Mass Effect - Reviews @ GameShark, 1UP

by Magerette, Wednesday - June 18, 2008 16:26

GameShark joins the club with their lengthy review of Bioware's Mass Effect, giving it a score of A-:

What I really find fascinating about this game is what it has to say about race. With so many alien species working for, with and against each other, Bioware could easily have squandered an opportunity to explore the very human traits of fear, bias and outright insecurity that often lie at the heart of race relations. Instead Mass Effect revels in its exploration of these issues, both in the form of aliens that don't like or trust humanity, and humans that don't much like or trust these aliens. It's compelling stuff.

Ultimately, Mass Effect is everything a fan of Bioware has come to expect from the company. While it may not offer the complexity of the old Baldur's Gate games, at its core, it's still an RPG fan's RPG. It has the kind of melding of action, adventure and character work for which the company has been known for a decade and it's the type of game we gamers don't get nearly enough of anymore.

1UP also posts their take, with the same score of A-:

Mass Effect illustrates just how much the BioWare crew loves '70s-era sci-fi. The clean, white color scheme adorning the walls of the curve/archway-heavy Citadel Presidium (a sort of intergalactic U.N. building) makes the place look like an illustration for an Asimov/Herbert/Niven novel, and the harsh alien vistas and groovy space suits are things that Gene Roddenberry could have used in the creation of Star Trek. Heck, even the soundtrack echoes Vangelis' work for Blade Runner.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Boomtown & Gameplay Monthly

by Magerette, Tuesday - June 17, 2008 19:36

More Mass Effect reviews are up, this time from UK site Boomtown, with an overall score of 9/10:

Still, despite my best attempts to think of something else negative to write, BioWare have quite simply surpassed their previous excellent efforts to deliver what is arguably the best single player RPG to emerge on the PC since Deus Ex...The words stunning, engrossing and addicting just don't do this game justice, and if it wasn't for my belief that no game will ever be truly perfect (as well as the vehicular silliness and the occasionally suicidal squad antics), the score you see below would have crept into double figures.

Over at Gameplay Monthly  they have a more critical view with a little less exuberant score of B-:

  In conclusion, Mass Effect is a game full of bad design decisions. The decisions themselves aren't bad enough to completely break the game, but are bad enough to make the game less than good, let alone great. While some may think I'm overly critical of the title, and BioWare in general, I must point out that games such as Fallout and Planescape Torment were far superior in terms of their core gameplay elements, and were released years earlier than this title; if anything, Mass Effect is a step backwards in single-player role-playing games. Simply put, the game could have used another two to three months in development. Combined with the game's length, Mass Effect is a mediocre diversion, unworthy of more than half the praise it receives, but a diversion nonetheless in this single-player role-playing game drought. Granted, role-playing game lovers will play the Hell out of it, but, in the long run, it won't make a lasting impact in the same way other titles have.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Review @ Strategy Informer

by Magerette, Monday - June 16, 2008 20:24

Strategy Informer joins the crowd with another upbeat review of Bioware's Mass Effect for PC with a score of 9.2/10:

Fundamentally this PC version has the same nuts and bolts its Xbox360 counterpart has but with the added advantages a console just can’t pull off. Demiurge has been working very closely with BioWare for months to refine the game for the PC audience and everything I’ve seen has affirmed that objective 

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Review @ TTGamer

by Magerette, Sunday - June 15, 2008 17:58

TweakTown Gamer  has posted their review of the PC version of Bioware's Mass Effect, giving it 8.5 of 10:

On the surface, Mass Effect appears to be quite an average RPG, but the three distinct elements that create the whole gameplay package are quite well done, and work very well with each other. The first element, and one you'll experience basically straight away in the game, is the character to character dialogue system. You will spend a good portion of this game talking to other characters across all species to probe for information, build relationships, and even flirt given time. To say this character to character interaction is implemented well is a severe understatement, as it's quite easily one of the best ever dialogue systems seen in the gaming world before, if not the very best.

The other two elements the reviewer finds to be done extremely well are combat and space travel and exploration. 

 

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Tweak Guide

by Dhruin, Thursday - June 12, 2008 22:58

TweakGuides has released...well, a tweak guide for BioWare's Mass Effect:

As I noted earlier, for the most part Mass Effect actually performs quite well, as long as you meet the game's minimum requirements. The game is based on the Unreal Engine 3.0, which through various tricks and effects produces an attractive game world without crippling your PC. However I've produced this guide firstly to make sure that everyone understands all the in-game settings, but more importantly, so that all the major advanced tweaks which allow further optimization and customization of both graphics and gameplay can be documented in the one location. The guide is rounded out with a range of troubleshooting tips and other information which should be of great use to Mass Effect players, so give it a run through.

Mass Effect - Review @ Game Over

by Dhruin, Wednesday - June 11, 2008 23:30

85% is the score for Mass Effect at Game Over but despite the score, they certainly have some reservations:

Mass Effect is an interesting study in contrasts. Some parts of it strongly resemble some pretty darned terrific games, most notably KOTOR, in the way that it seamlessly blends a 3rd person shooter with a complex RPG model which gives characters real significant advancement paths without bogging down in dozens of fussy D&D-style stats. On the other hand there are some parts that just don’t work at all, the cruddy driving portions being the most obvious standout. The results is at times great fun and somewhat annoying, because I think they had that rare videogame greatness within their grasp and it somehow just slipped away.

Mass Effect - Demiurge Interview @ Shacknews

by Dhruin, Wednesday - June 11, 2008 10:37

Shacknews speaks with Albert Reed from Demiurge about their porting work on Mass Effect, piracy and their future:

Shack: So how's the Mass Effect launch going?

Albert Reed: It's going really, really well. Metacritic has us at 93 right now, which is very, very good. So I'm a happy camper.

Shack: How long were you guys on the project altogether?

Albert Reed: It was.. 14 months.

 

Mass Effect - Reviews @ FiringSquad and CrispyGamer

by Dhruin, Monday - June 09, 2008 11:05

A couple of fairly soft reviews for Mass Effect this time around.  First up is FiringSquad with a score of 75%:

And as much as the peppy dialogue and explosive combat liven up Mass Effect, too many dull quests and disappointing level design bog it down in tedious repetition. There are a lot of Romper Room side assignments here where you deliver junk to random aliens, push levers to activate machinery, solve dreary set puzzles, and decrypt lots of locks with a new PC-only minigame where you guide an arrow through a rotating maze. At times you seem to be jetting all over the galaxy and visiting strange new worlds just to help out strangers in bars. Most of the big-picture stuff that occurs at the end of story missions is seriously awesome, with multiple routes to the finish lines and numerous killer firefights. There is just too much busywork needed to get to these great moments.

...while CrispyGamer's Dave Long says "try it" (the medium choice in their "fry it", "try it", "buy it" system):

Guns are unimaginative slug throwers in the assault rifle, pistol, shotgun and sniper rifle mold. You won't care whether you're firing an Edge pistol or a Scimitar shotgun as long as it's got the highest number behind the name. Weapons are just a tool to get you through combat while biotic powers are a little more interesting. These allow you to briefly disable electronic foes, send others flying with a kinetic throw, or bring team members back from the brink of death. Though later confrontations are more exciting, a lot of the default difficulty combat is rather lame. You find cover, keep your team and yourself alive, aim and shoot! Babysitting your artificial intelligence partners during the fights is usually necessary, but if you outfit them well, they occasionally come in handy, and having them around makes the game seem like a less solitary experience. 

Mass Effect - Podcast @ Played

by Dhruin, Thursday - June 05, 2008 22:15

Episode 40 of the Played Podcast talks to Demiurge's Albert Reed:

The bulk of this week’s show is spent with Albert Reed, studio manager of Massachusetts-based Demiurge Studios.  Demiurge just shipped its PC version of BioWare’s acclaimed Mass Effect–and polished out the game’s edges in the process.  Reed discusses his studio’s formation and experience, and its plans to launch its own original titles.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Latest Reviews @ Action Trip & CVG

by Magerette, Thursday - June 05, 2008 18:47

BluesNews posts links to two more reviews of Bioware's Mass Effect for PC, the first at Action Trip, scoring the game 8.8/10: 

When creating the Mass Effect setting the designers have no doubt been inspired by Star Wars. Certain elements resemble the Star Wars universe...Mass Effect was acknowledged for its incredibly involving and well-written storyline, which continually compels gamers to play on in order to uncover more about the mysterious evil that threatens to destroy the galaxy...Creating deep and profound relationships with characters is also an essential part of the experience and something which most games lack these days. Suffice it to say, if you're looking for a thrilling and immersive story, Mass Effect does the job alright and will make you want to complete the entire game

Computer & Video Games goes even higher, with 9.2/10. They praise the combat style as an improvement over earlier games:

Most importantly though, fighting is fun. A common issue with KOTOR and Jade Empire was how floaty and distant combat felt, but in Mass Effect you
can turn the tide of battle with a well-placed shot, cunning use of cover, using appropriate weaponry or manipulating distance to your advantage.

For a BioWare RPG, you feel shockingly in control of your battles
...Once you've gained mastery of your squad, combat becomes a symphony of paused squad orders and real-time execution, and the thoughtful re-interpretation of the UI allows for a new feeling of grace and satisfaction. 

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Q & A @ Play.TM

by Magerette, Tuesday - June 03, 2008 17:11

If you haven't had your fill of Mass Effect interviews yet, this one at play.tm with Bioware's PR man Matt Atwood is short and to the point about EA, alien sex, the differences between the console and PC versions, etc. As usual, Dragon Age is only injected as a side note:

The PC format has taken some flak lately. Do you believe consoles are starting to marginalise the PC - making it the preserve of MMOs?

I think what's imperative for the PC market is that the content delivered is suited for the market. We believe strongly that the PC is a very viable platform and we have plans to support it in the future with highly anticipated titles like Mass Effect for PC and Dragon Age...

How is Dragon Age progressing?

It is really looking great. I played a build just recently and the team is really making huge strides. We're looking forward to showing it off soon.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Installation Woes - If All Else Fails...

by Dhruin, Sunday - June 01, 2008 00:29

BioWare seems to be having some issues with the Mass Effect installer and also with Vista's UAC security feature.

Here's a post from programmer Owen Borstad on a complicated last-resort manual installation procedure:

Hi All,

There is a way to install the game manually if you can't get the game installed for some reason (installer error, saferun, etc).

You will need:
1) access to the contents of the data directory (either off CD, download, temp files, etc)
2) WinRar or 7zip or any tool that can extract .rar files.

Steps:
1) Create a folder on your system somewhere. Default for the installer is "C:\Program Files\Mass Effect\" or a games folder.
2) Open each .rar file in the utility chosen (WinRar for e.g.)
3) Extract each .rar file into this folder. If you are using an English build, you won't need to extract any .rar file that has a different language code (_es, _fr, _de, _it, etc)
4) After extracting all files, your folder should look like this:
...\Mass Effect\Binaries\
...\Mass Effect\BioGame\
...\Mass Effect\data\
...\Mass Effect\docs\
...\Mass Effect\Engine\
...\Mass Effect\MassEffectLauncher.exe

5) Run the MassEffectLauncher.exe and quit immediately.
6) Run the "Mass Effect (tm)_code.exe" from the data folder. Enter your CD Key, click next, it will exit out.
7) Run the Launcher again, hit "Config". under the "Repair" tab, you can re-create your shortcuts if running XP. If running Vista, I'm sorry, you can't add the game to the Game Explorer in these instructions.
9) Quit back to the launcher.
10) Play! (everything should work nicely now)


I hope that helps some people!

Owen.

...and if you've installed successfully but it crashes when you run it in Vista, you may need to disable UAC for the first run:

Windows Vista users with UAC (User Access Control) enabled may experience a crash to desktop when running Mass Effect after installation.

The solution to this problem is to disable UAC, run Mass Effect PC once and then enable UAC on your Windows Vista Control Panel. Once the procedure has been completed, you will not have to repeat the it unless Windows Vista is reinstalled. [...]

Source: Voodoo Extreme

May

Mass Effect - PC Game of the Month @ IGN

by Magerette, Saturday - May 31, 2008 16:38

In addition to giving Bioware's Mass Effect for PC a stellar review earlier this week,
IGN has also picked it for their Game of the Month, edging out Stardock's expansion Galactic Civilizations II:Twilight of the Arnor. Here's an excerpt:

...we had to give the edge to Mass Effect because while not only is it a full game as opposed to an expansion, but it's also the best RPG on the platform since The Witcher more than six months ago.

Mass Effect is a game that you simply must play if you love science fiction or role-playing games, and it's definitely worth consideration even if you played the Xbox 360 version of it already. The PC version has been enhanced and revamped in some ways for the PC, but you also get the better version with faster load times, unlimited save slots, higher resolution graphics, and more.

Mass Effect - Free Bring Down the Sky Content Scheduled for PC

by Magerette, Friday - May 30, 2008 18:54

In more Mass Effect news, IGN  posts the information that the downloable content pack Bring Down the Sky,which features the first in-game appearence of the Batarian race and was previously released for the XBox360 version, will soon be available free to PC purchasers who register their game:

BioWare has announced that the Bring Down the Sky downloadable content for the PC version of Mass Effect, its critically acclaimed RPG, is coming soon. Purchasers of the newly released PC game can get the downloadable content for free by registering their CD keys and creating a BioWare community account. (Bring Down the Sky cost approximately $5 in Microsoft Points for the Xbox 360 version.)

 

Mass Effect - Reviews @ AtomicGamer & GameDaily

by Magerette, Friday - May 30, 2008 17:53

More reviews of the PC version of Bioware's Mass Effect, including this one from Atomic Gamer, who give it an overall score of 92%. With so many reviews out, it's hard not to be repetitive, but here's something a little different on the mini-game angle:

 There's also a new hacking minigame that resembles, of all games, Frogger but the "cars" are little blocks in concentric circles and you have to dash your way through to the center. The problem here is that they replaced the 360's annoying and repetitive mini-game with a somewhat different one that you'll see dozens or hundreds of times by the end of the game. If Bioware wants to keep using mini-games, they need to spend more time on this and create multiple ones for different kinds of hacks. I'm pretty sure that 2K Boston has learned this lesson after BioShock's hacking/plumbing game.

GameDaily also has a short review up, again with a very favorable score of 9/10:

 Although the game suffers from a few minor bugs, including a small number of missions that don't show as completed when finished, some computer controlled teammates that have trouble following orders and occasional glitches when switching between movement and hacking mode, the PC version of Mass Effect is superior to the Xbox 360 release. The mouse and keyboard controls are so natural that they improve the game's performance at practically every level. Combat benefits from the precise controls and large number of hotkeys...

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Eurogamer, IGN, GameSpy

by Dhruin, Thursday - May 29, 2008 23:28

A trio of Mass Effect reviews from major sites has popped up.  Let's kick off with Eurogamer's Kieron Gillen, who notes a number of minor design grumbles but likes the overall game to the tune of 8/10:

The easiest way to grasp Mass Effect is to imagine Knights of the Old Republic. Strip out the Star Wars licence and replace it with some serious-but-well-crafted original fiction, then remove all the pause-time strategy-style comba. Replace it with competent but unspectacular third-person shooter tactical action, complete with cover system and team-mate ordering. The RPG skills influence the game, in terms of special powers and improved shooting abilities. So, like Deus Ex, the amount your sniper-sight wobbles is based upon your character's ability and the quality of your weapon. And, like Deus Ex, its worth is less in the individual action sequences, and more in the synergy between the RPG development, the action and the frame of a developing story. The results are splendid. Kristan gave it a strong eight, and that's what I'd give it too, so if you're one of those sort of people you can go and get back to comparing PS3 and Xbox 360 screenshots for errant pixels.

IGN says the game "feels right" on the PC and awards an "outstanding" 9.2/10:

There are so many reasons why Mass Effect is so appealing. It's got a typical BioWare plot, which means that there's a mystery that's so well thought out and told that everything clicks into place during the big reveal. Yet it's also a game made by sci-fi fans for those who love sci-fi. There are so many elements borrowed and culled from decades of science fiction and movies, and there are countless moments that will remind you of Star Trek or Aliens or Firefly or some early John Carpenter movie (the electronic score is very Carpenter-esque, too). There's even an effective film grain post-processing effect that makes the game feel like a 70s or 80s sci-fi movie, before digital filmmaking and CGI made everything look and feel too clean.

GameSpy goes further, saying Mass Effect is "still one of the greatest role-playing games we've ever played", with a score of 5 stars:

Mass Effect's greatest strength is the quality of the narrative. BioWare has a track record of producing amazingly engrossing storylines, but never before have you been presented with this level of meaningful interaction. You'll experience difficult and thought-provoking situations, including moral and ethical questions without a clear right or wrong answer. The Shepard character is thus defined by player involvement, sublimely capturing the essence of role-playing.

The trappings of the medium do limit how free you are to pursue different approaches to in-game situations. Your ability to make the more interesting choices is tied directly to how many points you've dropped into the Charm or Intimidate talents, for instance. And as should be expected, different responses to the same issue will often lead to similar, if not exactly identical results. While some of the side-stories could have been explored to greater lengths and with more payoff than a paragraph of text, the main storyline is very strong.

Mass Effect - Interviews @ GameZone, Wired

by Dhruin, Thursday - May 29, 2008 00:44

It's going to be the Mass Effect show at RPGWatch this week (unless you live outside NA, in which case it's next week).

GameZone has an interview with Demiurge about the PC conversion:

“We have a very talented team here, who have worked hard to make the PC version of the game as good as it can be.”

2007 was a huge year for video games, thanks to several high profile games that launched, not the least of which was BioWare’s Mass Effect. Mass Effect was a sci-fi RPG title that offered excellent gameplay and a deep storyline with tons of possible arcs throughout. Now the game is getting ready for its PC debut, courtesy of Demiurge. For the PC version, the game will have a new user interface, controls developed with PC gamers in mind, and the great added content of the Xbox 360 version. PC gamers will finally get a chance to enjoy what Xbox 360 gamers have been gloating about since last year.

GameZone recently had a chance to ask Demiurge studio director, Al Reed, a few questions about the development of the PC version, as well as working with BioWare on the project.

...while Wired gets Greg and Ray:

BioWare made a name for itself as a PC RPG developer, so the choice to release a major title like Mass Effect on the Xbox 360 first was jarring to many fans. Why was this decision made and does it lend credence to the idea that PCs are lagging far behind consoles as gaming machines?

Muzyka: Two other acclaimed BioWare titles for PC, Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire were both released on the Xbox first, and our fans seemed to really enjoy both the Xbox and PC SKUs based on the critical acclaim and commercial success of both games. I'm happy to challenge the comment that PCs are lagging behind other systems as gaming platforms -- I think the PC market is vibrant, and consumer tastes continue to evolve. Ultimately, our audience is smart and sophisticated on all platforms and it's up to us as content creators to make amazing games that they want to buy and play.

We certainly are making a tremendous effort to deliver an awesome, customized and optimized version of Mass Effect which launches on the PC May 28th in North America (June 6th in Europe) and then after that comes Sonic Chronicles: Dark Brotherhood -- a really fun younger-themed title we're developing for the DS with Sega, and then another big new IP title for BioWare, Dragon Age, which is shaping up to be a truly incredible fantasy experience -- it's the next-gen spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate and we’re looking forward to showing more of Dragon Age to our fans later this year. I was just playing Dragon Age this past weekend on my home PC system and it's really fun!

Wired's interviewer needs to catch up with this century.

Mass Effect - Now Available in NA

by Dhruin, Thursday - May 29, 2008 00:35

Just in case anyone has been living under a rock, Mass Effect PC is now in NA stores:

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (May 28, 2008) – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), has announced that the award-winning space epic Mass Effect™ for the PC is now available in stores across North America. Rated “M” for Mature, Mass Effect is available at a MSRP of $49.99 at all major retail outlets. Mass Effect is also available for purchase online and can be downloaded from major digital distribution sites including the EA online store at www.eastore.ea.com.

Fully optimized for the PC, Mass Effect includes a new Tactical Heads-Up Display, higher resolution visuals, an enhanced inventory system, fully optimized controls designed specifically for the PC, individual squad control and a new decryption mini-game.

“Bring Down the Sky,” the first in a series of planned downloadable content that will further expand the Mass Effect story and universe, will soon be available free1 of charge for registered BioWare community members to download. It includes a new uncharted world that introduces the deadly Batarian alien race, approximately 90 minutes of new gameplay and an original soundtrack.

Published by EA and re-designed for the PC by BioWare and Demiurge Studios, Mass Effect invites players to take the role of Commander Shepard as they set out on an adventure to save the galaxy from imminent destruction. Wrought with treachery, heroism, difficult decisions and a universe filled with unique and colorful species, Mass Effect delivers heart pounding action and a cinematic storyline.

