Mass Effect 3 - Xbox 360

Game Description:Conceived as a trilogy (perhaps to continue on afterwards in future games), the third chapter to Mass Effect will hopefully deliver a thrilling and conclusive (but not too final ... we wouldn't want the adventure to end at just three games) capper on the Mass Effect storyline. Expect more explosive gunplay, more plot twists, more memorable characters, more heart-wrenching choices, more scenic vistas of beauty and majesty ... and maybe even some more sexy dancing! NOTE: This game has been confirmed as a title in the works but it has not been announced for any specific game machine. Please check back for official info.
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Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview -- BioWare Saves the Toughest Fight for Last

Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview -- BioWare Saves the Toughest Fight for Last

By Sinan Kubba - Posted Aug 22, 2011

Here at GamesCom, EA’s stands are right at the back of the public hall. It’s like Mecca, with gamers drawn towards the shrines of FIFA 12, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Battlefield 3. Right at the back of this EA cathedral is Mass Effect 3, and as expected, it is attracting hundreds of gamers who are queuing up to spend mere minutes with the sci-fi action-RPG. Overlooking his worshipers is a German Commander Shepard in full N7 armor holding an assault rifle close to his chest as if he were guarding the stand from a possible Reaper siege, only taking pause from his noble duty to occasionally pose for photos.

The buzz around Mass Effect 3 here in Cologne is immense, with the European gamers here more than aware that the sequel to the X-Play Game of the Year is a mere six months away. I bet they watched the X-Play E3 segment where Adam and Morgan spoke with the game’s executive producer Casey Hudson and wanted to get their hands on the gameplay demo that was playing in the background, and here in the convention center that’s exactly what they – and yours truly – are able to do.

The demo features a mission in which the good commander must rescue a Krogan female who appears to have not succumbed to her lizard-like race’s bio-engineered curse of infertility, this of course making her of vast importance. The mission requires negotiating a series of heavily guarded checkpoints in what appears to be the balconies of a resort area, complete with lush greenery and even a peaceful waterfall to walk past before being shot at some by alien baddies.

Before I get into how it was to play, it’s worth noting that from what I saw here in Cologne, albeit an unfinished build, the visual discrepancy between the console and PC versions has widened even further since Mass Effect 2. The high-end PC version I saw someone else play had such smoothness in its frame rate and texturing, and it was leagues apart from the Xbox 360 version I myself played.

Mass Effect 3

Still, there’s a long way to go until release and maybe that discrepancy will be less noticeable when the game hits, so let’s focus on the play. For the demo, I hook up with the Sentinel class, this giving me unique access to a mixture of biotic and tech powers. A quick scan of my powers shows that BioWare is still keeping quiet about what that class’s new exclusive power for Mass Effect 3 will be. In a demonstration earlier, I saw what we believe to be the Soldier class’s exclusive power, namely frag grenades. They sound fairly basic on their own, but it’s in combination with other powers that they get interesting, like using the tech power Overload to disable an enemy’ shields then tossing in the grenade to get the job done.

Even with the difficulty dialed down to Casual and despite what the developers are saying about run-and-gun play being a valid option, it’s clear that the smartest strategy in Mass Effect 3 will be to use cover whenever possible. I do, though, agree with BioWare about Shepard feeling more mobile with things like the commando roll and in particular the inclusion of directional arrows for indicating cover-to-cover switches. The first Mass Effect felt like an RPG pretending to be a shooter, the sequel got much closer to the real thing, and Mass Effect 3 is taking even more steps to validate the action side of its action-RPG experience.

The other focus is definitely on combining powers across yourself and your squad-mates, and it’s the Cerberus guardians with their bulky armor and body-sized shields that hammer this point home. Just trying to shoot these guys down or use a heavy-hitting Omni-blade melee attack isn’t going to get the job done at all, which is a shame because the Sentinel’s dual-wielding blade kill is pretty cool if a bit too showy. So I’m forced to look towards powers that can unsettle them, powers like Liara’s Singularity attack which creates a localized gravity field. This sends the guardians floating into the air, but even doing this doesn’t make it easy to shoot them down because their huge shields are still floating around in front of them. If I throw in my Sentinel’s Warp power, though, its mass effect field makes the gravity field explode and that does get the job done.

Mass Effect 3

These kinds of combinations were present in Mass Effect 2, but against heavily protected enemies like the guardians, they’re more than useful, they’re almost necessary. Remember, I’m playing this on the heavily dialed down Casual difficulty and still struggling to take down these dudes who are fairly heavy in numbers in this mission, so imagine what it’s like on Normal difficulty. Also, as BioWare has been quick to point out, it’s not just that there will be some enemies like the guardians who will be tough to take down, but it’s also that all enemies will be smarter than those in ME2. They’ll use cover more effectively and will even try to flank you if you stall, although this mission is a little too narrow for them to successfully pull that off against me – at least on Casual.

