Preview: Mass Effect 3
It ends here. What started as a great Xbox exclusive has now become a multi-platform phenomenon and what will very possibly go down as one the best trilogies of all time ends with Mass Effect 3. Developer BioWare has more than enough pedigree to guarantee that this one will be a hit but let’s find out what it is that could make Mass Effect 3 the “biggest game in the series” and the “best game [BioWare] has ever made.” Let’s get the lowdown on Bioware’s latest RPG epic to find out.
Title: Mass Effect 3
Publisher: EA Games
Multiplayer: 2-4 players
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Expected Price: PC – R360; PS3/ Xbox 360 – R570 (BT Games)
Release Date: March 9
Let’s start by getting some nuts ‘n bolts stuff out of the way. Mass Effect 3 will require Origin on PC which I’m sure you’ll all be overjoyed about. Secondly the game will also feature Kinect-support in an attempt to draw in casual gamers; the logic is infallibly flawed with that one. The game also has a new official female version of Commander Shepard, creatively dubbed FemShep who will feature on the cover of the Collector’s Edition. ME 3 will also have a New Game+ option and at the other end there’s a “previously on Mass Effect” comic for no0bs like me and those who have simply forgotten which is probably worse.
Looking at the story, the game picks up from the Mass Effect 2 ‘Arrival’ DLC episode which ends with Shepard being put on trial. ME 3 starts with the Reapers attacking during the trial and series fans may get a giddy little kick when the Commander is proven right and everyone else has egg on their faces. Even if it means the Earth is at risk of being wiped out. It has also been revealed that Cerberus forces will be working hand in hand with the Reapers. This also means that players will have to tackle the Reapers’ twisted experiments. That is to say the very undead looking husks of various races such as a bloated pregnant Asari. Of course, special mention must go to the erroneous plot leak that revealed the entire story of the game and caused Bioware to make unknown changes to the game’s story as a result but we’ll just have to see if the quick-fix holds up.
Mass Effect 3, despite being the end of the trilogy, has also been billed as a good entry point for newcomers since it’s just all –out war and those established relationships don’t have as much meaning although they’re still pretty important. Shepard will have to enlist the help of as many as he can if they are to stop the Reaper menace. The game also been structured such that there are no “remember than one time [in the last game]” moments when conversing with NPC’s that break immersion for newcomers. Interestingly, your funding towards the ‘war effort’ in previous games will also factor into the game.
Gameplay wise, BioWare did it’s homework for Mass Effect 3 and basically researched what people liked about titles such as CoD, Assassin’s Creed etc and saw what commonalities could be brought into Mass Effect’s gameplay. Thus Mss Effect 3 will have a more “action-adventure-y” feel to it but rest assured this won’t compromise any of the game’s RPG goodness.
BioWare has stated that it has somewhat focussed the RPG elements in Mass Effect 3 so that anything that doesn’t really have any battle impact has been cut. That said, the developer has opted for more RPG freedom and character skills in the pursuit of giving players a deeper experience. Part of this is that Shepard as a character will be more human and players will therefore allow players to actually feel as if they’re expressing themselves rather than simply choosing from a dialogue tree.
The Citadel as it was in the original game also makes a return in all its splendour and atmosphere. Along with this, the game will feature quests that were cut from ME 2; think of it as free DLC as Caveshan (yes, we call him by his full name when it comes to Mass Effect) once put it. If that’s not enough, you’ll also be interested to know that The Illusive Man will feature a lot more in Mass Effect 3.
Loyalty quests make a return from the previous game and on that subject, let’s talk about Shep’s crew. Garrus, Liara, Kaiden, Ashley and Tali are all still there but there’s also new boy James Vega. BioWare is focussing on having smaller squads though, instead opting to have deeper relationships with everyone. That’s of course a euphemism for ‘you can try your luck with literally any crewmember’ which is actually true.
Now Mass Effect 3 will also feature some good and proper melee which will be specific to each class. For example, Biotic Adept has an area effect attack that stuns crowds. The game will also bring shields into combat along with multi-level combat (although ME 2 already seemed to have that). This means that higher ground is a priority and that you’ll have to get a bit tactical to dispose of shielded enemies.
Don’t worry though because shields will, certainly be the least of your problems given that the new game will have ramped up difficulty over previous titles. This means that players will have to get creative when in a tight combat situation and will likely have to use all the resources available to them. Players will have to make effective use of their squad but also get the most out of their own abilities. It’s a much better approach then the typical idea of difficulty where you simply have to be more cautious and careful.
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.
You’re going to need some serious firepower to cope with this heightened difficulty so thank your stars weapon mods make a return, bigger and better than before. Players will be able to swap out barrels, scopes etc and actually drastically change the appearance and performance of any weapon. There’s a total of 25 weapon mods, 5 per type. All weapons will be available to any class but there will be limited stock to how many each class can carry except for Solider.
If you’re more of a visual person then why not give these gameplay trailers a watch and if my words make absolutely no sense then perhaps you’ll be more partial to a two-part video of the entire Mass Effect 3 demo. Everything about this game spells out Game of the Year material and BioWare rarely disappoints, especially when it comes to Mass Effect.