Remember 2005 British TV comedy series Extras, written by The Office duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant? The one where Gervais played an actor stuck making a living as an extra, and where a string of guest stars like Ben Stiller, Patrick Stewart and Samuel L. Jackson appeared? The late, great David Bowie even popped up in Series 2. Good, wasn't it?
Hi, I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favourite platform on the Citadel.
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BioWare has celebrated a decade of Mass Effect by releasing a new video featuring developers involved in the much-loved, now much-missed space franchise.
EA executive Patrick Soderlund sees no reason why Mass Effect shouldn't be revisited in the future, but said if it was, it would have to be in a fresh, exciting and relevant way.
Editor's note: Jordan Erica Webber is co-author with Eurogamer contributor Daniel Griliopoulos of the weighty tome Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us: (about life, philosophy and everything), out this month. We've asked her to write a few thoughts on video games as works of philosophy. Beware: there are spoilers for Soma, the Mass Effect and Fallout series ahead.
One of BioWare's lead designers, Corey Gaspur, has passed away.
BioWare's general manager Aaryn Flynn is leaving the acclaimed RPG studio after 17 years with the company.
His departure comes roughly four months after the launch of Mass Effect Andromeda, a game that debuted to lackluster sales and disappointing critical reception. Our Edwin Evans-Thirlwell called it "probably BioWare's worst RPG yet" in his review, and the tepid reaction to the game has put the sci-fi series "on ice".
Interestingly, Flynn's role will be replaced by the Mass Effect series' project director Casey Hudson, who left the company back in 2014 and accepted a position as project director at Microsoft Studios the following year, where he was to work on HoloLens projects.
Whether you're traversing an expansive open world, climbing crumbling ruins or sneaking between shadowy city corners, the landscapes and environments we see in games have never been better. Gone are the days of miracle-growing trees popping up at certain draw distances. Instead, we have places and environments deliberately and carefully designed, and landscapes so realistic we can relate to them, be astonished by them, even yearn for them. Naturally, ever-improving graphical capabilities have a lot to do with this, because as environments get more realistic, we increasingly experience them as 'real', but there can be, and often is, so much more to it than just the technical ability to crank up the aesthetics.
Ask a Mass Effect fan to pick their favourite mission from the trilogy and you'll probably hear a range of responses. There's the Virmire level in Mass Effect 1, for example, where BioWare unexpectedly forced players to choose between two squadmates' lives. Then there's the superlative Suicide Mission finale of Mass Effect 2, perhaps the most intricately-plotted episode of the whole series. There are whole flowcharts to explain that one.
On the eve of Mass Effect Andromeda's EA/Origin Access trial and just a week out from the game's launch, we decided it was time to refresh our memories of gaming's greatest sci-fi trilogy.
Mass Effect 2, one of the best games of all time, is now available to download on PC via Origin for absolutely nothing.
UPDATE 5.05pm Microsoft has just made the announcement official:
EA appears to have decided against releasing a Mass Effect trilogy remaster.
That's according to EA exec Peter Moore, who has poured cold water on the prospect in a new interview.
"Could we make an easy buck on remastering Mass Effect? Yes," he told IGN (around the 1hr 16 mark). Have a thousand people asked me that? Yes they have. Do we have... No."
The Mass Effect series will be getting four new spin-off novels bridging the gap between the trilogy we all know and love and the highly anticipated fourth entry, Mass Effect: Andromeda, due in Q1 2017.
Origin Access - the PC service granting players loads of EA games, discounts, and early access to upcoming title for £3.99 a month - has added the Mass Effect Trilogy to its Vault.
UPDATE 11.16pm 4th April 2016: As predicted, the ad in question has now been removed from Donald Trump's Twitter account due to a copyright strike.
Writer Drew Karpyshyn has returned to BioWare. He left in 2012 - I interviewed him after his departure - to concentrate on his Chaos Born trilogy of fantasy books and, now that they're complete, he's decided to return.
UPDATE: Microsoft's tech people confirmed to Eurogamer at E3 that Xbox 360 save files will transfer to Xbox One via the cloud. Old games you don't own will also be available to buy further down the line.
The small list of Xbox 360 games compatible with Xbox One in the Preview programme was shared.
Banjo Kazooie: N n B
Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare has turned 20 today, but it doesn't look a day older than 19.
I'd love to visit BioWare headquarters in Edmonton, Canada, and now I sort of can. And I don't even have to leave my desk.
BioWare Edmonton and Montreal boss Aaryn Flynn has discussed the possibility of a re-mastered Mass Effect Trilogy, and polled fans on what features they would want included.
BioWare executive producer Casey Hudson has left the renowned studio after 16 years.
