RM: So if you had chosen a different background for your character, you'd see that in the starting sequence. It'd be completely different.
Suddenly... seamlessly... Commander Shepard is in your control and the game is underway. You walk down the bridge of your ship, full of bright twinkling screens and an entire crew going about their jobs. Some lean over a monitor, typing; others lean casually against a wall. As you pass, they follow you with their heads, stand at attention or even salute you.
RM: So you can see how we're really pushing the production values to way over the top. This is your own personal starship. It's yours from the start of the game and it's with you throughout your travels. It's a base of operations and if you gain new party members, they come on board and will travel with you to new locations.
You talk to one of the more important looking men. The conversation, though completely ordinary in content, looks straight out of a Hollywood movie.
RM: We're using the language of cinema to really convey the story and dialogue of the game. You'll notice when you talk to the navigator, there's the depth of field where the characters are very sharp and in focus, while the backgrounds are a little blurry. Also, notice the camera angle cuts back and forth to whoever's speaking.
GamesRadar: In what other ways are you making Mass Effect a believable cinematic experience?
RM: The range of expressions that are on the faces of the digital actors and actresses. Their eyes move; they track you as you're walking around. They actually have nuanced expressions. It's not so much what they say in all cases - sometimes it's what they're doing and how they look.
GZ: The characters really are acting.
Shepard is summoned to the captain's quarters, where the Turian alien Nihlus recruits him for a mission to nearby planet Eden Prime. The primary goal is to retrieve a valuable Protean artifact, but Nihlus also wants to evaluate Shepard's worthiness of being the first human Specter. Our heads are swimming from all the new terminology, but the professional acting, dialogue and direction make all this gobbledygook seem worth learning.