Mass Effect Xbox 360
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Released on 23/11/2007
Mass Effect is a science fiction action-RPG from BioWare Corp., the commercially and critically acclaimed RPG developer of Jade Empire, Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, and the Baldur's Gate series. Mass Effect will deliver an immersive story driven gameplay experience with stunning visual fidelity. Published by Microsoft Game Studios, Mass Effect will be exclusively for the Xbox 360 video game system.
As the first human Specter – sworn defenders of galactic peace – your mission in Mass Effect 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.
Mass Effect Features:
- Immersive RPG: Determine the fate of mankind in Mass Effect as you lead an elite tactical strike force through an epic galaxy-wide conflict. Mass Effect takes player into new depths of action-roleplaying, with choice-based gameplay.
- Rich and engaging storyline: While defending galactic peace and earning a position of respect for humanity in the community, Mass Effect players discover that a greater conflict between organic life and artificial intelligence exists. Players' decisions and actions in Mass Effect serve to shape the destiny of all life in the galaxy as you become absorbed in the story that is Mass Effect,the first game in an epic trilogy from BioWare. In Mass Effect, players become the center of an engrossing story as they battle against alien life forms to save the galaxy from threatening armies.
- Control the ultimate fate of the galaxy: In Mass Effect, player's decisions and actions shape the destiny of all life in the galaxy, while raising humanity to the pinnacle of galactic civilization via noble means or via tyranny.
- Real-time squad based combat: Mass Effect employs a real-time, squad based, tactical combat system. Mass Effect players will be immersed in intense, challenging and exciting combat.
- Explore uncharted worlds: In addition to Mass Effect's main story arc, Mass Effect sees players visiting a large number of uncharted, unexplored planets not directly tied to the main story. At any time during Mass Effect, a player can choose to explore one of these planets in an all-terrain rover in order to discover new alien life, resources, ruined civilisations and powerful technologies.
- Digital actors: Mass Effect features a huge cast of in-engine digital actors that you will encounter as NPCs, enemies or as party members. Each has lifelike facial and body movements, and an advanced dialogue system gives them engaging personalities.
- Character customisation: Mass Effect players will be able to choose from a variety of stunning, photo-realistic character appearances at the start of the game, and throughout the game can increase various statistics which will have an impact on their performance during gameplay. Equipment, weapons and armor that are acquired during the course of Mass Effect will change the appearance of the characters.
- Next-generation gaming defined: Mass Effect takes advantage of Xbox 360's hardware providing gamers with exciting new experiences, including photo-realistic, high definition graphics on an epic scale. As the future of gaming goes online, features including premium downloadable content and recognition of achievement will be available via Xbox Live.
Mark chooses his words carefully...
Back in the early days of the good ol’ Xbox, a small game by the name of Knights of The Old Republic arrived and gave the system a killer RPG that single-handedly made the Star Wars license credible again.
Created by Neverwinter Nights developers Bioware, KoTOR gave us an enthralling interstellar tale with twists aplenty, unique moral conversation choices which dictated whether your character turned out Jedi (good) or Sith (evil), and bags of gameplay, with combat that melded fast-paced real-time action with the slow-paced, turned-based menu-driven attacks of traditional RPGs.
Bioware’s second Xbox RPG, Jade Empire, offered full fluid real-time combat, and together with KoTOR has paved the way for Mass Effect. The company’s most ambitious role-player yet, Mass Effect mixes Knights of the Old Republic, Ghost Recon, Gears of War and Fahrenheit for a uniquely immersive sci-fi experience.
Mass Effect’s conversation system has been the subject of much talk in the games industry since Mass Effect was first announced, with Bioware promising to revolutionise the entire concept of in-game dialogue choices.
KoTOR did this to a certain degree, of course; offering four or five responses at a time, each of which would effect how characters reacted – and turning you to either the dark or light side in the process. Mass Effect, however, blows this wide open, with improved character development, more sophisticated interaction with other characters, and a closer relationship between the two features.
In Mass effect, bad and good points – named Renegade and Paragon points respectively – can be accrued side by side; so no more black-and-white moral contrast. In Mass effect, your choices can often be a murky grey. Moreover, Mass Effect gives far more weight to your decisions, with different types of points affecting your character’s conversation skills, and giving you different conversation options – be they blunt, angry, passive or persuasive – as you progress through the game; meaning Mass Effect should have significant replayability.
