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Mass Effect


Release Date: 20-Nov-2007

Developed By: Bioware

Published By: Microsoft Game Studio

ESRB: Rating Pending

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Mass Effect is an action role-playing game under development by BioWare exclusively for the Xbox 360. It is the first installment of a planned trilogy. The game takes place in the year 2183, with the player assuming the role of an elite human soldier named Commander Shepard. The story revolves around an ancient alien prophecy stating that, every fifty thousand years, machines come to the galaxy to harvest all organic life, and the time of their return is approaching. As the first human Spectre – sworn defenders of galactic peace – Shepard's mission is to halt the advancing armies of a legendary agent gone rogue. Shepard will lead an elite team across hostile alien worlds and discover that the true threat is far greater than anyone imagined.

Besides the plans for a trilogy, which Bioware claims "will cover the Xbox 360's five-plus year cycle," there are plans for episodic content to be uploaded to Xbox Live that fill in the story between each game, though are not essential for understanding the story of the other games.

The term "Mass Effect"
Inside the game universe, mass effect is a newly-discovered (for humans anyway) physics phenomenon that has properties along the lines of other physics forces such as gravity and electromagnetism. It's what physicists in real life are currently calling "dark energy," as an explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe -- which has only recently been discovered and flies in the face of the previous notion that the universe's expansion should be slowing down because of gravity.


Certain beings are able to sense and manipulate mass effect much like some real-life creatures (such as sharks and eels) can sense and manipulate electromagnetism. These abilities will be augmentable via implants, and the manipulation of mass effect is referred to as 'Biotics'.

Characters
Commander Shepard is a veteran soldier, who's seen a lot of action in many engagements across the galaxy. And Shepard doesn't have it very easy either. Charged with the most important missions in the galaxy, Shepard is therefore authorized to get the job done at all costs – and it's up to you to determine what that cost will be. Often, something must be sacrificed to get further in your mission, and all of Shepard's decisions are important ones, where people's lives hang on the details of each choice.[5]

Before any fighting began, we were shown how each character's in-game appearance was entirely dependent on the gear they wore. No characters in Mass Effect have a stock armor appearance. If you equip a huge, hulking helmet, it'll show up in real time. Same thing with weapons, which appear strapped to characters' backs and legs. This allows for a huge variety of character appearances, reinforcing the game's already impressive customization options."[6]

It should be noted that, although the game's screenshots and concept art all show the same two Commander Shepards, you are able to fully customize his/her appearance, gender, abilities and even military background. [7]

Combat
Combat in Mass Effect will take place in real time, though the player is given the option to pause at any time to give orders to other squad members. The player and his allies use firearms (modifiable with various upgrades throughout the game), Tech abilities (to interfere with enemy equipment and abilities), and "Biotics" (similar to magical attacks in other games) to fight their enemies. Players will directly control the selected character's actions, as opposed to control via menu systems used in other console role-playing games. Squad members can be given simple commands with input from the directional pad.

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."

Weapons & Equipment
Mass Effect will feature four classes of conventional weapons, different types of grenades, "tech" weapons (see brief description of Tech abilities above), as well as other usable items. The player will also be able to outfit their character and squad with various types of armor. All equipped items will be visible on the characters; changing armor immediately changes the look of the character, whether adding a bulky helmet or switching to a sleek skin-tight suit of armor, and all weapons fold up into compact versions and are stored directly on the character. Weapons and similar usable objects can be retrieved by simply pressing a particular direction on the directional pad for each item.

Non-Player Character Interaction
One of Mass Effect's unique gameplay elements involves its conversation system. Previous Bioware console titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire employed a conversation system where the player chose from several responses after non-player characters (NPCs) had finished speaking. Mass Effect introduces a new system in which responses to NPCs are displayed and can be chosen from before the NPC has finished speaking. This allows for more fluid and natural conversations, which gives character interaction a cinematic quality. There is also the possibility that the player can decide not to say anything leaving the next character to make his/her comment.

