X06: Mass Effect Impressions

We sit in on an all-new demonstration of BioWare's upcoming RPG.

by

BARCELONA, Spain--Earlier today during a meeting with BioWare at Microsoft's X06 event in Barcelona, we had an opportunity to check out the latest work-in-progress version of Mass Effect. Currently scheduled for release sometime next year, Mass Effect is an ambitious sci-fi role-playing game in which you'll assume the role of commander Shepard--the only human elite agent in a peacekeeping organization known as Specter. We weren't allowed to get our hands on the controller on this occasion, but we did get to see plenty of new features as a BioWare representative played the game.

After a brief recap of what was shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this year, the demo began by showing a map of the galaxy. From this good-looking and fully interactive map, you'll be able to zoom in on specific solar systems and then, if you wish, on specific planets, before deciding where you'd like to go. BioWare hasn't yet revealed how many planets will be in Mass Effect, but our best guess after today's demo is "lots." Although some of the planets in the game will have to be visited to advance the storyline, many of them exist only to give you the freedom to go and explore them. The planet that we had an opportunity to check out during today's demo is called Caleston--a barren planet on which a mining colony has been overrun by intelligent machines.

Upon landing on the reddish planet, Shepard and his two colleagues (the same female soldier and alien tech guy that we saw at E3) got into a conversation about the fate of the miners and about whether or not they should let the situation interfere with their main mission. When the alien stated that he believed the main mission was more important, we had an opportunity to see Mass Effect's real-time conversation system in effect. The BioWare rep playing the game interrupted the alien to remind it that it'll do what it's told and that rescuing miners was now their priority. The voice acting was good, and the midconversation interruption was completely seamless--if we hadn't known that it had been triggered in real time, we almost certainly would have assumed that the sudden change in the conversation (and of the camera angle) was scripted as part of a cutscene.

When the conversation was over, the trio climbed into their customizable combat all-terrain vehicle--a six-wheeler that comes equipped with not only plenty of weapons, but also jump jets that can be used to hop up in the air or to right the vehicle after it takes a tumble. The vehicle looked like it was a lot of fun to drive, and we couldn't help but smile when we watched it jump into the air from a stationary position so that it could get a shot at an enemy who was otherwise not in the driver's line of sight. The vehicle portion of the demo came to an abrupt end when the crew stumbled on an impassable roadblock, at which point they all climbed out of their ride and proceeded on foot.

In combat, you'll be able to switch between all of the characters under your control on the fly, and we're told that the artificial intelligence of those accompanying you won't disappoint. However, you'll have the option to give them simple commands using the directional pad and even to issue more complex orders by pausing the game and using a Full Spectrum Warrior-style interface. The whole screen gets a yellow tint when you pause the game in this fashion--it's overlaid with a tactical-looking grid--and your colleagues are represented by 2D icons that almost look like chess pieces. Using this interface, you can tell the other characters where you'd like them to go (behind cover, for example) and which of their abilities or special powers you'd like them to use. It's an interesting control mechanic and one that promises to afford you a far greater degree of control over your allies than most.

The abilities and special powers that your characters have at their disposal will be determined by the skill sets you assigned them at the start of the game and how you've been spending your experience points since then. Some of the more memorable powers that we got to see in action on this occasion included a telekinetic "lift" that could be used to pick up objects and enemies, and a tech ability that let our alien friend drop the shields on a large, four-legged mechanical boss. We also got to see a couple of the game's numerous weapon modifications put to good use--namely an incinerator upgrade that set fire to enemies and a vaporizer add-on that made them disappear completely.

Our time with Mass Effect was much shorter than we'd have liked on this occasion, but before we left for our next meeting, we did have an opportunity to check out some pictures of other planets in the game. Nothing too surprising was shown, but we can at least confirm that you'll be visiting planets with icy, jungle, desert, and industrial themes on your in-game travels. We look forward to bringing you more information on Mass Effect as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned.

Discussion

162 comments
horgen
horgen moderator

Release date in Europe?

pheonix8465
pheonix8465

looks cool, but i heard it would have mp i hope they explain that next

rawgik
rawgik

May 22nd.. can't wait!

Scottman2005
Scottman2005

A scifi version of Oblivion?....I hope so!

boricuasnake04
boricuasnake04

FINALLY SOME INOVATION IN GAMING THATS WHATS NEEDED NOW WITH THESE NEW CONSOLES ESPECIALLY IN RPG'S THIS GAME IS PROMISING IT HAS A COUPLE OF FACTOR TTHAT IF YOU KNOW ABOUT RPG'S ARENT REALLY NEW BUT HAVE NEVER BEEN SO REALISTIC THAT YOU GET A RESPONSE FROM THE CHARACTERS THIS GAME IS ON MY HAVE TO BUY NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY LIST

jordan89
jordan89

amazing. i can not imagine a game being bigger (and better looking) than oblivion but i think this one is going do it

Trashface
Trashface

I'm an old school rpg'er and this game looks incredible so far.

tyfysh
tyfysh

I can't wait to get my hands on it...

m0thr4
m0thr4

Doesn't this description sound suspiciously like the movie you can now download from Xbox Marketplace? I mean, not just similar, but identical? Either Gamespot are lying about being shown this by a BioWare rep, or they were duped by someone who was merely pretending to control the game. If it's the latter, presumably that's why they weren't allowed to take the controls themselves.

