"A Spectacular New Vision of the Future"
Exclusively for the Xbox 360, Mass Effect is BioWare's latest RPG and their greatest venture yet.
An epic space opera of an unprecedented scale, Mass Effect will take you across the galaxy to the greatest bastions of civilization to wild uncharted worlds fraught with danger.
Wherever you go, whatever decisions you make, you might just change the face of the civilized galaxy.
The year is 2183.
Thirty-five years have passed since mankind discovered the technology of the Protheans on Mars and humanity's first mass relay and took to the stars.
Wars have been fought, rivalries have formed, colonies have been raided, people have died, but stoically pressing on, humanity has grown and thrived and has begun to earn its place among the great alien civilizations far older than humanity could dream of.
You are Commander Shepard...
You are a promising officer in the Alliance military and because of your record and recent events, you have caught the attention of Nihlus, one of the Council's elite Spectre (SPECial Tactics and REcon) agents. You have been selected to become the first human Spectre.
But Saren, one of the Council's most effective and brutal Spectres has gone rogue. He has reappeared seemingly allied with an army of Geth, a three hundred year old machine race that has, until now, remained isolated from the rest of the galaxy. Saren is brutal, he is efficient, and he is no stranger to murder or torture. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, whatever they are, and there is little he hates more than he does humanity.
As a fledgling Spectre, it's your task to stop him by any means necessary.
You are outside the law. You answer to no one but the Council and are free to use any means at your disposal to achieve your goals. Kill, maim, and murder if it gets you what you need or be forgiving and kind. The choice is yours to make, but there are consequences to both sides of the coin. Some you may not even see coming.
"You must act without remorse, without hesitation, and outside the limits of the law."
... and you can look however you like.
Using an Oblivion-like character creator that stresses ease of use in addition to comprehensiveness of options, you'll be able to create your
Commander Shepard in minutes.
Confirm military specialization.
In Mass Effect, there are six different character classes, each with their own specializations and abilities.
Details on all the classes and the tech abilities are available in the spoiler:
Soldiers are combat specialists ideal for the front lines of a firefight. Soldiers begin the game trained with skills in both pistols and assault rifles, they have improved health and the ability to wear medium combat armor. As you progress through the game you can unlock assault training, skills with shotguns and sniper rifles, become able to perform first aid on yourself and party members, and wear heavy combat armor.
* Assault Rifles
* Combat Armor (medium to start,
upgrading to heavy)
* Sniper Rifles
* First Aid
* Assault Training
Engineers are tech specialists. Using the holographic OmniTool they can decrypt security systems, repair and/or modify technical equipment, disrupt enemy weapons or shields and heal their party. Even though they begin the game with only pistols and the OmniTool, engineers can unlock the ability to wear light armor and to reverse engineer enemy technology. They can also learn to put up protective shields and to heal the party.
* First Aid
* Basic Armor (light only)
* AI Hacking
Adepts are biotic specialists. Starting out equipped with pistols and light armor, the true strength of the adept is through the upgradeable implants that give them their biotic powers. These powers can be used to lift or throw objects, shield the party and disable or destroy enemies.
* Basic Armor (light only)
Infiltrators combine combat and tech abilities, and specialize in killing or disabling enemies at long range. Infiltrators are trained to use OmniTools, but the focus is on decryption and offensive abilities rather than healing. They can train with pistols or sniper rifles, and can learn to wear medium armor.
* Tactical Armor (light to start, upgrading to medium)
* Sniper Rifles
* First Aid
Vanguards are biotic warriors. They combine offensive biotic abilities and weapons training to quickly take down opponents, and are especially deadly at short range. They can train with pistols and shotguns, and can learn to wear medium armor.
* Tactical Armor (light to start, upgrading to medium)
Sentinels combine biotic and tech abilities. Typically they use biotic abilities and advanced healing skills to defend allies, though they can also disrupt opponents with biotic or Tech attacks. They are more efficient at tech and biotics than other classes, but at the expense of combat. Sentinels can only use light armor, and receive no advanced weapon training.