Mass Effect Mixes Knights of the Old Republic, Ghost Recon, Gears of War and Fahrenheit for a uniquely immersive sci-fi experience.
Conversations themselves are promising to flow with a fluency not unlike Fahrenheit. Instead of waiting for a character to talk and being presented responses a la KoTOR, Mass Effect’s choices will appear as talks actually unfold – giving you the chance to interrupt, and giving you options of not only what your character will say, but the manner in which they say it – leaving you with an improbably large list of ways the game can develop over the course of 30+ hours.
How this will truly work, however, remains to be seen. With conversation set to have such a big impact on the way characters respond, Mass Effect’s plot will need plenty of depth and more than just a couple of endings. Having said that, the outline looks promising; pitting you as an intergalactic law enforcement officer sent to battle the forces of a former agent gone rogue. With a planet-hopping plot, plenty of sidequests and numerous ways to outfit your squad, Mass Effect might just be Bioware’s most captivating fiction yet.
The key word there is squad. Mass Effect takes Jade Empire’s real-time, RPG-infused combat a step on and gives you guns, letting you run, shoot and take cover with an almost GRAW-esque outlook. Having said that, like Bioware’s past works, you’ll be able to pause Mass Effect’s combat at any time and bring up two wheel menus with L1 and R1 to direct your team’s attacks, cast techniques, and even change weapons on-the-fly; an option previously confined to the equipment menu in other Bioware titles.
Immersive, innovative and incredibly ambitious, Mass Effect is also going to be one great looking videogame. Using the same Unreal Engine 3 which powered Gears of War, Mass Effect has that same gritty, eye-bulging detail and HD shinyness that the Xbox 360 does so very well, and will surely be amongst the best lookers on the system.
Indeed, Mass Effect should itself be the console’s premier adventure. Bioware have rarely let fans down, and with this are upping the ante once again. Probably the most aptly named title of the entire year, Mass effect, like KoTOR before it, could cause ripples in RPG-land for a very long time.
Preview by: Mark Scott
Preview Published: 02.11.07
Geth Recon: Advanced Crimefighter
Bioware has done it again with Mass Effect. The latest release in the company’s celebrated heritage and their first Xbox 360 exclusive title, this is the next-gen role-playing game Microsoft fans have been waiting for.
But to label Mass Effect as merely an RPG wouldn’t be doing it justice. It’s an evolution of everything Bioware has done before, refining some of the more flummoxing hardcore elements of its games gone by, adding more action-oriented combat, and laying it all on a bed of oh-so-shiny interstellar HD loveliness.
As an adventure, Mass Effect makes Jade Empire seem small. As a cinematic sci-fi fiction, it makes Knights of the Old Republic look like a Choose Your Own Adventure picture book. And yet as a game, it falls somewhere between the two.
Mass Effect has none of the latter's complex item management, but also delivers deeper character customisation than the rudimentary system of the former. The outer-space setting makes it feel like Star Wars without the lightsabers, and yet Mass Effect’s combat takes Jade Empire's idea of real-time combat and, instead of martial arts, gives you guns.
As a cinematic sci-fi fiction, Mass Effect makes Knights of The Old Republic look like a Choose Your Own Adventure picture book.
The story in Mass Effect is pure science fiction melodrama, seeing you create a character and set out on a truly immersive space opera to save all allied worlds from the threat of the invading evil cybernetic space faring Geth, led by a rogue member of the galaxy’s elite law enforcement agents, the Spectre Saren. Playing as John (or whatever you choose his first name to be) Shepard, you’re soon in charge of your own state-of-the-art spaceship and delving into Mass Effect’s engaging mix of action, dialogue and exploration.
Mass Effect’s action takes its cues from Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, with a tactical Bioware twist. On the surface its all-out squad combat, with orders (take cover, fall back, move to a waypoint or attack a specific target) for your two team mates on the D-Pad, aiming on L, firing on R, plus movement and aiming across the two analogue sticks.
Refined to the Nth Degree
Press the bumpers, however, and the game pauses to give you one of two wheels – letting you switch weapons or direct your team to use their magic-like biotic abilities. It’s a fine balance between action and turn-based RPG combat, and proves rewarding if you’re concentrating. Those wanting a more accessible experience, however, will want to knock the difficulty down to easy.