A radial command menu, divided into six equal sections like a pie chart, is shown at the bottom of the screen when a conversation is initiated. Each section is assigned a brief preview of the response that will be made, usually one word (such as "Threaten"). The response is selected by moving the analog stick in the direction of the desired response on the circle and pressing one of the buttons (most likely the A button). The command menu is organized such that each section is assigned a particular inclination (i.e. being nice, aggressive, etc.), so that after players have become comfortable with the system they will no longer have to read the menu, and will be able to respond appropriately, immdediately, if desired. BioWare hopes that the innovative system will allow the game to be more cinematic and free players from reading large amounts of dialogue, as would be required with the commonly used system of simply having the player choose from complete, sometimes long, written statements.

Morality
The main story and character interactions in Mass Effect will be affected by the player's chosen morality. Unlike in BioWare's previous titles, emphasis on becoming a pure "good" or pure "evil" character will be lessened. Some characters may not like the player or leave the player's squad if the player's moral direction differs from their squadmate's too much. The overall story is also affected by the player's personal choices. Project Director Casey Hudson of BioWare has said "[the player's] style of play throughout the game will result in diverging endings that determine the fate of humanity itself," affecting not only the first installment, but also the planned sequels.

Morality will be mostly determined by the player's choices during conversations.

Travel
The Normandy, the player character's ship, and a technological marvel in the setting of the game, will serve as the primary mode of transportation.

Since the game spans the galaxy, many trips will have to be made from planet to planet. Players will select destinations by selecting them through a galactic map of the Milky Way. Videos have shown that the galaxy is divided into numerous levels of organization, from the galaxy as a whole to individual planets within their respective solar systems.

Certain unexplored or uninhabited planets will be navigable at the ground level using an all-terrain armored personnel carrier, controlled directly by the player, which can be upgraded throughout the game. Some segments of the game even require the player to fight an enemy using the weapons mounted on the vehicle (developers have said once such event involves a towering bestial creature native to an uninhabited planet).

Although the game will follow a main story, Mass Effect will supposedly include a large number of side missions and free-roam "unexplored planets" that can be reached by selecting them through the galactic map.

Alien Races
Geth -- The geth are a bi-pedal, humanoid race of networked AIs that resides in the Terminus Systems. The geth were created nearly 300 years ago by the quarians as laborers and tools of war. When the geth began to question their masters, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. The geth won the resulting war. The example of the geth has led to legal, systematic repression of artificial intelligences in galactic society.

The geth can learn and grow intellectually, but they progress far more slowly than an organic being. Still, the story of the geth's creation and evolution serves as a warning to the rest of the galaxy of the potential dangers of Artificial Intelligence.

The closer geth physically are to each other, the more intelligent each one becomes. Effectively, they "share" brain power. An individual geth has only a basic intelligence on par with animal instincts, but in groups they can reason, analyze situations, and use tactics as well as any of the organic races.

Over time the geth have evolved into numerous sub-forms - from the diminutive but highly agile hoppers, to the gigantic, lumbering geth armatures. It should be stressed, however, that in all forms the geth are to be approached with extreme caution as they are universally violent creatures.[16]

Asari
This race has been revealed to be a member of the Citadel Council.

Krogan
The reptile race of Krogans (sic) are merciless and cruel, and for unknown reasons harbor a deep hatred for other intelligent species in the galaxy.

Salarians
Salarians are a race renowned for their technical skill as well as their high aptitude for espionage. In the interstellar community, they've created many of the major technological advances that now fill the galaxy.

Turians
The turians were the last of the Citadel races to join the Council. Their features are avian, making them resemble humanoid birds or raptors. They have a reputation for skill and bravery in combat, but they are not known to be bloodthirsty. A rigid code of honor and strict discipline are the hallmarks of any turian officer. This includes humane treatment of prisoners and conquered enemies. A turian patrol unit will never willingly leave behind one of their own, no matter what the cost of saving them.

Turian society is highly regimented and very organized, and the species is known for its strict discipline and work ethic. Turians are willing to do what needs to be done, and they always follow through. They are not easily spurred to violence, but when conflict is inevitable, they only understand a concept of "total war." They do not believe in skirmishes or small-scale battles; they use massive fleets and numbers to defeat an adversary so completely that they remove any threat of having to fight the same opponent more than once. They do not exterminate their enemy, but so completely devastate their military that the enemy has no choice but to become a colony of the Turians.

