Mass Effect

Tuesday 16 May 2006
RPGs are frequently measured in how many hours it would take someone to complete the whole game, but with Mass Effect, perhaps months would be a more effective yard-stick. Our private viewing of this game revealed an adventure so huge, it strains the capacity of your brain to attempt to encompass what it's all about... but we're going to try anyway.

You play as Commander Shepard, a sort of space federal agent in the employ of a peace-keeping organisation called Specters. You can use the character model that developer Bioware provides or you can create your own character. You can even make Commander Shepard a female if you want and everyone in the game will refer to you by your title.

After you've got your character customization under control, it's time to venture out into a bright universe... that holds a dark secret. Hopping from planet to planet in your ship (called the Normandy) is simplified by a galaxy map that scales to a solar system map once you've selected a system that interests you. Before deciding whether or not you want to land on a particular planet, a detailed read-out provides data on what you'll need to survive in the relevant environment.

You also get a combat ATV to drive around in and this can also be customised to suit personal preferences. The vehicle will get you where you need to go, but the most exciting stuff is more about what you do when you reach your destination.