Though combat is a step forward, the dialogue and moral systems in Mass Effect are closer to KoTOR than Bioware would have had us believe, with dialogue choices split between friendly, businesslike and aggressive. What’s delightful is how your background (chosen at the game’s outset), responses and actions throughout Mass Effect shape the way characters interact with you, giving you increased conversation options as the game progresses.
That’s a Bioware staple, and in Mass Effect it’s been refined to the Nth degree. It’s also presented impeccably well. Full recorded speech is of the highest order, with a rousing, epic musical score and visuals up there with Gears of War. This is the new benchmark for RPG titles, make no mistake.
It may have more than a few flaws, but Mass Effect is still nothing less than the 360’s biggest and best adventure, bar none.
Rip-roaring and radiant Mass Effect might be, but it’s far from flawless. Firstly, having been thrown in at the deep end with no tutorials in the first five hours, you discover that the majority of planets in Mass Effect’s seemingly diverse galaxy are rocky terrain with one single building. And getting across these means controlling the Mako; a Halo Warthog-esque land vechicle with frustratingly floaty controls and a next-to-useless turret weapon. It makes for a deceptively more repetitive experience than we’d have hoped.
The most annoying gripe, however, is that throughout Mass Effect there’s no way to manage your inventory unless you sell things at shops. If you pick up items with a full 150-item inventory, instead of allowing you to drop old, unwanted ones or refuse to take the new items altogether, Mass Effect forces you to reduce your fresh gains to the game’s puzzle-helping aid, omni-gel.
Despite the visual flair, Mass Effect also runs inconsistently at best. Film grain and motion blur activated as default can see proceedings crawl when the going gets hectic, so it’s best to turn them off (it looks shinier, and arguably better without them anyway), but even then the frame rate will clunk out occasionally. That said, Mass Effect’s RPG nature and pausable combat make it less of a problem than that might sound.
Overall, it may have more than a few flaws, but Mass Effect is still nothing less than the 360’s biggest and best adventure, bar none. And as the first chapter in a trilogy, Bioware have two titles to improve the template. Pacing problems and the odd technical glitch aside Mass Effect is rich, absorbing sci-fi fun, and should be regarded as one of the finest titles we’ve seen in 2007.
- A refined half way point between KoTOR and Jade Empire and the best darn next-gen RPG going
- Action-packed combat and genuinely affecting moral choices make Mass Effect a truly polished hybrid
- Looks gorgeous, sounds even better
- Inventory management is awkward and frustrating
- Driving the Mako will make your blood boil, and exploring the galaxy in it isn't as rewarding as it sounds
- Stuttering framerate and the odd graphical glitch here and there
Review by: The 'Mark Effect' Scott
Review Published: 30.11.07
Video Games Awards reveal games, games, and more games
This weekend saw the Video Game Awards rock the US of A, and while there were prizes, speeches, and parties, there were also announcements of new games. Lots of them. Here are the biggies.
Mass Effect 3 is on the way from BioWare. The sci-fi sequel will see Commander Shepherd protecting the Earth from alien invasion, and will be hitting the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 somewhere around Christmas 2011. We love the first two games, so we're excited.
Sticking with RPGs, Bethesda's unveiled Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sequel to sword and sorcery classic Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's coming out in November, 2011, but we've got no firm word on which platforms it's going to land on just yet, or what kind of epic fantasy story it's going to tell.
Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro's working on a game for THQ called inSane. Aside from the fact that it's out in 2013, that's literally all we know about it from the reveal.
Prototype 2 is on the way from Radical and Activision. The sequel to the superhero open-worlder features an interesting twist: rather than pick up the story of wall-crawling mutant Alex Mercer once more, you're cast as the man who has to bring him down. No platforms have been revealed, but the game's on the way in 2012.
Finally, we knew it was in development, but now we also know Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception will be hitting PS3s in America on 1st November, 2011. Whether Europe gets it the same day we don't yet know, but it's nice to know roughly when to expect it.
But it wasn't only action and role-playing fans who have things to look forward to following this weekend's Video Games Awards in the US. Sports gamers are getting a few treats, too, with new instalments for the SSX and Forza series being announced.
SSX: Deadly Descents reinvents the classic snowboarding game for the current console generation, although no formats - or dates were revealed.
According to the publisher, EA, players will explore the story of a team who seek to be the first to descend the faces of the most treacherous mountain ranges on the planet. The team will travel the world to face the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them. From the peaks of the Himalayas, where the air is so thin that riders have to descend through the death zone at breakneck speeds to keep from blacking out, to the solid ice ranges of Antarctica, where a sunlit line is the only survival option when temperatures drop 50 degrees centigrade in the shade.