Originally released for the Xbox 360™ videogame and entertainment system, Mass Effect has received critical acclaim throughout the world with more than 80 awards including Console Game of the Year and Role-Playing Game of the Year (http://masseffect.bioware.com/previewsawards/).

For more information about Mass Effect, please visit www.masseffect.com.

Mass Effect - Combat Trailer

by Dhruin, Wednesday - May 28, 2008 09:46

Gamer's Hell has just over a minute of Mass Effect PC combat footage in a new trailer.

Mass Effect - PC Review Roundup

by Woges, Tuesday - May 27, 2008 15:07

Kieron Gillen is handing out the praise for MEPC with an 8/10 score at Eurogamer.

The easiest way to grasp Mass Effect is to imagine Knights of the Old Republic. Strip out the Star Wars licence and replace it with some serious-but-well-crafted original fiction, then remove all the turn-based combat. Replace it with competent but unspectacular third-person shooter action, complete with cover system. The RPG skills influence the game, in terms of special powers and improved shooting abilities. So, like Deus Ex, the amount your sniper-sight wobbles is based upon your character's ability and the quality of your weapon. And, like Deus Ex, its worth is less in the individual action sequences, and more in the synergy between the RPG development, the action and the frame of a developing story. The results are splendid. Kristan gave it a strong eight, and that's what I'd give it too, so if you're one of those sort of people you can go and get back to comparing PS3 and Xbox 360 screenshots for errant pixels.

Changing this to a roundup because, I'm guessing, a host of these are on the way. Here's another from CVG with a final score of 9.2.

If you have the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect, you're in a pickle. On the one hand, there's nothing truly new here. On the other hand, playing the game on a mouse and keyboard is like playing a brand-new game. Unlike its console predecessor, the PC version makes combat exciting and fun, depending less on auto aim and more on real skill.

After two playthroughs on the 360 and a third on the PC, I can honestly say that this is how the game was meant to be played, and the experience is incredibly refreshing. If you've never played the game before, then this is an unequivocal must-buy. If you have, and the money's knocking about - then you still might be interested in playing the definitive Mass Effect.

We'll collect some miscellaneous ones here...

Mass Effect - Wallpaper @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Sunday - May 25, 2008 01:04

A new Saren desktop wallpaper can be nabbed at the Mass Effect site. 

Mass Effect - Screens @ Gamers Hell

by Dhruin, Saturday - May 24, 2008 01:10

Also at Gamer's Hell, you can check out seven screens from the imminent PC version of Mass Effect

Mass Effect - New Trailers

by Dhruin, Friday - May 23, 2008 11:54

Thanks to Blue's for this pair of new Mass Effect trailers.  There are a bunch of mirrors, so here's their post:

A pair of new Mass Effect movies provide ganders at the coming PC edition of BioWare's role-playing game. There's a "combat" trailer that can be found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers. There's also a "Shepard vs Wrex" war of words trailer , this can be found on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Story Trailer @ Action Trip

by Magerette, Sunday - May 18, 2008 15:45

Action Trip has a short (1.37 min) promo trailer up for Bioware's Mass Effect that gives a quick plot rundown and shows off some of the graphics. You can catch the streaming version or download it here.

Mass Effect - Gold

by Woges, Friday - May 16, 2008 22:25

Bioware's latest goes gold (for the PC) and Blue's News has the press release notes.

BioWare announced today that the award-winning action role-playing game (RPG) Mass Effect for PC, published by Electronic Arts, has gone into manufacturing. Mass Effect will be available in North America on May 28, 2008 and June 6, 2008 to European retailers.

Gamers can still take advantage of pre-order specials and should check with their preferred retailer for information. Alternatively, gamers who pre-order Mass Effect through the Electronic Arts online store at www.eastore.ea.com

Fully optimized for the PC through a collaboration between BioWare and Demiurge Studios, Mass Effect includes a new Tactical Heads-Up Display, higher resolution visuals, an enhanced inventory system, fully optimized controls designed specifically for the PC, individual squad control and a new decryption mini-game. The “Bring Down the Sky” downloadable content for Mass Effect on PC, featuring 90 minutes of new gameplay, will also be available free3 for registered BioWare Community members at the launch of Mass Effect PC.

Originally released for the Xbox 360™ videogame and entertainment system, Mass Effect has received critical acclaim throughout the world with more than 80 awards including 2007 Console Game of the Year and Role-Playing Game of the Year (http://masseffect.bioware.com/previewsawards/).

Mass Effect is rated “M” for Mature by the ESRB. For more information about Mass Effect, please visit www.masseffect.com. will receive bonus items from the game Dead Space™, the highly anticipated sci-fi survival horror game by EA, including the first issue of the Dead Space comic book and a Dead Space poster while supplies last.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Impressions @ Shacknews

by Dhruin, Wednesday - May 14, 2008 09:36

Shacknews has some brief impressions of Mass Effect PC:

Sure, Mass Effect certainly looks great on the PC, but veterans and newcomers alike ought to be most interested in how it plays. Utilizing familiar FPS controls, the game allows you to pull up the tactical HUD by holding the space bar at any time, giving you access to every ability at your disposal—including those of your squadmates.

It may sound like a meager addition to an otherwise decent game, but for those of us who've spent more time with PC first-person shooters and RPGs than elsewhere, it's a massive change of pace to gameplay. Combat feels more immediate and closely connected to the game's flow, and—as you might expect—everything moves smoother with a mouse and keyboard on deck.

...plus VoodooExtreme has another huge video, with the 318Mb video running to 12 minutes this time (135Mb standard def).

Mass Effect - Movies & Screens

by Dhruin, Tuesday - May 13, 2008 13:58

r3dshift writes in that VoodooExtreme has a new 6-min, 223Mb, HD video (and screens) for Mass Effect PC showing off the new UI and Mako vehicle handling.  A standard def version is also available (72Mb).

Mass Effect - Interview @ CVG

by Woges, Monday - May 12, 2008 15:35

Interview with Ray Muzyka on Mass Effect & Sonic.

It's definitely not the underground scene for spotty geeks it once was...

Muzyka: It's no longer like it was 30 years ago, videogames aren't like Pong - they're a much richer experience. Mass Effect is an example of that.

It's equally satisfying to play a game like Mass Effect than it is to see the best Hollywood blockbuster. That's an exciting thing.

Videogames have always been my hobby and I'm passionate about them and I think the fact that more and more people are playing them. The industry is just maturing and I think its best years are still ahead of it. 

Mass Effect - Demiurge Interview @ Play.tm

by Dhruin, Saturday - May 10, 2008 00:56

Demiurge steps forward for this interview on Mass Effect PC at Play.tm.  It's an entry-level Q&A, so if you've been following MEPC at all, there's nothing new on offer but it might offer a decent overview for newcomers:

How different is the PC version of ME? Has anything been overhauled entirely?

One major area that you'll immediately notice a difference in is the squad controls, where you can now give orders to individual squad members. You can check out Dan's developer diary on the subject here. We've implemented a new HUD, we've reworked the inventory system, we have an entirely new mini-game, and there are a few more surprises for players as well. We've also upgraded the ME graphics engine and texture resolution to take full advantage of a high-end PC. Demiurge has also done a lot of work under the hood to make everything as beautiful as a grand vision of the game deserves.

 

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Bioware on DRM: No Periodoc Re-authentification!

by Gorath, Friday - May 09, 2008 21:14

Bioware & EA explain the DRM system used for their upcoming title Mass Effect (PC) in a long forum post by Community Manager Jay Watamaniuk:

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days on how the security requirements for Mass Effect for PC will work. BioWare, a division of EA, wants to let fans know that Mass Effect will not require 10- day periodic re-authentication. [...]

Second, with online authentication consumers now connect to the Internet the first time the game is launched and are required only to reconnect if they are downloading new game content.

Good news, the game connects to the server only at the first launch and when new content is downloaded.

Mass Effect - Previews @ GameSpy, IGN and Games Radar

by Dhruin, Friday - May 09, 2008 07:31

A trio of new Mass Effect PC previews have hit the 'net today, just in time for another round of DRM arguments.  GameSpy's article is easily digested and breaks down the five biggest changes from the X360 version - here's the intro:

So Mass Effect will be hitting PCs real soon. BioWare came by today to graciously allow us a chance to poke around with the latest version of the port, and tape the proceedings. While not a whole lot has changed since the game was last shown at the Game Developers Conference in February, today's extended demonstration put the differences between the PC and 360 versions in stark relief. It's no exaggeration to say that Mass Effect feels much more at home on the PC; indeed, playing the game with all the interface refinements introduced in the port makes you suspect that the experience is much closer to what the designers at BioWare had probably envisioned initially. Whether it's a product of an increased amount of time to cook the systems, or simply the nature of mouse and keyboard interface is irrelevant. The bottom line is that Mass Effect will emerge from the other side of this port as a more fun and functional game.

IGN's Jason Ocampo writes a more traditional article with this mention of the DRM:

And, yes, we asked BioWare Community Coordinator Chris Priestly about the online verification system that's caused somewhat of an uproar recently. According to Priestly, when you install the game it will ask you to input the CD key that comes with it. The game will then check online to authorize the key. You won't need the disc in the drive to play, as everything is on the hard drive. About every 10 days or so, the game will recheck your activation online. The game can be activated about three times, but if you need more than that (let's say your hard drive keeps dying) you can call customer support. On paper, it sounds reasonable, but anti-piracy systems can sometimes cause a ton of headaches. We'll have to see where Mass Effect falls when it ships, but this does look like a very cool game, even if you've played the Xbox 360 version already.

...and Games Radar goes for a short format, as usual.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Screens & Wallpaper

by Dhruin, Friday - May 09, 2008 00:37

From the BioWare site:

Check out three new screenshots of Mass Effect PC, plus a great new desktop wallpaper that's sure to add 500% more colour to your screen. Also, read all about the M35 Mako in a new Galactic Codex entry.

Mass Effect - Video Interview @ GameSpot UK

by Dhruin, Wednesday - May 07, 2008 00:13

From BioWare's Mass Effect site:

GameSpot UK checks out the London EA Games preview and talks to BioWare leader Ray Muzyka about the latest on Mass Effect PC, and the exciting new features to expect. Head to GameSpot for the video interview (7:11 in).

Mass Effect - Copy Protection Details

by Dhruin, Tuesday - May 06, 2008 14:46

With the PC version only a few weeks away, BioWare's Derek French has revealed the copy protection scheme for Mass Effect on the official forums, including the fact that a periodic internet connection is mandatory:

Mass Effect uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. Each copy of Mass Effect comes with a CD Key which is used for this activation and for registration here at the BioWare Community. Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play, it is only for installation.

After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn't become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can't contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run.

...and you can find further clarification in this post.  Some players are going to welcome this and others aren't.

Thanks, Stanza! 

April

Mass Effect - PC Preorder Offers

by Dhruin, Wednesday - April 30, 2008 12:32

Via Blue's comes this lengthy announcement from EA on preorder offers for the PC version:

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (April 29, 2008) – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), is proud to announce that key retailers across North America will be offering $10 off for all pre-orders of Mass Effect™ for the PC1, shipping to retailers May 27, 2008 in North America and June 6, 2008 in Europe. Gamers will receive the $10 discount by pre-ordering Mass Effect at both specialty and online retailers including GameStop, Amazon.com and GoGamer.com.

Gamers who pre-order Mass Effect through the Electronic Arts online store will receive bonus items2 from the game Dead Space™, the highly anticipated sci-fi survival horror game by EA, including the first issue of the Dead Space comic book and a Dead Space poster while supplies last.

Published by EA and re-designed for the PC by Demiurge Studios and BioWare, Mass Effect invites players to take the role of Commander Shepard as they set out on an adventure to save the galaxy from imminent destruction. Wrought with treachery, heroism, difficult decisions and a universe filled with unique and colorful species, Mass Effect delivers a truly compelling storyline.

Fully optimized for the PC, Mass Effect includes a new Tactical Heads-Up Display, higher resolution visuals, an enhanced inventory system, fully optimized controls designed specifically for the PC, individual squad control and a new decryption mini-game. The “Bring Down the Sky” downloadable content for Mass Effect on PC, featuring 90 minutes of new gameplay, will also be available free for registered BioWare Community members at the launch of Mass Effect PC.

Originally released for the Xbox 360™ videogame and entertainment system, Mass Effect has received critical acclaim throughout the world with more than 80 awards including 2007 Console Game of the Year and Role-Playing Game of the Year (http://masseffect.bioware.com/previewsawards/).

The $10-Off pre-order offer is available now at all participating retail and online retail outlets. The Dead Space pre-order offer is available now at the Electronic Arts online store at www.eastore.ea.com. Mass Effect is rated “M” for Mature by the ESRB. For more information about Mass Effect, please visit www.masseffect.com.

###

1 Value of discount will be deducted from product list price. Valid for new orders of “Mass Effect” for PC of equal or greater value only. Discount is valid only on purchases from participating retailers. This offer is not valid at the EA STORE at www.eastore.ea.com. This offer expires on May 27, 2008, and cannot be combined with any other offer, Gift Card, rebate or other discount coupons. Valid only in U.S. Limit one offer per person. Subject to availability. Customers are responsible for shipping, handling and applicable sales tax. Offer may not be substituted, exchanged, sold or redeemed for cash or other goods or services. Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law.

2 Offer expires May 27,2008. Good only for new purchases of “Mass Effect” for PC. Valid only at the EA STORE at www.eastore.ea.com. Limit one offer per person. Offer may not be substituted, exchanged, sold or redeemed for cash or other goods or services. Valid only in U.S. May not be combined with any other offer, gift card, rebate or discount coupon. Product subject to availability. Retailers, distributors and employees of Electronic Arts Inc. and their agencies/affiliates are not eligible. Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law.

Source: Blues News

Mass Effect - Q & A @ TVG

by Magerette, Monday - April 28, 2008 18:31

Totalvideogames.com has  posted an interview  with Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka on the upcoming PC version of Mass Effect, going over some of the differences between it and the XBox 360 version, including the DLC: 

 TVG: Are there any other features of the PC version that will be different from the Xbox 360 game - any other things that have been tweaked?

One of the big changes is the tactical HUD. It allows individual squad command controls, so you can actually tell your party - individually as opposed to a group - where to go. And then you can give them specific individual orders...for what they're going to do when they get there.
Additionally, we've made it so that the main character can do more abilities in order on PC, so they can chain their abilities. And if you put those two things together, you have more control of your squad and main character, so you can enact more interesting strategies...We changed the inventory screen so that it's optimised for PC in the process, so that we've made it even easier to use... Everything is really in tune to the mouse and keyboard..

TVG: The Batarian expansion has already been made available as Xbox 360 DLC. How will PC gamers be able to get hold of that?

Basically, it'll be made available as a free download at launch. It's not in the box, but basically you just download and install it immediately, and it's free for PC fans.

TVG: I'm unaware of exactly how much DLC is available for the Xbox 360 game at the moment...

Right now there's just one pack, but we have plans to do more in future for Xbox 360 and PC. We haven't announced any details on that yet though.

Mass Effect - 22 Screens @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Saturday - April 26, 2008 01:43

Head over to Worthplaying for 22 (apparently) new screens from Mass Effect for the PC. 

Mass Effect - EA Showcase Audio Streams @ videogaming246

by Dhruin, Saturday - April 26, 2008 01:28

EA is has their Spring Showcase event in London at the moment and videogaming247 is offering some audio from the event.  First, they have Ray Muzyka's Mass Effect PC presentation and then they have an audio interview with Ray on BioWare in general.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Mass Effect - 4 New Screens @ Worthplaying

by Magerette, Tuesday - April 22, 2008 19:23

Worthplaying posts four (hopefully) new screenshots from the PC version of Bioware's Mass Effect here

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Free for PC

by Dhruin, Friday - April 18, 2008 23:27

BioWare has announced the first DLC for Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky - will be available for free to PC owners immediately on the game's release:

EDMONTON, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leading video game developer BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), has announced that Bring Down the Sky, the first piece of downloadable content for the award-winning space epic Mass Effect, will be available for PC gamers to download free1 of charge when Mass Effect for the PC releases on May 28, 2008 in North America and June 6, 2008 in Europe.

Fully optimized for the PC, Bring Down the Sky is the first in a series of planned downloadable content that will further expand the Mass Effect story and universe. It includes a new uncharted world that introduces the deadly Batarian alien race, approximately 90 minutes of new gameplay and an original soundtrack.

Batarian extremists have hijacked a mobile asteroid station in the Asgard system, setting it on a collision course with the nearby colony world of Terra Nova. Only Commander Shepard can save the millions of innocent civilians before the asteroid completes its deadly descent.

Originally released for the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system, Bring Down the Sky has received critical acclaim as one of the must have downloadable expansion packs. Mass Effect has also received critical acclaim throughout the world with more than 80 awards including Console Game of the Year and Role-Playing Game of the Year.

The Bring Down the Sky downloadable content for PC will be available at the launch of Mass Effect for the PC, and will be free of charge to registered BioWare community members.

You can also view three screens at Blue's

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - PC Specs @ Community Forums

by Magerette, Wednesday - April 16, 2008 19:18

If you're curious as to what it will take to run Mass Effect on your PC, Bluesnews posts a link to the Mass Effect Community Forums  listing the following minimum and recommended specs:

Minimum System Requirements for Mass Effect on the PC

Operating System:
Windows XP or Vista

Processor:
2.4+GHZ Intel or 2.0+GHZ AMD

Memory:
1 Gigabyte Ram (XP)
2 Gigabyte Ram (Vista)

Video Card:
NVIDIA GeForce 6 series(6800GT or better)
ATI 1300XT or better (X1550, X1600 Pro and HD2400 are below minimum system requirements)

Hard Drive Space:
12 Gigabytes

Sound Card:
DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card and drivers
----------

Recommended System Requirements for Mass Effect on the PC

Operating System:
Windows XP or Vista

Processor:
2.6+GHZ Intel or 2.4+GHZ AMD

Memory:
2 Gigabyte Ram

Video Card:
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX or higher.
ATI X1800 XL series or higher

Hard Drive Space:
12 Gigabytes

Sound Card:
DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card and drivers – 5.1 sound card recommended

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - More HUD Previews @ 1Up, IGN

by Dhruin, Thursday - April 10, 2008 23:11

BioWare's Diarmid Clarke is stepping out with the latest Mass Effect details for the PC and IGN and 1Up have joined GameSpot's recent article with a look at the new HUD.  From IGN:

IGN: Why create a new HUD?

Diarmid Clarke:
We started with the wheel system for the Xbox 360 version and it was a nice system and worked very, very well for the 360. We thought we could take it further for the PC. We set our goals which was "this game must absolutely feel like a naturally developed PC experience." We thought that by moving to the new tactical HUD where we can put the three component parts of the wheel all on the screen at the same time, it's just something that the PC can do very well because of the control method with the mouse and keyboard in conjunction with the hotkeys that we have. We were fortunate enough to be able to call upon the actual Mass Effect team to develop it so we knew it was really within our control and what we wanted.

IGN: And [the HUD] basically pops up onscreen and pauses the game when you hit the space bar?

Diarmid Clarke: Yeah.

Mass Effect - Reworked HUD @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, Thursday - April 10, 2008 00:23

Following up on news of the small Mass Effect PC delay, GameSpot spoke to BioWare's Diarmid Clarke who confirmed that reworking the HUD is the cause of the new release date and discussed the changes:

According to Clarke, the new HUD allows for much easier access to biotic powers and weapons by doing away with the radial HUD used in the 360 version. "All of the wheel stuff is now on the screen, you're not flicking between menus," he explained. "It's all just point and click now."

In particular, the new display scheme does away with the 360's inventory-management system, which drew widespread complaints for its lack of ease of use. Now, the guns will all be on the HUD screens ordered in rank of power, with customizable attachments and ammo types selectable via a drag-and-drop interface. Other keys will allow access to menu screens directly via a single key touch.

The new version of Mass Effect also takes advantage of hotkeys to let players more quickly use biotic powers. It will also have hotkeys for individual commands, which will let players issue orders to single non-player characters for improved tactical-squad combat. "It lets you be strategic and still do run-and-gun play," promised Clarke.

They also have some new screens demonstrating the changes.

Mass Effect - Why a Trilogy @ MTV

by Dhruin, Wednesday - April 09, 2008 00:46

"Because it'll sell lots" seems the obvious answer to me but nevertheless, MTV asked Ray Muzyka why they announced Mass Effect as a trilogy from the beginning.  It's only one question (and answer), so here's the whole thing sans intro:

Multiplayer: “Mass Effect” was announced as a trilogy. Creatively, how do you go about determining that you’re making a trilogy? On the completely cynical side, it could be that there was some marketing guy who decided, “We’re going to make one game. It’s going to be a hit. We’re going to have two sequels.” On the other side of the spectrum the idea would be: “This story cannot be told in one game; it can’t be told in 40 hours. It needs to be told in 120.”

