Mass Effect 3 Previews and Demo Impressions

15 Feb 2012

If, for any reason, you didn't get the chance to try Mass Effect 3's demo, or simply think that it's not enough to help you make a decision, the coverage we have rounded up may help you, starting with a preview from eGamer, that offers an overview of the game's features:
If you’re intense and opt to play on Hardcore or Insanity difficulty then you will need some real battle tactics to survive. Mass Effect 3 will follow the trend of several games now and ask users to choose how they’d like to experience the game. Players can choose to either play the game in Action Mode, Story Mode or RPG Mode. The first has automatic replies for conversations and normal combat difficulty. Story Mode will have manual replies in conversations and minimal combat difficulty. The last is your typical ME experience with manual conversations and normal combat difficulty.

The game will also feature multiplayer for the first time with up to 4 player co-op. Players can choose from a variety of classes and races and variety will be a good thing as you will have to work with your squad members by combining powers and abilities. The co-op will also have an influence on the single-player and give players an alternate method of doing things.

And a spoiler-heavy hands-on piece from DualShockers:
The level opens up like any good sci fi movie should — a “routine” recon mission gone wrong. Shepard and company are in search of plans to an ancient Prothean device burried deep in the archives of an installation on Mars. And as you’ve probably already guessed it, they’re not the only ones there.

Upon approaching the entrance to the base, my squad and I were welcomed with a small pocket of Cerberus resistance — who were busy slaughtering the base employess. So right out of the gate I had the chance to once again familiarize myself with ME3′s tight gunplay. While some consider ME2′s “less RPG, more shooter” feel, the point in which the series made its biggest jump from the original, while I can’t pin point how exactly, ME3′s shooting and overall responsiveness just feels better. From rolling, to sticking to and maneuvering around cover, it all felt completely new and re-tooled.

Official Xbox Magazine let us know why they think the title is the "smartest Kinect game yet", although considering Kinect only adds a few extra features in the Xbox 360 version, I'm not sure if I'd use the "Kinect game" definition for the title myself:
Mass Effect 3's voice commands are there at the stem cell level, whether you're bowling Singularities at a Cerberus mech or ordering Wrex to wind his neck in, but they're never shoved down your throat. Unplug your Kinect unit, and Mass Effect 3 is simply a smarter Mass Effect 2, retaining the cover-shooter mechanics with tweaks while layering on scenarios that emphasise positioning and combined power usage. For many, doubtless, this'll be the only way to play, and there's absolutely nothing stopping you.

But you can break the silence at pretty much any moment, cued by the updated Mass Effect HUD. No clumsy menu toggling necessary here - approach an interactive object, and you'll see the relevant voice string hanging below the button prompt. Commands for weapon changes and powers appear in the centre of the inventory wheel as you skim the options. In battle, an unobtrusive microphone icon up left flashes blue to indicate that a command has been recognised.

Destructoid offers some video impressions of the title's multiplayer mode, while GameSpy offers some thoughts on the demo:
The Salarians are ready to give the woman up. Problem is, Cerberus wants her, too. Cue the gunfight through the science lab. Over multiple floors you battle Cerberus foot soldiers, and if you've ever played Mass Effect before, you'll feel right at home. BioWare has made some effort to improve the cover system, and you'll find that Commander Shepard can now more easily move from random space-box to random space-barrier and back again while popping off shots. The entire system feels faster and more fluid than ME2's.

Also of note is the improved melee system. Rather than simply whacking an enemy with the butt-end of your gun, Shepard can now perform more realistic melee attacks and pull off a series of moves to batter opponents. It's a huge improvement.

More fluid controls and enhanced melee abilities are appreciated, because BioWare has significantly upped the challenge. In particular, at the end of the Rescue the Ovulating Krogan Female level, a Cerberus soldier in a heavily armored mech drops from the sky and responds like a bear being poked with a stick when you hit him with your most powerful weaponry. Bottom line: Normal combat in ME3 is the new Veteran, and Veteran is the new Insane.

So does Planet Xbox 360:
As soon as you land the Salarians meet Wrex with resistance, and they force the bulky alien to stay inside the Normandy. While Shepard and the rest of his crew move to rescue the female Krogan, Cerberus crashes the extraction and begins a firefight with the Salarian army and Shepard’s crew. The combat mechanics are put on display here. Switching weapons has been changed and now players have to do is hold X for a couple seconds. The Biotic commands are still the same in Mass Effect 3, utilizing the spinning wheel as in past installments. Only the basic Biotic powers are shown off in the demo, which includes ripping apart the molecular architecture of an enemy, lifting an enemy up in the air, and adding health to your fallen teammates. Weapons include a pistol, a fully automatic weapon, and a one-shot machine gun. At the end of the mission, a Cerberus mech drops from the sky and threatens to life of the female Krogan. The Cerberus mech has triple-plated armor, and rocket launcher arms, which makes it pretty difficult to kill.

And we conclude with GMRFM's own take:
The first missions ends with a sample of what Black Swan composer Clint Mansell has brought to game and I think it makes an already effective scene become that bit more striking. The mission also earns browny points from me by ending on a scene that really reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds remake.

The second mission in the demo is slightly longer and hasn’t been shown as extensively as the first so I will keep things short and vague for anyone avoiding spoilers. It places a heavier focus on combat against a more intelligent foe. The demo gives you access to several weapons and each one is fun to use and has pretty distinctive characteristics. The Mattock, for instance, requires you to pump the trigger to keep your rate of fire up but can turn into a real death-dealer if you are using it right.

The single-player portion of the demo clocked up at about forty-five minutes for me and it is fairly obvious that both missions have had large sections cut out of them. The game looks and sounds great, plays well and hints that it will have the depth many found lacking from the second game (one stat increases Shepard’s “carry weight”) as well as the conversation system that fans already love.
 
 

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