Saving the galaxy from annihilation has to be emotional, according to a Canadian video game developer who wants players of action role playing title Mass Effect to weigh their choices carefully as they fight for the future.

BioWare Corp, the Canadian game house being bought by Electronic Arts Inc, is giving players a big swath of outer space to explore and defend with its upcoming Xbox 360 title Mass Effect.

But with some of the most realistic and best looking digital actors available in any video game to date, BioWare is also out to prove it can make players feel passionately about the characters in the story.

These characters are living people, I mean they have personalities and you literally interact with them in the way that you'd have real-life conversations, Casey Hudson, the Mass Effect project director at BioWare, said in an interview.

You get to know them, you start to care about them.

Players are cast as Commander Shepard, an elite agent of the human military, and tasked with saving the galaxy from an ancient race of machines which wipe out all advanced organic life every 50,000 years.

To accomplish the mission, players are handed their own spaceship, a map of the galaxy and a mandate to -- in BioWare's words -- act without remorse, without hesitation, and outside the limits of the law.

Players also have the say over everything from Shepard's appearance and gender to his or her background story and abilities, as well as which non-player characters emerge.

Voices in the game include actor Seth Green and Marina Sirtis, famous for her role as Deanna Troi on the sci-fi TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The title's customization options mesh with combat, exploration and dialogue to create what BioWare says will be a trilogy over the lifespan of the Xbox 360.

The net effect of it is you really feel like it's a seamless, emotionally compelling experience, where you're both the actor on the stage and you're also the director of the entire movie, of this interactive fiction, said BioWare chief executive officer Ray Muzyka.

The game hits shelves next month, but already a review in Game Informer magazine gave it a score of 9.75 out of 10.

Every demo that we've seen has shown substantial development of what they've promised, said Jennifer Tsao, managing editor, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. There's every reason to expect that it will be an award-winning game.

Muzyka dismissed fan concerns that the Electronic Arts takeover, announced earlier in October, will impact on the quality of BioWare's games.

We're not going to sacrifice quality because our fans deserve the best and we're going to make sure that we continue to deliver that, each and every game we make, Muzyka said.