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Mass Effect - PC Edition


Romier S
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So who's buying? It releases tommorrow and it's got a slew of improvements including:

 

- The removal of elevator loading

- Redone and reorganized inventory system

- Visual improvements (depending on your rig of course)

- Brand new Special Tactical Menu for complete control of your party members (complete with pause feature ala KOTOR)

- The PC version includes the "Bringing Down the Sky" DLC

 

...and more. I'm quite eager to play through it again with smoother visuals and actual control over my party members now (one of the biggest complaints I had about the game on the 360).

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I'm tempted. The improvements look and sound great, and I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy another quick run through on my PC.

 

I'm wondering if Mass Effect 2 will hit the PC right away, though. I'd be much more eager to pick this one up if I knew that was happening. If there's going to be a wait from the 360 release, and if the 360 ME2 has some of the improvements, I'd rather play it in my home theater as soon as possible.

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God, this isn't even the same game. At least as far as combat is concerned. It's just about everything I wanted from Mass Effect when I sat down to play the 360 version. This version addresses most of the major complaints I had about this opening chapter of Bioware's saga. Hello to individual control over your squad mates and its all so easy and effective it makes KOTOR look cumbersome. Just to give a quick overview, here's now it plays out:

 

-Enemy spotted and combat begins

-You hit the space bar to bring up the "Tactical Command HUD"

-One member of the party is listed on the left while the other is on the right.

-In each party members columns are basic commands like "Move", "Attack", "Rally" along with all of the pertinent attacks including special moves like Overkill and Biotics like "Throw" and "Lift"

-While your in the Tactical Hud, you'll press and hold the right mouse button to move Shephards aim. If you want Ashley for instance to move towards a column in front you - you simply point at the column and press the move button under her name. You want Kaiden to move to the rock face a few feet forward from her? No problem. Just point at it and select the move button. You can feel free to position your squad where you like. when you like. As soon as the space bar is pressed the game is paused so it simulates a turn based system in real time ala KOTOR.

-Same goes for weapon changes. You can select any of the weapons for your character in the tactical hud. Attacking is as simply as pointing at the enemy and choosing the attack icon or the special maneuver you want to use. (In the options you can tell the AI to not use any powers and take complete control over how the AI fights)

-When playing Shepard you can easily change weapons by scrolling the mouse wheel up or down. You can also set moves on the quick bar as simple hotkeys for later use.

 

The tactical HUD just completely changes the entire dynamic of combat. The "tactical" RPG aspect they were selling on the 360 is finally realized here. It's still not perfect (I want to be able to switch over and physically CONTROL my party members) but it's a HUGE improvement that cannot be overstated and for anyone that's played the 360 game - you'll have a hard time WANTING to play that version again.

 

As far as the inventory, it's been reorganized to be a bit more straightforward but it's nothing major. The important addition is the new built-in filtering options which organize all of your equipment for MUCH easier access. It's not a perfect solution and they really need to rethink things for Mass Effect 2 - but it's an improvement.

 

Visually, there's absolutely no contest. The PC version completely resolves all of the texture pop-in issues from the 360 version. Loading up the inventory or getting into a new cutscene is perfect. The only time you'll see texture loading is when the game initially loads up the game. The framerate is also flawless with no more hitching and chugging to load in new textures as you move along. It's just nice and smooth on my rig running at a consistent 30-40fps with not discernible drops (at 1680x1050 with everything maxxed). I made it as far as the Citadel having just completed Eden Prime. I did a good bit of exploring just to see how the PC would handle things as the Citadel is a great place to test framerate. It's massive and was easily the chuggiest area on the 360. Absolutely nothing but smooth sailing as far as I could tell (with FRAPS running).

 

Thus far this looks to be the definitive version of the game. I can't say enough about the Tactical HUD and the level of improvement it brings. 360 owners should DEMAND it's addition to the game via an update or if they do some type of "Game of the Year" edition down the line it NEEDS to be on there. It would be downright criminal for Bioware to deny 360 owners such functionality....

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Hmmm sounds like what the 360 should have been (minus the visual upgrades of course). I never even came close to finishing Mass Effect and I think part of why I stopped playing was because of the many flaws spoken of in here (inventory system, controlling your teamates, etc). It got to be too much of a chore and not much fun for me. Had all that stuff been much more streamlined and intuitive I'm sure I would have stuck around. At least I think so. I did get really bored while driving that silly land rover and so much of the environment just seems lifeless and dull. The thing that kept me going was the dialogue and story. Usually I'm completely the opposite (gameplay/controls first and everything else second). Ok so maybe thats why I stopped playing. Meh. :)

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Looks like I'll be getting the disc version of this one so I have to wait till Friday for UK. Not that big a deal...

 

The only digital download spots so far are the EA store and D2D and I'd rather not go through either of those "Gauntlet of Anuses" again. D2D isn't as bad as the EA Store (horrific) at least but, it still has issues with re-downloads after "x" amount of time and having to sign-in online each time to play... The EA Store is the worst I've ever used (as detailed in the Crysis thread) and has all the problems of D2D but, adds even more restrictions to content downloads and access, worse support and even worse pricing.

 

As far as the price: I can get the disc version in-store or online here for @ 24 GBP roughly. The digital download is about the same price for the US version and D2D was 29 GBP for the UK copy so they're close but still... Why would I pay more for the version that has no transport, duplication, printing costs etc. associated with it?! And the EA Store charges 39 GBP for the same game (and thats with a 10 off coupon). <Sigh> Why they wouldn't just put it up on Steam like previous Bioware titles is beyond me - and yes, I know its considered competition to the EA Store but, they would just be using Steam as an online store so I don;t think the "competition" moniker is warranted... And if I may state the obvious for EA: If Steam is your competition, you got your ass handed to you 4 years before you opened your store.

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Here's some screenshots for you guys. Including one with the new Tactical HUD:

 

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I'm a grain filter fan so no way am I turning it off here.:) It's running at 1680x1050. Anti-aliasing is not supported in this iteration of the Unreal Engine due to how the shadowing is rendered (it's a dithering shadow render that will eventually support anti-aliasing in the DX10 Unreal III client Epic is working on for later release in UE3 engine games). Everything else is on the highest possible settings. The game doesn't drop below 40-50fps for me.:tu

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Updated Mass Effect last night and ran into problems... The update installer would crash out every time when verifying a license file (error 6001). When I looked this error up on the support site and forums, it is apparently an issue with the DRM verification check running when certain other applications are open at the same time. Now, this made some sense to me in that I can see they don`t want to "detect" Daemon Tools running but I didn`t have anything running on my machine other than ME itself and Firefox to obtain the BDtS key off their website. After closing Firefox and still getting the error I went to Task Manager to see if something was running in the background without me knowing it. I found and ended the process for Xboxstat.exe (it monitors connectivity to the Xbox Wireless controller adapter for PC) and that did the trick.

 

So: the DRM in Mass Effect was tripped up by a resident process for the Microsoft Controller App that lets me use a Microsoft controller to play games (like, lets say Mass Effect) in Microsoft`s Operating System... This just seems So brilliant to me I thought I`d post it ;) Heheh And of course, "shockingly" this issue only seems to affect those who legally purchased the game as the "Fixed EXE" for the torrent version bypasses this license file check. Brilliant

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