Review

Mass Effect Review (PC)

Fundamentally this PC version has the same nuts and bolts its Xbox360 counterpart has but with the added advantages a console just can’t pull off. Demiurge has been working very closely with BioWare for months to refine the game for the PC audience and everything I’ve seen has affirmed that objective. This review will be focusing on what extra the PC experience delivers, for why Mass Effect is already so tremendous in its accomplishment read our Xbox360 take on Commander Shepherd’s escapades throughout the Attican Traverse.

The game is just as gorgeous and highly detailed but higher end computers can squeeze a few more sparkling gems from the galactic nebula. The huge difference surrounds the texture 'popping' issue; scenes of Mass Effect on the console would often suffer visibly though only temporarily from this as the data was being read from the DVD. While it hasn’t been fully eliminated from the port it has dramatically reduced, with the additional power of the PC the game delivers even greater clarity on widescreen desktop monitors, which does show up the poor shadow effects a little more.


Quick slots, the ultimate weapon of the personal computer
The inventory is made more bearable, not perfect

Some parts still have a brief loading message pop-up which detract from the otherwise streamlined and more seamless experience the game now enjoys. The user interface has been overhauled a little too and while it’s far from the perfect role model the new design helps ease the headache of inventory items. The problem was that all this space faring adventuring was bound to lump Commander Shephard and his or her team with a degree of space junk. It proved to be quite the arduous task in sifting through items and even more so when you wanted to offload some to sell or convert. It can still be a bit of a thorn to deal with especially when you arrive at your 150 item limit which you should always be mindful of, if you happen to pick up some spiffy armour, weapon or upgrade but don’t have the room then it can be made forfeit.

Dishing out orders for your squad is easier too, aside from the freedom of the mouse and keyboard, the space key acts much like the pause-and-select method on the console. Except more can now fit on the screen and it’s also possible to give independent orders to each team member, something that was sorely missing previously. To add ease of use for the player, a quick slot was designed to work with the keyboard so when you want to use one of Shephard’s talents or powers you only need to press a number key, much like traditional RPGs. The mouse is always superior over the analogue of a console controller when it comes to shooters which helps keep the action fast. The MAKO is exactly the same quirky planet-side companion, if you’ve played before you know exploring new systems with it is almost a battle itself. There’s no overhaul of it so you can expect to be at war with the terrain just the same as Xbox360 Spectres always are, plus I find the keyboard makes it a little worse, honestly.


High quality visuals, though shadows still suck
Individual squad commands... yes I said 'individual'

For any who’ve played the Xbox360 version for a while you won’t be able to help but smirk a little at this next tweak. Aboard the Normandy there was always one royal pain in the rear and that was getting down to the cargo bay and engineering level – it required an agonising descent on the elevator system. Well I was more than overjoyed to see that Demiurge technicians decided to attach some nitrous oxide boosters, almost enough to give crewmembers a case of chronic vertigo. This alteration of elevator velocity wasn’t, sadly, extended to the lift shafts on the Citadel. The ingame achievements for Mass Effect are still in you just won’t be getting any Gamerscore(G) points as you go along but they do still carry their bonuses for future play-throughs.

The mini-game to decrypt doors and slice open containers was handled by pushing whatever button was highlighting quickly or you’d fail. This has been changed to not only offer something far more challenging but it’s also more relevant to flashy technology the characters use when messing with control panels. Now you need to guide a small arrow from the outer most ring to the centre while avoiding the fixed orange segments blocking your path, and the red ones that orbit the inner rings. You will come across easy, average and hard things you’ll be using this mini-game on and unlike the console version – you will feel the difference and you’d be surprised at the reflexes you pick up.


The mouse and keyboard - the way RPGs were meant to be
The MAKO is still as frisky as ever, perhaps more so?

Mass Effect is a superb game for its story, its breadth of characters and setting a new bar of standard for cinematic videogaming. Demiurge has helped polish BioWare’s galactic sci-fi into a greater experience to be had on the PC, if you’re already a Spectre inductee with years of service like myself you’ll easily recognise this as the greater experience.

Top Game Moment: The last few moments of the game are tremendous, plus finding my heavy Colossus X armour from the good people of Kassa Fabrications.


Videos

Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 16, 2008
herodotus
Great review. Might get this one soon as the price is right. Thanx Simon.
By jondragonpage (SI Newbie) on Jun 29, 2008
jondragonpage
This game is great!!!, have had it for a few days now. I do find it a bit close to the Star wars Knights of the Old Republic games, except fot the improved graphics, think they could of done a bit more to make the game stand out, a choice of differant races would've been nice, but i suppose that would of meesed up all the cut scenes!!! oh well keep playing everyone
By lichlord (SI Core) on Sep 29, 2008
lichlord
ive played it on the xbox 360 of my bro good game unfortunate my bor doesn't want me to play on his xbox so i ain't really playing i was hoping for a demo to test it on my pc cuz i ain't buying or downloading it with out prove that my pc can handle the game

it has very good graphics and gameplay is pretty nice too
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 06, 2008
nobuargaoda
Another piece of mastery from BIOWARE! We may called it the mass-terpiece! I'm a big fan of space games, especially the futuristic one.... we can see the graphics performance from this game, and i think it's worth to be played!
By slaythat (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 15, 2009
slaythat
Streamlined combat and numerous minor improvements make this great game even better.

The Good:
All the awesome stuff that made Mass Effect on the 360 great Tech/Biotic power hotkeys make combat fast and fluid Numerous small improvements add up nicely.
The Bad:
Still hampered by graphical hitches Brief, intermittent load screens.
By dragonscars (SI Newbie) on Jun 18, 2009
dragonscars
this game was by far one of the best games ive played in awhile, i hopping part 2 only improves and the few issues the first one had, i found myself continuously playing it, just to see what happens next.