Other species see them as "men of action," and they are generally regarded as the most progressive of the Citadel races. Since their culture is based on the structure of a military hierarchy, changes and advances accepted by the leadership are quickly adopted by the rest of society with minimal resistance.

Volus
Little is yet known about the Volus, but their heavy clothing and breathing masks are apparently a necessary garb when away from the unique atmosphere of their home world.

Quarians
A nomadic race of humanoid aliens, the quarians are generally shorter and of slighter build than humans. They dress in a scavenged assortment of materials, hiding their faces behind visors, goggles, or breathing masks. Some believe the quarians are cybernetic, a blend of machine and biology that can survive for a time in the cold vacuum of space. Others believe the quarians are simply so used to living on their substandard, makeshift ships that they never remove their survival suits. Three hundred years ago the quarians created the geth, a species of rudimentary AIs, to serve as an efficient source of manual labor. But the geth rebelled against their quarian masters and drove them into exile. Now the quarians wander the galaxy in a flotilla of salvaged ships, secondhand vessels, and recycled technology. Other species tend to look down on the quarians, seeing them as scavengers and condemning them for unleashing a dangerous synthetic life form on the rest of the galaxy.

Timeline
* 2148 AD
Humanity discovers a small cache of highly advanced alien technology hidden deep beneath the surface of Mars. Building on the remnants of this long extinct race - known as the Protheans - humanity quickly masters the science of mass effect fields, leading to the development of faster than light travel.

* 2149 AD
Spreading out through their own solar system, humanity discovers that Charon, Pluto's moon, is actually a massive piece of dormant Prothean technology - a mass relay - encased in ice.

Once activated, humanity discovers that the mass relay allows instantaneous travel across thousands of light-years to a synchronized mass relay in another part of the galaxy.

There they discover several more dormant relays. Over the next decade humanity expands rapidly, establishing colonies and activating dormant relays to open up more and more unexplored regions of space.

* 2155 AD
To defend its rapidly expanding empire, humanity assembles a massive fleet and constructs an enormous military space station at the nexus of several key mass relays... even though they have yet to encounter another intelligent space-faring species.

* 2157 AD
Humanity makes first contact with another space-faring culture: the Turians. Unfortunately, the encounter is far from peaceful. Over the next several months a brief but tense conflict known on Earth as the First Contact war ensues.

This conflict draws the attention of the Citadel Council - a multi-species government body that maintains peace and stability throughout the known galaxy. The Council intervenes before hostilities escalate further, revealing the existence of the greater galactic community to humanity and brokering a peace between them and the Turians.

* 2165 AD
Humanity continues to expand, founding more colonies and establishing trade alliances with many of the other species who recognize the authority of the Citadel Council. In 2165 the Council makes official recognition of humanity's growing power and influence in the galactic community. Humanity is granted an embassy on the Citadel, the political and economic heart of the galaxy.

* 2183 AD
Commander Shepard - a promising young officer in the Human Alliance military - is assigned to the crew of the Normandy, the most advanced prototype vessel ever designed.