* First Aid
The Tech talents actually got a bit of a shuffling during our final round of work on the talent system. Each one grants you one active combat power, and gives you a passive bonus. We've currently got the following:
Decryption - Lets you unlock containers and doors, and gain access to locked computer terminals. Grants the Sabotage proximity mine, which overheats the weapons of any enemy caught in the blast. Also boosts the damage of all three mine powers.
Electronics - Lets you repair, bypass, or modify objects. Grants the Overload proximity mine, which does extreme shield damage to any enemy caught in the blast. Also increases the shielding provided by your armor.
AI Hacking - Grants the AI Hacking ability, which drives a single robotic target berserk (they'll attack each other, but can also turn on you if you get too close). Reduces the cooldown time on all three mine powers, so you can use them more often.
Damping - Grants the Damping proximity mine, which temporarily disables the Tech and Biotic powers of any enemy caught in the blast. Also increases the explosion radius of the three mine powers.
First Aid - Increases the amount of health restored when you heal your squad. If multiple squad members have First Aid then they all contribute to the amount restored.
Medicine - Reduces the cooldown time on First Aid, so you can heal your squad more often. Once again, all squad members with Medicine contribute towards this reduction. Also grants the Neural Shock ability which knocks out and does toxic damage to a single organic target.
Where have you been?
During character creation, not only will you be choosing how you look and picking your class, you will also be selecting Shepard's background. There are two selections to be made from six different options:
Everyone came from somewhere. How Shepard grew up and decided to go into the military are chosen here.
Not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone's experiences in the military will be the same. How life has shaped your mind and reputation are chosen under your psych profile.
But these aren't arbitrary choices. Depending on what you choose, NPCs will react differently to you. Some may consider an Earthborn and their family to be cowards as they didn't take off into space the rest of humanity. Others may respect it.
Because of the different ways your Shepard will be reacted to, your choices will also cut off some quest lines, but they will also open up others.
Your choices here will never restrict you in your choices later in the game, but these two options will make up your reputation based on actions and accomplishments that occurred before the events of the game.
Too many people died here, Fist. You don't get to walk away.
Tired of simply selecting clear-cut and simple dialogue options from a list?
Well, you're in luck! With Mass Effect, BioWare is introducing a new dialogue system that features characters that actually interact with one another.
The options are short and very to the point. They aren't supposed to get across the whole message, but rather a thought or feeling. A very base reaction to what's happening or what was just said. Once an option is selected, your character acts on their own and a selection of a very simple option can lead to interesting and diverse interactions between characters.
I'm going to be evil!
Sorry, but you can't really. You'll always be working towards a greater good. The "bad" options aren't unrepentant evil so much as ruthless. You can be... good bad, though.
The alignment system here isn't quite the same as we've seen in KOTOR and Jade Empire.
As you can see, there are two meters there around Shepard's head. One labeled Paragon and another Renegade.
As you do kind or compassionate acts, you fill up your Paragon meter. Act ruthlessly and uncompromisingly, you fill up your Renegade meter. This is different than KOTOR and JE as you can never empty either meter. You're building a reputation for yourself, not your character's alignment.
People won't automatically forget your bad deeds because you helped someone out enough to go back to the light side, as it were. You can never get rid of your past.
So I hear the game is big.
You heard right! The game has over 300 locations to explore, ranging from so large you'll need your tank, the Mako, the get around to very small and little larger than a room.
On the Normandy, you'll be able to use the galaxy map.
You may notice several points on the map. Those are sectors you can go to. The interesting thing? That's not the extent of the galaxy map. You'll be able to zoom in to each one, look at individual star systems, and even take a close look at individual planets. Knights of the Old Republic this is not.
And the cursor that you use to move around the galaxy map is free floating. Not only will you be able to select known locations, but using the free floating cursor, you'll be able to "scan" for uncharted worlds.