Specific to “Mass Effect,” do you recall the moment when it was determined that it would be a trilogy?

Ray Muzyka, BioWare co-founder: Very much with “Mass Effect” it was the development team that drove the decision to make it a trilogy. I think the very first meeting we had with Casey Hudson, who is the project director on that project — Greg and me and Casey went out for lunch and said, “What do we do [next]? “Knights of the Old Republic” was a great success. What’s going to be the next challenge to the team?”

At the lunch we decided that we want something that really feels epic. It’s like you’re the tip of the spear of humanity on a galactic stage. Something that’s big and ambitious. What about a trilogy?

Great science fiction arcs often occur in trilogies. It seems like it’s sort of the way of it. Maybe it’s a convenient number. But it allows you to have different pacing in parts of the story. So we’re excited about the next installments. We haven’t announced them formally, but we’ve talked about how we have grand ambitions and we want to ontine to build.

We also are really excited just as game players ourselves to be able to build on a foundation. As Greg [Zeschuk, BioWare co-founder] said, we’re always building on this foundation of the past work. And all across the board that’s exploration, progression, customization, narrative, story, digital actors, and social aspects for multiplayer games — just building on that. And being able to take that from one product to the next within a franchise is another way to express the things that the fans loved and make them better and better each time out the gate.

Mass Effect - Small Delay for PC Version

by Dhruin, Wednesday - April 09, 2008 00:27

BioWare's Chris Priestly has posted about a small delay to Mass Effect for the PC:

 Hi everyone,

I have just confirmed with the development team that we are making a small change to the release date of Mass Effect for the PC. We had previously announced May 6, 2008 for North America. The new release date for North America is May 28, 2008 and June 6, 2008 in Europe.

The team here at BioWare, working closely with the good folks at Demiurge Studios, has decided that a few more weeks in the studio will ensure we deliver the quality that our fans deserve. The additional time will allow us to incorporate more play-testing feedback, add extra polish and tune the additional features so that Mass Effect is a natural and outstanding PC gaming experience.

BioWare and EA are dedicated to excellence. We’re confident that the extra time will be reflected in the final PC experience that we deliver to our fans.

We appreciate your understanding and look forward to delivering a great game!

Thanks all.

Meanwhile, Demiurge has posted a press release on their involvement but there is nothing new that I can see.  Here's a quick snip:

Demiurge Studios is directly involved with the enhancements and additions to Mass Effect in creating a PC-specific user experience. With the development opportunities of the PC, the teams placed focus on higher environmental and character resolutions, smooth game flow and a gameplay interface that takes advantage of the platform. Many new additions are being implemented, such as individual squad member control, a reworked inventory system, fully customized key mapping and hot keys, and an entirely new decryption minigame.

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - Review @ Geek Studies

by Dhruin, Monday - April 07, 2008 22:42

This review of Mass Effect at Geek Studies is really more of the author thinking over the gameplay than traditional critique or buyer's guide:

Personally, I had a much harder time mistreating other characters than I would in other games, knowing that it could actually lead to awkward (albeit simulated) interpersonal interactions here. I tried to play through once as semi-villainous, and I found I couldn’t bring myself to kill innocent civilians in this game, though it wouldn’t mean much to me to do the same in other games. For me, there’s something very uncomfortable about playing a character who makes other characters cry.

Bioware clearly designed the game to work as a narrative, with great potential for emotional involvement. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing to me that they didn’t take this as far as they could’ve. As others have suggested, I think it is fair to suggest that games offer a couple different kinds of pleasure, in terms of “mastery” and “narrative involvement.” And I think that most story-oriented games today try to offer something for players seeking either kind of involvement; Halo 3, for example, received roughly equally high billing for both its “campaign” (story) mode and its “matchmaking” (sport) mode. Building a game with both of these kinds of engagement in mind, however, necessarily means limiting resources for the other kind of material.

Mass Effect - PC Preview @ RPS

by Dhruin, Tuesday - April 01, 2008 23:33

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a preview of Mass Effect for the PC with some mixed feelings about various issues.  Here's a sample:

But it is filled with pleasing space-detail. Some of the encounters with alien races with amusing, others a little sinister. (The giant dudes who speak in an inflective-free monotone are absolutely inspired.) There can never be enough side missions in this kind of game, but there are plenty that captured our interest in the 360 game, and there’s no reason to suspect that they’ve gone mouldy in the cupboard, like forgotten narrative cheese, in the PC version. The paragon/renegade morality system isn’t exactly Lightside/Darkside, but it does have real implications for how characters react as the game progresses, and it’s fun to feel like you’re a completely ruthless bastard. (And in the game.) The story is, as you might expect from a Bioware game, better than the science fiction stories you wrote at primary school. There are even allusions to (gasp!) sex with a blue lady.

That said, it’s rather… empty. Mass Effect doesn’t really seem to have a significant theme or interesting message. It’s a game that could have taken a few more risks - it’s not like science fiction is a genre that’s short (or scared of) mad, savage fictions. Mass Effect is a little too soft and derivative. You sense that a Space Adventure checklist has been filled out behind the scenes. You would have hoped, as Kieron points out, that Bioware would have used the unique frontier of downloadable content and a flexible game universe to allow us to pick and choose some rather more extreme missions and stories. We all loved Battlestar Galactica’s darker themes and weirder moments, so why doesn’t this kind of thing crop up more in the equally populist Mass Effect? Why not get some small teams to great aberrant, risky missions that we could buy as cheap downloads? Why not capitalize on the “pulp-fiction” of it all?

March

Mass Effect - Interview @ Globe and Mail

by Dhruin, Sunday - March 30, 2008 22:08

The Globe and Mail has a piece on Mass Effect's story and the Canadian Awards for Electronic and Animated Arts with input from writer Drew Karpshyn and project director Casey Hudson:

Casey Hudson, Mass Effect's project director, admitted that earlier BioWare games such as Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire had been criticized for being word heavy, as they required players to read pages of on-screen dialogue and narrative text.

The narrative dialogue system, Hudson said, was how the dialogue and the narrative storytelling were brought it into the interactive realm. “It's an innovation that is kind of deceptively simple but fundamentally changes the way that you can interact with characters in the game,” says Hudson.

Conversations in Mass Effect, Hudson explained, play out in real time because the player's dialogue choices appear before other characters have finished speaking. That way, conversations in the game can flow more naturally. And by providing players with paraphrased dialogue choices instead of full texts, players can flash read instead of having to read entire lines.

Mass Effect - PC Trailers @ GamersHell

by Magerette, Saturday - March 29, 2008 18:58

GamersHell has posted four gameplay movies adding up to over 5 minutes of footage for Bioware's upcoming PC version of the space-themd rpg for XBox360, Mass Effect. Judging from the one I looked at, the visual quality seems improved from the XBox version trailers.

 You can download them here.

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Review @ Eurogamer

by Magerette, Tuesday - March 25, 2008 15:43

Eurogamer posts a review of Bioware's recently released Bring Down the Sky downloadable content pack for the XBox360 version of their RPG Mass Effect, and gives it a less than enthusiastic rating of 5/10:

We tend to measure the worth of our RPGs in terms of hours spent scouring them for every last experience point, so eyebrows were certainly raised at the fact that Bring Down The Sky lasts - at best - an hour and a half...

Also inducing sighs and shrugs is the lack of any real narrative meat. There's minimal NPC interaction, and the motives behind the asteroid attack are vague at best. This is really just a medium-sized combat-heavy side-quest that, had it been squeezed into the main game, wouldn't have had many players rushing to check it out... So instead of plot twists and role-playing, it's just blast, blast, blast, drive, drive, drive, blast, blast, blast...

In fact, it's only at the end, as you confront the Batarian extremists in their HQ, that this mission really comes to life. The building is - gasp! - a new layout, and while there's a ton of combat in this section, you at least feel like you're taking part in something other than a shooting gallery. The story and action finally work in harmony, rather than as separate entities.

The price - 400 Microsoft Points, or GBP 3.40 / EUR 4.80 - is certainly right for an experience this slender, but personally I'd rather have paid twice as much and got something with more substance.

Mass Effect - PC Interviews @ CVG, BioWare

by Dhruin, Tuesday - March 18, 2008 23:11

BioWare's Matt Atwood is hitting the campaign trail hard for the PC "conversion" of Mass Effect with a new interview on offer at CVG:

Is Mass Effect on PC the definitive version of the game?

Matt Atwood: I don't know if I'd say it's the definitive version. I think both versions were constructed really well for the platforms they're on. But I do think the PC version really adds some things that are nice. Higher-resolution visuals? That's exciting.

I love the individual squad command. If you play with the individual squad control, it's a deeper tactical game - it has more impact than I think people realise. As is the hot keys for the biotic powers. You can really play it more action style.

It'll have the achievement system just like the Xbox 360 version did - we'll be hosting that on our servers. That's just another fun part to make sure you've done all the elements of the game.
You've just released the Bring Down the Sky content for Mass Effect on Xbox 360. Is that being included out-the-box with the PC version?

Atwood: We're still working on what we'll include as far as additional content. Of course we'll have more 360 downloadable content on the way and we're working on what content we want for the PC as well. So will that be Bring Down the Sky? We don't know yet.

Also, BioWare themselves have a new podcast (direct link, .mp3) on offer to discuss Mass Effect for the PC and Bring Down the Sky with development team members.

Mass Effect - PC Conversion Interview @ Eurogamer

by Magerette, Monday - March 17, 2008 15:59

Eurogamer posts another Q & A session with Bioware's Matt Atwood, ths time focusing on Mass Effect's translation from XBox to PC and what the future may bring in terms of PC downloadable content and sequels:

Eurogamer: Why did you choose this console-first way of doing things after having been so PC-focused in the past?

Matt Atwood: It's dependent on the game. Mass Effect works well on a console; the team did a really good job with the controls and by offering two levels [of play style]...

We started working on the PC version of Mass Effect right at the tail end of 360 development. And the PC team worked directly with the console team to make sure every vision was met. Really it's fairly quick in comparison to something like Jade [Empire], and we would like to get quicker and quicker. But we're not going to rush it out, because the single most important thing is to make it feel like a natural PC experience. If BioWare delivers a game that feels anything like a port, then we're in trouble and we'll hear about it.

We get questions about if we're going to do new content [for the PC version], but what's the real value there? The game is so robust with this content. What makes the most sense is to focus on making the keyboard customisable, increasing the visuals, making the controls very natural and add things like squad commands and hot-keys for Shepard's biotic powers and weapons; make those things that, honestly, when people make ports they just don't do. They just get it going and that's it. And that's not what BioWare's about.

About downloads:

Eurogamer: Downloadable content is obviously a big deal judging by the in-game menu for it. We've seen one pack, Bring Down the Sky, but what else have you got planned?

Matt Atwood: We obviously know more than we're ready to talk about, just to be completely honest with you. But I think you'll see more planets, I think you'll potentially see more races - you're going to see really great content...

We're asked if we're going to do Bring Down the Sky for PC, and it's a consideration. We're looking in to exactly what we want to do; maybe we'll do something different, because the PC offers some different potentials. We've got some good stuff, and the team's very focused on it...

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Review @ bit-tech.net

by Magerette, Sunday - March 16, 2008 16:29

Bit-tech.net does a review of the new downloadable content pack for Bioware's XBox 360 version of their space RPG, Mass Effect, giving Bring Down the Sky a score of 7/10:

There are good moments in Bring Down the Sky though: the Batarian hell dog things will have you whimpering in fear as they charge towards you, fangs gleaming in the light. There are also a couple of very interesting choices to be made throughout the episode which are not as clear cut as some choices in the main game. Whether or not these choices come back to haunt you remains to be seen.
 

I'm giving this one the benefit of the doubt. There are flaws, least of not allowing you to just jump in and play the episode if you've already completed the main game, but it does do what BioWare set out to do: it adds new characters and new conflicts to the whole story arc, and I hope that we'll be seeing more of the Batarians in future episodes. 

Mass Effect - PC Preview and Mass Effect 2 for PC

by Dhruin, Friday - March 14, 2008 22:49

Let's start with the interesting stuff first.  VideoGamer.com asked BioWare's Matt Atwood about a PC version of Mass Effect 2 and got a positive response:

BioWare is yet to reveal any solid info on the highly anticipated Mass Effect 2, but with the PC game due in May we quizzed BioWare senior manager Matt Atwood about the possibility of PC gamers getting hold of the sequel at the same time as console gamers.

"We haven't announced plans for timing on Mass Effect 2, period, so at this point we're not really ready to talk about it, but because we've got a really great PC fan base we think it's really important to deliver the PC experience as quickly as possible. Look for more news on that soon," stated Atwood during an interview with VideoGamer.com.

...and Matt also demonstrated Mass Effect for the PC to them for this preview:

Control wise, with the PC having a keyboard and mouse, things have been opened up considerably, allowing for faster gameplay. A quick slot menu allows you to access your biotic talents (Barrier, Stasis, etc) instantly without first entering a menu and weapons can be switched by pressing the F keys or by scrolling through with the square bracket keys. Although seemingly small changes, being able to play without constantly brining up a menu should make for a smoother gameplay experience. These changes are optional, so if you prefer to pause and bring up a menu, that is still an option.

On the other hand, the addition of individual squad control adds an extra level of depth and tactical play. Although the grouped squad commands in the Xbox 360 game didn't cause us too many problems, the PC game will allow you to direct each of your squad members individually. We'll have to get some hands-on time to figure out how much this will really add to the experience, but if you're the kind of gamer that wants to go into every battle with a tactical formation, you're in luck.

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - PC Media @ Eurogamer

by Magerette, Friday - March 14, 2008 17:59

Spotted this selection of screenshots and trailers for Bioware's PC version of Mass Effect at Eurogamer and couldn't see that we had any of it previously posted. The sreenshots have today's date, so hopefully this isn't old news. 

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Impresions @ IGN

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 13, 2008 22:51

IGN has a page of impressions from BioWare's Bring Down the Sky DLC for Mass Effect.  They describe is as "not revolutionary" but still a "worthy addition" and here's a sample:

By listening in on a series of breathless transmissions by a woman named Katie Bowman, you find out that a group of Batarian extremists has tampered with the 'roid's propulsion fusion torches, placed there to bring the rock closer to the world of Terra Nova for easy mining. Now, X57 is hurtling toward the planet, threatening the lives of the 4 million humans who call it home.

There are three fusion torches on the X57, and you're charged with disabling them all by heading inside their control facilities and fighting the Batarians who guard each one. You'll also face their Batarian War Beasts, which is another name for "slavering blue hellhounds."

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky - Explored @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, Monday - March 10, 2008 21:13

GameBanshee has kicked up new material for their Mass Effect subsite to support the Bring Down the Sky DLC.  You can grab a walkthrough, details on the Asgard system and the Batarian race.

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Now Available

by Magerette, Monday - March 10, 2008 16:28

The new downloadable content for Bioware's Mass Effect is now available on the XboxLive Marketplace. Full details are here at Major Nelson, along with a short plot summary:

Batarian extremists have hijacked a mobile asteroid station in the Asgard system, setting it on a collision course with the nearby colony world of Terra Nova. Only you can save the human hostages on the asteroid and reroute it before it crashes into the world, killing millions of innocent civilians.

Bring Down the Sky is available for 400 Microsoft points and is 253.40 MB.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Race Profile

by Dhruin, Saturday - March 08, 2008 09:35

A short profile of the new Batarian race from the Mass Effect DLC Bring Down the Sky is on offer at BioWare:

A race of four-eyed bipeds, the batarians are a disreputable species that chose to isolate itself from the rest of the galaxy. The Terminus Systems are infested with batarian pirate gangs and slaving rings, fueling the stereotype of the batarian thug. It should be noted that these criminals do not represent average citizens, who are forbidden to leave batarian space by their omnipresent and paranoid government.

On a related note, you can nab some screens from Worthplaying. 

Mass Effect - Video Interview @ G4TV

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 06, 2008 21:16

G4TV has a clip from a segment called Face Time, discussing what's new in Mass Effect for the PC with Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka.

Mass Effect - Bring Down the Sky Interview

by Dhruin, Tuesday - March 04, 2008 22:41

Bring Down the Sky is the name of the first bit of downloadable (X360) addon content for Mass EffectIGN has spoken to BioWare's Casey Hudson about the details:

IGN: Can you clarify what 90 minutes of gameplay means for this download? Does that mean 90 minutes as paragon and then another 90 as renegade? Is it 90 minutes of story elements and action similar to the main quests?

Casey Hudson:
The Batarian pack includes 90 minutes of gameplay for any particular character which includes a main story plot (the mission to stop the Batarians from crashing an asteroid into an inhabited planet) and some additional side-quest content. This does include a mix of story and action. Players can choose to play this content as a paragon or a renegade, which will result in different outcomes. The two paths are not completely separate bundles of content, however.

Mass Effect - PC Preview @ ActionTrip

by Magerette, Saturday - March 01, 2008 17:05

There's another preview up of the PC version of Bioware's rpg, Mass Effect, this one at Action Trip. They take a look at the revamping of the XBox version for it's upcoming May release and give some details of the differences:

The first thing you'll notice about the PC version are sharper visuals and better overall performance...Textures and landscape features will load faster than on Microsoft's console.

Giving Mass Effect a makeover isn't the developer's top priority. Their goal is to create a single-player experience that's even more rewarding than the original release. Aside from the inevitable new visual touches and sharper graphics, Mass Effect PC does away with certain gameplay restrictions and other frustrating elements...

The interface received a welcomed overhaul, which should make the use of biotics and special attacks a lot easier. Players can now designate up to 8 different abilities, shown in the upper left portion of the screen. Hot-keys can be assigned to allow for quicker access during combat. The inventory system also sports a number of improvements, both aesthetical and practical. Items may be sorted by type, giving you a chance to browse through your inventory intuitively -without wasting much time looking for a specific weapon or item. Switching weapons is easily done by using the keys F1-F4.

Here comes the bit you all wanted to hear. Character movement and action is accomplished via the WASD and mouse combo, widely expected by PC gamers. Mind you, this will be the default setting. Gamers may remap the keys any way they see fit. Using the Xbox 360 controller will be an option too...

Source: Bluesnews

February

Mass Effect - Database Update @ Gamebanshee

by Magerette, Friday - February 29, 2008 20:14

Gamebanshee  has updated their various Mass Effect databases and completed their Walkthrough section. Here are the details:

Along with some final tweaks to our equipment, codex, and planetary databases, we're pleased to announce that our Mass Effect walkthrough is now 100% complete. No critical mission, optional assignment, or uncharted world has been left uncovered!

And, just in case you're starting out in the game for the first time (or intend to buy the PC version), we've thrown together a little advancement table. Enjoy! 

Mass Effect - May 6th Release Date for PC

by Magerette, Tuesday - February 26, 2008 18:36

 Voodoo Extreme posts the release announcement for the PC version of Bioware's Mass Effect, giving a specific date and a features list:

..BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts Inc., has announced that the award-winning space epic Mass Effect will be released for the PC on May 6, 2008 in North America...

Mass Effect for the PC introduces the following features:

  • New squad control interface – Players can now issue commands to individual squad members, providing a new level of depth to the tactical combat.
  • Hot-key functionality – Biotic powers and abilities can be mapped to individual keys, allowing a faster “run and gun” style of gameplay.
  • Re-designed Mako controls – Players can explore alien planets and engage in vehicular combat with an intuitive and fully camera independent control system for the Mako, their all-terrain vehicle.
  • New Quick-save button and increased number of save slots.
  • New decryption mini-game – A new decryption mini-game invites players to test their skills as they avoid obstacles and move their icon to the center of the digital mechanism.
  • New inventory screen GUI and functionality – The enhanced inventory system makes it easier for players to equip and modify their weapons and armor.

 

 

Source: RPG Codex

Mass Effect - PC Preview @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Thursday - February 21, 2008 21:22

A highly enthusiastic preview from GDC of the PC version of Mass Effect is up at GameSpy.  This opening paragraph sets the tone:

Though the studio is always pretty reticent about making announcements to the effect, we've come to learn that it's only a matter of time before BioWare's console games make their way to the PC. Taking this into account, it's borderline absurd how much Mass Effect seems to have improved by the simple platform transition. It's almost as if BioWare had designed the game for the PC first and retrofitted it to a joypad after the fact. The PC version really feels like it was built against a laundry list of the Xbox 360 game's interface-related shortcomings.

It might be worth noting that when they talk about "feel", they didn't actually play hands-on but watched a demo.  Still, sounds very positive.

Thanks, Prime Junta!

Mass Effect - PC Version by Demiurge Studios

by Dhruin, Saturday - February 16, 2008 23:51

It seems BioWare has outsourced the Mass Effect PC port, as they did with Jade Empire.  This time, Demiurge takes the helm:

Demiurge and BioWare have teamed up to bring the award-winning title Mass Effect to the PC, customizing the experience to take full advantage of its newest home on the desktop.