Sounds great. If you're a driving fanatic, though, you'll be excited to hear about Forza 4. The latest game in Microsoft's simulation racing series will be revving up on the Xbox 360 in the second half of next year, and although details are scarce, you can expect some kind of tie-in with Top Gear, apparently, and some Kinect integration to boot.
PlayStation 3 owners have been waiting a long time for their own version of Mass Effect 2, but developer BioWare is promising that the game will be worth it.
Chris Priestly, the studio's community coordinator, told the official PlayStation Blog that the Sony console's version of the acclaimed sci-fi RPG is "not a simple port".
He stated that the team at BioWare has worked with the PlayStation 3 hardware to ensure the game's graphics and dramatic cutscenes look better than ever, as well as tailoring the controls to suit the console's game pad.
In addition, the title will feature content not seen on previous versions, including all previously-released DLC missions on the disc, as well as an interactive comic that retells the original Mass Effect game's story.
"Mass Effect 2 is an amazing game. It has all of the benchmarks of a truly great science-fiction epic," said Mr Priestly.
Gaming critics have certainly supported this view since the title launched on Xbox 360 and PC last year, with the title having been awarded numerous perfect review scores and the Ultimate Game of the Year prize at the 2010 Golden Joystick Awards.
Mass Effect 3 isn even out yet, and publisher BioWare is already discussing the future of the space-RPG series. Mass Effect 4 would be the obvious next step, but the Canada-based publisher is thinking along different lines. A Mass Effect MMO, then? Director Casey Hudson suggests that such an idea "makes sense"
"We've been trying to think of a way that makes sense for people to experience Mass Effect with their friends,"said Hudson, speaking to US magazine Game Informer. "We haven't yet come up with a way to do that, so we don't have anything to announce at this time. But obviously multiplayer is something we want to do more of in the future."
Mass Effect 3 won't have a multiplayer component, so Hudson suggests that might emerge in the form of an MMO. "A lot of people say that they want to see an MMO that kind of makes sense for this universe," he teased.
"Part of what you're trying to do is save the universe so you can live in it. That's part of the promise for any great IP. It has to be a world worth saving. Mass Effect has that quality to it.
"If you get rid of the Reapers and win that," he added, "wouldn't it be amazing to just live on the Citadel or just take a ship to Omega? That makes sense."
That rather a lot of sense-making, which perhaps suggests this is more than just a possibility we wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was well past the concept stage. In the meantime, sci-fi fans have just a little over six months to wait for Mass Effect 3, which is due to land on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC sometime around November.
At Gamescom 2011 we were lucky enough to get time alone with Ray Muzyka, co-founder and CEO of BioWare. With an impressive array of big-hitters to his name and the upcoming Mass Effect 3 demoing at Gamescom, there was a lot to get our teeth into.
[GAME] It's great to get the chance to talk to you! BioWare seems to be one of those companies that really gets people passionate.
[Ray Muzyka] Yeah, yeah, we have great fans. And there are a lot of core fans who buy everything we make.
So, in the industry at the moment all the RPG developers are saying they're building a deeper, richer gaming experience. As you're considered one of the leaders in the RPG field, what does that mean to you? How do you build a deep, rich experience?
Well, looking at individual games like Mass Effect 3, we got great reception for Mass Effect 2 but we also got feedback that people wanted a deeper experience in some of the aspects of RPG progression and character development. So when you see the build, you'll see that we've taken that apart and we've tried to integrate it into an RPG-action experience. It's very visceral and intense, but you can also do a lot of things that the fans have been asking for, like weapon modifications on the fly. We have a weapons bench and you can put your weapon down and make modifications to really personalise it and make it your own. And it works really well, it gives a sort of in-the-field kind of perspective.
We've also got some innovations around the way the characters progress. New abilities, and just a more refined system that we've learnt from doing Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. You can see that there are more interesting, more engaging ways to push your character in Mass Effect 3. The best thing you can do is check it out, then you can see for yourself.
At the same time it's also got an integrated action experience, so it's an RPG and an action game at the same time. There are better movement controls for Shephard and he has the Omni Blade that kind of extends out of the Omni Tool, and he can jump over obstacles now and vault things, and he can grab enemies now and pull them over, and there are some specialisations.
Everyone's talking about Atlas, the giant machine that you can snipe the pilot and get in.