Sci-fi fans have spotted a familiar face in the BBC's new Doctor Who - an alien who looks a lot like Mass Effect squad member Garrus.
Editor's note: With the recent release of Mass Effect Andromeda, quite possibly BioWare's worst RPG to date, we look back to one of its best. This retrospective first appeared on Eurogamer in June 2014.
UPDATE 17/03 4.30PM GMT: The Epoch: Return Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. It failed to gather enough fundraising momentum, making only $26,158 of its $150,000 goal.
BioWare has discussed internally the idea of remastering the Mass Effect series for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
A fan asked BioWare boss Aaryn Flynn on Twitter what he thought about a next-gen, 1080p, high-resolution texture, 60 frames-per-second version for PS4 and Xbox One.
Flynn's response: "We have discussed that internally. If we can put solid plans together we'll share."
Remember all that hullabaloo about revealing lesbian sex in Mass Effect? However ludicrous the criticism, it's the sort of steamy content BioWare fans have come expect - love stories, love scenes, and often quite daring and progressive ones (for video games, at least).
Veteran BioWare designer Matt Rhodes has posted an array of Mass Effect concept art from throughout the sci-fi trilogy which hints at early ideas for the series' characters and conclusion.
UPDATE: EA has told Eurogamer it is in the process of eliminating Online Pass from all its existing titles.
Temper your expectations about the generational leap in graphics between this generation of console gaming and the next, urged BioWare art director Neil Thompson.
Look at them, EA!
Robin Sachs - voice of Zaeed Massani in Mass Effect but better known as Ethan Rayne in Buffy - has died aged 61.
BioWare adventures are known for their romances. It's one of the first thing players talk about with their friends; "Who did you go for?"
David Gaider has worked at BioWare for 14 years. He first helped make Baldur's Gate 2 and now he's lead writer of the Dragon Age series of games. He's a part of the old BioWare and the new.
UPDATE #2: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 developer Treyarch has told gamers they should contact Activision's customer service if they experience "issues" with their game disc.
BioWare has called for fan feedback as it begins work on the next Mass Effect game.
BioWare's Mass Effect Trilogy bundle will include a limited selection of DLC.
BioWare has announced the Mass Effect Trilogy Edition, a compilation of all three Mass Effect games in one big box.
That means that PlayStation 3 gamers can finally play the original Mass Effect (published, back in the day, by Microsoft), just five years after it originally hit Xbox 360.
Mass Effect Trilogy Edition will launch in North America on "N7 Day" - that's 7th November if you're not BioWare, likely meaning a Friday 9th November in the UK.
Drew Karpyshyn not only resembles Commander Shepard facially - he created him. Drew Karpyshyn was one of BioWare's greatest ever writers. He was lead writer of cherished Star Wars role-playing game Knights of the Old Republic, and he was lead writer of Mass Effect 1, 2, and all the books in-between (not Deception). Along the way, Karpyshyn also influenced Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire and massive storied MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic - a job that meant he couldn't be a part of Mass Effect 3.
2K Games boss Christoph Hartmann has gone and said something controversial. He's declared that only when games approach photorealistic graphics will they be able to broaden their genre-horizon and properly do nuanced emotion like Brokeback Mountain - rather than the Mission Impossible experiences we get today.
Her name is Commander Shepard, though her friends call her anything from Jane to Shiva to Lydia. She's one of the most popular heroines in gaming history; a three-time galaxy saviour who takes no crap and wouldn't be caught dead in a chainmail bikini. To most, she's a long-haired redhead, but she's been seen trying other colours and styles. To some, she's a diplomat, to others, a ruthless, trigger-happy bitch.
Looking forward to Mass Effect 3? Of course you are. If you've only played the first two games, though, you've barely scratched the surface of BioWare's amazing sci-fi universe. There are books, comics and of course, a whole stack of downloadable add-ons that fill in the gaps, take you to places Shepard doesn't get to go, and explain details you may have missed - like exactly why everyone hates Cerberus so much. But which ones are worth your time, which are essential if you want to appreciate the full story, and which can be skipped? We've checked them all out. For you.
Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect 1, has retired from BioWare and video games.
BioWare isn't happy with the new Mass Effect: Deception novel either.
The just-released Mass Effect: Deception book has gone down like a lead balloon with Mass Effect fans. The novel is apparently riddled with canonical errors.
You-hoo, PC gamers, there's a juicy sale going on over at EA's digital distribution shop Origin.
Mass Effect 3 will feature a Citadel mission originally intended for Mass Effect 2, according to the game's lead writer.
Speaking in an interview with OXM, Mac Walters explained that BioWare had planned to include more Citadel content in Mass Effect 2 but then changed direction, leaving a number of mission ideas on the cutting room floor.
