Posted on 25 June 2009 by Rock'nRolf
Although it was originally released for the Xbox360, the PC version of BioWare’s epic space opera RPG Mass Effect is even better.
Basically it’s the same game as the 360 version, but the game might run better if you have a powerful graphics card (and it will certainly load faster), plus a few bugs have been corrected for the PC release of the game, which further cements my opinion that a game should come to PC first and then consoles.
You are Commander Shepherd, who is just about to be enrolled in the galaxy’s semi-secret elite soldier division known as Spectre. Your first mission is to stop an infamous former member of this organization who is currently threatening to wreak havoc in the galaxy by unleashing a cadre of ugly-looking sentient machines upon it. At your service is the SSV Normandy – a spaceship that will take you across the galaxy to unravel the conspiracy that threatens to destroy it.
Character Creation – Customizing Shepherd
There are plenty of options to customize Commander Shepherd. First off, “he” doesn’t have to be male as all the trailers seem to imply. The classes are the classic RPG fanfare with one tank (soldier), a “magic user” (in this case the adept), and the in-between engineer which by standard RPG measures would be a rouge. Then there are additional ways to customize the three basic classes via sub-classes. You also have to choose a background for Shepherd, which have no effect on the plot but on certain dialogue options.
Great In-Game Dialogues
Speaking of the dialogues – this is easily one of the game’s most outstanding features. You choose what to say in any particular conversation from a wheel of different options. Whichever you go with will be play out completely seamlessly, although Shepherd will not read exactly what the alternative says but rather something along the line. This way you never know exactly how it will play out. Depending on your class and skills, you may get fewer or additional options and be able to charm or threaten the one you talk to.
Mass Effect Combat System and interface
If you’ve read my earlier reviews you know that I’m a fan of turn-based combat in role-playing games. This isn’t exactly moving with the times, as most new RPGs nowadays tend towards the real-time action variety. You do have the option to pause Mass Effect, but it’s not intended to be used as a turn-based mode. To be honest, you rarely need to pause the game on the easy or normal difficulty levels. The fights flow smoothly in the PC version of the game – more so than on the 360.
Thankfully, BioWare also saw fit to redesign the inventory system for the PC release, as it was something that a lot of players had a hard time with. Armed with a keyboard and mouse it’s now easy to navigate weapons and armor with a few clicks.
I remember how my jaw dropped when I saw the first teaser for Mass Effect, and the game really delivers as promised. But keep in mind that you need a fairly powerful PC for the game to run smoothly. I dared to try it out on my aluminum MacBook (GeForce 9400M), and that wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Running the game on the minimum system requirements is not recommended even on a desktop PC.
Side-Quests and Replay Value
If you run through the game without bothering with the side quests you should be done in about 20 hours, but where’s the fun in that? There are lots of missions to take on aside from the main plot that can be quite rewarding, although they tend to get somewhat repetitive. If you have leveled up in certain conversation skills you’ll also be able to talk your way into additional side quests and reap the rewards. All in all, the game should last a standard RPG lifetime of 30-40 hours for the average player.
As an added bonus, BioWare will eventually release the Bring Down the Sky add-on as a free download for PC users, whereas 360 users will likely have to pay.
System Requirements for Mass Effect for PC
ATI X1800XL/GeForce 7900GTX or better graphics card