Yeah you can get in it! We're not trialling that here yet, but yeah, you'll be able to drive it.
What are you most proud of in Mass Effect 3?
Well, I think it's more intense in the actual moment-to-moment experience but we haven't lost any depth at the same time, and I think we really nailed the aspects of that. We're in the third iteration now and we're really comfortable with the tools. The team has been able to get to some things that they really wanted to do in the first one and the second one that we now know how to do. You know, we have some things we haven announced yet.
I was going to be cheeky and ask you what they were, but you wouldn't tell me, would you?!
No, no! But they're really good. They're really big things. They're to do with the campaign. They're in line with the experience that we're showing here today, so they're not separate parts.
In the presentations on Mass Effect 3 that I've been to they've been talking about the emotional side of the game.
I think that's been key to all of our games, emotional engagement. Mass Effect exemplifies that as well. The intensity of the experience, the personalisation of your actions and how you're going to play your equipment and your character in the deep RPG system.
And then the story is unusually powerful. It's not the Reapers invading some planet in the galaxy somewhere - now they're invading your home, invading Earth, and they're taking other worlds too. You're still saving the galaxy, but really you're saving your home AND the galaxy, so it a lot more personal. The story arc is very compelling and emotionally engaging.
It's the end of a trilogy, so it brings the whole story to a satisfying conclusion but at the same time it's the beginning of a new galactic adventure, a new galactic war. So it's kind of launching both things.
Of all your portfolio of games, which was the most challenging in terms of dev work?
They're big games. We have small games, too. We have social games, but then at the other end of the spectrum we have big MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has an amazing amount of rich content that people will be discovering for years and years to come. And then RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. None of them are easy to build, they're all challenging in different ways, I think.
So how about working with a big IP like Star Wars. Is it challenging? Do you have an awful lot of sign off on what you do?
Yeah, yeah, well it's a very tight partnership, very close cooperation and they've been great partners. We've worked with them now for like a decade since Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I, and now the Old Republic for many years, and they've been great collaborative partners.
We set the game in a period thousands of years before the movies, so it's a really rich period where we get to explore and make new content, and they've been very supportive of that. We've learned a lot about the Star Wars licenses. I mean obviously they're experts on that. They understand the fans, they understand the audiences, and we benefit from that.
So which of your games is most challenging in terms of fan expectation? For example, I notice that RPG fans seem to be much more intense about gaming and all the different aspects of it.
They do seem to be. I mean, they like an intense, accessible experience, but they also want the depth, the richness, the story and the choice. And it's one thing to give a choice, but you also need to show the impact of that choice in a meaningful way, which means creating new content for different paths and non-linear storytelling. It means investing more time in development to enable that choice in a personally engaging way that means something to the player, and so they can see how their character reacts to their events, and the world changes based on their actions. That's part of what makes an RPG satisfying. You see the consequence to your actions.
So based on that there must be a lot of emphasis put on the writing and the storytelling.
Yeah, that's certainly one aspect of it. Cinematic animation is another aspect for the games that have that. World building, you have to change the world if something happens in one area. The downstream effects of changing one line of writing can be massive.
You must sit at events like this being interviewed a lot! Is there anything that you're dying for an interviewer to ask you that you've never been asked?
There probably is but I can't remember right now, it's been a long day! I think someone asked me a question today that I've never been asked which was, 'What were you like growing up?', and I was like, wow, no one ever asked me that before! I used to play a lot of videogames andmy parents let me play whatever I wanted because I got good grades at school. And for me, it was a real motivator, you know. I see it as an art form. I have a passion about the evolution of games. I love the fact that now there so many manifestations of them. It's like movies, there's such a spectrum of different types of games, like there are different movies and books. And those are art forms as well.
I remember way back to the beginning of gaming when kids used to programme their own little pixelly games on a Commodore 64 and the like.
Yeah, and people can program those sorts of games on their mobile devices now, so it's almost come full circle!
And is there any question you get asked all the time that you wish people wouldn't ask anymore?
Well, one question I get asked a lot is, 'What's your favourite BioWare game?' That's a question I can't really answer, and I don't have an answer actually, because I like all of our games. Otherwise, why would we be making them if we didn't like them?! I like them all for different reasons, but I don't like one more than the other.
I'm pretty passionate about all the things we're doing. We have great teams and they're excited about making games and the opportunities, whether it's a smaller social game or an MMO, or an RPG or the strategy games that come out of L.A. And theres some exciting stuff coming out of all of our teams.
