Eurogamer Expo 2011: Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview
One of the games that I was really looking forward to playing at Eurogamer Expo this year was Mass Effect 3, I loved the first game in the series as well as the second game, a little bit less than the first but I loved playing it all the same. What I was hoping for when it came Mass Effect 3 was a game that had all the basic mechanics of the first and second games but taken to a new level.
When Mass Effect 2 came out it was so different from the first game, it was more of a third person squad based shooter and hardly any of the actual RPG elements of Mass Effect had been carried across. What you’re getting with Mass Effect 3 is more of the same things that we’ve come to expect from the world of Mass Effect, a decent story dispersed between moments of fighting, good looking visuals, and voice acting from all of the people involved that actually conveys the story, all with a great shooting mechanic. My main problem with the game as it stands now, is that if it wasn’t for the giant “3” above my head while I was playing, you could have told me that it was a mission from Mass Effect 2 and I would have believed you. It felt exactly the same. I was hoping for a little bit of innovation in the years between the second game and this third one but, at least in the very small section available for play at Eurogamer Expo, this wasn’t the case. I never even got to make any dialogue choices, which are part of the main RPG aspect of the series.
The little bit of story that I got to play was still engaging and was being funny when it needed to be. This section involved rescuing a pod containing a female Krogan from some kind of scientific installation so all I had to do was press a few buttons, which moved the pod and invariably spawned more enemies to come and attack me and my team. Speaking of the team, not once did I have to give them orders, I was quite surprised that when left to their own devices the friendly A.I. characters were able to assess the situation and take the appropriate action, whether that was flanking an enemy, incapacitating them in some way or just outright killing them. For the people that want to finely tune what all the members of their team are doing at any one time, all of the usual commands are there for you to use but for those people that are used to just being concerned about Shepard’s well-being, you can rest assured that you shouldn’t need to worry about if your teammates are in the other room shooting at dead enemies or walking into walls, they seem rather intelligent. All of the characters that we’ve grown accustomed to seem to be back, unless anything happened to them in the previous game I assume. Having Mass Effect 2 carry on your own unique story from the first Mass Effect was a stroke of genius on Bioware’s part, and hopefully that’s back for this third entry into the franchise; although I obviously didn’t get a chance to see it in action.
I had some problems with the controls while I was playing the build that was available to play, I often found it difficult to snap to cover. Multiple times during my time with the demo provided for Eurogamer Expo I jumped to the left or right, directly into enemy fire, instead of hiding behind a piece of cover. It felt as if, in order to actually snap to the cover, I had to walk up to the piece of the environment that I wanted to take cover behind, let go of the analogue sticks completely, and then tap the A button to get behind cover. Every time I tried to do it while I was running, which is what most people will do if they’re currently being fired at, Shepard would dive instead of getting behind the cover. This almost caused me to die on several occasions even during my short time with the game; diving into a stream of bullets will probably do that to you.
I was disappointed that the floor demo of Mass Effect 3 started the mission at a point that seemed halfway through, without any of the context needed to fully understand what was actually going on, I would have much preferred it if the mission started at the beginning and finished halfway through, at least then I would have been able to understand what was going on with the story and it would have had the added benefit of leaving me wanting even more than I already did. Perhaps they want to make people confused about the story so that no spoilers are leaked. Despite all of this, I was left wanting more of the game and, even though the queue to play Mass Effect 3 was small when compared to games such as Battlefield 3 and the OnLive booth, the demo does a good job of ensuring that a good amount of people will be getting the game at its launch next year.
Mass Effect 3 seems to concentrate on the third person shooter that the series has been moving towards since the second one. It plays well, and for the most part the controls feel fluid and well mapped, but I still wanted a little bit more of the RPG elements to come through from the first game in the series; which I still think is the best. Judging from this small Eurogamer Expo preview, while there’s no doubt in my mind that Mass Effect 3 is going to be an amazing game, it still can’t hold a candle to the immense scope of the first Mass Effect for me.
Mass Effect 3 is due to be released on March 9th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.