With the Mass Effect franchise, Bioware have spent an enormous amount of time and creative man-power moulding an epic storyline. This has created an experience that sci-fi fans and gamers alike can greatly appreciate. With the impending release of Mass Effect 3, we will finally get to see the beginning of its conclusion, and make no mistake, everything that Shepard has been through in the past two titles has led to this point. This is something that the Bioware team have stressed to us at every turn, and from what we have seen, we can’t help but agree.
After the Explosive gameplay trailer unveiled during EA’s press conference, no one can argue that the third game in the series is shaping up to be the best yet, and after seeing the exclusive content that we were assured would not be shown again until release, that fact is firmly cemented in our minds.
In the final piece of DLC (Arrival) for Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard was in the process of committing mass genocide with the slaughter of 300,000 Barterians in an effort to delay the Reapers. The gameplay segment we were shown seems to kick off shortly after these events, on Earth where Shepard is asked to stand trial for his “crimes”. Almost immediately after he sets foot on the planet, Earth is attacked by a mass of Reapers. It iss actually quite stunning seeing it in action, and the scale of it is astonishing, as Reapers tear into buildings while Shepard attempts to make his escape.
Right away you can see the improvements made to the combat system. No longer is there a need to dislodge yourself from a wall before you can take cover behind the adjacent one. Shepard seems to have picked up a few new tricks from Marcus Fenix and is now able to flawlessly slide from cover to cover like some kind of graceful ballerina. This of course gives you great opportunity to use the context based stealth kills with the awesome new Omni-blade Shepard is sporting, and we have to say, he can be quite brutal with the thing. We only hope this will enable the designers to add more stealth based gameplay to Shepard’s crusade across the cosmos.
RPG nuts will be happy to hear that proper weapon customisation has now returned to the Mass Effect universe! Mass Effect 3 features a more refined version of the system that was found in the original, whereby you will be able to add different components to your weapon to increase certain statistics. This will give players a little bit more freedom on how they wish to equip their party instead of relying on the fairly static upgrades found in Mass Effect 2.
As we all know, Mass Effect is about choices, and the developers are upping the ante again for the latest iteration. We were informed that this time your choices will have a deeper impact over what happens in the end-game, and won’t be so cut and dry.
During our playthrough we were shown a section where a child was stuck in the ventilation shaft and was refusing to leave. With Reapers all around you, a snap decision is required. Try to coax the child out nicely, or get a bit more aggressive about the task. Sadly, we were only shown the nice approach, which led to the child fleeing. Later on in the demo as you meet up with Anderson and make your escape, you see the child again on a nearby shuttle, which immediately gets ripped down by a reaper. It will definitely be interesting to see what effect the alternate choice has on proceedings.
Graphically the game has been touched up quite a bit. You can now see clear reflection in Shepard’s armour and facial animations looks slightly better, which is amazing considering the epic scale of the scenes we were shown.
With the scale, storytelling, combat and atmosphere hitting new peaks it would seem that everything that made the first two games excellent is being turned up to the max, and while the wait may be long, we believe it will be worth every second.
Mass Effect 3 launches on the 9th of March 2012, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.