Mass Effect has been a huge hit game on the Xbox 360, and now it comes to the PC. See also: Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut review

If you're at all into role-playing games, there's a good chance you've already played Mass Effect. When this magnificent space opera first hit the Xbox 360 last November, it was awarded perfect score after perfect score.

The Mass Effect gameplay centres around Commander John Sheperd, who takes an elite recon squad around the galaxy, which is trapped in an endless circle of extinction. Machines are wiping out all organic life, leaving behind the ruins of civilization.

When the PC game version of Mass Effect came along, we couldn't wait to fire it up: all the glorious gameplay with few of the annoying glitches of the Xbox 360 version.

Mass Effect's PC-only features are impressive and include higher-res textures, a completely revamped HUD and UI, blissfully short loading times - no more insanely long elevator rides - and much-improved squad management options within the game.

Unfortunately, these welcome improvements are offset by jarring inconsistencies that really rob Mass Effect of its shine. While some of the more glaring glitches of the Xbox 360 version of the game were addressed, the PC version has problems of its own and they're just as distracting.

Take, for example, Mass Effect's texture work: almost universally pristine, but here and there it's so pixelated that some characters' outfits look like stitched quilts. Similarly, the dynamic shadows are gorgeous, except on faces, where they buzz and twitch so much that we had to turn them off in order to concentrate on what the characters were saying.

The painful loading times are gone, but they've been replaced by periodic micro-loads that are just as distracting. Frankly, after a 40-minute install on to a high-performance system running a DirectX 10.1-compatible graphics card, Mass Effect shouldn't offer any hiccups at all.

But this is just nit-picking. As annoying as the glitches may be, Mass Effect's gameplay, which is just as good as it was on the Xbox 360, more than makes up for it. The new squadmate-specific combat interface and mouse-centric UI are a joy to use, and the story is theatrical and compelling, with a galaxy worth of content stuffed into one hell of game.

Visit Digital World for the latest digital audio, games and home-entertainment news and reviews

Mass Effect: Specs

  • 2.4GHz or faster single-core/2.0 GHz or faster dual-core
  • Microsoft Windows XP/Vista
  • 1GB RAM (XP), 2GB RAM (Vista)
  • 15GB HD space
  • 256 MB with Pixel Shader 3.0 support graphics card
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • 2.4GHz or faster single-core/2.0 GHz or faster dual-core
  • Microsoft Windows XP/Vista
  • 1GB RAM (XP), 2GB RAM (Vista)
  • 15GB HD space
  • 256 MB with Pixel Shader 3.0 support graphics card
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

OUR VERDICT

If you've already tackled the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect, you certainly don't need to shell out for the PC version, too, but if you haven't yet experienced this magnum opus, this is the version you should play.

Find the best price