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News: Man builds Mass Effect rifle replica
(via OXM) -- Bow down in awe of Harrison Krix's D.I.Y skills. We've seen some excellent real-life renditions of our favourite videogaming weapons before, but nothing's come as close as this
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Mass Effect 2 'Shadow Broker' DLC coming Sept. 7th - new screens and details inside Mass Effect 2
(via Game Radar) - BioWare's official site has been updated with new information on Shadow Broker, the latest Mass Effect 2 DLC expansion. According to the site's brief description, the new mission teams Shepard with Liara T'Soni on a quest to track down the devious and elusive Shadow Broker, kicking off on the lush planet of Illum and concluding in the secret lair of the mystery man himself.
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Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair of the ShadowBroker Detailed/Dated
(via Planet Xbox) -- As promised by Bioware there is more DLC coming for Mass Effect 2 very, very soon; as in September 7th soon. For the price of only 800 Microsoft points, you’ll have the chance to go into the depths of Shadowbroker’s hiding place.
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Mass Effect 2 Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC Launching September
(via Ugo) -- Team up with Liara T'Soni early next month in the latest batch of DLC. If Shepard has a relationship with Liara from the first game, it will be possible to pick up where things left off.
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Epic Linen Shirt Drops: Mass Effect N7 Logo T-Shirt
(via Ugo) -- Gallivant around the galaxy with Commander Shepard in this t-shirt.
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News: Mass Effect 2 Shadow Broker DLC dated
(via EuroGamer) - Liara T'Soni joins the party. The next episode of Mass Effect 2 downloadable content, The Lair of the Shadow Broker, will be released on the PC and Xbox 360 on 7th September. It'll cost 800 BioWare or Microsoft Points (£6.
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New Mass Effect 2 DLC coming this September
(via QJ) -- A new DLC is coming your way for Mass Effect 2, and you only have to wait a couple of weeks for it. BioWare has announced that "Lair of the Shadow Broker" DLC will be coming this
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Mass Effect 2 Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC Launching in September
(via 1Up) - The latest batch of Mass Effect 2 DLC will be out early September, this one picking up the Shadow Broker plot thread left dangling during the original campaign. As announced back in July, Lair of the Shadowbroker teams Shepard with Liara T'Soni as they confront the mysterious information broker.
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Enter Mass Effect 2's 'Lair of the Shadowbroker' on September 7
(via Joystiq) - Your Mass Effect 2 party has been waiting patiently outside of the Shadowbroker's lair for weeks now, playing the sci-fi equivalent of Pokemon (it's actually still Pokemon) on their five-screened game systems to pass the time. An announcement from BioWare reveals that you'll be let in on September 7, when the new "Lair of the Shadowbroker" DLC is released on PC and Xbox 360.
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Mass Effect 2 'Shadow Broker' DLC hits Sept. 7
(via Gamespot) -- Latest add-on pack for galaxy-trotting RPG descends early next month at $10 for Xbox 360 and PC; content packs in five new achievements, new research, and the Shadow Broker intel center.
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Mass Effect's Commander Shepard gets figured out
(via QJ) -- Action figures of videogame characters sure are a hot commodity nowadays. Mass Effect isn't about to be left out of the party as Commander Shepard gets his own model.        
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PS3 Mass Effect 2 to have 'seamless introduction,' integrates 'a lot' of DLC
(via Joystiq) - BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka has revealed to VG247 that Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network DLC will be available for the PS3 version in a "full way." While he didn't get too specific, he indicated that "a lot," if not all of the post-release content that's been released for the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game will be integrated into the initial PS3 release.
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Bioware: PS3 Mass Effect 3 a 'good guess'
(via CVG) - Third in series looks likely to go multi-platform. Bioware has hinted that the final game in the Mass Effect trilogy may be available on the PlayStation 3, alongside the Xbox 360 and PC. Related StoriesAssassin's Creed: Brotherhood 'three times bigger' than AC2Castlevania: Lords of Shadow dated for
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News: Microsoft plays down PS3's Mass Effect announcement
(via OXM) -- PlayStation3 might have Mass Effect 2 but Xbox 360 is still the series' true home. Microsoft has played down the significance of BioWare announcing Mass Effect 2 for PlayStation3, reports CVG.
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MS unimpressed with PS3 Mass Effect coup
(via CVG) - 360 "still the best place to experience Bioware's franchise". Microsoft has reacted to the news that Bioware's Mass Effect 2 is migrating to PS3 - claiming that 360 "remains the best place to experience the franchise".Related StoriesAssassin's Creed: Brotherhood 'three times bigger'
