Bioware are back with another piece of art. The creator of the beautiful Jade Empire, the stunning Knights Of The Old Republic and the superb Baldur’s Gate is back with yet another epic game. This time you travel throughout the galaxy as Commander Shepard, a member of a new task force called the Spectres. He is, as in many games, the only person who can save the entire galaxy from a mysterious force. Although this story line is probably tired and worn out, Bioware have given it a massive kick up the backside and woken it up from its lunchtime nap. As Casey Hudson, Project Director for Mass Effect, said, “This is your adventure.” To me that sounds pretty cool!
The basic story line is that machines had landed and tried to wipe out all of humanity a few thousand years ago. I guess they failed as they’ve come back for more. Although the game is extremely unique there is one deciding factor that makes Mass Effect extremely unique, this being the conversation system with the characters in the world. It’s rather similar to that of KOTOR and Jade Empire, but instead of a couple of phrases, it gives you a wheel of things to say which you then use your analogue stick to select what you want to say. Another difference is that the wheel stays on throughout a conversation so you can talk to the other character in real time, allowing you to interrupt him or her while they are speaking. Also instead of focusing on the person you are talking to all through the conversation, as in previous Bioware games, a moving camera switches to whoever is talking at that time.
New innovative methods aside, Bioware has kept some things from previous games though. Mass Effect has a galaxy map similar to KOTOR but much larger. Instead of a few planets, Mass Effect gives you a few solar systems to play around in. Each solar system is said to contain things like asteroids, planets and abandoned space ships. The galaxy map is extremely easy to navigate and allows you to move from planet to planet with ease. Once you find a planet you want to land on, you can just hop in your land vehicle and explore, though it is yet unknown if there will be boundaries on how much of the planet you can explore.
Now to the important bit, combat! On some planets you will find some people unhappy with your presence, which means you need to tell them whose boss. Combat is basically third person shooting, but with the aid of two NPCs. Luckily the combat is real time instead of turn based as in previous games by Bioware. You will be able to switch to one of the two companions during combat to give yourself a better shot at an enemy.
The command system during combat is extremely intuitive, enabling you to pause the combat to issue commands. During combat, the environment can be used as a weapon to kill your enemy with, which sounds like a lot of fun! Then there is, as with any RPG to date, customization. You will be able to upgrade your rifle with all sorts of groovy add-ons such as an incinerator that can set an enemy alight. [Scorching – Ed]
Overall Mass Effect seems to be the blockbuster of all games, with vast galaxies to explore, a fantastic conversation system and lots and lots of customization. Keep an eye out for more in the coming future