Demiurge began working with BioWare during the final stretch of development for the Xbox 360 version, allowing the studios to collaborate closely throughout the co-development process. Mass Effect has been tailored to feel natural to the PC user while staying true to the original game experience. Mass Effect for the PC features a third command wheel so players can access squad members separately, a new inventory system, customized key mapping and a brand new minigame. Extra attention was focused on visuals, offering higher resolution graphics for an enhanced gaming experience for the PC.

Mass Effect - PC Screens @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Wednesday - February 13, 2008 11:38

BioWare's Mass Effect subsite has eight PC screens on offer. 

Mass Effect - PC Release in May

by Magerette, Tuesday - February 12, 2008 16:52

To confirm and consolidate the recent rumors, here's the official PC release information on Bioware's space-themed rpg, Mass Effect as given in a press release today:

Chertsey, UK – February 12, 2008 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) company, has announced that the award-winning space epic Mass Effect™ will be released for the PC in May 2008. Published by EA and re-designed for the PC, Mass Effect invites players to take the role of Commander Shepard as they set out on an adventure to save the galaxy from imminent destruction. Wrought with treachery, heroism, difficult decisions and a universe filled with unique and colorful species, Mass Effect delivers a truly compelling storyline.

Optimized for the PC, Mass Effect for the PC incorporates the following features:

• Optimized controls designed specifically for the PC.

• High resolution visuals – Mass Effect for the PC features highly detailed textures, characters and environments.

• Fully customizable controls – PC gamers can re-map the control scheme any way they like.

• Run & Gun Control – Players can assign biotic powers or skills to ‘hot keys’ allowing them to play Mass Effect with a heavier focus on action.

• New decryption mini-game.

• New inventory screen GUI and functionality – The enhanced inventory system makes it easier for players to equip and modify their weapons and armor.

“Mass Effect serves as a powerful example of video games as an art form, delivering new levels of emotional intensity, realistic characters and a gripping storyline – all set in a compelling new universe,” said Ray Muzyka, General Manager, BioWare and Vice President, Electronic Arts. Frank Gibeau, President of EA’s Games Label added, “EA has struck an agreement with Microsoft to handle future publishing for Mass Effect. We are looking forward to releasing Mass Effect on the PC this Spring and brand new titles in the future.”

Originally released for the Xbox 360™ videogame and entertainment system, Mass Effect has received critical acclaim throughout the world with more than 70 awards including Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year and Role-Playing Game of the Year. Mass Effect combines a deep story with intense combat and challenges the player to make difficult decisions that can significantly impact the course of events. An innovative conversation system allows for lifelike interaction with some of the most realistic digital actors, voiced by Hollywood actors such as Seth Green, Marina Sirtis, Lance Henriksen and Keith David. Mass Effect for the PC has not yet been rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - Heading to PC?

by Magerette, Saturday - February 09, 2008 15:50

This one comes straight from Rumor Central by way of a blogger, so a grain of salt should be applied but the story at gaming site Destructoid goes like this:

Until there's an official statement, this is slapped with a rumor tag, but one of our Destructoid Community Bloggers has seemingly discovered that his videogame store will be receiving copies of BioWare's Mass Effect for PC.

The discovery came from an EA newsletter which arrived at the store where Dtoider myaimistrue  works. It lists the game as MASS EFFECT PC DVD 5030945065685 EAN07706226 TBC TBC ACTION 18+ 25 SWE ENG. Complying with one of the cardinal rules of the Internet (pics or it didn't happen), he also provided a shot of the newsletter itself, which can be viewed below.

This isn't very hard to imagine being true, since a game like Mass Effect should be quite comfortable with PC controls, if only because the 360 control mapping was bloody awful (once again, the back button threw grenades and there were three buttons to draw your weapon). A good few gamers wanted to see this come to their computers and now it looks like it'll be happening.  

Destructoid will keep you mouse n' keyboarders posted when there's more news to go on.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Downloadable Content Announced

by Magerette, Wednesday - February 06, 2008 19:03

Shacknews posts a newsbit regarding Bioware's announcement of the first round of downloadable content for their XBox360 rpg, Mass Effect, called Bring Down the Sky: 

 Developer BioWare today unveiled the first round of downloadable content for its hit Xbox 360 RPG Mass Effect.

Bring Down the Sky will introduce the alien race of the Batarians, an extremist group that has taken over an asteroid station in the Asgard system, sending it hurtling toward the colony world of Terra Nova. Players will be unsurprisingly tasked with averting the disaster, exploring a new world in the process.

BioWare estimates the scenario will last most gamers about 90 minutes, with 50 Gamerscore points hanging in the balance.

The content--the first in a series of such releases--is coming to Xbox Live on March 10, for the price of 400 Microsoft points ($5).

Mass Effect - Review @ Gameplanet

by Dhruin, Monday - February 04, 2008 21:00

Kiwi site Gameplanet.co.nz has a review of Mass Effect with some criticism of the side quests and some technical issues but also plenty of praise and a score of 4.5/5:

STAR WARS, STAR TREK, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, The Matrix… If any of these names have any appeal to you then Mass Effect is the game for you. And if none of these appeal to you, keep reading anyway; because Mass Effect is still an experience no one should miss! To say this game is epic in design is an understatement. This very well may be the first real step we've seen towards an interactive movie. This feature production is brought to you by Bioware, a developer than seems unable make a bad game; especially when they are Role Playing Games (RPGs). Before we get into all the details and goodies of the game let us quickly get the negatives out of the way.

January

Mass Effect - Updated Content @ Gamebanshee

by Magerette, Wednesday - January 30, 2008 16:41

Gamebanshee has updated their Mass Effect  game content as follows:

Not only has our Mass Effect subsite been updated with a comprehensive Codex database, but we've also uploaded the first half of our annotated walkthrough for the game. Additionally, our equipment database has been updated with dozens of new (and verified!) items and our planetary database has been tweaked a bit based on information discovered while writing the walkthrough. Enjoy!

You can find links to everything here.

Mass Effect - Review @ RPGFan

by Magerette, Tuesday - January 29, 2008 16:15

RPGFan has posted a review of Bioware's recently released space-themed title for the XBox, Mass Effect, giving it an overall score of 90%:

While the story is engaging, it's far from novel. There are no seriously major plot twists, and while there is character development for the important NPCs, it's very predictable. Of course, anyone who has ever played a BioWare game knows that the real meat is in the character interactions and dialogue choices. You see, while the basic missions available to you are the same no matter how you develop your character, your skills and how you talk to people determine how they react to you and how you resolve those situations. For example, you could answer nicely and diffuse the hostage crisis, or you could say 'screw it' and go in guns blazing. Sometimes there's even a third option, which is refreshing when most games that give you such choices opt for the strict "persuade or kill" policy. And while the characters aren't particularly original, I really liked Kaiden's character, as he was the only one who didn't seem like a predictable cliché...

Honestly, I've never found gameplay to be the selling point for me when BioWare games are concerned. Jade Empire's was overall atrocious, and KoTOR had way too much micromanaging for my tastes. Fortunately, Mass Effect avoided the former and managed to tone down the latter. After the initial missions, the game becomes a lot more open ended, allowing you to discover various sidequests and extra goodies that net you experience. In fact, darn near everything you do gets you some experience, which is something I've always appreciated in both Black Isles and BioWare games...

Speaking of Mass Effect's combat, it's done much better than either in Jade Empire or KoTOR....While it tended to feel a bit micromanagey at times, my biggest decision after a certain point was whether to use bullets that work better on synthetic organisms or fleshy ones. Major props to BioWare for avoiding the make-or-break micromanaging system from KoTOR.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Fox News & EA Debate Sex

by Magerette, Friday - January 25, 2008 18:25

Arhu writes in to point out the brou-ha-ha surfacing after an episode of "Live Desk With Martha MacCallum," on Fox News, where the Xbox was referred to as the SeXBox and various Fox- selected pundits vented on the whole issue of nudity and sex in games. Arhu's blog link didn't work for me, but there's full coverage of the debacle for those interested at Action Trip and ShackNews.

Background from the Shack News piece, which also has a streaming video:

The Fox News Channel recently invited longtime gaming journalist Geoff Keighley, who has played BioWare's Mass Effect, and radio talk show host and author Cooper Lawrence, who has not played Mass Effect, to discuss Mass Effect. The discussion was moderated by an anchor who has not played Mass Effect, and was followed by a round table consisting of four panelists who have not played Mass Effect.

The topic of the piece is the Xbox 360 game's much sensationalized sexual encounter, a brief moment among an extremely length campaign. Lawrence rattles off a list of unsubstantiated--and generally unaccepted--"facts" relating to the average age of gamers and the links from virtual violence and sexuality to real-life behavior.

She doesn't even know of the game's option to play as a female character equal in ability to the male protagonist--she claims the game depicts women as mere objects to be conquered, unaware of even the most basic of Mass Effect's features.

What is really astonishing is how taken aback Lawrence is when Keighley asks if she has ever played the game. Not only has she not played it, she sounds almost offended that he would even consider that she has tried to gain an informed perspective on the material she condemns so vehemently ...

And EA responds in the latest ShackNews coverage:

Were you sufficiently enraged by the Fox News Channel's recent travesty of journalism revolving around Mass Effect? If not, please go acquaint yourself.

Then, you can read this open letter issued by Jeff Brown, VP of communications at Electronic Arts, the new parent company of Mass Effect developer BioWare. Brown addressed it Fox News' Teri VanHorn and the show she produces, The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum. Brown forwarded the email on to us today.

Brown lists a number of factual errors made by MacCallum, guest Cooper Lawrence, and the members of the invited panel, none of whom had ever played Mass Effect. "EA would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character interactions in Mass Effect," he writes. "The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high creative standards."

Brown seems understandably incredulous that Mass Effect's relatively tame sexual situations--which one panelist claimed should receive an Adults Only rating--could be panned on Fox. "Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC?" he asks, rather pointedly. "Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect than to those prime time shows?"

 

Mass Effect - Misinformation and Misdirection

by Dhruin, Friday - January 18, 2008 10:23

I was going to stay away from this but it's rather quiet and it really is informative to look at the lengths some people will pursue to whip up a frenzy and generate some publicity.

One Kevin McCullough writes a conservative column at a political site called Townhall.com.  Mass Effect's mildly controversial soft sex scene came into his sights but despite not really knowing anything about it, he decided to let rip.  The original piece seems to have been removed but Google cache has a copy and I found it syndicated to another site, Free Republic.  Here are some quotes:

I know that they all probably assume they have better, much more important, urgent, timely, things to campaign on, but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new video game that one company is marketing to fifteen year old boys.

It's called "Mass Effect" and it allows its players - universally male no doubt - to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to "engage" and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game "persons" hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of. [...]

We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case - long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.

And because of the digital chip age in which we live - "Mass Effect" can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes.

With it's "over the net" capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away.

Heady stuff.   I want to emphasise that while Mass Effect's content doesn't bother me, adult material in games is a debate worth having -- but you can't engage in meaningful dialogue if the original intent is to misinform rather than open a dialogue.

McCullough follows up with a defence here and a fake apology here

Penny Arcade astutely summarises the situation in a recent comic and I think their point that the best response is silence is valid - despite giving it coverage in this newsbit so we can discuss it.

Mass Effect - Review, Retraction and Sales Numbers

by Dhruin, Friday - January 04, 2008 08:40

A week back the Mercury News wrote a review with some harsh criticism of BioWare's Mass Effect:

I think the long development cycle was actually part of its problem. BioWare, the Canadian developer recently bought by EA, spent more than 3.5 years working on the game. The team rolled off the development of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic role-playing game for the original Xbox. That 2003 game had an original storyline with deep dialogue interspersed with player-controlled third-person sword play and combat. The team adopted some of the same style of that game, another flaw, in my opinion. I think the Mass Effect guys were stuck in the game play of 2003 and they never emerged with superior game play in 2007. I mean, come on! This is the year of Halo 3. If they had game play that resembled anything close to a tenth of the game play of Halo 3, this would have been the game of the year. But it’s not even close.

...but today there's an apology and partial retraction.  I haven't played the game but if I understand the comments, it seems the reviewer hadn't actually used the character upgrades (perhaps explaining their preference for Halo 3?):

The dumb thing about the way I played the game, as many pointed out, is that I didn’t make use of my Talent Points. I started the game doing so, but while on Feros, I didn’t pay attention to all the Talent Points I was accumulating after every encounter. Those points just sat there. They were waiting for me to assign them to specific character trait improvements. Without doing this, it didn’t matter that I was paying close attention to my inventory and upgrading my weapons as soon as I got better stuff (by hitting X in the equipment screen).

Included is an apology for only playing for eight hours instead of the claimed 12, which makes me wonder if fans are watching the Live profiles of reviewers with dubious criticisms.

In semi-related news, GameBanshee noticed a post at Major Nelson that gives updated Mass Effect sales of 1.6M.

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Video Game Insider, Star Online

by Dhruin, Thursday - January 03, 2008 21:11

Video Game Insider has a nicely detailed review of Mass Effect that delves into the game in some detail.  The score is 5/5 and here's an excerpt:

What makes the Mass Effect universe so interesting is the projected infancy of the humanity.  Instead of being the front and center race as in Star Wars or Star Trek, humans have only recently joined the full-scale galactic civilization, populated by a great many different species that either look upon humans eye-to-eye or with reserved or open contempt.  The heavy political themes in the game also add to the gravity of the situation handed to the player, and create a sense of diplomacy and importance to the mission at hand.  Minor details and expansive imaginative concepts also add to the believability while retaining the space-opera themes that the game is obviously inspired by.  Each of Shepard’s squad mates are fully realized characters with their own distinct personalities and mannerisms, and interacting with these characters is an fascinating experience due to the depth of each of their histories, and you will truly grow to like each of them in some way.  Bioware has created a fully developed and tangible universe with different cultures, attitudes, and relationships that raise Mass Effect above and beyond expectations, and that is where is really counts. We’ve never been so absorbed by a game world since the excellent (and under appreciated) Beyond Good and Evil from a few years back.

...meanwhile, The Star Online says Mass Effect is "massive"...for all of 15 hours...

Mass Effect is possibly one of the most massive RPG that I’ve seen in a while. It tries its best to present a believable story set in a new world and to this end it has succeeded in grabbing my attention and keeping me interested throughout the 15 hours of game time. 

But the game is not without its flaws. While it looks pretty overall, the slow loading of textures can be pretty annoying at times. Also, load times inevitably break up an otherwise seamless experience between exploration and combat.

Mass Effect - Review @ DarkZero

by Dhruin, Wednesday - January 02, 2008 21:03

Douglas Adams gets a nod in this review of Mass Effect at DarkZero.  The score is 8/10 and here's the into:

Space... is big, really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. It is this wide open playing field that is without doubt the main draw of Mass Effect, thus letting you paint your own elaborate story in a much larger and more complex way than Bioware has ever let us do before. So, with sights set on such grandeur it’s hard to admit that Mass Effect is not everything it could have been. In fact, if you look past that big draw a huge amount of limitation has been placed upon what was once thought to be a thriving galaxy. Indeed, the universe that has been created could very well make a lot of people very angry, and even be widely regarded as a bad move. Don’t panic though, Mass Effect is not a bad game, in fact it is far from it. It could even be argued that it is the exact opposite, as after some solid time playing it's clear to see many of the wrongs have been righted that people had with the slightly off-kilter Jade Empire. However, with a collection of bugs, texture pop-in that rears it head every time a cut scene loads, and the repetitious nature of the planets on show it is hard to have complete reverence for what Bioware have accomplished.

December

Mass Effect - Review @ Games Radar

by Dhruin, Monday - December 17, 2007 22:08

There's a great deal of love for Mass Effect in Games Radars' review, which carries a score of 9/10:

Your boss called. He's busy, so he needs you to take care of a few things today: Take the new spaceship on a test run, buy milk, discover an ancient alien civilization, save all organic life in the galaxy from annihilation, and get yourself a little cosmic bow-chicka-bow-wow in the process. If you don't think you can get all that done, he says he can probably wait until the weekend for the milk.

Well, of course it's impossible. But it's exactly what you do in Mass Effect, a starry-eyed space opera that melds the deep story and character development of a role-playing game with the bullets-flying action of a squad-based shooter. It's one part talking to the good aliens, two parts blasting big, gooey holes in the bad ones, and one part monster trucking over distant planets in your six-wheeled, cannon-turreted space buggy. It's also fan-bloody-tastic.

Mass Effect - Review @ Boomtown

by Dhruin, Tuesday - December 11, 2007 23:52

Boomtown has a review of Mass Effect that says the setting is derivative but the story is still outstanding.  The score is 9/10 and here's a bit on that famous dialogue system:

The dialogue system meanwhile, is equally impressive. It provides you with the ability to choose next dialogue option before current speaker has finished talking, thus eliminating the long pauses in conversation which have plagued Bioware games in the past. These options appear on a wheel at the bottom of the screen, and supply the context of your character’s dialogue rather than the entire text. Additionally, the options always appear in the same place on the wheel – top right for paragon (good) dialogue, bottom right for renegade (evil), centre right for the middle of the road, with the left hand side providing further investigation options, along with charm and intimidation, dependant on your skills. This means that if you are playing a consistent role you don’t even have to pay attention to the text – you can just flick the stick to the relevant position when the wheel pops up, and thus keep listening to the conversation without a break in concentration. This system is backed up by superb voice acting throughout, and does much to create and maintain the impressive cinematic style of the game.

Plagued?

Mass Effect - Sells 1M Copies

by Dhruin, Tuesday - December 11, 2007 23:48

I kind of assumed this anyway but from a conversation at GameDaily with Jeff Bell, Corporate Vice President of Global Marketing for the Xbox 360:

When asked about consumers' reaction to the Xbox 360 ad campaign, Bell responded, "The reaction has been very positive. In fact, we saw incredible sales of Xbox 360 for the week of November 18, including Black Friday of more than 310,000 Xbox 360 in the U.S. alone. This is really strong momentum for us given that we're already in our third year on the market. We've also seen a strong response to both Halo 3 sales with more than 5 million, and Mass Effect which has sold more than a million copies in less than three weeks."

Mass Effect - Content Features@ Gamebanshee

by Magerette, Friday - December 07, 2007 17:36

Gamebanshee has posted several content additions to their Mass Effect coverage, including searchable databases for equipment and planetary objectives, as well as a look at characters and some media:

First up, we have a fully searchable equipment database. Based on my experience, there should be well over 2000 items in the game, but this database only those 1000 or so that I've been able to confirm. I realize that the official strategy guide lists a lot more than what's in this database, but I'm not convinced it's accurate. For example, after 3+ plays through the game, I have yet to find any Ronin armor, Kaji shotguns, Ikazuchi sniper rifles, Thorn pistols, Apocalypse shotguns, or Deepsnow Tool omni-tools. THey could very well exist, but I didn't want to add them without verfification.

Next, we have a fully searchable planetary database. This database contains every planet, asteroid cluster, and ship that I've encountered in the Mass Effect galaxy so far, so it should be nearly complete. I'll be fleshing out each planet in more detail once I start writing the walkthrough, though, so expect this to get better.

On top of those features, I've also posted details about all six squad members, the game's classes, the various character talents, a full list of achievements, some new concept art, and a handful of new wallpapers.

Once I get back, I intend to add a Codex database and a walkthrough. In the meantime, though, enjoy! 

Mass Effect - Review @ Strategy Informer

by Magerette, Wednesday - December 05, 2007 21:17

Strategy Informer has a review up of Bioware's latest release for the XBox 360, Mass Effect, with an overall positive assessment and a score of 9/10:

In the end Mass Effect does carry some imperfections like bugs, glitches, texturing popping, some sound volume quirks and often laborious exploration in the MAKO but even after all that BioWare still has one mega-fantastic (yes, it’s a word) game here. The depth of the story, the quality of the cinematic styled dialogue and events, the brilliant scores of music that litter throughout – all build up an unforgettable immersion and by the end I was near grief-stricken that this tale had come to an end... Mass Effect is a landmark game for its charismatic storytelling power, BioWare show they are still easily at the frontlines when it comes to forging new, exciting and epic-level adventures.

 

November

Mass Effect - Game Guide @ Eurogamer

by Magerette, Friday - November 30, 2007 17:27

For those who like a bit of a guidance with their gaming experience, Eurogamer has posted a so-called "Tourist Guide" for Bioware's space-themed rpg for the XBox, Mass Effect. It's meant to be a fairly spoiler-free general guide rather than a specific blow-by-blow walkthru:

Part of the appeal of a game like Mass Effect is finding your own way through the thing, doing what you think is right and seeing what happens. For this reason, we won't be walking you through the story missions, but we will be tipping you off to some of the other things you can do in the game and giving you a mostly spoiler-free tourist guide to where they are, what they entail and whether they're worth the effort.

