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Developed by BioWare for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows, Mass Effect is an action role-playing game. The Xbox 360 edition was released worldwide in November 2007. The PC edition was published by Electronic Arts, and released on May 28, 2008. Mass Effect's player takes the role of an elite human soldier named Commander Shepard, out to explore the Galaxy on a starship, the SSV Normandy, in the year 2183.
Although not necessary to understand the main plot line, the episodes that BioWare plans to release episodic content online to fill in the story between each game, in addition to two sequels to complete the trilogy. The first of these downloadable content packages was released on March 10, 2008 for the Xbox 360, and July 29, 2008 for the PC.
Within the game universe, the physics phenomenon called mass effect, newly discovered for humans is one that has properties like other physics forces such as gravity and electromagnetism. In real life, it's what physicists are calling "dark energy" as an explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe, a notion that contradicts the previous stance that the universe's expansion should be slowing down from gravity.
Like real-life creatures (such as electric eels and sharks) who can sense and manipulate electromagnetism in strange ways, some creatures have evolved to sense and manipulate mass effect. Trained manipulation of Mass Effect, or Biotics, are abilities available to humans through prosthetics, explains Hudson.
Exploring themes like space colonization, intolerance, vigilantism, and artificial intelligence, Mass Effect's story lights in the space opera genre. Mass Effect's story has drawn comparisons to both Fred Saberhagen's Berserker novels and Battlestar Galactica, as well as to Frederick Pohl's Gateway novels, all in common with man vs machine elements. Project director at BioWare, Casey Hudson notes that influences for the game included Aliens, Runner, Star Wars, and Wrath of Khan.