Mass Effect is a shooter-RPG hybrid that's a first of its kind. Some might argue that other shooter-RPG hybrids came before it (like the classic System Shock 2 and the more recent S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games), but the RPG aspects of those were watered-down affairs at best. Bioware fused the RPG aspect of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic with third-person shooter dynamics that can match most PC games today, creating the first shooter-RPG hybrid that strikes a perfect balance between frantic, cathartic gameplay and superb storytelling.
However, it didn't hit the ground running for me. Right out of the box, it struggled to deliver surround sound and had problems with anti-aliasing settings.
The Mass Effect performance and graphics tweaks I used after the jump. (The performance and graphics tweaks I used also solved the audio problems that plague Mass Effect.)
Note: No one "owns" these commands as they are common knowledge. However, Koroush Ghazi of Tweakguides.com has compiled many of the most useful Mass Effect performance and graphics tweaks and provided parameters and explanations in his Mass Effect tweak guide. For a more thorough rundown, I would advise you to visit the above page as the list below is just my personal "quick scan" reference (read: these are settings for my PC; these are not for ultra-low-end systems), just in case my hard drive suddenly goes postal.
The .ini files that hold the listed parameters can be found at (on Windows XP systems): My Documents\BioWare\Mass Effect\Config. Make sure to take note of the individual files ("BIOEngine.ini" and "BIOGame.ini") and categories ("[Engine.GameEngine]," "[D3DDrv.D3DRenderDevice]," etc) as various entries appear multiple times in the folder. As always, please make backup copies of the files you are going to edit.
**Increases the maximum allowable framerate from the default cap.
**Graphics tweak; enables dynamic shadows. The last patch disabled them (many gamers complain that enabling Dynamic Shadows from the in-game menu doesn't work).
**Graphics tweak; the game won't cull shadows even if the objects casting them are far away from the player.
**Performance tweak; makes the video card render the game's shadows (instead of the CPU).
**Graphics tweak; heightens the quality of textures and particles.
**Audio tweaks; the above list fixed the sound bugs (glitches) on my system. (If you are not using a Realtek HD sound solution, the above might not work for your system. Please see Tweakguides' Mass Effect tweak guide or go to the official Mass Effect forums.) Note that "//DeviceName=Generic Software" is an added line. Without this, the fix won't work.
**Gameplay tweak; enables friendly fire.
**Gameplay tweak; increases the time (in seconds) before the game culls dead bodies.
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