ChrisZewski
ChrisZewski

Hopefully its only delayed to Q4 2007 :)

slavo1
slavo1

I'm a huge fan of Bioware and I loved kotor 1 and 2. I definitley look forward to this game and I want it!

R3VOLV360
R3VOLV360

Must.... have.... Mass Effect..... on.... teh PC!!!

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

The guys at 1UP are wetting thier pants whenever a new info pops up.

GANGSTA287
GANGSTA287

This game will put every RPG and Adventure game ever concieved to shame. I HATE RPG GAMES!!!! but this game looks and sounds abosolutely amazing in every aspect!!!! Bioware, you can take all the time u want with this one, ill be there with $60 dollars cash when it ships!

Stevo42989
Stevo42989

I'm extreamly excited about this one! I've always liked KOTOR and i'm sure i'll like this game.

santo4600
santo4600

This definitally looks like a great game. I love the whole nice clean shiny futuristic look of it. And that real time conversation response sounds cool. Ive been waiting for a good futuristic RPG for the 360.

esbshalo
esbshalo

This might just be the best RPG game for the Xbox 360 after Oblivion or even Final Fantasy for the Playstation

Hawaii6U
Hawaii6U

I'll be looking forward to those Jungle planets. :)

legs1986
legs1986

"Bioware in my book is by far one of the best developers around right now. I hope EA keeps their grubby claws out of this company." Looking at everything recent from them being developed for the PC or Microsoft's Xbox; I really think if this discussion ever came up, which I doubt, then Microsoft would be more than happy to kick EA's ass in a bidding war ;)

Jitawa
Jitawa

Bioware has been trying to make its own IPs, since it's more profitable (assuming the games sell well of course), and carries fewer restrictions (George Lucas doesn't have veto power). So far, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age are the starter titles in various genres for their new push. Freedom from licenses and owning the IP you work with are useful things - no doubt. Their old Forgotten Realms and Star Wars work was basically passed off to Obsidian.

awarriorofgamin
awarriorofgamin

a good kotor 3 not that crappy sequel and knowing bioware this is gonna be a sick game w/ mucho plot twists

darknight570
darknight570

I wonder why they keep putting of KOTOR 3. I guess that they want to make some new franchises. I don't mind them makeing new games just as long as they get around to making another KOTOR.

Shawnzee_102
Shawnzee_102

Kotor 3 isnt coming out, and if it is, its not going to be made by them.

Duel_core
Duel_core

All I want to know when is KOTOR 3 coming out?

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

josh)b, UBI, Bioware and R* r my fav developers, same taste!

josh_b
josh_b

Bioware has yet to make a bad game. Everything this dev team has ever touched has been golden.... they are the main reason i still play games today or i should say... Ubisoft and Bioware are the only reason i still play games lol. Ubisoft has tons of great games also.

3ushido
3ushido

This game sounds pretty interesting. Can't wait to get my hands on my Xbox 360.

xbx4L
xbx4L

Dope Star Wars: KOTOR 1 and 2 were 2 of the best games ever in my book

Valek1394
Valek1394

Bioware in my book is by far one of the best developers around right now. I hope EA keeps their grubby claws out of this company.

slim_jim7007
slim_jim7007

Sounds cool will pick this 1 up ASAP when its released.

slurpyman
slurpyman

if its a bioware game, its gonna be good (if you like the roleplaying games) i havent had much to complain about for any of the games i've played (KOTOR I and Jade Empire) the only excuse i had was with Jade Empire for being too short. if im gonna have a role playing game, i'd like it to have me busy for hours. but thats just me ^_^

stoutlad
stoutlad

I have NEVER had a bad experience with a Bioware game, in fact just the opposite. Some of the best games I've ever played have been by Bioware (Baldurs Gate I and II, NWN, KOTOR etc.). This is one of those games I can go out and buy day one without any doubt or fear.

farnes
farnes

it looks fantastic, seems bioware created a great title here

GR1MNIR
GR1MNIR

This game looks fantastic....cannot wait for it to come out.

nathan24jack
nathan24jack

Hay man, when this game comes out, I'll be first in line! I think with Bio Ware's past experience with Knights of the Old Republic, I don't think there is any way that this game will disapoint. I can already see that they are implamenting many of the same tools they used in Kotor, such as the pause feature during combat.

Andrew0824
Andrew0824

"Wait a minute. If Sheppard is the only human in Spectre, does this mean his colleague, the female soldier, not human?" It say's he's the only elite human agent in the organization, not the only human.

waafi
waafi

waaaw looking awesome >> i cant wait

Roslan
Roslan

Wait a minute. If Sheppard is the only human in Spectre, does this mean his colleague, the female soldier, not human?

Soultaker_22
Soultaker_22

Sweet! This game looks like KOTOR taken to the next level. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Well done Bioware, keep the awesome RPGs coming.

mark_ms
mark_ms

awesome , can't wait to play this game