However, at least one of those threads will be resurrected in the impending threequel.
"Batman must save Gotham," says everyone's favorite butler/surgeon/IT guy Alfred during the third act of Batman: Arkham City. He's not kidding. If I allow Bats to fail at rescuing even one of serial killer Victor Szasz's hostages it's off to the game-over screen. Retry or quit, there is no fail.
BioWare wants your feedback again, this time for a prototype figure of Mass Effect 1 squad member and romance option Liara T'Soni.
BioWare has revealed that "18 per cent of everyone who plays Mass Effect plays it with a female character".
Lady Shepard will feature on the Mass Effect 3 Collector's Edition box, BioWare has said.
Mass Effect 2: Genesis, the interactive backstory comic created for the PlayStation 3 version of stupendous role-playing shooter Mass Effect 2, is out now for Xbox 360.
A Mass Effect anime feature film is currently being produced for a summer 2012 airing, BioWare has announced.
A fourth Mass Effect novel is on its way to bookshops, publisher Del Rey has announced.
Mass Effect: Deception will continue the story of enigmatic biotic Gillian Grayson, who was introduced in the second book in the series, Mass Effect: Ascension.
It's being written by one-man game tie-in factory William C. Dietz, who has also churned out books expanding the Resistance, Hitman, StarCraft and Halo universes.
Any gamer who buys or has already bought Dragon Age II can claim a free PC download of Mass Effect 2, developer BioWare has announced.
As rumoured yesterday, Mass Effect 2's Arrival DLC pack launches on 29th March, publisher EA has confirmed.
The DLC sees Commander Shepard dispatched to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who is thought to have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion, nicely setting things up for Mass Effect 3, which is due later this year.
Fan favorite Admiral Hackett, voiced by science-fiction legend Lance Henriksen, is said to play a prominent role in the new expansion. You'll have to scrape together 560 MS Points / £5.49 / 560 BioWare Points to find out in what capacity.
Mass Effect 2's Arrival DLC releases on 29th March, if a new leak is to be believed.
Mass Effect 2 has taken the top prize at this year's gaming BAFTA ceremony, with Heavy Rain the other big winner.
First look at the game-bridging expansion.
EA has declared itself happy with the experiment of releasing Mass Effect 2 for the PlayStation 3 digitally and physically in shops at the same time and sparked hope that gamers could see more games launch in the same way in the future.
Mass Effect 2 launched in January as a Blu-ray and a 12GB PSN download on the same day.
"Sony had never done a day and day release," CEO John Riccitiello told an audience at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference (as reported by IGN). "They were very cautious about their infrastructure so it was mostly a technology test."
The Mass Effect 2 Arrival DLC uncovered last month has been sighted again - this time inside the Dragon Age II game box.
The next significant Mass Effect 2 add-on has been spotted and goes by the name of Arrival.
Red Dead Redemption was the most prolific winner at this year's AIAS (Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences) Interactive Achievement Awards - gaming's equivalent of the Oscars.
The 10-game shortlist for this year's public vote prize at the GAME British Academy Video Games Awards was announced this morning.
Mass Effect 3 may sound very different to Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 - BioWare has hired Clint Mansell, whose best work has been done partnering with celebrated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Black Swan), to make the game's music.
BioWare has fixed the PS3 Mass Effect 2 bug that was corrupting save files and throwing away hours of gamers' time.
That fix will be part of a patch that also speeds loading and level streaming; adds telemetry (an information reporting system); corrects spelling mistakes (!); alters the picture in Shepard's Cabin so that it reflects the love interest chosen during the interactive comic; and eradicates a bug causing the PSN download version of ME2 to crash in Shepard's Cabin.
But alas, the patch first needs to be delivered to Sony for validation and distribution. BioWare - wrote community manager Chris Priestly on the company forums - will do this "ASAP". Friday is his best estimate of when the patch will be submitted.
Has your PS3 Mass Effect 2 save-game corrupted after tens of hours and become unplayable? Don't worry, BioWare knows about this and is busy "working to understand what is occurring".
Mass Effect 2 is available to download from the European PlayStation Store and it costs a whopping £48.
Sony and Media Molecule's enchanting user-generated platformer LittleBigPlanet 2 has entered the UK all-formats chart at number one.
On the re-stocked PlayStation Store today you'll find Costume Quest on Ice and add-on content for Mass Effect 2.
That wildly acclaimed second space opera by BioWare heralds the series' arrival on PS3. You can buy, for instance, a complete N7 arsenal of weaponry for roughly six quid, or you can ever so slightly alter what your team-mates look like for £1.59. See what you've been missing?