The mission is fairly successful, at least up until just before the end, when a huge piloted mech called an Atlus suddenly lands from the sky onto the balcony in front of me and my squad. Garrus for some reason decides to try getting up close and personal with the lumbering beast, this not ending well as it slams a thick steel fist right into my alien friend’s head and knocks him out cold. I think about healing him but decide that maybe it would be best to rely on Liara’s biotic powers rather than risk a hit-and-run heal. Liara’s lift grenades don’t seem to hurt the big guy, maybe because he’s too big, but her Singularity power is more effective. I try aiming for the pilot in the knowledge that if I take him out first then I can pilot the mech myself, but my accuracy isn’t with me today. We succeed, but the fun of getting to ride the mech around will have to wait for another day.

Apart from showing off this demo mission and the E3 demo in which Shepard barely made his escape from the invasion on Earth, BioWare has been having a lot of Q& A sessions here in Cologne and a few interesting tidbits of news have come out of them. For example, we can expect more Dragon Age-like banter between characters, which is definitely a good introduction, as is the move to make the experience system more like Mass Effect’s. Regarding the XP, it wasn’t confirmed exactly what that means, but it’s safe to assume that means not just getting XP for completing questions and mini-games. Maybe the most interesting tidbit--and spoilers for Mass Effect 2 ahoy--was the reveal that the Canadian developer is thinking about what to do with Mass Effect 2 imports of saves in which our hero died at the end of the game. How that would play out is anyone’s guess, but I think we’ve had enough zombies to satisfy one generation of gaming, don’t you?

Comments are Closed

  • zdude2010

    Maybe Shepard didnt really die. maybe he fell into a crater and got knocked out and Joker left without him before he could radio in. So he has to fight thru the collector base alone (given that you didnt destroy the collector ship). Find a collector escape pod and get back thru the Omega 4 relay. Now that would be an amazing what-if mission!

    Posted: October 25, 2011 11:37 AM
  • ejj

    I am so angry with the infusion of gayness into Dragon Age 2 that I won't be buying anymore Bioware games - ever.

    Posted: August 25, 2011 5:09 PM
  • BrMafioso

    For a second, that video scared me with its end date of 9-3-12, before I realized that other countries give their dates by day then month.

    I would not be happy if it came out six months later. I already have to wait for 2012. And by wait, I mean play Skyrim.

    Posted: August 24, 2011 12:13 AM
  • ThePainN

    Mass Effect is looking awesome i can't wait.

    Posted: August 23, 2011 4:27 PM
  • commonperson

    Hmmm... Hearing this I think I'm going to have to finish the story of my Fem-Shep up on the Xbox and then start from the top on my PC with my Dude-Shep and play all over again to see the PC sexiness. Can't wait though this sounds great!

    Posted: August 23, 2011 4:50 AM
  • implodinggoat

    What happens if you import a Mass Effect 2 save with Shepard dead?

    I predict that Conrad Verner rises to become the unlikely champion of the galaxy.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 7:55 PM
  • LTman86

    Joker steps up, gets bionics to compensate for his brittle bones, and merging with EDI to become the ultimate man/machine to take down the Reapers!

    Posted: August 22, 2011 7:36 PM
  • kiadimundi16

    Well, I had thought the husks were the mass effect universe's zombies

    Posted: August 22, 2011 4:20 PM
  • lahanl01

    I saw fire swords and jet packs, how can this be topped?

    Posted: August 22, 2011 3:28 PM
  • Stellerman7

    The only thing I can think of that they could do with Dead Shepard saves is have him cloned; provided that is an existing viable technology with the Mass Effect universe.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 3:16 PM
  • Lacking_Fractal

    Grenades sound like a silly class specific ability unless each class gets a different type. Now THAT would be cool.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 1:10 PM
  • Barbuganot

    No Sinan Kubba. If it is a well made game then I don't care, let there be zombies. That's my opinion anyway. Mass Effect 3 looks good though.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 12:39 PM
  • mastered

    ENOUGH ZOMBIES???? your joking right. there are never enought zombies and mass effect 3 looks so cool. must have soon. if it dosn't get awards i'm going to be mad. ether at bioware for not making it as good as it sould be or you all for not recognizing how good it was.

    not really woried about that thought.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 11:59 AM