Mass Effect 3. The title alone has the potential to send a legion of fans into frenzy. This frenzy is almost what I experienced when I was presented with an opportunity to play and preview an early demo of the game. Hosted by the series’ publisher Electronic Arts, an evening’s session on console provided me ample opportunity to sample the latest instalment of the Mass Effect series. The demonstration provided was by no means a reflection of the final product but served as an insight into the gameplay of Mass Effect 3.
The first noticeable feature about the demo was the similarity in gameplay to Mass Effect 2. In fact, I would daresay the gameplay was not at all a departure from its predecessor. The use of cut scenes, combat, enemy AI – the experience was almost akin to that of new DLC content. This is something of a double-edged sword. Because I am a fan of Mass Effect 2’s existing storytelling system and combat, this is hardly a bad thing. However, those searching for an innovative overhaul may be left with something to be desired. Again, it is important to reiterate that this may change in the final product.
It also appeared that Commander Shepherd has been granted the biotic ability to roll in combat. Performing various grounded somersaults in the middle of gunfights was certainly entertaining, as was watching my Shepherd gallantly rolling from one point of cover to the next. Now you too can perform flashy (and sometimes pointless) combat rolls!
The pop-up menu was different from what I was accustomed to and a little frustrating to manoeuvre with the controller. Admittedly, playing Mass Effect 3 on console was a new experience for me and as a result my shooting suffered. Headshots were certainly not happening. It looked like I was not the only one unused to the console version as the gentleman next to me was also fiddling with his controls and muttering inane curses. I am confident that this would not happen on a mouse and keyboard.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect was witnessing the return of some favourite characters. The emergence of Garrus Vakarian in all his Turian glory elicited an excited cry, and crazy scientist Mordin Solus also made an appearance during the mission as a guide. The party was rounded off with Liara T’Soni, who like Garrus, spoke little during the mission. As far as character development goes, the preview did not reveal much in the way of their respective roles.
The objective of the mission on offer was to protect a female Krogan in her cryo tank from oncoming attackers until she could be retrieved by the Commander’s ship. Apparently the first of her kind, the female was of great interest to my enemies (who I won’t mention). The battle was concluded with a boss in true Mass Effect fashion and left me hanging for more.
The noisy environment was slightly distracting though, and Mass Effect 3 really is a game that requires the player’s sole focus to provide an immersive experience. Regardless, the quality of the game appears to have been maintained. Fans of the universe are not likely to be disappointed but may expect something more in the way of creative change.