As to how Mass Effect 2 holds up on PS3, we've compared the PS3 demo and final code; talked about the game's installation and faced the PS3 and Xbox 360 version off against one another. We even reproduced the PS3 digital comic that retells the big events of Mass Effect 1.
Either Digital Foundry's PlayStation 3 debugging station is in desperate need of a new hard drive or else Mass Effect 2 can take anything up to 52 minutes to install for a relatively paltry 4272MB of data, not including the additional downloaded DLC.
The same scenes tested on both platforms...
Another lengthy wait analysed by Digital Foundry.
The only taste of Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3 that gamers have had so far is a demo that we took a look at before breaking off for the Christmas holiday. Our first thoughts? Aside from an unlocked frame-rate and lighting variations, it was much the same as the Xbox 360 version.
Ah, 2011. Full of optimism, hope and... wait, today's the most depressing day of the year. And it's raining everywhere. Yeah!
Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other: that's how Eurogamer compared the PS3 demo performance of Mass Effect 2 to the existing full Xbox 360 game.
The Mass Effect franchise has gone cross-platform, but for licensing reasons it's unlikely that PlayStation 3 owners will ever get a version of the original game for their console. This is something of a problem, because BioWare envisaged the series as an interlinked story where decisions you make in the first game have ramifications in both the sequel and this year's concluding chapter.
The belated PlayStation 3 release of Mass Effect 2 is much more than a straightforward port of the PC and Xbox 360 original, developer BioWare has boasted.
BioWare has published a taster of the forthcoming Mass Effect Evolution comic series, which promises to flesh out the backstory of its RPG franchise.
PlayStation 3 owners who pick up Mass Effect 2 when it launches later this month will be privy to a batch of free DLC for BioWare's epic action RPG.
According to the game's Facebook page, you'll be able to download the Terminus Armor and M-490 Blackstorm Projector Weapon free of charge from the PSN Store until 23rd February. After that, you'll need to open your wallets.
What does it do? Well, the armour increases running speed, beefs up your shields and augments ammo capacity, while the M-490 creates a devastating miniature black hole.
There's another lump of downloadable content coming to Mass Effect 2, BioWare has announced.
However, the Cerberus Daily News posts - those fictional bulletins found opposite the Mass Effect 2 main menu - will hereby cease.
"The Cerberus Daily News will begin a hiatus on January 24th, finishing its run of one full year," the CDN announced on New Year's Day (caught by NeoGAF)
It's just over 11 years since we flipped the switch on Eurogamer and started pumping our thoughts about games out into the world, and this will be the seventh game of the year we've named in that time. Despite a few leftfield choices along the way though (Psychonauts in 2005 is still my favourite), we've never crowned an RPG - until today.
Recent news that Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3 is running on a newer, enhanced engine and may even be the "definitive" version of the game raised more than a few eyebrows. While performance is close, Unreal Engine 3 typically favours the Xbox 360, and it's safe to assume that BioWare's prior customisations to the tech were carried out very much with the Microsoft platform in mind. So, is the PS3 version genuinely enhanced and improved?
Based on the demo code released last night, our conclusion is that the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 is different as opposed to definitive, and while nobody is likely to be disappointed with the game, a direct comparison with the Xbox 360 version suggests that while some elements are improved, others have been downgraded and the effectiveness of some of the aesthetic changes will all come down to personal taste.
The format of the demo is similar to the Xbox 360 sampler: you get to witness the destruction of the Normandy, you'll create your own in-game avatar and then witness Shepard's resurrection and the pitched battle through to the end of the intro level. After that, the focus shifts to a secondary action-orientated level. In the 360 game, that was Shepard's orbital prison breakout, while on PS3, the mission shifts to a visit to a plague-ridden planet as our hero attempts to add a brilliant, if eccentric medic to his (or her) team.
The outstanding additions to a jam-packed PlayStation Store today are three demos: one for Dead Space 2, one for LittleBigPlanet 2 and one for Mass Effect 2.
They got me again when I found the MSV Estevanico.
BioWare's gargantuan science fiction Mass Effect universe was designed from the beginning to provide opportunities to tell spin-off tales in comics and novels but one area in particular could be ripe for further investigation: the Citadel.
BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have been inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame alongside videogame greats such as Shigeru Miyamoto, Peter Molyneux and Yu Suzuki.
The new, PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 will look better than the original on Xbox 360 - that's because BioWare's using the Mass Effect 3 engine to power it.
A demo of the PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2 will be released on the European PlayStation Network on 22nd December, EA has announced.
EA failed to mention the content of the demo. We're checking now.
Mass Effect 2 PS3 will launch in Europe on 21st January a year after the release of the Xbox 360 version.