It's a multi-part series, and you can find the first installments here for Part One and here for Part Two

Mass Effect - Interview @ GamersGlobal

by Dhruin, Friday - November 30, 2007 12:07

Avantenor wrote in to point out a short interview with the BioWare Doctors on Mass Effect at GamersGlobal:

GG: Mass Effect takes many gameplay features and philosophies from Knights of the Old Republic. What is, in your opinion, the most important difference compared to KotOR?

Greg Zeschuk: The sense of scale is certainly the biggest difference between Mass Effect and KotOR. The Mass Effect galaxy is positively enormous, with literally hundreds of locations to explore across numerous planets and star systems. If you were to take the time to play all the side missions and explore all the uncharted locations in the Mass Effect galaxy, you could easily double the amount of time it would take you to play the core storyline alone. There are just so many interesting places to go and things to do in Mass Effect! This combined with the stunning cinematics and morally challenging decisions really helps demonstrate BioWare’s evolution into the next generation. 

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Gaming Heaven, Internode Games Network

by Magerette, Thursday - November 29, 2007 21:55

Two more glowing reviews for Bioware's latest release for the XBox360, Mass Effect, from Gaming Heaven(91/100) and Internodes Game Network( 9/10 ).

From Gaming Heaven, on NPC's:

 Obviously the amount of depth each character has is directly proportional to how important his role is to the game. As such, all of your companions have very well written background stories, making them seem like persons made out of flesh and bone. Some of these stories develop out into full fledged side quests, while others are there simply for the experience. What they showcase is however that Mass Effect strays away from the typical good/evil alignment previous Bioware games touted. Since you end up playing the savior of the galaxy it wouldn’t do you being evil to the core. Instead, your choices are more along the lines of being a good or a bad cop. As an example, you can try to convince a retired general to stop harassing a girl he is in love with (failing miserably with his wooing), or you can simply slam him against a wall and make him stop. You obviously did a good thing in either case, but your approach in the second example wasn’t nearly as kind of diplomatic as in the first one.

From the lengthier review by Internode Games Network:

 Think Star Trek Next Gen or even Voyager, Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica all compressed into one game and you'll get a sense of the immensity and scope of this title. And that also should account for the huge amount of in-game dialogue. Actually, no - that's an understatement. There's an 'oh my god' dimension to the narrative and amount of dialogue. As a result, the time spent hunkering down playing this title – or rather listening to it - seemed at first too much to bear. Just at the point of being stupefied senseless though, the game kicks into hyper-drive and simply leaves you breathless with its complex narrative and rich characterisations all set within just about the biggest gaming canvas you could possibly come up with: the entire bloody galaxy.

 

Source: Shack News

Mass Effect - Review @ Blend Games

by Dhruin, Wednesday - November 28, 2007 08:04

4.5/5 is the score for Mass Effect in a review at Blend Games:

When you look back at a game there are precious rare moments where you realize that something has changed fundamentally about how you perceive video games. BioWare has done that with Mass Effect. Oddly enough, they have not redefined the western RPG genre, which was something that the game has been promising for months. Instead Mass Effect is better than that, taking the near perfect Knights of the Old Republic system and refining it. 

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Atomic Gamer, GameRevolution

by Magerette, Monday - November 26, 2007 18:20

Gamebanshee posts links to two new reviews for Bioware's space-themed XBox title, Mass Effect.

The first, from Atomic Gamer, gives the game an enthusiastic 91%:

While it's easy to draw parallels between Mass Effect and Bioware's previous games, it's also reasonable to compare it to games like Gears of War. Unlike the past games, you'll have a more tactical-action perspective on combat and can take cover behind low walls and other objects. Your skills with the various guns and "biotic" abilities (yep, it's a lot like The Force), as well as combat-based engineering feats, are all useful once the shooting starts. At first, the action is tough and the two companions which you choose to bring with you must complement your own abilities well if you don't want to come out of battles by the skin of your teeth every time.

The other, from Game Revolution, gives it an A-:

Deciding when one stops playing might be the most difficult choice Mass Effect presents, but it is far from the only one. This sprawling RPG from Bioware (Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire), reaches new heights in its blend of strategy, action, and space exploration in an immense and rich science-fiction universe. But what in other games would be ultimate success is, for Mass Effect, just the wrapping paper for its deeper pleasures: its balanced ethical dilemmas and their consequences...

Speaking of errors, Mass Effect isn’t altogether immune...there are a host of other little problems: the menu interface is non-intuitive, the maps, especially of the huge Citadel starport, are confusing, and the autosave feature often hangs you out to dry at the worst moments. There is a discernable lack of polish on Mass Effect, and one wonders what might have been if Christmas was more than a month away.

Call it inertia, but when Mass Effect is rolling, even these apparent problems are brushed aside. For Mass Effect is truly massive, with enough material  for at least three all-nighters. . . the first time through.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Review @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Saturday - November 24, 2007 22:56

A new review for BioWare's Mass Effect is up at Worthplaying, with a score of 9.5/10 despite some criticisms. Here's a bit on conversations:

Most conversations contribute to your character's development as a "paragon" (all-around good guy, Optimus Prime-like in a way) or a "renegade" (mercenary-like antihero). Conversations are very well-written, and they became a huge highlight of the game for me. I learned everything about my crew members, my ship's engine systems, why some strangers are where they are — it's almost impossible for one to digest it all. The long talks also add to a journal, which records and details all of the tasks you have before you. And if you want, you can have a lot of stuff to do. When you're not tracking down Saren, you'll stumble across business conspiracies, get tasked with finding a group of missing troopers — and even try to get the military to return the corpse of a dead space marine to her husband. Much like Oblivion, you could literally spend whole days doing nothing but side-quests. That's a bit much for my plate, but it's an RPG fan's dream come true.

Mass Effect - Interview @ NZ Herald

by Dhruin, Thursday - November 22, 2007 20:57

BioWare's Casey Hudson has been interviewed in the NZ Herald about Mass Effect.  It covers familiar territory but here's a bit on the effort of modern graphics:

We're starting to see some amazing games on 360 using the next-gen graphics and other possibilities. How did you find the challenge of pushing these boundaries?

I'm reminded of the famous phrase, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." We finally had the graphical power to do things that we had been looking forward to for years, such as extremely realistic lighting and self-shadowing that allows us to light characters as though they were real actors on a set. We had the ability to create materials that were never before possible, and could use real-time physics to create vehicular gameplay as well as powerful and chaotic effects during combat.

 

But at the same time, these opportunities made every aspect of development an order of magnitude more difficult. Character models had to be detailed down to individual wrinkles; combat animations required an incredibly complex blending system to create smooth transitions between motion-captured movements... The quality bar was incredibly high, and much of our work went into fine details that we didn't have to worry about in previous generations.

Mass Effect - Review @ ActionTrip

by Dhruin, Wednesday - November 21, 2007 22:30

ActionTrip's review of Mass Effect criticises the shallow setting but praises the story, saying the character interaction has "unbelievable emotional depth".  The score is 91% and here's a snip:

Getting back to the title at hand, I don't think I will be very wrong if I say that as far as "world-crafting" goes, Mass Effect is more or less a pale copy of Star Wars.

Wait. Hear me out here first.

There is a difference between telling a story and creating a setting, the characters and the unique abilities that people will identify them by.

As far as the design of the world itself, BioWare showed very little in the way of imagination. The game puts you in the role of a human commander tasked with saving the galaxy from an ancient threat. There is the Galactic Council and the issue of various humanoid and less humanoid alien species interacting in social, political and other ways with humans. You play as a Spectre, an elite galactic unit acting under the orders of the Council (Jedi Council anyone?), yet autonomous enough to decide the means of going about achieving your goals. Should you choose to play, say, a Vanguard class (like I did), a number of Biotic abilities will become available to you, some of which (like the Throw and Lift) will function strikingly similar to Force powers.

All this, minus the light sabers, more distinct and imaginative characters and locales, which is what made Star Wars such an incredible hit over the decades.

On the other hand, the story itself is classic BioWare work and in a very good sense too. The very ideas behind the events in the game, the way that the characters interact and the more mature moral choices than we've ever seen in Knights of the Old Republic, make Mass Effect a true delight to play. The lack of more originality in the design of the world is definitely more than compensated by an intriguing storyline which even presents some very interesting philosophical issues. I'd discuss those with you here, but I'm inclined not to spoil the surprise for you.

Mass Effect - Hit NA Retail & Interview

by Dhruin, Tuesday - November 20, 2007 22:32

Although a whole raft of retailers released Mass Effect early, Microsoft and BioWare have officially announced the game's availability:

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- To the delight of gamers and science-fiction (sci-fi) fans alike, the wait is finally over as "Mass Effect," an award-winning action role-playing game (RPG) described by Game Informer Magazine as "One of the greatest science fiction stories ever told," hits retail shelves today, with a continued rollout to retailers worldwide planned.

...and TeamXbox has an interview with writer Drew Karpshyn:

What did you want to bring to Mass Effect? What did you try to get across through the characters?

Drew Karpyshyn: There’s two sides to it: One is the thing that people can expect from a BioWare game, which is party members are companions that really have a depth to them. They have their own back story. They have their own motivations…their own feelings. You can develop relationships with them…romances with some of them. You can turn them into life-long friends—orenemies, depending on how you interact with them. So, that’s one of the things we really try to give a player is that emotional interaction with their companions, with the people that they meet.

And I think the other thing we’re trying to do in Mass Effect as a whole is just evoke the spirit of the classic ’80s science-fiction movies. Movies like Alien and Aliens, Terminator, Blade Runner…those are movies that we all loved and we said, what was it about those movies that spoke to us, that really grabbed us? And how can we take those pieces—those common elements—and bring them in to Mass Effect, and put our own fresh, unique take on it, so they will give people that same kind of feeling and appreciation that we felt when we saw those things, but in a brand new story and a brand new intellectual property?

Mass Effect - Reviews @ Gamespot, IGN UK, AU & GameSpy

by Magerette, Tuesday - November 20, 2007 16:59

Three of the bigger internet game news and review sites have posted their reviews of Bioware's recently released space-themed rpg for the XBox360, Mass Effect.

First up is Gamespot,  positive with a score of 8.5/10:

 Developer BioWare has always been at the forefront of progressive storytelling in games, so it's no surprise that Mass Effect's story is one of its best yet. It's got a unique take on the chase-the-bad-guy-across-the-universe plot, and just when you think you've got everything figured out, the game throws you yet another surprise. BioWare has created a politically charged universe with an exhaustive backstory and filled it with a bunch of interesting, multifaceted characters. Combined with an exciting and unique combat mechanic, it makes for a fun and absorbing experience that you'll want to see through to the end, just to see how everything turns out--even if the game isn't perfect by any means. In fact, it's surprising that so many small annoyances and glitches made their way into a game of such general high quality. Still, most players will be able to look past them and enjoy Mass Effect for what it is: A terrific role-playing game with great production values and fun, exciting action.

IGN has three reviews, one from each site, UK,  Aussie, and US, with scores of  9.1/10,  9/10 and  9.6/10 respectively. We've already reported on the review at the main site, so here's a clip from the Australian  article:

Mass Effect is as close to a squad-based shooter as the genre has ever neared. You can issue on-the-fly commands with the D-pad, use the radial menu systems (mapped to LB and RB) to bring up weapon and biotics selections, and take advantage of their limited AI to absorb bullets and biotic blasts while you tackle the situation from a different angle. It's limited but mostly effective. We say 'mostly' because the AI does, on occasion, screw up royally. Your opponents can sometimes get stuck inside objects, your teammates love to get themselves blown up by charging in to do battle - against a rocket turret and there are times when you'll hiss at the way some bullets clip through walls and crates, sapping your health while you try and take cover. Save often.

Largely though, the encounters with space pirates, mercenaries, sentient tentacled vegetation and waves of synthetic aliens remain pretty interesting - to the point where you forget that you're actually levelling up and each shot is technically based on a damage formula. This is a hardcore RPG in space-sheep's clothing - but it's missing some elements we're used to from past BioWare efforts. You cannot queue commands for your teammates to perform. This isn't a disaster, but it lessens the level of strategy. The AI generally knows when to activate a defensive biotic when a major fracas occurs, but it doesn't always use the most appropriate moments to use a biotic mass effect attack....

You can read the UK review here. 

Finally, Gamespy gives their take on the game, with a wholehearted 5/5 stars: 

The strength of the story is carried forth by some of the most impressive graphics seen to date. The eye-catching alien character designs put the Mos Eisley Cantina's rogue's gallery to shame. The characters, their equipment, the world they inhabit, it's all remarkably detailed and a pleasure to examine. On the other hand, there are some hardware limitations affecting performance here, as you'll notice that quite often textures will take a few seconds to load before appearing fully...

...Many of the characters you'll encounter, human and otherwise, are more interesting than your usual cardboard cutout NPCs, and that's thanks largely to the strengths of the voice work and the excellent dialogue sequences. In these scenes, the characters emote in a believable and engrossing manner, with body language and gestures that are a testament to the amount of thought and effort put into the superlative dialogue sequences.

Fans of BioWare's previous efforts will also be pleased to know that the subject of romance is approached tastefully, thoughtfully, and quite entertainingly.

Mass Effect - Review @ Eurogamer

by Magerette, Monday - November 19, 2007 17:15

Eurogamer also has a review up for Bioware's XBox title Mass Effect, scoring it 8/10: 

Forced to stumble towards a conclusion, I'd say that despite the niggles, Mass Effect is most definitely a great game with an awful lot going for it - but one that doesn't quite deserve unquestioning praise. For what it achieves in delivering a compelling narrative and wonderful atmosphere, BioWare deserves a huge amount of credit, as there are few games that come anywhere near it in this regard. The dialogue system, and the impact it has on individual missions and the game as a whole is exceptional, adding greatly to the potential replay value. Where it doesn't quite hit the mark for me is in the action stakes. Although it underpins the game with all sorts of excellent ideas that ought to make it a deeper, more intelligent and immersive experience, the simple truth is that the minute-to-minute combat simply isn't as intense and involving as you'd expect from a game in 2007. Throw in some grumbles about the somewhat unoptimised state of the frame-rate, texture pop-in and v-syncing terrors, and it's a game that just falls short of our expectations. An eight, then, but a good one...

Mass Effect - Reviews @ IGN, TeamXBox

by Magerette, Monday - November 19, 2007 17:05

Gamebanshee has posted a link to two in depth and extremely positive reviews for Bioware's space-themed rpg for the XBox360, Mass Effect

The first is from IGN, with a score of 9.4/10:

 There are three primary character classes in Mass Effect; the solider, the engineer, and the biotic user. Hybrids that mix various aspects of each are also available. The kicker is that they all play vastly different from one another in combat. Based on your class, you'll have access to various powers (the biotics have more than a passing resemblance to the force powers you used in Knights of the Old Republic), technical skills, weapons and armor. The biotic class can use every power, but can only use light armor and pistols. The soldier only gets a single biotic power, but can use any weapon and heavier armor. The engineer, an afterthought class in many other games, steps up in Mass Effect to be a force of its own. He or she can hack locked consoles for info or loot, but can also be a powerhouse in battle. Many of the enemies in Mass Effect are mechanical in design and the engineer has skills geared specifically for taking them down.

From TeamXBox, 9.6/10:

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Mass Effect utilizes a unique dialogue system to progress the story. Essentially, you’ll begin speaking to another character, and a circular dialogue tree will appear at the bottom of the screen before they are finished talking. This allows you to queue up your responses so the conversation flows more realistically and naturally than in previous games. It’s a good system, although there were times that I accidentally chose my response while tapping X to get through some of the lengthier conversations. Make no mistake about it, this is an RPG in every sense of the word, and features some of the longest conversations in recent memory. I actually turned on the captions so I could get through them a bit faster, allowing me to move on to the next part with a simple tap of the X button...

Depending on how you treat your fellow galactic citizens, you’ll earn points in either your Paragon or Renegade gauges. If you want to be a jerk, you’ll quickly add points to your Renegade gauge, while being a nice guy will do the same for the other one. Unfortunately, the good/evil mechanic really doesn’t come into play at all, which will probably come as a disappointment to anyone who played KotOR or Jade Empire. You might be able to access a few more side missions by leaning one way over the other, but that’s pretty much it. People won’t cower in fear if you’re the baddest man in the universe, and women won’t throw themselves at your feet if you’re Mr. Nice Guy. Basically, the only decision that matters comes at the end of the game, making every decision that came before it feel a bit hollow. 

Of course, none of that “shades of grey” stuff really matters when you’re in combat, which is where you’ll spend a good deal of your time. Unlike the previous BioWare console RPGs, the combat is in real-time, so you’ll have to rely on your third-person action skills as much as your tactical knowledge. It’s basically a third-person action game when you’re in combat, with the right trigger firing your weapon and the left zooming in your weapon. The interesting thing here is that certain classes are trained in the use of certain weapons and will be able to improve their skills (and unlock new ones) as they gain experience...

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Review @ Video Game Talk

by Dhruin, Sunday - November 18, 2007 11:54

There are a number of magazine reviews out for Mass Effect but this one at Video Game Talk is the first we can link to. Overall, it's a very positive piece full of praise and describing it as as the "most enthralling space adventure that's ever been created for a video game platform", though I've chosen a negative quote because this aspect of the game most interested me. The score is 4.5/5 and here we go:

Unfortunately, visiting planets is easily the most boring aspect of the game. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of visible life on the worlds, but driving around looking for rocks to mine just isn’t much fun. Occasionally Geth enemies or a sandworm creature will pop out when you near an anomaly, but it’s not enough to keep planet travel exciting. It’s like being stuck inside Val Kilmer’s Red Planet, but less entertaining and more aimless wandering. While I can appreciate the quick influx of cash / XP for mining and plundering broken equipment, I’d much rather head to the sub-story objective on the map and skip everything else. But I would like to send Bioware a giant fruit basket for putting a “Return to Normandy” option in the map screen.

 edit: Score corrected.

Source: Gamerankings

Mass Effect - "Launch Center" @ IGN

by Dhruin, Tuesday - November 13, 2007 22:08

BioWare has teamed up with IGN to create a Mass Effect Launch Center, which has a release countdown timer, a countdown to their review and links to all their previous coverage.

In other Mass Effect news, TeamXbox has their second diary, which asks this question:

I’ve played Mass Effect for nearly 14 hours, and there’s something I can’t really figure out: is an action-RPG or an RPG with action elements? I realize that this is probably splitting hairs, but it makes it tough to classify the game. There really isn’t much action in the game aside from the combat, which is as deep or as shallow as you want it to be.

Mass Effect - Banned in Singapore & More

by Dhruin, Monday - November 12, 2007 21:25

There are three minor bits of Mass Effect stuff around, so I'll collect them here.

Mass Effect - Trailers @ Gametrailers, GamersHell

by Magerette, Sunday - November 11, 2007 17:02

Gamebanshee posts a link to this launch trailer for Bioware's space-themed title for the XBox360, Mass Effect . You can pick up the trailer to stream or download here at Gametrailers.

Also, GamersHell has several videos to add to their gallery, including combat trailers for the Adept and Vanguard Classes, which you can view here

Mass Effect - Impressions @ TeamXbox Forums

by Dhruin, Wednesday - November 07, 2007 23:08

The TeamXbox forum has some informal impressions from someone who was apparently invited to BioWare's Mass Effect launch party in Edmonton. This bit caught my eye:

They also changed the way the game saves are handled. There is an autosave setting as well as being able to do manual saves. But most importantly, you can go back and forth between characters of your creation and game save points. To illustrate, let’s say you have a light side Jill Shepard and a dark side Jack Shepard. You play a point in the game as the light side character. You want to see how the same point would play out as a dark side character, all you do is change characters and replay the point. This is HUGE over only having the option to just replay the whole game again as “the other side.”

Source: Evil Avatar

Mass Effect - Screenshot @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Tuesday - November 06, 2007 22:09

A single new Mass Effect screen is on offer from BioWare, showing a battle in space.

Mass Effect - Soldier Class Combat Movie@ShackNews

by Magerette, Saturday - November 03, 2007 17:56

There's a new one minute trailer of combat footage out for Bioware's space-themed XBox360 title, Mass Effect. You can stream the video or download it here at

ShackNews.

Several other sites also have it on offer, including: FileShack and

GamersHell.

October

Mass Effect - Preview @ Reuters

by Dhruin, Tuesday - October 30, 2007 22:29

Reuters has a preview of Mass Effect with input from Ray Muzyka and others, concentrating on the "digital actors" and cinematic angle:

The title's customization options mesh with combat, exploration and dialogue to create what BioWare says will be a trilogy over the lifespan of the Xbox 360.

