RPGamer recently sat down for a closed door presentation of Mass Effect for the Xbox 360. Mass effect is an immersive single player sci-fi RPG where you play as an elite special soldier named Commander Shepard. The game is set in the future where humanity has recently joined a large galactic community of alien species. In the tradition of KOTOR, you can make Shepard either male or female, and the choice will affect dialogue throughout the game. Shepard leads a team consisting of two other alien soldiers and is known as a specter. Specters are the elite special soldiers of the galactic community. One of the most exciting features that was described to us is that the player can actually customize their character's back-story. The extent of the customization is still under development.
In Mass effect, Shepard is trying to prevent the extinction of every life form in the galaxy by stopping a race of advanced machines from wiping them out. With Shepard's trusty ship, the Normandy, the player will unravel the mysteries of the alien machines and learn the truth behind the cycle of extinction that has plagued the galaxy for millions of years. Mass effect features a world populated with hundreds of NPCs that will react differently based on how the player has been acting through the game. Talking to NPCs is done through typical Bioware-style message boxes at the bottom of the screen. Minor differences include the player's responses appearing a few seconds before the NPC finishes talking. This will allow the player to choose their response in time with the NPC finishing their sentence and creating a more cinematic feel to conversation.
Mass Effect's similarity to KOTOR ends once combat begins. Unlike KOTOR's basic auto-attack system, Mass Effect plays more like a first person shooter. However, FPS haters can calm down, as Bioware did not intend to create a "twitch" game, and thus Mass Effect will auto-aim for the player. The coolest moment of the presentation was when Bioware paused the game mid combat and showed us how you can move around the map and set attack waypoints for your squad.
Bioware promises many downloadable content updates via Xbox Live but would not go into specifics on the frequency of the content updates. Check back soon for further updates regarding Mass effect!