Over all the studios is there something that's a big focus at the moment? We see that motion control is a focus for some companies at the moment.
Kinect. We're doing a Kinect version of Mass Effect 3. It's not a seperate version, but it's going to be really cool. It's voice control. We're using voice commands to control your squad so you can tell squad members to do different things, different actions like help me or heal me. Or you can read the voice lines, the dialogue.
I wouldn't say that's an overarching focus though. For our label it's really about our vision, which is emotionally engaging games, and all the games we build are achieving that vision in different ways, but they're all achieving that vision. It's our core value for all our studios, it's how we operate, it's how we build our games, it's how we make decisions.
We want to make quality games for our fans, andbe a really great workplace for employees, a place they can be proud of, and use their passion and entrepreneurship. For us, all these things are important, and that's what makes us a sustainable business.
Like I said at the beginning, you are one of those companies that people do get really passionate about. Why do you think that is?
I think it's a trust thing. You can try very, very hard to make games and for us, the quality is very important. And we aren't perfect, we make mistakes and we always take feedback very humbly and say, yeah we can jig that to make our games better. We're only as good as our next game, and we have a promise and an obligation to our fans. And I hope that's how fans see BioWare. I hope they trust our brand to not let them down, and if we ever do we always make sure that we try and improve on it in the next game. It's a promise, I guess, and we want to maintain that quality.
Thanks for giving us the time to talk to you.
Interviewed by Amanda Hepburn
Saving the galaxy is a gruelling business, so why do it on your own? Thankfully it looks like that won't be the case for EA and BioWare's Mass Effect 3, as reports are beginning to trickle in that you'll be able to play the epic sci-fi RPG with your mates.
Word comes from Australian mag Powerplay, with our intrepid friends down under remaining infuriatingly tight-lipped as they tease their November issue.
"Fight alongside your friends as the galaxy goes to war!" screams the mag as they reveal they've been lucky enough to fly to developer BioWare's offices and play the new mode for themselves.
Will it be co-op or straight up competitive play? With the game coming to stores next March, we're sure to find out more sooner rather than later - and it looks like another string to the bow of what's guaranteed to be one of 2012's biggest games.
So, you've just got yourself an Xbox 360 - congratulations! You've now entered a world of fantastic HD graphics, powerful gameplay and everything Xbox LIVE has to offer, from online gaming and chat to streaming movies, music and more. There's only one question left - what games should I get?
Worry not - help is at hand! Thanks to our wonderful customers who entered our recent Facebook competition, we can now recommend the top Xbox 360 games you need to get going, and our competition winners will tell you why!
Presenting, the Xbox 360 Essentials List - as chosen by YOU!
The consensus was clear. If you want action and adventure on Xbox 360, there's only one man who delivers - Batman. Arkham Asylum broke the mould of what you could expect from a comic-book adaptation. Winner Oliver Brown says "Every time I played it, there were more and more secrets to find, even after finishing the game... The story was very well driven as well, creating an emotional bond with the man behind the mask and cape... and I feel it is essential, for some long term single-player action that you don't see much any more". This was followed by formidable sequel Arkham City, which you said was "pure badass Batman" and "one of the best super hero games of this generation but also one of the finest action/adventure titles available on Xbox 360"
You must really like Battlefield 3. You voted for it at the Baftas, and it was the overwhelming winner here too! You all loved the sound, visuals and destruction, but winner Harlen Hatter tells it best: "The Xbox 360 manages to bring an incredible Battlefield experience directly into your front room. The game is a massive scale shooter featuring 4 diverse classes, vehicular warfare, dog-fighting and endless destruction. Oh, and this is usually happening all at once... If you want to call in an airstrike, you have to tell your buddy up in the aircraft to fly down and give you fire support. Every player has a role which makes you feel like a valuable asset to the team... It pushes the Xbox 360 to its limits."
Your top choice for sports action on Xbox 360 also won by a landslide. FIFA 12 is, according to winner William Chan, "...far superior to any other football games out there. Each goal you score in this game feels like a life accomplishment - even more, if you play LAN with friends. The whole experience is just unbeatable. The game is packed with different game modes which can be frustrating, but fun and rewarding once you get into the stride. This games is one of those laid-back games you can play at a mates house, a local pub or anywhere the pitch takes you." The varying game modes, realism and the ability to defeat your mates were firm reasons from many entrants, praising it as "the closest you will get to the beautiful game" and "an almost complete football experience".
