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BioWare Interview (con't)
FiringSquad: Late last year BioWare officially announced Mass Effect, their Xbox 360 sci-fi RPG. Can you give us an overall status report on the game and how it is coming along?
Greg Zeschuk: Mass Effect is looking terrific! In every way we’ve made steps to innovate and improve our approach to creating an interactive game world. So experiencing it all together is an incredible, truly “next-gen” experience. The atmosphere of Mass Effect is surprisingly immersive and emotionally gripping, making the gigantic story concept all the more compelling - it’s like a spectacularly beautiful science-fiction painting brought to life.
Mass Effect is the first in a trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs in development for the Xbox 360. Set in the year 2183, you play the only Human SPECTRE – a sworn defender of galactic stability. You’ll lead en elite squad against the advancing armies of a legendary agent gone rogue, before discovering an even greater galactic threat. In addition to an epic story arc, Mass Effect allows players to visit a vast number of uncharted, unexplored planets to discover new alien life, ruined civilizations and powerful technologies; in the end, nothing will hold you back in your heroic quest. Mass Effect is an original intellectual property created and owned by BioWare, and published by Microsoft. The story will evolve over three main games – each with a huge and satisfying conclusion. Downloadable content will continue the story in between games, so that there is always new content to play in the Mass Effect world, especially when combined with the exploration of “uncharted worlds”. Players can create their own personal character for Mass Effect, and then play that character through the biggest interactive science-fiction adventure ever told!
Mass Effect’s combat is quite unique and innovative for a story-based action-RPG; it is real-time squad-based combat played in a third person format. You’ll be in command of a squad of three (your main character included) and each character will have a choice of specialty-class skills that will offer different and compelling tactical advantages in combat. Combat is very tactical, as you can allow your squad to use their own AI or give detailed commands that allow your team to coordinate their actions on the battlefield. Each character on the battlefield can bring unique skill-sets to the table and it will be up to the player to both cultivate those powers and also to think tactically to survive. You’ll be able to draw from a wide range of aggressive combat feats, including both dangerous tech-based attacks and also powerful Biotic powers which manipulate mysterious physics forces to unleash tremendous energies on the enemy.
Speaking of characters, the virtual actors in Mass Effect are truly state of the art – they have to be seen to be believed. Detailed, incredibly realistic facial movement with full lipsyncing and dialog (including dialog from your main character) and smooth, realistic animation help convey the feeling you’re interacting with real personalities in the game, and help move the story along in a very natural way. And we’re innovating in dialog a lot too, to make the story that much more compelling. We plan to share some exciting new details about the game at E3 2006 and show off all these cool features in person there – Mass Effect is BioWare’s main focus at the E3 show this year.
FiringSquad: What other hints can you give us about upcoming projects at BioWare?
Ray Muzyka: We’re looking forward to announcing details about our new MMO being developed in BioWare Austin in the near future. We also have an unannounced surprise or two in the works which we will also be sharing at E3 2006, in addition to showing Mass Effect there. The Dragon Age team is hard at work and we’re very excited about how the game is looking so far!
FiringSquad: Obviously BioWare likes the PC and Xbox 360 platforms but what about the other two next gen consoles? Are there any plans in the works for BioWare to release any games for the PS3 and Revolution?
Greg Zeschuk: We’re huge fans of all of the consoles – we play everything that comes out on PC, consoles and handhelds. We feel very strongly that certain games are very well suited to specific platforms and our goal is to bring our games to as many people as possible. Over our history we’ve worked on PC, SEGA Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox and now Xbox360 – we’re quite open to trying new things!
FiringSquad: Microsoft is set to launch Windows Vista late this year and they claim to want to start a new interest in PC games with the OS and with DirectX10. In your opinion do you think Windows Vista will be a boost for PC gaming or are other things needed for the platform?
Ray Muzyka: We’re definitely planning to continue to support our valued PC fans in the future and we think that Windows Vista could mean great things for the PC gamers. Vista’s veatures are really powerful, and will hopefully lead to a resurgence of PC game development. One of the most exciting things about VIsta is that it could help resolve the age-old issue of driver-based software and hardware compatability issues that often affect PC game performance!
FiringSquad: We frequently hear about the lack of game innovation but sometimes games come out that are truly original and are ignored by consumers. In your opinion what is more important; innovation in games or simply good game design?
Greg Zeschuk: Both!
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about BioWare and its plans for the future?
Ray Muzyka: Just that we have great teams at BioWare – hard-working, smart, creative and passionate, and it’s an honor for us to represent them. They’re all working very hard to deliver great products to our valued fans – working on awesome titles like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and the BioWare Austin MMO, plus a bunch of other things!
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
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ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
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If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
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The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
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Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
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