Long appreciated in the PC world, Canadian developer BioWare has quickly established a trusted reputation with console gamers.
The studio’s first original console IP, “Jade Empire,” proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the company’s success with “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” wasn’t all thanks to the license.
“Jade Empire” was an incredibly rich world filled to the brim with imagination, and BioWare’s newest console project — an Xbox 360 exclusive titled “Mass Effect” — explores what awaits humanity as it stretches out and explores the galaxy.
The game takes place in the 23rd century, when humankind has just started to explore space with manned craft — an endeavor that soon takes our race beyond the familiar confines of our solar system and into the heart of the galaxy.
What we encounter is a war between artificial and organic life that has dangerous and far-reaching consequences. To protect the peace, your character becomes the first human to be indoctrinated into an elite military force called Spectres. You will control a spaceship and crew to enforce your mandate, with your first mission being to subdue a rogue agent.
Of course, this job is just the beginning of a larger adventure, and BioWare even plans to make “Mass Effect” a trilogy — something BioWare joint CEO and co-executive producer Ray Muzyka says is easily done.
“We’re investing in a whole suite of development tools and planning a story arc spanning games and expansions in the future that will allow us to quickly and efficiently create content for future games,” Muzyka said. “We are quite confident that BioWare will be able to successfully create and deliver the entire experience to the players, and our goals is to do so during the life span of the Xbox 360.”
The game’s other executive producer and Muzyka’s fellow CEO, Greg Zeschuk, told us that although features such as space combat won’t be included in the first chapter of “Mass Effect,” the company has big plans for the trilogy’s future.
“Mass Effect” is similar to previous action/RPGs from the company in that the choices you make will influence the game’s outcome.
However, this title will also give the player added customization in the way of character appearance, extending to your equipment and weapons. Character development is also under your control, while the game’s combat is squad based.
Although BioWare has yet to delineate the specifics of combat, we imagine that an AI ordering system once again will be used, as will the skills system and bio-enhancements familiar to BioWare fans. The company isn’t talking about multiplayer or co-op possibilities just yet, but Zeshcuk told us it would use Xbox Live’s Gamercard and achievement system, and he hinted at cooperative aspects. Downloads are also expected.
The title uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 to full effect, and “Mass Effect” promises to show gamers some pretty gorgeous vistas. Players are free to explore uncharted worlds, which Zeschuk told us will yield some tantalizing results.
As with other titles from the company, the world of the game will be filled with many detailed civilizations and unforgettable characters.
BioWare doesn’t expect “Mass Effect” to be ready for another year or longer, but we’re already looking to the future and gazing at the stars dreaming of adventures beyond our imagination.