PlayStation 3 owners will finally be able to play Mass Effect 2 next month.
The science-fiction role-playing shooter is due out on 21st January in Europe and 18th January in the US, IGN reports.
The PS3 version features a raft of bonus content, including an interactive comic designed to help bridge the storylines of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Choices made while interacting with the comic carry over into your Mass Effect 2 adventure.
BioWare has reassured PS3 users that their forthcoming version of Mass Effect 2 won't make any sacrifices in its visual and will be "as good, if not better than the Xbox version".
You think you have trouble keeping up with all the games coming out? BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka spends up to three hours a night on games and still thinks that's not enough.
The PlayStation 3 version of science fiction role-playing game Mass Effect 2 will include an interactive comic designed to introduce newcomers to the series.
BioWare's community liaison Chris Priestly has told fans that the Lair of the Shadowbroker add-on for Mass Effect 2 has been fixed.
Xbox 360 gamers preferred team-mate Grunt to team-mate Miranda, although the opposite was true on PC, BioWare has revealed.
The next episode of Mass Effect 2 downloadable content, The Lair of the Shadow Broker, will be released on the PC and Xbox 360 on 7th September.
BioWare boss Ray Muzyka has confirmed Mass Effect 2 for PS3.
The game will be available in January 2011.
BioWare has unveiled the next lump of Mass Effect 2 DLC as Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Bearded BioWare boss Greg Zeschuk has insisted he's not "gouging" money from fans for multiple chunks of premium DLC.
Yesterday, BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk delivered a keynote presentation to the Develop Conference in Brighton entitled Creative Game Development: How we do it at BioWare. In it, he discussed BioWare's rise from being two men in a Canadian garage to the triple-A developer it is today.
BioWare has released a new downloadable content pack for role-playing shooter Mass Effect 2.
Bonnie and Clyde. Morecambe and Wise. Zeschuk and Muzyka. Only two of them sound like words made up by someone trying to cheat at Scrabble, but all of them are known for being highly successful partnerships. Whether you're all about murderous crime sprees, dancing with Angela Rippon or setting up Canadian development studios focused on producing globally successful role-playing videogames in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, it takes two to make an impact.
Overlord, the latest and largest of the Mass Effect DLC packs, is a mixed bag in the best possible way. It's a medium-sized adventure that never lets one gameplay element dominate for too long, leavening the expected duck-and-cover combat with openworld exploration and a dash of environmental puzzling, all wrapped up in a story that builds to a satisfying and pathos-heavy finale. It is almost exactly what you want from a low-priced downloadable add-on.
It begins, as all these things do, with a new marker added to the Galaxy Map. There you'll find an abandoned Cerberus research facility, dead bodies strewn all over the place and signs of an almighty struggle everywhere you look. Once you discover the chief scientist, conveniently also the lone survivor of the massacre, you start to unravel what went down.
Turns out Cerberus has been researching ways to combine the human mind with that of the Geth. The result turns out to be an adorable little Labrador puppy called Scraps McKenzie, who joins your crew and amuses everyone with his mischievous ways. Actually, no. The result is a murderous Virtual Intelligence that has taken control of all the technology on the planet, and now plans to beam itself into space so it can spread to other worlds. Announcing its presence by howling in an often-incoherent digital roar that is genuinely unnerving, it makes for an effective - if mostly unseen - enemy.
New DLC and a new demo for EA's space epic.
Microsoft's latest Xbox Live schedule has given us solid dates for the Mass Effect 2 Overlord expansion and the Xbox Live Arcade re-release of Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project.
Electronic Arts' UK general manager Keith Ramsdale has claimed that 'Project Ten Dollar' is about enhancing the value of EA games, and not an attempt to upset second-hand sales and illegal downloads.
An EA job advert for a "multiplayer programmer (Mass Effect franchise)" at BioWare Montreal suggests, in big neon lettering, that multiplayer is coming to Mass Effect.
A big screen adaptation of hit RPG series Mass Effect is in the works at Legendary Pictures.
BioWare bosses Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will work as executive producers on the film, along with Casey Hudson - who executively produced the games. There's no script just yet but Mark Protosevich, who wrote I Am Legend and Thor, is in talks to produce one.
Legendary Pictures' previous offerings include 300, The Dark Night, The Hangover and Watchmen. The company will work with Warner Bros. to co-finance and distribute the Mass Effect movie.
BioWare's Casey Hudson has said that the controversial mining mini-game from Mass Effect 2 will not be thrown out for the third game in the series.
BioWare has released a patch for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox 360. A PC version "is in the works".
Top of of the list is "optimised" mineral scanning, according to community manager Chris Priestly's forum post.