You praised its epic scale, it's characters, and the emotional bond you make with Commander Shepard across the series - the Mass Effect saga is the essential Xbox 360 sci-fi experience! In the words of winner Curtis Taylor "This game will last you a long time, it's so immersive and you can play it how you like, you can play it like an RPG or if you're more of a 'run and gun' kind of player then you can just play like that and ignore the RPG aspects, this is what made this game stand out for me. I normally get bored of a game after finishing the campaign once but with Mass Effect, I played it through at least 3 times as I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mass Effect is a must-have for any gamer."
In what was the closest fought category, some top music and sports games narrowly missed out to the fun that is Dance Central. Making full use of the Kinect's motion controls to get you to match the dance routines on screen, it is, according to winner Dario Orlando, "All the fun of a night on the tiles, without drunk people stepping on your feet! Plus, with different difficulties, even those with two left feet can own the dancefloor!". You all loved the game's versatility ("guys' night in or girls' wine party"), but most importantly, the fun factor "there's nothing like making an absolute fool of yourself, especially if you couldn't even dance to begin with". So shake a leg and get dancing!
In another landslide victory, Forza 4 was your choice for pole position. You championed the graphics, realism and choice of cars, while the competitive gameplay and Kinect controls were also reasons you recommended it. It was clear from your entries that this game is a car lover's dream, as summed-up by winner Oliver Dyson: "The 'Autovista' system allows true car enthusiasts to get within 4-inches of closeness to over twenty different dream vehicles... Jeremy Clarkson will not only take you through the ins and outs of each vehicle but also let you compete for times on the infamous Top Gear circuit... Forza 4 is simply essential to anyone with a love of adrenaline, and a passion for the cars you can obtain in it."
Many thanks to all of you who entered - there were some really good choices and reasons why. And if you are in the market for an Xbox 360, I hope the advice of your peers will help!
As usual, if you have any comments on these games - or alternative essentials - feel free to share them below!
Completists and people who love to make the best use of their shelf space will be pleased to learn that a Mass Effect Trilogy boxset is due for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in November.
As the name cleverly suggests, it'll contain all three games from Bioware's blockbusting sci-fi RPG saga. This is particularly noteworthy for PlayStation 3 owners, as only the last two games in the series have been released for that console. The first game, which debuted back in 2007, was published by Microsoft and was exclusive to Xbox 360. A PC version eventually followed, and PlayStation 3 owners got to join in from Mass Effect 2 onwards, once EA took over the publishing rights.
The exact contents of the trilogy set have yet to be announced, so it's unclear whether the set will also include all the bonus missions and material previously available as downloadable content.
What we do know is that FemShep, the female version of series hero Commander Shepard, won't be on the front cover. The first two games showcased only the default male version of the character on their cover art, and for the third instalment Bioware offered a reversible sleeve so players could choose. When fans reacted with disappointment that FemShep would be left out again, Bioware tweeted: "Well, we've got a little something special planned for FemShep coming, so keep that chin up. Not with the cover art. We're doing something separate."
Mass Effect Trilogy is due for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in November.
Role-playing fans are used to risking everything on the roll of the dice, but those gambles are usually reserved for the fictional fantasy tales unfolding on kitchen tables and in college dorm rooms. In 1995, doctors Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka and Augustine Yip rolled the dice in real life when they turned their back on lucrative medical careers and decided to devote their time to making computer games instead. They called their company Bioware, and you only have to look at the games bearing that name today to see if their gambit paid off.
This Christmas week sees Bioware release its first online multiplayer RPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, while next year brings the third (and final?) instalment in their epic sci-fi saga, Mass Effect 3.
So how did the Canadian code factory reach the top of the RPG tree? Surprisingly, the first game from the newly formed studio wasn't a role-playing game at all, but a 3D action title about combat mechs. Shattered Steel was the title, and by taking advantage of the power of new PC video graphics cards it offered destruction and 3D scope that was beyond the capability of older hardware. Titles like Quake and Half Life were yet to redefine PC gaming, so Shattered Steel's technology earned the fledgling developer a lot of attention.
That attention wasn't enough to stop Dr Yip from returning to life in a white coat, but Zeschuk and Muzyka weren't about to let go of their dream. They wanted to make games inspired by the lengthy Dungeons & Dragons sessions that had seen them through medical school. And they already had the game in mind - Battleground: Infinity.
