tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

MASSIVE DAMAGE

So, Mass Effect for PC is here. I’ve put a few hours into the game, and just beat the prologue as well as most of the first chapter.

I’m more used to run-and-gun type shooters where things like cover and tactical commands aren’t really a factor, so this is something new to me. Luckily the squad commands are fairly intuitive, and you can tell your squad mates to do a fair number of useful things like lay down cover fire, hold a position, advance to a particular spot, regroup, or use any of their equipped weapons/abilities. As I mentioned, it’s not quite straight run-and-gun, as your characters’ statistics as well as their equipment influences the battles a great deal, as well as your ability to use cover to minimize the damage you take.

The story is just getting started, so I can’t really say too much about it, although the universe Bioware has set up for the game is quite well-fleshed out, and you can find out lots of information about it by talking to various NPCs. I also like how all the major characters are pretty understated for the most part – not quite like your standard JRPG where your allies are pretty much cardboard caricatures. You pick up party members along the way, and each character’s relative strengths and weaknesses are listed out for you to see on the Squad screen, making decisions on who to put in your party fairly easy…in theory, at least.

Performance wise, though, my rig seems to be chugging a bit with it. I don’t know if it’s just because of the quality of the port, but running this game at my monitor’s native res with all the bells and whistles turned on appears to be out of the question for now. I’m currently running it at 1280×720 in a window, with textures and particles turned down to medium. Oddly there doesn’t seem to be any option for anti-aliasing, which is very strange for a modern game. There is a movie-like grainy filter you can apply to the output, as well as a motion blur. The former mitigates the lack of anti-aliasing a bit, but the latter doesn’t seem to work particularly well with my sketchy framerate.

Perhaps it’s time to get a new card. Although the game apparently has resolution switching issues with 8800 series cards – from the readme:

The the NVIDIA 8800 Series of video cards can require significant time (30 seconds or more) to change resolutions. This is due to a required recalculation of thousands of video shaders.

This is a very strange limitation for this particular card (and even stranger that the 9xxx series cards apparently don’t have this problem).

In any case, Mass Effect has proven to be a fairly interesting experience with some kinks so far.

On a side note, the in-game history suggests that Singaporeans were the first people on Earth to develop psychic abilities. I loled.

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