Grunt's Fotification ability has been "fixed", as has an "issue" where players could receive additional talent points.
Geth AI runs riot in the new DLC pack.
EA has revealed the next significant paid add-on for Mass Effect 2. It's called Overlord and will be available in June for 560 Microsoft Points (£4.80/6.70).
Shots from the latest DLC.
EA boss John Riccitiello has called Project Ten Dollar and the new EA Sports Online Pass initiative a "positive consumer experience" that offers a "boat-load" of content buyers otherwise wouldn't have access to.
BioWare has released the Equalizer Pack downloadable content for Mass Effect 2.
EA's told Eurogamer that codes for bonus Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect 2 content do not expire and can be redeemed beyond what the leaflets inside the retail boxes say.
It's been interesting to see BioWare, consummate master of the long-form narrative, come to terms with the new storytelling territory offered by downloadable content. After fumbling the ball with a drab pair of morsels for the original Mass Effect, it's been far more proactive with its sequel, as well as its sibling, Dragon Age. It's not been an easy journey, however. Finding ways to insert new, compelling tales into enormous pre-existing stories, and making those tales resonate on their own terms, is a skill that the RPG behemoth is arguably still grinding towards, one painstaking XP point at a time.
Mass Effect 2 has fared better than Dragon Age, that much is clear. There's not really been any DLC that can compare to Return to Ostagar for sheer pointlessness, and even the less compelling offerings have either been free (as in the case of the Normandy Crash Site interlude) or easily ignored (as in the case of downloadable sunglasses for Thane).
What is most exciting is that the two most recent additions to the Mass Effect tapestry showcase a developer that is using DLC not to suck up more cash by offering more of the same, but to play around with parameters of the original game in novel ways.
Kasumi's Stolen Memory, the first paid downloadable content pack for Mass Effect 2, is now live.
BioWare bosses Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have apologised for restricting the BioWare Bazaar competition to North American residents only (but not those in Florida or New York).
The BioWare countdown timer we mentioned last week has run down and revealed... a North American competition to win PCs and merchandise.
Meet Kasumi Goto, who costs 560 MSP.
BioWare's offering a new set of costumes for Mass Effect 2 tomorrow alongside the known-about Firewalker DLC.
BioWare has dated the Mass Effect 2 Firewalker DLC for 23rd March - or this Tuesday, if you don't like numbers.
BioWare's full of praise for new owner EA, which has helped the RPG-maker see the light in terms of creating, pricing and planning downloadable content.
BioWare's announced the Kasumi's Stolen Memory downloadable content for Mass Effect 2.
Due 6th April, this introduces the last and twelfth recruit to the roster: Kasumi.
You'll find her - a thief - on The Citadel, and help her on a top secret recovery mission should you feel helpful. Joystiq said the task requires a disguise and leads to a run-in with an art collector.
BioWare once steered clear of sequels, but today the EA-owned company has a very different mindset.
BioWare has announced plans to release the Firewalker pack for Mass Effect 2 in late March, introducing the Hammerhead heavy assault vehicle.
Featuring the Hammerhead.
There was always the sense that Mass Effect was a console game where the ambitions of the developer were held back significantly by the technology utilised. BioWare's use of Unreal Engine 3 was an inspired choice in creating the look and feel of its epic space opera, but in terms of the basic performance level the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect was legendarily disappointing.
Xbox 360 sold comfortably more units than PlayStation 3 during January in North America.
EA boss John Schappert has told disembodied investors to expect "something far-reaching from Mass Effect" early next year.
Mass Effect 2 has held onto the UK All-Formats chart top spot for a second week.
BioWare co-founder Dr Ray Muzyka has said that the absence of gay relationships in the Mass Effect games is a storytelling decision.
BioWare has said that it can't do anything to bump up the text size in Mass Effect 2 to placate struggling SDTV owners, but that it will try to avoid the problem next time.
BioWare has said that more free Mass Effect 2 downloadable content will be released soon.
BioWare has denied that Mass Effect 2 is on its way to PlayStation 3 after fans uncovered references to the Sony platform in files included with the PC version.
Everyone is safe! If you've played Mass Effect 2 for more than a quarter of an hour (behaviour we recommend), nothing you read below will spoil anything. If you still haven't started playing, you might want to get that out of the way before you read page two, but you're quite safe until then.
BioWare's galactic PC and Xbox 360 RPG Mass Effect 2 has entered the UK all-formats chart at number one.
Free downloadable content has already been released for Mass Effect 2, days ahead of Friday's launch. Don't read any further if you're allergic to even tiny spoilers.
