Six months after BioWare's stunning science fiction RPG exploded onto the Xbox 360, PC owners now have the chance to jump into the Mass Effect universe. BioWare's drafted in help from Massachusetts developer Demiurge Studios to help tweak some of the 360 game's annoyances - but has it resulted in a better experience? We pit the two Mass Effects against each other in a sci-fi showdown to find out which version is most deserving of your hard-earned cash.
If all you want to see is how the two versions compare visually, head straight to our comparison screen shots.
Mass Effect's graphics are stupendous on both the Xbox 360 and the PC. Let's get that out of the way first. The film grain effect, stunning backgrounds and character detail help create perhaps the coolest, most cinematic sci-fi game ever made. But we can't get away from the fact that the PC version facilitates higher resolutions than the 360 version - much higher resolutions. The 360 version peaks at 720p, while the PC version can be set far higher. Obviously this results in a sharper, crisper game. To our eyes the biggest improvement is in the character faces, which in increased res look so convincing you'd be forgiven for thinking you were watching a live action movie.
The graphical differences extend to performance improvements too. The 360 version suffered from incredibly annoying texture pop in. This has been almost entirely eradicated for the PC version. Mass Effect on 360 was about as immersive an experience as you could hope for, but when bits of armour and face textures appeared as if from nowhere seconds after the main model loaded it reminded you that, actually, you were playing a video game after all. The problem simply doesn't exist on the PC version.
We happen to think a game's graphics are more to do with the overall aesthetic, the look and feel, than resolutions and performance. That's why a high definition game can look worse than a standard definition Wii game. We loved the aesthetic of the 360 version - the film grain and motion blur all playing a part in the 80s sci-fi feel of the game. For us the increased resolution doesn't necessarily make the game's aesthetic better. Much more important is the improved texture pop-in performance. It is for that reason that the PC version just about pips the Xbox 360 version.
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