Don't be surprised if you've never heard of it. By the time the game arrived on shelves it had been taken on by Interplay. The publisher held the video game rights to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons brand, and so almost overnight Bioware went from developing games inspired by the role-playing classic to making an official Dungeons & Dragons game.
Baldur's Gate was the result, and it was an immediate smash. The RPG genre was in rude health in 1998, with The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Diablo all well established, but Bioware's relative inexperience was balanced with a deep understanding of what made role-playing fun.
Dungeons & Dragons remained the company's bread and butter for many years after, with expansion packs for Baldur's Gate leading into the sequel, Shadows of Amn, following in 2000. Neverwinter Nights continued the studio's D&D heritage in 2002, reviving the classic AOL online role-player for a more savvy internet audience.
While these titles were critically acclaimed and embraced by RPG fans worldwide, they were still very much niche games. Few outside of role-playing fandom were aware of the Bioware name. That changed in 2003, when the company launched its first console game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. At a time when Star Wars fans were torn by misgivings over the prequel movies, and punchdrunk from a slew of half-baked spin-off games, it was Bioware's narrative nous that saved the Jedi. Epic in scale, and with the freedom to explore the galaxy far, far away, it fulfilled the dreams of many Star Wars fans and earned Bioware a promotion to the ranks of legendary game developers.
Buoyed by this success, the company turned its attention to something new, the first original Bioware title since Shattered Steel, in fact. Jade Empire was the game, and it took the RPG framework and applied it to a tale of rival martial arts masters in feudal China. Kung fu combat added a surprising wrinkle to the familiar cloth, but critics noted that the story was a virtual retread of Knights of the Old Republic, with open-palm strikes replacing lightsabers.
Only a few years later, and with a new console generation to play with, Bioware silenced any doubters with the 2007 smash hit Mass Effect. A slick, thrilling space saga with the pace of an action game and the depth of an RPG, it heralded a new era for the developer. Super-publisher EA swooped in to buy the company, and so began a period of blockbuster genre-hopping that is still in full swing.
Blood-soaked fantasy epic Dragon Age found the company recasting the swords and monster tropes of the D&D years in its own style. Mass Effect 2 reached new heights of cinematic sizzle, showcasing an elastic storyline that allowed any of the characters to pop their clogs during the climactic suicide mission. And Bioware even found time to dabble in less obvious areas, creating a Mass Effect spin-off game for mobile phones and developing Sonic Chronicles for the DS, the first RPG to star Sega's blue spiky mascot.
Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka are still at the head of the company they found over fifteen years ago, and their passion for role-playing is still tempered by a desire to innovate and stretch the boundaries of what can be done with the genre. With its ties to the developer's first breakout smash hit, and its desire to shake up the world of MMORPG gameplay, Star Wars: The Old Republic is perhaps the quintessential Bioware experience. Enormous in scale, complex in intent yet an absolute joy to play.
Let the dice roll.
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This Christmas week sees Bioware release its first online multiplayer RPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, while next year brings the third (and final?) instalment in their epic sci-fi saga, Mass Effect …Mass Effect User ReviewsTop review1 year agoGreatGreat Game Must Play if your importing Your Game into ME31 year agomass amazingwow what a game a must buy for everyone1 year agoOne of the great modern gaming franchises starts here!No other game feels so uniquely personal as a Mass Effect game. The characters have deep personalities, the story has twists and best of all your decisions make a difference, not only in Mass Effect, but also after you buy Mass Effect 2 and next year Mass Effect 3 (which you will because they are awesome). This is not a short game, but has great re-play value and online content that extends the experience. Buy it, love it!1 year agoI want to get it.Played at my frineds house its epic definetly going to get it.1 year agoTicks all the boxes!I'm not the type of person who plays one or two particular genres of games, so this is the perfect game for me! It has 3rd person shooting, melee combat, biotic and tech powers, human and alien weapons, drivable futuristic space land vehicle, the choice to be a goodie goodie or the bad boy/girl depending on your choice of words and actions throughout the game; this will also affect the outcome of the game! The only drawback is gathering resources part of the game that you need to upgrade weapons etc, it can be time consuming and is easy to get bored of. Above all else is the gripping story which is amazingly well thought out and presented. However you end the game, leaves you with great anticipation of what progession, improvements and storylines are to follow in the sequel...Configuring your price alert
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