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A Brave New World
Thursday, May 11, 2006, 10:57AM EST
A Brave New World
Mass Effect, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance highlight exactly how the new game consoles handle role-playing. All three are action-style RPGs; Effect will see release on Xbox 360, Kingdom is PlayStation 3 exclusive, and Alliance is a multiplatform title.
Famed RPG developer BioWare is taking its act to outer space for the futuristic adventure Mass Effect. Effect is the first game in a planned trilogy, and features a plot revolving around a human who's been chosen as a defender of galactic peace. Effect is rather unique in that it features real-time, third-person-perspective shooter combat, with artificial intelligence-controlled allies able to fight on their own or under a player's direction.
Photorealistic characters and surround sound show off Xbox 360's video and aural capabilities, and would-be saviors of the galaxy can journey to a host of alien worlds.
As with previous BioWare titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, Effect will feature a morality system that tracks a hero's actions; the choices a player makes directly affects how he's perceived by characters in the world and influences the direction of the story, right up to its conclusion.
"The approach we're taking is to use that incredibly important mission to empower the player to extreme levels," say BioWare joint CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. "In other words, being ‘evil' in Mass Effect doesn't just mean being a jerk to someone—it's about giving players really good reasons to do really harsh things—which have major impact on how the story unfolds. You can also take more of a classical 'hero' approach, or one that's mainly self-serving. But they are all for the purpose of doing a mission so important that absolutely nothing will hold you back."
Sony Online's Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for PlayStation 3 is being built from scratch for Sony's new console, and an early version of the game looks appropriately beautiful; bits of gameplay feature a brutish hero plodding through and playing with crystal-clear waters, making real-time waves as he walks.
"We're combining visceral hack-n-slash combat, an in-depth character progression and item-collection system, brain-bending environment puzzles, and fusing everything together with an intriguing story written in collaboration with Keith Baker, the creator of the Eberron series," the game's producer Andy Sites says. "By combining these elements, we feel that Dark Kingdom will have the perfect blend of action, depth, and complexity."
With the rallying cry of "Make Mine Marvel!" firmly intact, Activision (in conjunction with developers Raven Software, Vicarious Visions, and Beenox Studios) plans to let players form the greatest superhero team ever—or the absolute worst. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance features an all-star, 20-man lineup of Marvel Comics heroes such as Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and Thor. Players can pick and choose their team members, sending them out into the great unknown to battle the fiendish metal-masked Dr. Doom and his newly formed Masters of Evil.
Heroes in Alliance will grow and become more powerful with experience. Fights can take place in the air, under the seas, or out in space, and a player's actions will not only determine the course of the story, but will also affect the fate of the Marvel Comics universe as a whole.
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