As for gameplay length, BioWare is talking about 20-30 hours for the main storyline and around 70-80 hours of total gameplay when you include all the optional content.
I read it's like Diablo 2 with guns in the other thread.
Yes, you did, but that's not quite right.
It plays much like a tactical third-person shooter, though your stats will affect your performance in combat.
Combat itself takes place in a very Resident Evil 4-esque camera view where you're looking over Shepard's shoulder, but you have the ability to free aim. There is also supposed to be the option for more helpful auto-aiming to help out those that aren't shooter fans. You will also find that there is a very familiar cover system like you may have seen in Gears of War.
During combat, you'll also have full control over your two squadmates. At any time, you can order them to move to any location with a quick press of the D-pad or you'll be able to use the radial interface, which pauses the game and gives you complete and total control of all of your squadmates' targets and the abilities they use.
With these options, you'll have the ability to let the AI handle everything, or you'll have the option to completely micromanage your entire squad in combat. You will not, however, be able to switch over to control any member of your squad. You are always Shepard.
Most videos that show the combat look slow and awkward, but that's because they've been trying to take it slow in the videos to show how everything works. When played more quickly, it's very smooth and nice.
Soldier Combat Scenario
Adept Combat Scenario
Vanguard Combat Scenario
Normandy with no paratroopers? What about beaches?
This is the Normandy, your ship. It's the most advanced starship in the galaxy and, though built by humanity, was partially funded by the Citadel Council. It's a stealth ship about the size of a 747 and has been likened to a submarine by BioWare.
You will never directly pilot the Normandy, but it is how you will travel between locations in space and it will also effect your insertions into locations in various ways.
Introducing the Mako.
Say hello to the Mako, your heavily armed and armored all-terrain APC.
The Mako will be your primary form of transportation in large open areas, too large to traverse quickly on foot and too dangerous to cross unprotected. It will also be one method of insertion into hostile areas for you. Once the Mako is loaded with personnel, the SSV Normandy can fly at relatively low altitude and drop the Mako out the back, exposing the Normandy to low levels of risk and quickly inserting the marine strike team into hostile territory.
It sports two weapons: a large turret mounted cannon and some form of machinegun also mounted on the turret. Using these weapons, you'll be able to shoot things.
In addition to its weaponry, the Mako is equipped with top and bottom mounted thrusters, which can be used to slow its descent during free fall, right itself if flipped, and even be used to hop while on the ground to avoid enemy fire.
But this isn't another turret mini-game like in KotOR or a schmup mini-game like in Jade Empire. No, this time, you'll have full control over your driving and shooting and you'll be able to traverse a variety of terrain.
What does "Mass Effect" actually mean?
All of the most advanced technology in the Mass Effect universe is based off one thing and only one thing: the manipulation of dark energy.
When you manipulate dark energy in the proper way, you create a mass effect field.
Inside a mass effect field, the laws of physics and the way they interact with mass can be bent, changed, and outright broken. This allows for a colossal starship to be made exempt from normal physical laws and while subject to new ones, can, quite easily, be propelled faster than light.
This is what we learned from the Protheans, and being the basis of most technology in the universe, is where the game gets its name.
How do biotics fit in?
A biotic is a person born with the innate ability to feel the presence of dark energy. With proper training, it can even be done consciously.
If someone with this ability is found, through extensive surgery, they can be fitted with implants that interface into their nervous system and, using their innate senses, allow them to manipulate dark energy and shape mass effect fields for a variety of effects that are deadly or, alternatively, beneficial to the recipient.
Wait, there's a book?
Yes, yes there is! It's a prequel novel filled with backstory and details on the rich Mass Effect universe. I'd recommend reading it if you have any interest in Mass Effect. It's not the best book ever written, but it's entertaining and it has guns and aliens and they fight and shoot at eachother and stuff.
When's this thing come out?
The official release date is November 20th for North America, November 22nd in Australia, and November 23rd for Europe.
The limited edition is, unfortunately, online only.