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Mass Effect on PC

This is interesting. Ever since Electronic Arts acquired our celebrated Canadian developer BioWare – with the attendant gnashing and wailing, of course – players have wondered if we’d see PC or PS3 versions of Mass Effect. There’s some confusion as to who actually has the say-so in this deal. Microsoft published Mass Effect, but of course BioWare is now owned, and has loudly proclaimed their ownership of the actual story IP for many years.

BioWare’s front page says Mass Effect will appear for PC very soon. Like, May 2008. The bullets:

  • Optimized controls designed specifically for the PC.
  • High resolution visuals – Mass Effect for the PC features highly detailed textures, characters and environments.
  • Fully customizable controls – PC gamers can re-map the control scheme any way they like.
  • Run & Gun Control – Players can assign biotic powers or skills to ‘hot keys’ allowing them to play Mass Effect with a heavier focus on action.
  • New decryption mini-game.
  • New inventory screen GUI and functionality – The enhanced inventory system makes it easier for players to equip and modify their weapons and armor.

That last one is a biggie, since the experience of using Mass Effect’s inventory screen on 360 need not be conveyed with mere utterance. It can be accurately re-created by simply auguring a rusty spoon into your coccyx.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if the entirety of the ME trilogy does appear on PC, I’ll be playing it on my Mac via Boot Camp. The inventory management is but one issue on 360. The game seems to fairly gasp for air while running. My play through was completed entirely using headphones, to save my eardrums from the infernal racket constantly issuing from the drink holder.

The PC version of Mass Effect is not that surprising, particularly after what Shane Kim told MTV Multiplayer just a short time ago at DICE:

We really care about our relationship with EA. BioWare’s been a good partner for us. We’re very happy with the success of “Mass Effect” and we want that to continue. From a platform perspective, is it the most important that Microsoft Games Studios publishes it or [rather] that it’s exclusive to the platform? That’s the way we have to think about it.

Pretty much a tacit admission of losing “true” exclusivity – he’s saying they’d rather they at least get to keep the series on 360 than insist on publishing all ME titles ourselves (which they have no control over now, anyways). EA can play very nasty with MS if they need to. They don’t.

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