"The net effect of it is you really feel like it's a seamless, emotionally compelling experience, where you're both the actor on the stage and you're also the director of the entire movie, of this interactive fiction," said BioWare chief executive officer Ray Muzyka.

Mass Effect - GameInformer Review

by Dhruin, Saturday - October 27, 2007 01:04

BioWare is hyping the first review for Mass Effect, which is in the latest GameInformer magazine.  Only the briefest of quotes and the actual review is only at the newsstand, but here's the post at BioWare:

Game Informer Gives ME 9.75
[Oct 26] Check out the Nov issue of Game Informer magazine for an exclusive review of Mass Effect. GI gives the game a 9.75, calling it "one of the greatest science fiction stories ever told, and a new benchmark for video game storytelling."

Interestingly, this review has been discussed at RPG Codex since October 10th when someone apparently got an early copy of the magazine, which means the review was completed a long time before the "official" Gold annoucement just a few days ago.  Before we accuse reviewers of collaborating with game developers to write overhyped but early exclusive reviews, it's worth noting that "Gold" announcements are often used as part of the marketing calendar these days and don't always represent a genuine "we just finished" announcement.  But who knows?

Mass Effect - Gone Gold & Q&A @ IGN

by Magerette, Monday - October 22, 2007 18:36

According to their website announcement, Bioware's  space themed rpg for the XBox360, Mass Effect has gone gold.

Thanks, zyklop!

There's also an interview coming out of IGN Australia with Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator, that goes into some detail about the soon to be released title:

GN AU: How much of the game do you think has been seen publicly?

Chris Priestly:
Five percent! [laughs] At best. You're looking at a game that, depending on how you play, how rapidly you progress through the story, how quickly you pick up combat and skip dialogue and so on, it'll take 20 hours. But then there are those people that play, like me, who want to do a romance plot, do party NPC plots, who get sidetracked with sub quests and such - then you're looking at maybe 60 hours at least. Again, it depends on your individual play style...

...IGN AU: Are there any cool in-jokes or easter eggs we should keep an eye out for?

Chris Priestly:
There are definitely some things in there. Without giving away any major plot points, there's a really good one that I laughed out loud at. When you defeat a certain enemy in battle and a holographic AI popped up and it started giving this explanation when you were expecting to continue the mission and Shephard looks at it and goes 'oh great; another pop up!' [laughs]

There are little things like that - little bits of light humour. You know, Mass Effect is a darker, more mature game for us; I think in order to appreciate how occasionally dark and gritty it is, you get these contrasting elements of humour in the game. There are little secret things hidden here and there…

 

Source: Bluesnews

Mass Effect - Seth Green Interview @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Friday - October 19, 2007 23:44

GameSpy has one of those silly celebrity voiceover interviews with Seth Green talking about the Mass Effect recordings.  But hey, at least it's Seth Green.

Mass Effect - Interview @ Team Xbox

by Dhruin, Wednesday - October 17, 2007 23:41

Dr Greg Zeschuk talks to Team Xbox as the release of Mass Effect nears:

Okay, be as modest as you want…where does Mass Effect fit in amid the Halo 3s and the Call of Dutys…?

Greg Zeschuk: I think we compete extremely well with everything this fall. We know what we’ve got…we’re very proud of it. I think the biggest thing about Mass Effect that’s really going to shine through is it’s very different from anything that anybody has ever played. There’s never been a game made like this. This is the first time this has actually been achieved—the breadth of the universe and the galaxy, and the detail of interaction between characters. I think the market tends to reward uniqueness, the newness, the “differentness”—particularly when it’s done well.

I think that’s the other side of the coin. We’ve finished the game a couple of times—Ray [Muzyka, BioWare co-founder/CEO] and I both played—and we know it’s good. I think that the trick to it is, let’s get it done and get it done right, polish it off and go from there.

Mass Effect - NPC Profile @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Wednesday - October 17, 2007 00:25

Head to the BioWare site for a profile of Gunnery Sergeant Ashley Williams, who joins the party for Spectre missions in Mass Effect.

Mass Effect - Podcast @ 1Up

by Dhruin, Thursday - October 11, 2007 23:39

1Up's latest podcast has a bit on Mass Effect:

Join the 1UP editors as they talk Mass Effect. Find out how choosing your character's origins affects the story, and more details about combat, enemy AI, weapon skills, and much more. It's all in the 10/05 podcast (~19:45 in).

Mass Effect - New Screens @ GamersHell

by Magerette, Thursday - October 11, 2007 08:38

GamersHell has 8 new screens  from Bioware's space-centric action rpg,  Mass Effect along with a Fact Sheet entitled The Alien Races of Mass Effect. This is the same material as the Alien Races Preview up at Gamespy, as reported here earlier, but in a non-llustrated text format. The screenshots look like they fit the alien races theme.

Mass Effect - Character Video #2 & Alien Races Preview

by Dhruin, Sunday - October 07, 2007 00:18

GameSpot has Part 2 of their cast of "digital actors" video for Mass Effect, while GameSpy has a look at some of the alien races players will encounter:

The Turian Hierarchy The turians are the greatest threat to Alliance interests. While the batarians are more openly hostile, they are a second-rate power. The Hierarchy is powerful, stable, and proactive in suppressing perceived threats. There is continued friction between jingoistic human and turian organizations, who wish to "settle" the diplomatically-resolved First Contact War.

Mass Effect - Collector's Edtion Details @ ShackNews

by Magerette, Thursday - October 04, 2007 18:57

ShackNews has a short snip up about what will be in the Mass Effect Collector's Edtion. It's very brief so no quote but you can get the details, including the expected price of around $70. U.S, here.

Mass Effect - NPC Profile

by Dhruin, Wednesday - October 03, 2007 00:19

BioWare takes a look at the Mass Effect NPC, Nihlus Kryik, at the official site:

Nihlus Kryik is one of the Citadel Council's most decorated Spectre agents. Born in a small mercenary outpost outside Hierarchy space, he learned the hard way to fight for what he wanted. His father died when he was 16, and his mother forced him to join the turian military. His outsider status made life difficult; though he was always at the top of his class, his superiors and peers never truly accepted him.

...and grab some new screens here.

Mass Effect - Interview @ Eurogamer

by Dhruin, Monday - October 01, 2007 23:31

Eurogamer talks to BioWare prez Greg Zeschuk about Mass Effect, who seems to be taking the PR lead over Ray Muzyka after years of being an inseparable dynamic duo.  This doesn't seem to be Eurogamer's usual standard but here's a clip:

Eurogamer: What do you believe is BioWare's biggest achievement with Mass Effect?

Greg Zeschuk: I can't help but think it's the characters and the acting. I can't say it's 100 per cent yet, but it's certainly getting there; there are times when I just sit back and it seems like a movie. I'm just amazed sometimes.

What that results in is very interesting: watching Mass Effect is almost as interesting as playing it. We did a brief hands-on at E3 and gave one journalist the chance to play, and he said, 'No thanks, I'm just enjoying watching it.'

It's about trying to capture that cinematic feel for everything within the game. Mass Effect really does do that in a lot of ways.

September

Mass Effect - Interview @ MTV

by Dhruin, Saturday - September 29, 2007 00:51

MTV has an article format interview with Paul Marino, one of a  group of machinima makes helping BioWare make Mass Effect "the most cinematic game ever":

Marino is one of the most prominent members of the machinima community, a group that uses games such as "The Sims," "Half-Life 2" and "Neverwinter Nights" as staging grounds for its own stories. Until early this year, Marino's main gig was running an annual Machinima Film Festival in New York. But he has spent the bulk of 2007 working in Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta, helping ensure that the interactive conversations featuring "Mass Effect" 's Jack-Bauer-style Commander Shepard have the verve of the best verbal showdowns in feature films. He and the handful of other BioWare recruits from the machinima field know that that's not the standard for most video game conversations.

Mass Effect - Video Interview @ Gamer.tv

by Dhruin, Wednesday - September 26, 2007 00:10

Apparently this Greg Zeschuk interview only works in IE, so no additional input from me other than the post at BioWare:

BioWare president Greg Zeschuk gives Gamer.TV a personal tour of Mass Effect. Check out the full video interview to see how Mass Effect "covers so many gaming genres in so little time." (Currently works in IE only.)

Mass Effect - Interview @ The Guardian

by Dhruin, Monday - September 24, 2007 23:19

The Guardian talks to Greg Zeschuk about Mass Effect in this latest interview.  Here's a bit about hidden elements in dialogue:

When I last saw the game there was a lot of emphasis on the way your character can interrupt another while they are speaking. Is that still a part of the game?

Yes, it's part of the whole influencing process. But it's not a huge part of the game but you can certainly interrupt in certain ways. There's hidden little neat things in the dialogue tree that you can find.

Mass Effect - Lesbian sex CONFIRMED

by Dhruin, Wednesday - September 19, 2007 12:57

Stop the presses!

Before you lambast me for the silly newsbit title, I ripped it straight from Games Radar, who are obviously very excited about this Mass Effect news:

The BBFC's rating of Mass Effect has revealed new and tantalising plot details from the BioWare RPG, including the revelation that one hot alien sex scene contributes to its angsty 12 rating. The BBFC is a UK-specific ratings board that dictates what content minors are able to see and is the primary film ratings board. North America's ESRB has already rated the game M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence and Partial Nudity.

"The game has been classified at '12' for moderate violence and one sex scene," reads the BBFC rating. "The sex scene is triggered by the player making a series of choices about becoming more than friends with a colleague. If playing as a male character the scene can take place between him and a human woman or a humanoid female alien.

Mass Effect - Previews @ GameSpot, Eurogamer

by Dhruin, Wednesday - September 19, 2007 00:31

It's GameSpot's turn to look at Mass Effect, after spending some time in Edmonton with a "near final version":

Beyond what we played, we got a demo of how you'll discover uncharted worlds in the game and what you can do with them. Once you have the Normandy at your disposal, you'll be able to go and explore anywhere you like. If you discover a planet, you'll typically get some kind of side quest that's either unique from the main story or, in the case of the demo we saw, one that is related to something in the main plot. The demo we saw found Shepard stumbling onto a pirate outpost and interacting with their leader before turning it into a pirate butt-kicking situation.

...Eurogamer says the choices will be more complex than previous BioWare games:

This is nothing new for a BioWare game. Making choices which change how the game plays out was a defining feature of previous titles Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. But the choices in Mass Effect are much more complex and much harder to make, as studio president Greg Zeschuk explains. 

Mass Effect - Massive Coverage

by Dhruin, Monday - September 17, 2007 23:35

The fearsome BioWare PR machine has hit top gear for Mass Effect as we speed toward the November release.  IGN has a full suite of coverage with a Greg Zeschuk interview, a preview and a new trailer.  From the interview:

IGN: From what we've seen of the game, it seems absolutely massive. Are you worried that some people may be a little overwhelmed by everything?

Greg Zeschuk:
We're not worried that people will overwhelmed by the game. We have made sure that big choices within the game are well marked. So, if you need to progress by performing a particular action, it will always be clear. Things like an essential galaxy will be marked, so you can head straight forward. Plus, there's the fact that people don't have to do everything in the game - there are a lot of side quests and extra exploration.

...and the "extended hands-on":

Like its dialogue system, Mass Effect's approach to combat is to give the player layer upon layer of choice while trying to make the mechanisms for making those choices as streamlined as possible. Both systems are based on "wheels" - the dialogue wheel for conversation (more on that later), and the weapon wheel and power wheel for combat.

The latter two work like this. When you first round a corner and spot a group of enemies, they'll each sport a red triangle above their heads, signaling that they mean you harm. If you think you can take them down with some simple run-and-gun moves, just squeeze the right trigger and fire away. Your squadmates will follow suit. But if you want or need to be more tactical about the situation, hold down the right bumper to bring up the power wheel.

The trailer covers combat and "squad tactics, weapons and biotic powers you can use to finish off your enemies".

Meanwhile, r3dshift wrote in to point out five new Mass Effect clips at Gametrailers.

Mass Effect - Interview with Greg Zeschuk @ CVG

by Magerette, Monday - September 17, 2007 20:55

Computer & Video Games has a Q. & A. with Bioware co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk about the upcoming title Mass Effect. There are some questions about a possible demo and downloadable content, as well as a mention of other platforms for the game:

 

You've already expressed your plans for Mass Effect to be a trilogy. Do you see all three games being released on Xbox 360?

Zeschuk: Certainly our intent is to have all three iterations or instalments of Mass Effect to be on Xbox 360. That's the goal.

Exclusively to 360 all the way?

Zeschuk: Can't really comment on that aspect yet, it's too far into the future. Thinking a year in to the future is a big challenge these days.

The law we can't control is the length of the console cycle. I hope, I hope, I hope that this cycle is longer than the last one. We kind of just got started last cycle and it kind of ended when our second game came out. Downloadable content could also bridge the gap by giving you new little islands of story between the big game releases. 

Source: Shack News

Mass Effect - Video Preview @ Esport.tv

by Dhruin, Monday - September 17, 2007 14:56

Vistaer Dragon wrote in to tell us about a Mass Effect video at UK site Esport.tv. Their description of a "cool looking third person shooter that, according to developers, plays like a movie" is rather underwhelming, so here's the description Vistaer sent in:

In the last day in the UK there was a feature on Mass Effect on gamer TV. The video is now online and portrays parts of the assault on the criminal Fist mentioned in previous videos of Urdnot Wrex. It shows off for the first time aggressive (in red) diplomatic (in dark blue) dialogue options, their effects, and finishes off with showing just how brutal a simple conversation can be. 

Mass Effect - Video @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, Saturday - September 15, 2007 00:43

BioWare is pointing out Part 1 of a new Mass Effect video at GameSpot focusing on "the cast of incredible digital characters".

Mass Effect - Video Interview @ QJ.net

by Dhruin, Wednesday - September 05, 2007 23:34

BioWare is pointing out a video interview at QJ.net:

In this video interview, BioWare community manager Jay Watamaniuk talks about what's new with the upcoming Xbox 360 title, Mass Effect. From combat to moral paths, find out what’s got fans excited for the November release.

August

Mass Effect - Release Date & Screens

by Dhruin, Thursday - August 30, 2007 23:44

Even the delivery truck is "epic", apparently:

Critically-Acclaimed RPG "Mass Effect" Begins Epic Journey to Retailers on November 20

One of the hottest and most anticipated video games of the year will open up whole new worlds to explore this holiday, exclusively on Xbox 360

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (August 30, 2007) – Today, Microsoft Game Studios and BioWare Corp. announced that the highly anticipated action role-playing game (RPG) "Mass Effect" will ship to retailers throughout North America on November 20, 2007. The recipient of more than 50 awards, including the 2007 Game Critics Awards for "Best Console Game" and "Best RPG" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month in Los Angeles, "Mass Effect" is poised to become the must-play RPG of 2007.

From the creators of the critically-acclaimed "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" and "Jade Empire," comes an epic space saga for Xbox 360 that spans the entire galaxy. Combining RPG and tactical action elements, "Mass Effect" offers an engaging mix of gameplay set against a deep, multi-directional story.

"With 'Mass Effect,' BioWare is delivering an incredible next-gen gaming odyssey. Our fans will journey through a vast, futuristic universe as they are challenged to make impactful decisions that will determine the very fate of the galaxy," said Ray Muzyka, chief executive officer, BioWare Corp. Added Greg Zeschuk, president of BioWare Corp., "The best games bring players into an immersive, realistic world that is fun to explore from beginning to end. We've achieved that in 'Mass Effect' by putting the player at the center of a compelling, cinematic storyline full of realistic characters and hundreds of exciting locations."

Bob McKenzie, Senior Vice President of Merchandising at GameStop Corporation commented that, "Only a handful of video games redefine their genres, and judging from the excitement and demand we've seen from fans, 'Mass Effect' for Xbox 360 is one that can bring role-playing games to a broader audience through its beautifully realistic graphics and cinematic, emotionally charged gameplay experience."

"Mass Effect" will have an estimated retail price of $59.99 and is rated "M" for "Mature" by the ESRB. For more information, visit www.masseffect.com.

And five new nudies can be found in BioWare's gallery.

Mass Effect - Creating Commander Shepard @ IGN

by Dhruin, Thursday - August 30, 2007 00:28

Creating Commander Shepard is the title of an interview at IGN with BioWare's Casey Hudson that looks at the process and effects of character creation in Mass Effect:

IGN: Character customization is nothing new in games. But usually it's pretty artificial. How much will Mass Effect's character creation affect gameplay and story?

Casey Hudson:
The main thing that sets Mass Effect apart from the conventional game experience is that everything is centered on your character and the choices you make. That's something you hear a lot these days, but we've gone to great lengths to ensure that the promise of choice and consequence is fulfilled for players of Mass Effect. You won't be making superficial choices along a pre-determined path. In Mass Effect, you literally stand in the middle of a non-linear galaxy of story elements, which you can unfold however you like. And at any point in the game, you can be wearing your choice of armor, carry your choice of weapons, have your choice of squadmembers at your side, and all of their abilities (and yours) will be ones you've chosen to develop throughout the game. Further, the thing that you're doing in that moment will likely be a story development that resulted directly from a major decision that you made earlier.

Character creation is where you create the basis for all of that choice. You are deciding what kind of a person your character will be, what their potential capabilities will be in certain areas, and how you'd like your reputation to precede you. It's the nature of meaningful choice throughout the game that gives real value and impact to your choices in character creation.

Mass Effect - Combat Preview @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 29, 2007 00:16

A few days old now but GameSpot has a GC preview of Mass Effect with a focus on combat.  Here's an early snip:

The demo began with Commander Shepard and his crew heading to a lush colony world called Virmire, in pursuit of the source of a transmission containing information about the whereabouts of Saren, the game's antagonist and a former elite operative bent on the destruction of human life throughout the galaxy. Upon landing on Virmire, Shepard and two allies used their six-wheeled planetary off-road vehicle, the mako, to plow through the shallow waters just off the shoreline as they moved toward a beachside complex where the signal had apparently originated.

Mass Effect - PAX Video, Podcast

by Dhruin, Monday - August 27, 2007 23:50

BioWare is suggesting you check out a video of the PAX demo for Mass Effect:

In case you missed the Penny Arcade Expo, you can still watch this exclusive demo of Mass Effect, showing off the first few minutes of action-packed gameplay. Head to GameSpot for the video (1:03:00 in).

The inaugural BioWare Community Mass Effect Podcast is also available:

Listen to an interview with Mass Effect Project Director Casey Hudson where he answers your questions about Mass Effect. Highlights include:

  • Space battles
  • Uncharted worlds
  • Current status of the game

Mass Effect - Four Things @ Gametap

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 15, 2007 00:43

Gametap has a preview of BioWare's Mass Effect subtitled "four things every sci-fi fan needs to know":

1. Intergalactic Travel
What would any epic science-fiction adventure be without any sort of planet jumping? In Mass Effect, you (playing as Commander Shepherd) will travel to all sorts of different locations around the galaxy. When you arrive on a new world, you’ll encounter friends that may be more than willing to help out, and plenty of enemies waiting to take you down and prevent you from stopping the genocidal plot initiated by an alien named Saren. Each of the worlds we’ve seen so far look fantastic and do an excellent job of making it feel as though you’re truly in the outer space equivalent of the Wild West. Representatives from BioWare have even gone so far as to say that you won’t see every planet the first time through the game.

Mass Effect - Video Preview

by Dhruin, Friday - August 10, 2007 23:45

BioWare is pointing out a Mass Effect video preview on the 1Up Show with exclusive footage and input from Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka and Casey Hudson.

Mass Effect - Blog Update @ IGN

by Dhruin, Monday - August 06, 2007 23:53

E3 is again the subject of another update to the Mass Effect blog at IGN:

We’ve had a lot of great feedback from this year’s E3 demo, but it was a long and treacherous road to get there. As E3 approached this year, we realized that we had a problem. We’ve talked about how“Mass Effect” puts you in control of emotionally-charged decisions that have a huge impact on the game world and the way you experience the story. But we realized that it was time to show a deeper look at what we meant by that. However, all of those situations in the game are, by definition, major spoilers. How would we show these amazing moments without giving away something that players would want to discover on their own?

We considered a few options. We thought about showing the moments leading up to a critical decision, but not showing the resolution of the situation. We thought about picking one of the less-critical decisions in the game so that there would be a resolution but no major spoilers. In the end, we realized that the only way to really illustrate the power of these moments in “Mass Effect” would be to show what it’s actually like, all the way through to the full conclusion of a major story twist in the game. We’d have to trust the journalists to write about the quality of the experience, and not the story details that would spoil things for players.

