Lord knows we'd wash with sandpaper for the opportunity to take Mass Effect home this weekend, but we'll just have to make do with the first hour we sat through with BioWare co-doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk.
For our reaction to the game click on over to our eyes-on preview, but in the meantime here's what we managed to get out of the two BioWare bosses in our post-viewing Q&A...
Mass Effect is an incredibly ambitious title. What measures are you taking to make sure that one area of the game, say the exploration, role-playing or combat side, doesn't fall short of the others?
Ray Muzyka: That's a great question. Over the last few years we've been really focusing on what a BioWare game is and for us there's four core activity pillars, as we call them. These are the pillars of the game, the tenants that we're really focusing on. We focus on all of them to varying degrees and in different ways in different BioWare games.
In Mass Effect like in all BioWare games we're focusing on the story, the character and amazing digital actors. We're focusing on making really accessible, fun action combat. We've got exploration, the galaxy map, uncharted worlds and your own rover to drive around in.
There's also customisation options; the way you change yourself, the way you customise your characters at the start of the game and who you bring with you on your travels.
All of those aspects of the game are being developed in parallel. Right from the start they were part of the original vision of the game, so they're not separate elements, they're a unified whole. So we're not building separate parts of the building together, we're sort of chaining them together. You really feel compelled to go from a story area to an exploration area, to combat.
Greg Zeschuk: I suppose the simple answer is; we play it. We play our games, we finish them multiple times. So it's the judgement of the team and ourselves to make sure it's good simply by experiencing it. It's hard when you do it multiple times to get a sense for it, but we really do make sure it holds together and that a super high standard is always maintained.
Ray Muzyka: We just don't let a game out the door until we're sure and have finished it multiple times. It's got to be polished, it's got to be great and each game has to be better than the last. We're really confident this is going to be the best game BioWare has ever done.
You've managed to shoe-horn the game on to one DVD. What are the consequences of that? Has anything had to be held back for downloadble content?
Ray Muzyka: We haven't revealed any plans yet for post-release content; download, episodic. But Mass Effect is a natural fit for that kind of thing.
For the longest time we were pretty sure we were going to have to fit the game content onto two DVDs, because there's just so much content in the game. Right now it looks like we're going to get it on one and it's been difficult because there's a lot of content. It's a very ambitious title.
The voice throughout the game as well; for the main character, all the party members; everybody talks.
Greg Zeschuk: There's so much. We're probably going to have multiple languages per disc as well - we're still working that detail out. There is again, so much voice talent and stuff going into the game.
Speaking of voice talent, can you tell us about the actors you're using?