For games that are so obsessed with their own fake histories that their creators often commission novels to promote them, RPGs are curiously happy to ignore their real-life predecessors. Fable II takes place in the same world as Fable, but only notionally. Fallout 3 was inspired by its ancestors, but made its own radical way. And virtually everything Square has made since 1997 has Final Fantasy stamped on it, but the majority of the games wouldn't recognise one another at a family picnic.
Mass Effect 2 is meant to be different. For a start it is neither beginning nor end - it's the second instalment in a trilogy of releases cataloguing the antics of humans and their alien friends in space, in a future dogged by myth, politics and a suspiciously readymade transport network. But more importantly it is designed to allow for choices that may have already been made by the player in the first game, and to bequeath several years' worth of possible decisions to a future sequel.
The game begins shortly after its predecessor. Commander Shepard and friends have vanquished Saren and his master, and are rumbling around the galaxy trying to wipe out any remaining Geth robots. All of a sudden a massive, unknown alien ship assaults them. The attack plunges you, as Shepard, into a fiery playable prologue in the heart of a disintegrating spaceship, introducing or reintroducing basic movement and conversation skills in violent and eye-catching circumstances.
BioWare co-founder Dr Greg Zeschuk has said the developer will continue to create games in the Mass Effect universe following the completion of the current trilogy.
BioWare plans to release a free DLC pack including new missions and a new character for Mass Effect 2 next week.
BioWare has said it will not charge for any Mass Effect 2 downloadable content released alongside the game next week.
"Addressing rumours: BioWare will not be charging extra for any new Mass Effect 2 content on launch day. More DLC details next week," the developer tweeted on Friday.
Those rumours were based on a story in Norwegian newspaper DagBladet (since removed, but Joystiq retains details) that said we should expect new armour, weapons, a new planet and a new ally to follow the game's launch.
BioWare's Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson has said the second game in its space opera trilogy will have an "intense schedule" of downloadable content, the first fruits of which will appear "shortly" after launch.
BioWare has incorporated "New Game+" into Mass Effect 2, despite originally ditching it because it would make it harder to handle the transition to Mass Effect 3.
BioWare has hinted that the current Mass Effect story arc will conclude at the end of the third game.
BioWare's Ray Muzyka has explained that Mass Effect 2 allows players to choose their backstory through dialogue options should they not have a Mass Effect 1 saved game to hand. The sequel will also take educated guesses at what you would have done.
The American Entertainment Software Rating Board has published its summary for Mass Effect 2, outlining the various themes that earned the game a Mature rating.
Biotic and tech lovers unite.
BioWare has revealed that a colourful and storied collection of veteran sci-fi actors have joined the voice cast for Mass Effect 2.
In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard gets caught up with the shady Cerberus organisation as he tries to work out why human colonies are disappearing. We already knew that Cerberus would be headed up by the Illusive Man, played by President Bartlett from the West Wing (occasionally also known as Martin Sheen), and now we know one of his top operatives, named Miranda Lawson, is played by Yvonne Strahovski from TV series Chuck.
Strahovski's character has been "genetically engineered for superior mental and physical traits", apparently. Strahovski's not the only Chuck alum, either. Adam Baldwin also makes the transition, taking on the role of Kal 'Reegar and proving that you really, really can't stop the signal.
Drinks tea well, excels at long lunch breaks.
BioWare has said that loading screens providing "interesting visuals and information" are Mass Effect 2's alternative to the first game's divisive elevator sequences.
BioWare has confirmed that Mass Effect 2 will ship on two game discs when it's released for PC and Xbox 360 early next year.
She's a pro biotic.
BioWare has popped out two new videos for Mass Effect 2; one showing the improvements made to the Adept class and the other detailing the return of Tali.
Tali returns, as does the Adept class.
EA has revealed that Mass Effect 2 will use the same DRM copy protection as Dragon Age: Origins.
BioWare staff writer Patrick Weekes has defended the way the developer structures stories in its games, picking apart a tongue-in-cheek, fan-made "RPG Clichι Chart".
People didn't really respond all that well to the unveiling of the new Mass Effect character Subject Zero. A troubled lady with attitude and tats, she looked like the kind of person you'd rather have blasted out into space through an air lock than get stuck in a lift with - a particularly poignant worry given the original Mass Effect's excessive elevator-based predilections.
EA has unveiled the Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 2, which arrives in Europe on 29th January 2010.
BioWare is planning to support Mass Effect 2 with oodles of downloadable content, according to a report.
BioWare has announced that Mass Effect 2 will be released in the UK on 29th January for PC and Xbox 360.
EA has told Eurogamer that PlayStation 3 listings for Left 4 Dead 2 and Mass Effect 2 were posted to the publisher's Russian website in error. They've since been removed.
