Mass Effect PC-bound in May

BioWare's popular sci-fi RPG is headed to Windows with optimized controls, graphics, and a new user interface; EA officially taking over as publisher.

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Ever since 2003, celebrated Canadian studio BioWare has released award-winning role-playing games "exclusively" on Xbox platforms--only to have them arrive on the PC a few months later. Today, Mass Effect followed in the footsteps of Jade Empire and the two Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic titles in making the leap from console to Windows-based platforms.

According to BioWare's new owner, Electronic Arts, Mass Effect will arrive on the PC this May. The PC version of the Interactive Achievement Award-winning game will feature revamped versions of the original game's oft-criticized inventory system and decryption minigames. It will also allow for hot key assignment for a more action-oriented "Run & Gun" style of play, and it will have graphics rejiggered for higher resolution PC displays.

Acclaimed by critics, Mass Effect is set in the 22nd century, when, after discovering alien artifacts that allow for faster-than-light travel, humanity bursts onto the galactic scene. Players assume the role of Commander Shepard, a human tasked by the multispecies governing body known as the Citadel Council to track down a rogue agent named Saren. While in pursuit of his quarry, Shepard encounters various races, conspiracies, alien monsters, and interstellar mercenaries before uncovering a conspiracy that could doom all life in the Milky Way galaxy.

However, unlike its 360 cousin, which was published by Microsoft Game Studios, the PC edition will be published by EA directly. This comes in the wake of a deal with Microsoft Game Studios, which published the first Mass Effect for the Xbox 360.

"Microsoft Game Studios will retain the publishing rights for Mass Effect on Xbox 360 and future downloadable content for this installment," Microsoft said in a statement. "Microsoft Game Studios and Electronic Arts have entered into an agreement where Electronic Arts will publish all future Mass Effect titles and projects."

With console-agnostic EA as the publisher, there is now the possibility that a Mass Effect sequel could someday appear on the PlayStation 3. However, BioWare cofounder Greg Zeschuk has said that his studio would like to finish the "Mass Effect trilogy" on the Xbox 360.

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