Shortly after developer BioWare announced it would be taking on outer space in its new game, Mass Effect, the developer invaded another form of space--cyberspace. The official Web site for Mass Effect is up and running, and features the first trailer for the role-playing game.
The trailer introduces gamers to the 23rd-century universe, showing what appears to be the game's human protagonist and a host of otherwordly creatures. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of gameplay details, but what is shown hints that the game will take place in indoor and outdoor environments, and that firepower will play heavily in the game.
Information on the game is few and far between, but gamers will be able to assemble a party, interact with several non-player characters, and explore several uncharted areas, all trademarks of BioWare RPGs.
Those who dig through the forums may be able to scoop up some pearls of knowledge. Though the game has not received an official release date, BioWare producer and project director of Mass Effect, Casey Hudson, gives a ballpark figure of when gamers can expect to play the game. In a post, he says, "We are looking at about a year to a year and half before release, but we will be sure to keep you up to date." At the earliest, and most optimistic, this would peg Mass Effect as a holiday 2006 title, but more likely it will slide into 2007. BioWare probably isn't pushing for a high-season release, as KOTOR was released during the dog days of summer and still managed to put up big numbers.
PC gamers looking to get in on BioWare's version of the future won't be able to--at least not yet. One company rep answered the question by stating, "Mass Effect is an Xbox 360-exclusive title." But don't let that dampen your hopes, PC users. Fable and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic were also announced as Xbox-exclusive games, but were later released for the PC.
Though the game will feature some Xbox Live features, don't expect to save the universe with some buddies online. "Just to clarify, Mass Effect is a single-player title," says Chris Priestly, of BioWare Quality Assurance. "I can hint at things like ubiquitous voice support and achievements that can be acquired by players."
The entire BioWare team seems particularly excited about the game, with one man even joking that he has traveled into the future and has seen the fruits of their labor pay off. "We were pretty pleased to see [Mass Effect review] scores in the mid- to high-90s; we were thrilled when the game hit five million in sales in its first three months on store shelves! I mean, that was overwhelming. I knew the game was going to be great, but five million?"