Not one to take home to momma.
Just imagine. Imagine a world where for just £6 you could attend a fabulous gaming show packed full of incredible games, organised by your favourite website and attended by all of your lovely friends. Wouldn't that be beautiful?
BioWare lead writer Mac Walters reckons there's a surprising amount of difference between Mass Effect and its upcoming sequel, even after a million plays through.
I made a bit of an error with Mass Effect. Going for edgy realism, I designed my particular Shepard to resemble the western approach of Kilimanjaro after an improbable collision with an aerial crocodile farm - all rugged escarpments and pockmarked, gnarly-leather skin. He is not what you'd call a looker.
BioWare has confirmed that Mass Effect 2 will launch simultaneously on PC and Xbox 360 early next year.
Drell assassin Thane joins the crew.
BioWare has explained how your Mass Effect save-game will be put to use by the sequel, which is due out next year.
If you're a game developer who's prone to epileptic fits, repeated coronary occlusions, or regular spells of choking during lunch, you could do a lot worse than seek employment with BioWare, an RPG house run by not one, but two, MDs. With the release of Dragon Age: Origins looming, and a merger with stable-mate Mythic, the developer behind Warhammer Online, recently announced by parent company EA, we caught up with co-founder Dr Greg Zeschuk to discuss the ramifications of the new organisational structure, and what we can expect from the studio's latest, significantly darker take on fantasy. We also asked what he made of this strange lump on our neck. (It turned out to be peanut butter.)
Renowned RPG maker BioWare may be ready to ditch fantasy and science-fiction and focus on a modern-day setting instead.
BioWare has explained that Mass Effect 2 will not allow same-character campaign replays like the original.
By the end of BioWare's first Mass Effect game, regardless of the gender, facial features, moral alignment and sexual predilections of your own personal Commander Shepard (ours was a half-hearted moral fence-sitter with a tendency to try and screw anything that moved, despite the fact that he looked like an ageing sixth-form college lecturer), they were blasting into space as a fully-fledged Spectre agent, ready to kick off some serious intergalactic shenanigans. They were a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory, in other words, but sometime soon after that - according to the sequel's enigmatic announcement trailer, at least - they promptly dropped dead.
Not so sheepish now.
BioWare has unveiled some of the new characters, locations, weapons and story details for Mass Effect 2.
You'll play as Shepard again for at least a portion of the game, according to an OXM preview read by NeoGAF. He will be "much bigger and more powerful" and "presented in a darker, grittier style".
We'll be able to recruit a new character called Thane, a smooth, suave assassin shown breaking another person's neck from behind in a screenshot. Plenty of characters will return from Mass Effect 1, such as Joker (voiced by Seth Green), and we'll also meet many new faces, such as a Krogan called Grunt and a tough and wiry Salarian scientist. There's to be an entirely new Drell race, too.
Mass Effect 2 overseer Casey Hudson wants to take players to the most brutal parts of the universe in this upcoming "dark act".
BioWare has confirmed Mass Effect: Jacob's Story for iPhone and iPod Touch, after a focus group tester broke NDA to leak the project last month.
BioWare has revealed Mass Effect: Jacob's Story for iPhone, a two-hour "animated presentation" that will introduce the characters and story of Mass Effect 2.
BioWare doctor-bosses Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka have hinted that a multiplayer mode could still feature in Mass Effect 2.
BioWare showed GDC crowds two videos of Mass Effect 2 gameplay and unveiled the first details of the space opera sequel.
We all knew about it anyway, but EA has finally officially confirmed development of PC and Xbox 360 RPG-shooter sequel Mass Effect 2.
EA also reiterated that the game, which sadly is still not in development for PlayStation 3, is the second instalment in a planned trilogy, although the publisher dropped few hints about what to expect ahead of its "early 2010" release.
"Saren's evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with an even greater peril," according to the story blurb. The original teaser trailer hinted that Shepard had been killed, although this seems unlikely.
BioWare has released the first footage of Mass Effect 2.
The teaser clip shows no gameplay footage, but instead lists known details of protagonist Shephard before proclaiming him/her "killed in action". The clip closes with what appears to be a Geth destroyer zapping the camera with its laser eye.
So far that's more or less all we know about the sequel, although we've heard BioWare is planning "much darker" experience based around the differences of organic to synthetic life.
BioWare has said the next downloadable addition to Mass Effect will be a Fight Club-style arena. Expect less of a focus on story, and more on gambling and good old-fashioned dust-ups.
Electronic Arts boss John Riccitiello has said that a sequel to Battlefield: Bad Company is in development along with a Wii Dead Space game, and that Mass Effect II will be released before the end of the company's next financial year.