Mass Effect - Blog Update and Upcoming Podcast

by Dhruin, Saturday - August 04, 2007 09:20

BioWare's Mass Effect blog at IGN saw an update we missed earlier in the week that covers E3, the villain Saren and creating a monster:

They said it would be easier. They said it would be more casual. But for us this year’s E3 was as crazy and busy as ever as we revealed a bit more of “Mass Effect,” both in video and live demo form. Though the show has obviously changed dramatically, the experience was uncannily similar to past E3s from our perspective. Other than being at the breezy beachfront location of Santa Monica and not having a huge show floor spectacle where people can see a snapshot of the industry all in one view, E3 was as it’s always been for us: several days of demonstrating our game behind-closed-doors to give people an intimate look at what we’re making.

In other Mass Effect news, community coordinator Chris Priestly is looking for community questions to throw at Casey Hudson in an upcoming poscast - head to this thread to participate.

Mass Effect - Interview @ IGN

by Dhruin, Saturday - August 04, 2007 02:12

IGN serves up an interview with Casey Hudson on Mass Effect.  Let's take a snip on conversation skills:

IGN: Will your choices when dealing with major moral decisions change based on your character's alignment?

Casey Hudson
: Your actions throughout the game will change the kinds of situations that you'll come across, sometimes leading to entirely different plots than if you had chosen differently. And Mass Effect is somewhat unique in that developing skills in Charm and Intimidate can be extremely satisfying. Skill in either of those areas gives you some of the more spectacular options in conversation, giving you some useful (and really fun) alternatives to handling difficult situations.

Mass Effect - Saren Art & Screens

by Dhruin, Wednesday - August 01, 2007 00:16

BioWare has kicked up new concept art and screens for the villain Saren:

We've updated the Saren Arterius profile in the Galacatic Codex, added three concept art graphics that reveal the making of Saren from a visual point of view, and posted three new Saren screenshots so you can see how great the final, in-game version turned out.

July

Mass Effect - Preview @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Monday - July 30, 2007 23:57

Worthplaying has an E3-based preview of Mass Effect:

As with its Halo 3 and Fable 2 meetings, our meeting with Microsoft for Mass Effect was highly focused, with much of the presentation dealing with the games superb-looking conversation system. Previous BioWare titles have allowed players to dictate their responses to A.I.-instigated queries, but Mass Effect removes the rough edges, presenting such discussions in a highly cinematic way, similar to that of a film or a pre-rendered cut-scene. Using the in-game engine, the camera shifts to an up-close perspective during a discussion, allowing players to focus on facial expressions and attempt to interpret body language.

But conversations in Mass Effect are more about what you say than what you see. As the scene unfolds, conversational options will appear around a small circle on the bottom portion of the screen, allowing the player to choose a response while the NPC is talking. Where previous systems most resembled the exchange of instant messages, discussions in Mass Effect come as close to the ebb and flow of a verbal conversation as we’ve seen in a game. Choices made in the midst of a conversation not only affect the direction of that particular dialogue, but may also lead to decisions that will affect the rest of the game. 

Mass Effect - Video Walkthrough @ IGN

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 25, 2007 01:28

IGN has a 20-minute Mass Effect video walkthrough:

Following the private demo, BioWare President Greg Zeschuk went on IGN Livewire to show off Mass Effect to the public. The demo focuses more on the combat than the RPG aspects, which saves future Mass Effect players from having a major plot point spoiled several month's before the game's release.

Mass Effect - Wallpapers @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Saturday - July 21, 2007 01:36

BioWare has new Mass Effect desktop wallpapers on offer.

Mass Effect - Q&A and Trailer @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, Friday - July 20, 2007 13:20

Mapping the Galaxy is the title of a Mass Effect Q&A at GameSpot with Casey Hudson, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka that starts off talking about an expanded E3 trailer they have on offer but then gets into more interesting material:

GS: It's actually possible to have a party member who is a member of Saren's race. Is that right?

CH: Yes, that's correct.

GS: So, there will be a lot gray areas between the different alliances, the different races?

CH: There's really a huge world built up behind the scenes of the Mass Effect universe, so all the different species that you come across have histories and all of these things are actually written into the way that you experience the story. So when you take different characters with you, really only a few of the characters in your potential squad are human and the rest come from alien species of different backgrounds, and you'll actually see how they interact with each other in a way that reflects their different histories.

RM: Depending on who you have with you, the experience you have is going to be different as well. So, combined with the tons of permutations--where you can do different things [in a] different order, you can go to uncharted worlds, or focus more on the main critical path, branching off...when you want--it provides a ton of replay as well. It's a really rich experience as a result because you've got your own spaceship, the Normandy, you get to travel around the galaxy and do whatever you want. And there's a great storyline that's really compelling behind it all.

You can stream the video from a link on that page. Thanks, Vistaer Dragon!

Mass Effect - Preview @ Daily Game

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 18, 2007 02:02

Daily Game's preview of Mass Effect has a good explanation of how the dialogue system works in BioWare's space action/RPG:

The implementation of all this is remarkably smooth, especially considering BioWare doesn't exactly specialize in real-time tactical shooters. Had we not been in a private room with BioWare, in fact, it would've been easy to pass off Mass Effect as having come from a developer with a long history in shooters. That is, until we entered a bar in the 30-mile-long space station.

In this scene, we instigated a conversation with an alien who had some information we wanted. Like KOTOR (and most other RPGs), there were several ways to get this information, from sweetening her up with compliments to flat-out threatening her with a drawn gun. The conversation didn't progress with a simple conversation tree, though, as each expression was mapped to a specific direction on the D-pad. Throughout the game, similarly toned responses will be mapped to the same direction, so if players always want to have a "nice" response they would always press right, for instance, or if they always want to have a "mean" response they would always press down.

This gave the conversations a much more instinctual and fluid feel than reading entire chains of text, and it made them feel much more like cinematic cutscenes than interruptions in the gameplay. It also will help gamers who buy Mass Effect for the tactical-shooting elements breeze through what they might feel are the "boring" parts while still being engaged in the story. BioWare did assure us, though, that every line of dialogue will still be recorded, so hardcore RPG fans can sit there and listen to every voice-acted word if they wish.

I do love how the voice recordings are for the hardcore.

Mass Effect - E3 Videos

by Dhruin, Monday - July 16, 2007 00:02

BioWare is pointing out a Mass Effect stage demo and interview video, as well as a gameplay video, both at GameSpot.

Mass Effect - Hands-On @ Joystiq, 1Up

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 11, 2007 23:51

Joystiq has taken a hands-on look at Mass Effect.  Here's a bit on the somewhat contentious dialogue system:

We were shown the basic in-game talk interface: get near another character and hit the A button to start talking. You can direct the flow of the conversation, by selecting your responses with the left thumbstick, choosing from a radial menu. For instance, if someone is telling you about an attack, you can pick things like "Too bad they didn't kill you" to "I'm sorry" to "Really? What happened?"

They aren't exactly what your character will say, they're more like the gist of it. We tried to piss the people we encountered off, but no one took great offense. One woman we encountered really wanted to tag along with us, and although we tried as hard as we could to dissuade her, the last talk menu we were offered with her was something like, "Sure", "Go ahead", and "Okay". No, "Get lost!" option, so she must be important to the mission.

...and here's a bit from a 1Up preview:

Combat looks to have been further streamlined with both party and enemy A.I. coming along. Your buddies still require you to assign some basic logic on how to respond, and you have to keep them pointed in the right direction, but from there you're free to get caught in the action yourself. The result favors the use of flanking techniques, finding cover, and moving tactically. At the same time, there's plenty of action -- which we saw when we raced into an assault on an enemy outpost in our Mako vehicle, used its jump jets to hop over incoming enemy missiles, jumped into its turret to take out the rocket soldiers, and then dismounted for an on foot assault to clear the place out with a shotgun.

Mass Effect - Dated, E3 Trailer @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, Wednesday - July 11, 2007 23:44

GameSpot has news from Microsoft's E3 presentation that Mass Effect will be coming in November, and you can stream the E3 trailer as well.

Mass Effect - Screens @ FiringSquad

by Dhruin, Tuesday - July 03, 2007 00:52

Three new Mass Effect screens are on offer at FiringSquad.

June

Mass Effect - Krogans #3 @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Friday - June 29, 2007 23:48

BioWare's third installment on the Krogans in Mass Effect looks at a "Battle Master" named Urdnot Wrex:

Urdnot Wrex is one of the last krogan Battle Masters: rare individuals who combine powerful biotic abilities with the devastating firepower of advanced weaponry. Born into clan Urdnot, he quickly gained fame for his prowess in battle. He became a leader of one of the smaller Urdnot tribes while still a youth - the youngest krogan to be granted the honor in 1000 years...until he was betrayed by his own people.

Mass Effect - Revelations Review @ Ars Technica

by Dhruin, Sunday - June 24, 2007 01:46

Ars Technica has reviewed the Mass Effect book Revelation, written by BioWare's Drew Karpyshyn.  The site recommends it as a "buy" so anyone following Mass Effect might want to check it out:

The story itself focuses on an eventful investigatory campaign led by a war hero named David Anderson; a model solider and upstanding example of human capability. Anderson is charged with the task of investigating an attack on a secret human military encampment, but things quickly go awry as the shroud of mystery is slowly lifted. Encounters with the mysterious and ruthless Citadel Spectres—a special force of above-the-law soldiers working directly for the government—and bounty hunters make the investigation all that much more difficult, and the story plays out with an effective balance of action and edification that is paced pretty well. The interactions with the book's Spectre, especially, led to some daydreaming about being a ruthless antihero in the game, as we know that the main character of the game is a Spectre.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect - Rise and Fall of the Krogan

by Dhruin, Thursday - June 21, 2007 22:42

The second of a three-part series on the Krogan race from Mass Effect at IGN, this one looks at their history:

Roughly 2000 years ago the Krogan were a primitive tribal species trapped on a world suffering through a nuclear winter of their own making. They were liberated from this state by the Salarians, who "culturally uplifted" the Krogan by giving them advanced technology and relocating them to a planet not cursed with lethal levels of radiation, toxins or deadly predators.

Mass Effect - Interview @ Game-Spectrum

by Dhruin, Wednesday - June 20, 2007 04:10

Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn has been interviewed at a site called Game-Spectrum.  The conversation focuses on Drew's work as a BioWare writer and the Mass Effect novelisation Revelation:

GS: How did the work start with Mass Effect? Was there a general idea for what the game was going to be and you worked on that? Can you give us the process to get to where you are now with the game?

 

DK: From the beginning we knew we wanted to make a game that evoked the atmospheric sci-fi films of the 70’s and 80’s we all grew up with: films like Alien, Aliens, Blade Runner and Terminator. Keeping that in mind, we began to look at what elements we loved about those films, and how we could capture their essence in fresh and original ways. Over the next few months the core team (the project director, the lead artist, the lead programmer, the lead designer and me) began to pull the pieces together until eventually we had everything in place. At that point we brought on the rest of the team and began full production. Three years later, here we are.

Mass Effect - Screens @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Friday - June 15, 2007 23:41

BioWare has posted a batch of 14 new Mass Effect screens.

Mass Effect - Krogan Race Profile @ Mass Effect

by Dhruin, Thursday - June 14, 2007 23:31

IGN's latest look at Mass Effect covers the Krogan race:

The Krogan are a species of large reptilian bipeds native to the planet Tuchanka, a world known for its harsh environments, scarce resources and overabundance of vicious predators. The Krogan managed to not only survive on their unforgiving homeworld, but actually thrived in the extreme conditions. Unfortunately, as Krogan society become more technologically advanced so did their weaponry.

May

Mass Effect - Interview @ CVG

by Dhruin, Monday - May 28, 2007 22:08

The Doctors Zeschuk and Muzyka are once again doing their tag-team PR thing for BioWare, spruiking the new good news on Mass Effect at CVG.  The questions cover some awesome topics such as voice-acting, animation and how they managed to fit it all on one DVD:

You've managed to shoe-horn the game on to one DVD. What are the consequences of that? Has anything had to be held back for downloadble content?

Ray Muzyka: We haven't revealed any plans yet for post-release content; download, episodic. But Mass Effect is a natural fit for that kind of thing.

For the longest time we were pretty sure we were going to have to fit the game content onto two DVDs, because there's just so much content in the game. Right now it looks like we're going to get it on one and it's been difficult because there's a lot of content. It's a very ambitious title.

The voice throughout the game as well; for the main character, all the party members; everybody talks.

Mass Effect - Book Snippet @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Thursday - May 17, 2007 22:08

BioWare has kicked up Chapter 9 for the novelisation Mass Effect: Revelation for you to read.

Mass Effect - Story Interview @ IGN.AU

by Dhruin, Saturday - May 12, 2007 01:30

IGN.AU has interviewed BioWare's Drew Karpyshyn, the writer on Mass Effect who also wrote the novelisation Mass Effect: Revelation.  Here's an early question:

IGN: How much of the writing comes from one person, and how much is a collaborative effort?

Drew Karpyshyn:
At BioWare the process is a combination of collaborative feedback and individual effort. The writers (and other key people, such as the Project Director and the Lead Designer) constantly discuss the overall story line. But each individual writer is assigned sections of the game to write. For Mass Effect, each planet has one primary writer who is responsible for the majority of writing on that world. However, all the writers review each other's work to offer suggestions and criticism, and as Lead Writer I also have to make sure there is a consistency of style across all the various levels. So on the one hand it's very individual - you write what you think works for your own areas - but on the other hand it's a very collaborative process, as everything you do has to fit in with the rest of the team and the larger overall story.

Mass Effect - Video Preview @ G4

by Dhruin, Tuesday - May 08, 2007 23:02

G4 TV has a video preview of BioWare's Mass Effect with apparently exclusive footage of "the amazing planets you'll explore, the fierce battles you'll be fighting, and some of the most realistic character interactions you've ever seen". At least, so says BioWare's blurb.

Mass Effect - Impressions @ Frag Dolls

by Dhruin, Monday - May 07, 2007 22:11

BioWare is pointing out a Mass Effect write up from Frag Doll Rhoulette at their blog.  The comments are based on seeing the game at GDC but unfortunately, there isn't much depth to it:

I could start getting into depth here about the game's cinematic camera blur-focus effects, the reactivity of the NPCs, the extensive universe containing hundreds of side-quests and additional worlds, and the captivating storyline, but there's plenty enough time before launch to get into that later. Instead I will summarize the stuff you REALLY need to know to get excited. Every 50,000 years robots come to 'harvest' all organic civilizations; it's now year 49,999. Kick-ass female character! Sci-fi gorgeousness!! SPACE ZOMBIES!!!!!! 'Nuff said.

Mass Effect - Q&A @ Official Blog

by Dhruin, Sunday - May 06, 2007 22:11

After a month's silence, Casey Hudson has sneaked an update onto the BioWare blog at IGN about Mass Effect.  It's in the form of a Q&A and here's a sample:

How many people can be in a "squad"? Is it three like in the videos?
Yep - three. It’s like in “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic,” where you pick the other two squad mates from a larger group of six. We’re sometimes asked, “Why three?” The answer is that from a game design standpoint (and in lots of other design applications actually); three is kind of a “sweet spot” number. Three is the lowest number where you get certain benefits that result from the concept of a group. When there are only two characters, any interaction with your squad (combat movements, conversations, etc.) must involve yourself and the other person. But with three, there can be an interaction that involves part of the group but not the other, and therefore the concept of “choice” becomes possible. And though there’s a big difference in the group dynamic between two and three, not much new happens with four or more.

So having a squad of three means we have a group that’s small and manageable, but also supports interesting choices and situations. For example, your squad members comment on places you explore and decisions you make. But since there are two other characters, they’ll actually have conversations between themselves. It also means that in combat, you have lots of choices in terms of whose special abilities you’ll use, where you’ll position your squad members as you breach a doorway, or who will stay behind and who will move ahead to spot enemies.

April

Mass Effect - Book Snippet @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Monday - April 30, 2007 22:28

BioWare is pimping the imminent release of the Mass Effect novel, titled Revelation.  You can head over to read a free sample chapter, enter a contest and more.

Mass Effect - Delayed?

by Dhruin, Monday - April 23, 2007 22:33

CVG has news from a Microsoft event they apparently attended that Mass Effect has finally been penciled in for September.  This is a delay from the previously anticipated June/July, although that date was based on speculation rather than an official announcement.

Mass Effect - Classes @ IGN

by Dhruin, Friday - April 20, 2007 23:05

IGN has an article called The Classes of Mass Effect Revealed, with a short description of each said class in the following format:

Infiltrator

BioWare says:
Infiltrators combine combat and tech abilities, and specialize in killing or disabling enemies at long range. Infiltrators are trained to use OmniTools, but the focus is on decryption and offensive abilities rather than healing. They can train with pistols or sniper rifles, and can learn to wear medium armor.

IGN says: Infiltrators are Engineers with a kick. Along with long range sniping abilities, we look forward to utilizing stealth, as the name implies. We're not sure what stealth elements will make it in to Mass Effect, but at the very least our Infiltrator sounds like he can pick a few locks.

Mass Effect - Interview @ Team Xbox

by Dhruin, Wednesday - April 11, 2007 22:52

BioWare's Casey Hudson has been interviewed at Team Xbox, although the focus of the discussion is how they put together the GDC presentation for Mass Effect rather than the game itself:

How did you decide on the segment of the game you wanted to show us at GDC?

Casey Hudson: We’ve designed the beginning of the game to be a tantalizing hook—a prologue—that pulls you into the experience and gives you an idea of what to expect in the story. But at the same time, the story really gets going after the prologue, of course, when you become a Spectre. So it’s that initial prologue section that we like to show to give people a good background for what the game is all about: who you are and what you can expect to do.

Mass Effect - Screens @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Monday - April 09, 2007 00:34

BioWare has released three new Mass Effect screens.

Mass Effect - Trailer @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Saturday - April 07, 2007 14:41

Also at Worthplaying is a new Mass Effect trailer (40Mb).

Mass Effect - Dev Blog & Screens

by Dhruin, Wednesday - April 04, 2007 00:00

The official BioWare blog at IGN sees an update from Mass Effect's Principal Lead Designer Preston Watamaniuk on designing character classes:

Time for an update! I have been asked to step in and give Casey a break. Given all the talk about character classes, I thought I would comment on some of the decisions that go into their design.

We built the rule set for “Mass Effect” from the ground up to emphasize the ranged combat employed by weapons, biotics and tech. Two ideas drove the rules — and eventually — the class design at the high level:

1. Core Mechanics (what you can be skilled at)
2. Active Gameplay Mechanics (what you can actually do to enemies)

In other news, GameSpot has some new screens.

March

Mass Effect - Community Q&A @ BioWare Forums

by Dhruin, Saturday - March 31, 2007 00:53

BioWare's Chris Priestly has collected together Mass Effect community questions from the Bio boards that have now (mostly) been answered.  Chris notes the team is very busy and some questions will have to await a future date.  I could resist this quote:

Q: It has been said often that character creation will be very powerful, but will you be able to customize the teeth that the character has? This may sound strange but it could have a massive effect on the role-play aspect of the game. – skulloguldan

A: Sorry, no dental customization in Mass Effect.

Mass Effect - PC Classes @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 29, 2007 22:24

A new article called Fields of Discipline provides an overview for three of the six character classes in Mass Effect:

Did you know there are six distinct character classes in Mass Effect, each with a different package of starting and unlockable talents? In addition, if you play well enough to survive the physical and political dangers of the galaxy, you will gain the ability to unlock six more specialization classes later in the game. Your elite recon squad must win an impossible race to stop the return of a brutal enemy. It is imperative that you build and play your character to the best of your ability.

Mass Effect - Interview @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 29, 2007 22:20

BioWare's Corey Hudson has been interviewed at GameSpy about their upcoming Xbox 360 project, Mass Effect:

GameSpy: Could you compare the size and scope of the game to previous BioWare RPGs? How many different planets and areas will players explore in "Mass Effect?"

Casey Hudson: Mass Effect has a similar number of core story areas as "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," but when you consider the explorable galaxy component that makes it quite a bit larger. There are over 300 "things" that you can travel to in space - ranging from just a satellite or a derelict ship to explorable planets or underground bases.

Mass Effect - Fansite Kit @ BioWare

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 22, 2007 00:02

BioWare has released a fansite kit for Mass Effect, offering "graphics and information including concept art, screens, source files, and avatars. It also contains brand new wallpapers!"

Mass Effect - Interview #1 @ Games Radar

by Dhruin, Wednesday - March 14, 2007 21:26

Describing it as "breathtaking" and "innovative", Games Radar has the first part of an interview-cum-preview on Mass Effect based on a GDC presentation of the first hour of gameplay:

RM: We're using the language of cinema to really convey the story and dialogue of the game. You'll notice when you talk to the navigator, there's the depth of field where the characters are very sharp and in focus, while the backgrounds are a little blurry. Also, notice the camera angle cuts back and forth to whoever's speaking.

GamesRadar: In what other ways are you making Mass Effect a believable cinematic experience?

