Mass Effect PC Games and Downloads
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Released on 06/06/2008
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:
- Optimised controls designed specifically for the PC.
- High resolution visuals – Mass Effect for the PC features highly detailed textures, characters and environments.
- Fully customisable 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.…
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…
Interview with Ray Muzyka at Gamescom… (31/08/2011)
At Gamescom 2011 we were lucky enough to get time alone with Ray Muzyka, co-founder and CEO of BioWare.…
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…
Mass Effect Trilogy boxset brings ori… (27/09/2012)
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.…
Rolling The Dice: The History of Bioware (22/12/2011)
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 …
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