Confirmation that BioWare's Mass Effect was PC-bound didn't exactly blow us away with an explosion of surprise. What did raise an eyebrow, however, was the relatively short time-gap between the two releases. On Xbox 360 the sci-fi RPG launched last November to wide critical acclaim, and it's out this May on PC.
BioWare began whipping the PC iteration into shape toward the tail-end of work on the Xbox 360 version. And it says it didn't simply want to do a straight port.
To this end, PC gamers can run Mass Effect in higher resolution with up-scaled textures, environments and character models, bla, bla bla...
More interestingly, on PC the game features an improved user interface, the ability to control squad members individually and what BioWare's terming "Run & Gun Control". Hmmm.
Run & Gun Control refers to the optional ability to assign biotics - essentially special powers for your character - to keys 1 to 8 for on-the-fly use. On Xbox 360, you had to pause the action and select a biotic from a radial menu. Lord bless the keyboard.
Following a short briefing on the additions to Mass Effect on PC, BioWare senior PR manager Matt Atwood sat down with us for a chat...
Is Mass Effect on PC the definitive version of the game?
Matt Atwood: I don't know if I'd say it's the definitive version. I think both versions were constructed really well for the platforms they're on. But I do think the PC version really adds some things that are nice. Higher-resolution visuals? That's exciting.
I love the individual squad command. If you play with the individual squad control, it's a deeper tactical game - it has more impact than I think people realise. As is the hot keys for the biotic powers. You can really play it more action style.
It'll have the achievement system just like the Xbox 360 version did - we'll be hosting that on our servers. That's just another fun part to make sure you've done all the elements of the game.
You've just released the Bring Down the Sky content for Mass Effect on Xbox 360. Is that being included out-the-box with the PC version?
Atwood: We're still working on what we'll include as far as additional content. Of course we'll have more 360 downloadable content on the way and we're working on what content we want for the PC as well. So will that be Bring Down the Sky? We don't know yet.
Will it be something totally different or will we combine and do the post-release content for both? Right now we're thinking there's some great opportunities for the PC that maybe we could take advantage of. We're in the exploration phase right now.
Hypothetically, if you released the same content for Xbox 360 and PC, would you charge for both, or would the PC content be free or what?
Atwood: Speaking hypothetically...? You know, I'd rather just answer the question with "I don't know". I don't know the answer to that yet. Would I guess that there's a whole bunch of considerations going on right now including that? Yes.
But of course, as you know, when you post anything online people start to read into it and I'd rather just say "I don't know" right now. Give us a bit of time and we'll let you know what we're going to do.
So what's next for Mass Effect on Xbox 360 in terms of download content? Can you talk about that?
Atwood: No. There is stuff coming, a good amount of content coming, but we've not announced anything yet and we want to keep it secret for now.