RM: The range of expressions that are on the faces of the digital actors and actresses. Their eyes move; they track you as you're walking around. They actually have nuanced expressions. It's not so much what they say in all cases - sometimes it's what they're doing and how they look.

GZ: The characters really are acting.

Mass Effect - GDC Previews @ GameSpot, IGN, TeamXbox

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 08, 2007 20:37

A trio of Mass Effect previews from GDC are on offer at GameSpot, IGN and TeamXbox.  Here's an introductory sample from GameSpot:

Everything that we saw today was taken from the first hour or so of gameplay, so we can talk about some of the story details without spoiling anything too significant. After impressing your superiors greatly with exploits that occurred before the game gets underway, it seems that you've attracted the attention of the shadow council, which is an elite organization whose members are known as specters. No human has ever been accepted into or even considered for their ranks, but early on in your adventure, you'll be joined by a specter that has been sent to assess you. It's believed that your being admitted into the alien shadow council would serve to symbolize just how successful the current alliance has been, but we'll wager that not everybody likes the idea.

Mass Effect - Release Date Rumours

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 08, 2007 20:24

Word is circling of a possible early Mass Effect release after Ray Muzyka told IGN that the title wouldn't displayed at year's E3:

"That event is in July, right?" asked Dr. Ray Muzyka. "Well, Mass Effect won't appear at this year's E3."

Mass Effect - Screens @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Wednesday - March 07, 2007 20:24

Worthplaying has five new screens from BioWare's Mass Effect.

Mass Effect - Interviews @ TeamXbox, GameSpot

by Dhruin, Monday - March 05, 2007 20:28

TeamXbox speaks with BioWare's Derek Watts - Art Director for Mass Effect - in an interview titled Behind the Art of Mass Effect.  Here's a snip:

What were the inspirations for the look of the game?

Derek Watts: For the environments, we basically poured over photos of unique areas you can find on earth, from the Lake District in England to the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. For structures we generally looked at Modern Architecture from Europe and Japan. We also looked at artists such as Syd Mead, Chris Cunningham and John Harris. We looked at numerous movies, from Tron to Solaris. We wanted a clean look to this world. Something that looks like it could be possible in the future and somewhere you would want to go. We really tried to hammer home to everyone that the look we wanted was clean and futuristic.

Meanwhile, GameSpot's On the Spot video show has a video interview with Producer Casey Hudson on "exciting new developments"...although you'll have to endure the first 30 mins before you find out what they are.

Mass Effect - Villain @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Thursday - March 01, 2007 20:44

The second part of GameSpy's article on the villain in Mass Effect, Saren, is now up using an interview with writer Drew Karpyshyn :

GameSpy: When we released the first details on Mass Effect's Saren last month, we didn't know what to expect. Could you shed some light on the current universal climate, politically, militarily, or socially, and the player's role in the game's universe and their importance to the storyline?

Drew Karpyshyn, Mass Effect Principle Writer: The current universal climate, at least from the perspective of the human race, is one of caution and skepticism. Humanity is quite new to the galactic stage, and the various races of the Citadel (the central seat of civilization in the universe) are watching us to see what we do in these early stages of our emergence. Early in the game, the player is put into the position of being the only Human Spectre - as such, he is both an elite agent that operates outside the law to maintain peace, and the star representative of mankind in the eyes of other races and species.

February

Mass Effect - Reader Q&A @ IGN Blog

by Dhruin, Wednesday - February 28, 2007 22:59

Mass Effect Project Director Casey Hudson has updated the official blog at IGN with a reader Q&A.  Apparently questions were pulled from the official forums and replies to the last blog entry, including this one:

How far can you go customizing Shepard?
Commander Shepard represents the specific kind of experience you can have in “Mass Effect”: serious situations, important decisions, and the feeling that you can kick down any barrier that stands in your way. But how you do it, and what kind of character you are is up to you. So you can be male or female, change the details of your face and hair to look however you want, and then you’ll decide what kind of character you are: soldier, tech specialist, user of dark energy powers, or some combination of those. You’ll also be able to decide what your starting skills will be. And throughout the game you’ll get new weapons and equipment that you can use, further modifying your appearance and capability. You can also buy or find mods that can be used to enhance your weapons and equipment. So your character is quite a bit more customizable than in “KOTOR” for example, but you’re also adjusting things that seem more tangible or real-world.

Mass Effect - Prequel Book Announced

by Dhruin, Friday - February 23, 2007 20:38

BioWare has announced a Mass Effect prequel book will be written by their own Drew Karpshyn:

Del Rey Acquires Prequel Novel to BioWare's Highly-Anticipated Video Game, Mass Effect

New York, NY (February 21, 2007) - Del Rey, an imprint of Random House Inc., announced today the acquisition of MASS EFFECT: REVELATION by Drew Karpyshyn, the prequel novel to the award-winning video game from BioWare. Additionally, there will be another novel set in the world of MASS EFFECT. MASS EFFECT: REVOLUTION is authored by Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of the MASS EFFECT video game.

In MASS EFFECT: REVELATION, commander and Alliance war hero David Anderson investigates the remains of a top secret military research station; smoking ruins littered with bodies and unanswered questions. Partnered with a rogue alien agent he can't trust and pursued by an assassin he can't escape, Anderson battles impossible odds on uncharted worlds to uncover a sinister conspiracy.

Del Rey editor Keith Clayton says "We're excited to be working on original MASS EFFECT novels with BioWare, whose track record of successful and high-quality video games speaks for itself. And between Drew's close involvement with the MASS EFFECT IP and his ability to tell an engaging story, the novels will draw fans even further into the rich world of MASS EFFECT."

"We're excited to be working with Del Ray Books on expanding the Mass Effect universe," said Ray Muzyka, CEO of BioWare Corp. "We are thrilled to have Drew writing the book as he has the knowledge and skills to make a great novel."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Drew Karpyshyn is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, and several other fantasy and science fiction novels. He is also an award-winning writer/designer for the game company BioWare, where he was lead writer on Mass Effect and the popular Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™ video game. He lives in Canada's hinterlands with his loving wife, Jen, and their cat.

Meanwhile, it seems we missed two Mass Effect articles a week or so back - a Shacknews Q&A with Casey Hudson and an MTV article on "developing the best eyeballs in video games" - gotta have those realistic eyeballs.

Mass Effect - Podcast Interview @ Evil Avatar

by Dhruin, Saturday - February 17, 2007 02:14

Evil Avatar Radio has an audio interview with BioWare's Casey Hudson on Mass Effect:

We've also got a very special treat: an interview with Bioware staff member and Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson about on of the most anticipated games of 2007. He answers a ton of the burning questions about Mass Effect that were posted here by you guys a couple weeks ago. Once again, give it a listen at the link above or on Odeo.

Mass Effect - Interview #2 @ Team Xbox

by Dhruin, Wednesday - February 14, 2007 00:32

Team Xbox continues their conversation with BioWare's Ray Muzyka on Mass Effect:

Not to be too skeptical, but a lot of time when a company tries to make a multi-faceted game, just about everything gets the short end of the stick. How do you find a balance to satisfy different types of gamers?

Ray Muzyka: That’s an excellent question. At BioWare, we see the types of character and story-driven games we make as having four key activity pillars. There’s story and characters, there’s exploration, there’s combat/conflict/action, and there’s customization/progression. All of our game have those, to some extent. What we’re trying to do is build these activity chains between them. We think consciously about “How do we pull the player from the story to the exploration to the progression to the combat?” For example, maybe you run into an interesting character who tells you about an interesting place to go. You find some interesting items there and you upgrade your weapons with X mods and biotic energy. Then you get to go into combat and defeat the enemies you couldn’t defeat before, which allows you to get to a new part of the story.

We link all of these things together, they aren’t separate elements to us, they’re actually part of the same whole. We’ve always approached our games that way, and I think in the last two or three years, we’ve come to understand the way our games are built, in a way we’ve never done before. So, for us, it’s certainly not unfocused, we’re extremely focused. We’re more focused now on games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age than we ever were before. I think the fans will see the results of that.

Mass Effect - Interview @ Team Xbox

by Dhruin, Monday - February 12, 2007 20:22

BioWare's Dr. Ray Muzyka has been interviewed at Team Xbox about Mass Effect.  Here's a snip on what the 130-strong development team have come up with for exploration:

You mentioned the exploration elements of the game, and how you can go and find all of these uncharted worlds. What’s the breakdown going to be between the core storyline and just exploring the universe?

Ray Muzyka: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, it really depends on just how much you want to do on the uncharted worlds. I think it’s going to be about 40 hours or so for the main story, so it’s going to be a good-sized BioWare RPG just for the core part. Off the beaten path, there’s probably another 20 or 30 hours or so of stuff, or more, depending on how much you do and what order you do it in and all of that. It’s this non-linear exploration of uncharted worlds. You’re flying around this vast universe with hundreds of locations, where one’s a derelict spacecraft from which you get this distress call. Another might be an uncharted world with a full backstory, multi-hour storyline that you’ve got to explore and go on the surface and sub-surface and explore and find some new locations that send you off to a new location. You might be flying through space on your primary quest when you get this distress call or you hear some message. The planet’s on sensors, so do you want to explore this now or do you go back later? It’s all non-linear. The gameplay’s there for people who just want to have some fun for a couple hours and go off the beaten path. You know, upgrade the character, get in the rover, explore the world, get out of the rover, go find some quests or some combat, get some new items. Then you can go back to the main game and find a rich, compelling, deep storyline with amazing characters and incredible, beautiful graphics.

Mass Effect - Screens @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Thursday - February 08, 2007 20:34

BioWare has kicked up half a dozen new screens from Mass Effect.

Mass Effect - The Quarians @ Official Site

by Dhruin, Monday - February 05, 2007 23:18

BioWare has released some information on the Quarian race at the Mass Effect site:

A nomadic race of humanoid aliens, the quarians are generally shorter and of slighter build than humans. They dress in a scavanged assortment of materials, hiding their faces behind visors, goggles, or breathing masks. Some believe the quarians are cybernetic, a blend of machine and biology that can survive for a time in the cold vacuum of space. Others believe the quarians are simply so used to living on their substandard, makeshift ships that they never remove their survival suits.

Mass Effect - Interview @ RPG Codex

by Dhruin, Thursday - February 01, 2007 20:22

RPG Codex has departed from their usual coverage to bring an "interview" with BioWare's Casey Hudson on Mass Effect.  Here's one of the questions from the tongue-in-cheek parody:

Bioware is known for creating simply amazing, mind-boggling stories. What does Mass Effect have in store for us?

"Among those who study ancient ruins, a horrific legend is told: every 50,000 years a race of machines returns to harvest all organic civilizations. Few believe this ancient legend. Commander Shepard, however, knows it to be true. The fight to stop this extinction event has become his most important mission in the galaxy."

As you can see from this snippet, Bioware employs many talented and amazingly creative writers who surprise us all every time yet another storyline is created. In Mass Effect you discover information about an ancient race of mostly evil robots that was responsible for destroying galactic civilization roughly 50,000 years ago in a horrific cycle that resembles a "harvest" of organic life - and they're about to return! This storyline creates many questions like "evil robots?", "horrific cycle?", "harvest of organic life?", "return?" which, hopefully, will be answered in the third game.

It makes sense that Commander Shepard is the only person who's seen this evidence - and being the only one important and special enough to do something about it - he begins scouring the galaxy to destroy the agents of the machines and prevent the cycle from happening again. The president counts on Commander Shepard as the only man he can trust to find the robots and to stop the destruction of everything we hold dear.

January

Mass Effect - Villain @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Tuesday - January 30, 2007 22:38

Nicely sharing the content around IGNSpy, GameSpy has a profile of the main villian from Mass Effect - Saren:

Saren Arterius is the longest serving turian member of the Spectres - the elite military operatives answering directly to the Citadel Council. For 24 years he has been an agent of the Council's will, a zealous defender of galactic stability in the unsettled border region of the Skyllian Verge.

Mass Effect - Blog @ IGN

by Dhruin, Tuesday - January 30, 2007 22:33

BioWare joins just about everyone else in launching a blog at IGN.  This one is for Mass Effect and the first entry sees Project Director Casey Hudson essentially introducing the development:

One of the things we wanted to capture with “Mass Effect” is the feeling of a classic science fiction movie – like being immersed inside one of the great films of the late ‘70s / early ‘80s such as Alien, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, or Blade Runner. And it’s not so much the themes and stories of those movies that I’m talking about – it’s the atmosphere. Back then, that thick ambience was often powered by the haunting scores of Jerry Goldsmith or the rich electronica of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream.

Mass Effect - Box Cover Art Revealed

by Dhruin, Wednesday - January 24, 2007 20:26

BioWare has released the box art for Mass Effect -- we've updated the icon to the left or you can check it out in more detail at the official site.

Mass Effect - Interview @ IGN

by Dhruin, Sunday - January 21, 2007 12:23

BioWare's Casey Hudson has been interviewed at 360.IGN about Mass Effect.  Here's a snip:

IGN: So you just spoke about how you want players to feel that they're somebody special. We know that you take the role of Commander Shepard as the main character and I've read that you can create your own character and build him from the ground up. How do you manage to make this game where the two ideas co-exist, where you can create your own character and build your own persona and still fit him into this world and story where he is special?

Casey Hudson:
Well it's an interesting balance and I think it's a different balance than anyone has ever done before in a role-playing game. I think typically role-playing games in the past have been more about creating a completely empty vessel that you then fill up with whatever choices that you make. And that can be really cool but it also kind of leaves out a little bit of the texture of what it's like to be someone specific or to have a specific spirit to an adventure.

So if you think about some of the really great, memorable science fiction stories or even characters, like Captain Kirk or Jack Bauer. Any story about that kind of a character has a very specific flavor to it and that's one thing we didn't want to miss out on with Mass Effect. Mass Effect is so much more cinematic and real than anything we've ever done before that we really needed that extra bit, those extra sensory aspects to a story that you can't get if you just start out with a completely blank character.

 

December

Mass Effect - X06 Gameplay Video

by Dhruin, Friday - December 08, 2006 23:23

BioWare has released the Mass Effect gameplay video from the X06 event, "featuring planetary exploration, squad-based combat, special abilities and powers, and new examples of the revolutionary dialogue system. Casey Hudson walks us through the amazing highlights."

November

Mass Effect - Interview @ ActionTrip

by Dhruin, Tuesday - November 28, 2006 21:19

ActionTrip dropped us a line to point out their interview with BioWare's Casey Hudson on Mass Effect:

ActionTrip: The dialogue system we've seen in Knights of the Old Republic creates a unique atmosphere and adds a more personal feel to the whole experience. Has the development team altered this particular pattern, in terms of storytelling, changing the character's alignment via talking with NPCs, etc?

Casey Hudson: It's an evolution of that experience into something that keeps it more interactive. It really does add a personal aspect to the story when you experience it through the perspective of the characters around you. But we've made those conversations happen more ambiently, so that you're not pulled into a conversation when you don't want to be. And if one of your squad members tells you about something you're interested in, you'll be able to interact with them through an interface that's a lot more fun and interactive than ever before. Conversations are no longer about dealing with piles of text that you have to read - in each conversation in Mass Effect you can react so instinctively that you become immersed in how you feel about what's going on around you.

Mass Effect - MTV Footage @ Joystiq

by Dhruin, Friday - November 17, 2006 21:18

Joystiq (via GameTrailers) has posted some unaired MTV footage of BioWare's Mass Effect.  Head here to check it out.

October

Mass Effect - Interview @ Gamer Squad

by Kalia, Saturday - October 14, 2006 23:09

Gamer Squad scored an interview with Mass Effect project director, Casey Hudson. The Q&A focuses character and battle topics as well as the intriguing dialog options:

Mass Effect is labeled as a "Revolutionary Action RPG", how exactly does BioWare define the word "Revolutionary" in terms of what the game will offer the RPG genre?

It goes back to the origins of the project, where we really started from first principles. We devised new technology, new gameplay ideas, new approaches to character interactions – all with the goal of achieving an unprecedented level of cinematic story immersion.

One example of these innovations is the new conversation system, which for the first time ever will allow players to have fully real-time conversations with in-game characters. Not only does everyone (including your character) have full voice, but the new interface is based more on types of emotional reactions, allowing you to react faster and more intuitively. That immediate and fluid interactivity, in combination with extremely advanced digital actors, means that conversations in Mass Effect take on the incredible feeling of simultaneously watching and being inside a dramatic scene from a movie.

It’s these kinds of completely new gameplay experiences that add up to something that we think feels more like revolution than evolution in terms of advancing the interactive storytelling medium.

 

Source: IGN

Mass Effect: Screens @ Worthplaying

by Dhruin, Monday - October 02, 2006 22:43
Worthplaying has five new screens from BioWare's Mass Effect.

July

Mass Effect Video @ Live!

by Kalia, Thursday - July 13, 2006 14:19
A free demo walkthrough video is available at XBox Live Marketplace. Developers take viewers through a demo and explain what is going on. You can get it here in high or low resolution formats.

Source: Eurogamer

Mass Effect: Preview @ GameWatchers

by Dhruin, Monday - July 03, 2006 09:23
GameWatchers has posted a Mass Effect <a href="http://www.gamewatchers.net/node/146" target="_blank">preview</a> dating back to E3:<blockquote><em>In the press briefing we were shown a sample of in-game combat. This, sadly, was slightly disappointing in my eyes. I will admit, I am dislike it when games that use guns use automatic tracking instead of traditional FPS controls and as of this moment, BioWare has only revealed auto-tracking combat. Played in a third person perspective, the game looked a mix between real time bullet flinging combat and turn based strategy. The game isna "!t actually turned based at all, but one of the combat features is the ability to essentially pause the game, and direct your teammates to specific locations or to undertake specific strategies to more readily defeat an enemy or complete a game objective. Using this system, you can guide a placeholder character around the map to scout out conditions and set up your strategy while the game is frozen. I know what youa "!re thinking, because I was worried that you could simple wander around the whole map with the game on pause and eliminate all upcoming surprises. I was assured that in the final version of the game this feature will be curtailed so that players cannot so easily abuse it. Other than the disappointing method of firing the combat looked decent, but was not spectacular. It seemed solid and fun with a few destructible objects and several guns to choose from.</em></blockquote>

June

Mass Effect Preview @ Worth Playing

by Kalia, Tuesday - June 13, 2006 13:39
Mass Effect has scored another positive preview over at Worth Playing. With a lot of screens to boot, it's a good read:
When all was said and done, we were left quite impressed with Mass Effect. The level of detail in the graphics, especially the facial expressions and lighting, screamed pure next-gen. The gameplay itself was also very impressive, and it seemed to strike a great balance between that of the KotoR series and a true third-person shooter. This was a very early demo, and the game is not due out until 2007, but given Bioware's excellent track record, Mass Effect will likely redefine the term "epic."

Source: Evil Avatar

Mass Effect Gameplay Movie @ Game Trailers

by Kalia, Wednesday - June 07, 2006 18:49
Apparently the new Mass Effect gameplay video residing at Game Trailers has more ad for Game Trailers than gameplay footage. Still, it is better than nothing. Head over for a gander.

Source: Evil Avatar

Mass Effect Preview @ Digital Entertainment News

by Kalia, Tuesday - June 06, 2006 16:20
<a href="http://web1.dignews.com/preview.php?story_id=15661">Digital Entertainment News</a> has the most recent preview for the upcoming XB360 title, Mass Effect, on site. The reviewer is very positive, even stating that, if ME makes the 2006 release date, it will give Oblivion a run for its money for Best Game of 2006. <blockquote><em>How does it look? Amazing. Where KOTOR looked like and Xbox game (and for some reason Jade Empire didna "!t) Mass Effect looks like a true second generation Xbox 360 title. Character detail isa well, detailed. The graphics of each character model are superb. Environments rich and lush. This truly is an immersive world a  and thata "!s just the visuals. We didna "!t get to hear a lot of the game, but what we heard was great. It seems that the nerds have completely taken over the shop at BioWare in that attention to detail is no small matter. Even with just a basic setup you could hear the Doppler affect of shots fired. Maybe that was my imagination. I hope not.<br><br>I do know this, Mass Effect looks to be one of the games to beat for game of the year, yes, Oblivion may have met its match. Wea "!ll find out later this year. </em></blockquote>

Source: Game Gossip

Mass Effect (Xbox 360): LiveWire E3 Commentary @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, Friday - June 02, 2006 08:54
I'm not actually sure exactly what "LiveWire" is but GameSpy has a pair of movies relating to Mass Effect from E3. The screencaps show what looks like an interview with one of the good BioWare doctors, so I'm expecting a video developer interview - head here.

Information about

Mass Effect

Developer: BioWare

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 40-60 hours
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
World
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2007-11-27
· Publisher: Microsoft Games

North America
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2008-05-28
· Publisher: EA

Europe
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2008-06-06
· Publisher: EA