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PS3 Mass Effect 2 has 'hours of bonus content'
(via CVG) - But there are no plans to re-release ME1. EA has promised that Bioware's PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 will contain "hours" of bonus content.Related StoriesPES 2011 release date challenges FIFADead Rising 2 screenshots get creativeUbisoft reveals 360 exclusive fighter17 Need For Speed: Hot
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It's official: Mass Effect 2 is coming to PlayStation 3 VIDEO Mass Effect 2
(via Game Radar) -- PS3-owning fans of space-based RPGs rejoice! BioWare boss Dr Ray Muzyka has officially revealed that Mass Effect 2 is making its way to PS3, arriving on Sony's console sometime in January 2011. Muzyka described the news as "friggin' awesome"... ...
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Microsoft Responds to Mass Effect 2 Jumping Ship
(via IGN) -- Mass Effect 2 (X360)Company says Mass Effect 1 remains Xbox 360 exclusive.
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GC: Mass Effect 2 announced for PS3
(via Xboxyde) -- Electronic Arts and Bioware have announced the release of Mass Effect 2 on PS3, planned for January 2011. This version of the game wil include some additional content. Till then, here is the announcement teaser.
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News: EA confirms Mass Effect 2 for PS3
(via Game Industry) - EA has confirmed at its Gamescom conference that critically-acclaimed sequel Mass Effect 2 will be ported to the PlayStation 3 in January next year. The Bioware RPG generated strong sales on both Xbox 360 and PC this year, and has been one of Microsoft's most trumpeted platform exclusives.
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It's official: Mass Effect 2 is coming to PlayStation 3 Mass Effect 2
(via Game Radar) -- PS3-owning fans of space-based RPGs rejoice! BioWare boss Dr Ray Muzyka has officially revealed that Mass Effect 2 is making its way to PS3, arriving on Sony's console sometime in January 2011. Muzyka described the news as "friggin' awesome." ...
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Mass Effect 2 out on PS3 January 2011
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy) - "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite announcement from Gamescom." The official reveal of Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3 comes after this morning's appearance of an Amazon listing for just that. The retailer's January 31 date matches with the official "January 2011" timeline given at the presentation.
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Mass Effect 2 Coming to PlayStation 3
(via 1Up) - During its GamesCom press conference today, EA slid a big reveal between its premiere trailers and game demos. Mass Effect 2, previously an exclusive to the Xbox 360, is coming to the PlayStation 3 in January of 2011.
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News: Mass Effect 3 has over 1,000 story variations
(via OXM) -- BioWare talks about the crazy amount of work crafting the third in the series. Mass Effect 2 Project Lead Casey Hudson has told PC Zone that there will be 'over 1,000 variables' for Mass Effect 3.
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Mass Effect 3’ s story to feature over 1,000 variations Mass Effect 2
(via Game Radar) --   The choices you’ve already made in the first two Mass Effect games are adding up. In a recent interview with PC Zone, BioWare’s Casey Hudson revealed that the story in Mass Effect 3 will have over 1,000 story variations based on player choices in the first two games... ...
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BioWare: Mass Effect 3 Shaped by 1,000 Story Variables
(via Game Spy) -- Mass Effect 3 (X360)Your choices in ME and ME2 will have a big impact on how ME3 plays out.
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Mass Effect 3 Being Shaped by 1,000 Story Variables
(via 1Up) - It's a simple concept of exponential growth: If you make one game with many different story paths depending on the choices a player makes, then make a sequel that continues those paths and adds even more, and then another sequel with even more paths, you end up with a hell of a lot of variables.
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Mass Effect 3 to follow 'over 1,000' story variations
(via CVG) - Bioware not changing 'action RPG' approach for next instalment. Bioware has revealed that Mass Effect 3 will be shaped by over 1,000 story variations from the first two games in the series.Related StoriesXBLA, PSN 'perfect for risky games' - Dust devPS3 software sales up 40% year-on-yearEA reports £60.
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News: Mass Effect 2 Firepower Pack now available
(via OXM) -- For those who feel they're a bit short on firepower... The Firepower Pack for Mass Effect 2 is now available on Xbox Live Marketplace.
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Mass Effect 2 'Firepower Pack' out NOW
(via CVG) - New gun pack add three new guns to Shepard's arsenal. BioWare has released the weapons pack it first teased in screenshots of the upcoming 'Lord of the Shadow Broker' mission pack DLC.Related StoriesRed Dead Redemption Legends and Killers DLC datedNeed for Speed Shift 2 confirmedCrysis 2 delayed to
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