Mass Effect E3 Previews

An assortment of previews for BioWare's Mass Effect have reached the web, all of which are based on the 30-minute demo shown during this year's E3. The first is at IGN here and here:
Combat is where Mass Effect really got interesting. The game will feature light melee elements, but most arsenals will be consist of high-energy, futuristic weapons. BioWare loaded up a jungle area to show off a battle. The scenario was populated with towering sheer rock structures, ringed with dark green vines. On the ground a heavy mist hung, shrouding the metallic walls of structures built into the rock faces. Before any fighting began, we were shown how each character's in-game appearance was entirely dependent on the gear they wore. No characters in Mass Effect have a stock armor appearance. If you equip a huge, hulking helmet, it'll show up in real time. Same thing with weapons, which appear strapped to characters' backs and legs. This allows for a huge variety of character appearances, reinforcing the game's already impressive customization options.

The second is at GameDaily:
Replacing the traditional dialogue tree structure, in which players must wait for the possible responses to appear after a line of dialogue, is a new circular overlay located on the bottom of the screen during conversation. This overlay allows players to select their responses in real-time, with the response selected by tilting the left analog still in its direction. By removing the delay between hearing a line and responding to it, BioWare hopes this new system will mimic a more realistic style of conversation whereupon players respond based off their emotional, not logical, reaction. Furthermore, by not taking pulling the camera back to reveal a menu system, Mass Effect has a more cohesive and immersive feel than most role playing games.

The third is at GameSpy:
Although the game has a ton of promising elements, nothing impressed us as much as the innovative conversation system, which essentially allows characters to carry on discussion with NPCs in real time. You'll be able to interact with any character you meet in the game, but rather than simply selecting a phrase from a standard menu (like you did in Jade Empire and KotOR), you'll be able to use the analog stick to point to any one of several phrases around a wheel. If that sounds confusing, it's because, at first, it's hard to get your head around the concept. However, while previous games made you wait until the other character finished speaking, you'll be able to select your response at any time, allowing you to carry on a full conversation in real time. A moving camera will focus on whichever character is speaking, and you'll actually be able to hear your character's voice and see him talk, which is another departure from BioWare's other games.

The fourth is at GamesRadar:
Interacting with the alien denizens of the various planets is simple, but multifaceted at the same time. During a mission that took us through a space saloon, we were charged with extracting some information from the fish-eyed alien bartender. The conversation trees have been distilled into six possible choices that correspond to six emotional stances... and they're always mapped to the same position on your analog stick. So, if you're a huge fan of intimidating everyone you come across, you'll be jerking the analog stick to the lower right all the time. We chose to intimidate the bartender and, once our selection was made, Commander Shepard whipped out a blaster pointed directly at the bartender's slightly oblong head... he was much friendlier after that.

The fifth is at 1Up:
Maybe even more impressive than the game's engine and performance is Mass Effect's goal. Project Manager Casey Hudson told us he wanted players to be able to take Mass Effect's main character (who despite his gritty appearance, is totally customizable as a male or female and has customizable skillsets) through the intended trilogy -- this means gamers will be able to take their main character through the entire saga.

And the sixth is at FiringSquad:
The combat is real-time with a pause mode. It plays almost like a 3rd-person shooter, but leans heavily on RPG stats for hit and damage information. The pause mode is exceptionally cool, permitting the player to move the camera freely around the battle map so that he can order his squad mates to assume the correct positions behind cover and in position to create a crossfire. One the positions are select, you unpause and watch your mates run to their designated areas, engaging their foes. Weapons are suitably futuristic, yet still resembling what we have now, though there is a whole new method of fighting with dark energy.