Mass Effect 3's demo release has predictably elicited various reactions, including some less-than-favorable ones, like this piece from Nightmare Mode that heavily criticizes both the storytelling and BioWare's gameplay design decisions:
Mass Effect 3, however, has every mechanic but the kitchen sink. The shooting system has been made more robust, with the player having access to lots of different guns (and, apparently, less ammo than in Mass Effect 2), and they’ve added grenades, more melee attacks, more enemy variety. They’ve also taken Mass Effect 2′s leveling system and added multiple new skills; they made each of them branching level ups, as well.
And it feels complicated. Mass Effect fans will, of course, be all over this, but I’m particularly mixed about it. Maybe it’s just that the demo places the player in a later-game mission, but everything felt a lot more hectic than Mass Effect 2′s stately gunfights. It feels like a proper shooter, and as someone who doesn’t like straight-ahead shooters I found the combat system stifling. It’s a more frantic Mass Effect 2 with obvious “win button” strategic options pointed out to the player with bright flashing arrows.
As an adept (the class for my continuous playthrough), I felt less useful. I felt like I wasn’t putting enough bullets out. By creating an emphasis on these “win button” tactics it minimizes the usefulness of the adept, a class designed literally around attacking enemies at their strongest position, throwing down biotics to pull people out of cover, and blowing them up. Instead, you’re “encouraged” to climb to higher levels of areas to shoot down on enemies; if you don’t do this, you’ll be murdered by the enemies who have to spawn up there to make the instant win button challenging.
While Penny Arcade's Tycho writes down his thoughts on the game's multiplayer, also based on the demo:
Ths multiplayer, though. Holy shit. “Horde Mode” is an insulting characterization. The characters you create in this mode accrue experience and invest in skills just like a single player character would, except here you’re earning money that you use to buy what are essentially CCG style Booster Packs of varying quality. These packs contain single use items to help you through tough rounds, weapons and weapon upgrades, along with alien races to play as. It has many, many barbed compulsion mechanisms affixed to tentacles which dance and sway.
Traps for the reptile mind can only get you so far, though, and what surprised me the most about it is how well it comports itself as a shooter. It’s not just a weathered sidearm resting on an ornate doily. It’s very “heavy” in my own estimation, methodical, a more nimble version of Resident Evil that retains that series’ omnipresent gravity. It had dodges, and cover, but when you traverse an area the sense that you are committed to it is impressed upon you. I didn’t entirely know what to think when they announced this portion; the rumors I’d heard were that it was intended as a stand-alone product at some point. I tried to imagine what universe such a thing would be desirable in. This universe, actually; it is desirable in this universe, as soon as is humanly possible.
Many gamers took issue with how some RPG elements disappeared between the first and second game. The removal of things like dedicated inventory, weapon mods, mid-mission experience points, and a reduced number of skills and powers to increase when leveling up all made ME2 a little bit less of an RPG from the more classical pen-and-paper perspective. BioWare has addressed this somewhat in the third game with a reintroduction of weapon mods, the return of getting experience points in mid-mission, and having more skills and powers to level up - along with a very basic tree in each one that forces to make difficult choices more often when spending points. You still find weapon and armor upgrades in the middle of missions like we saw in ME2, and won't be replacing whole sets of armor on squadmates. Of course, you can still Renegade and Paragon choices and branching the plot based on how you treat events and characters, but you can even turn parts of these off upon character creation. The idea is that you can choose an Action-style game when making your new Shepard so that all cutscenes play out without dialogue choices, go for a Story mode where you have full dialogue choices but get vastly easier combat to go through, or the regular game like you're used to. I will be picking the standard Mass Effect experience, of course, but I like the idea of having options like this.