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 with Kinect Hands-On Preview -- Shepard, I Love You...I Mean, Grenade!

Mass Effect 3 with Kinect Hands-On Preview -- Shepard, I Love You...I Mean, Grenade!

By Stephen Johnson - Posted Jan 18, 2012

I admit it: I went into my Mass Effect 3 Kinect demo with a preconceived notion. I thought the entire thing was a gimmick, a cynical money-grab aimed at separating hardcore Mass Effect fans from the price of a new Kinect. I also didn’t think it would work really well. Within moments of issuing my first voice commands to Shepard, though, I realized I was completely wrong. Kinect for Mass Effect 3 is cool, useful, and solid; not vital to the enjoyment of the game or anything, but definitely a cool bit of extra flavor.

It’s a simple concept: Players use the Kinect’s internal microphone to issue simple orders to Commander Shepard–whether he’s in-combat, just walking around, or in dialogue sections–and the game responds as if you’ve issued the orders on your controller. It might sound like something you’d never actually do, but once you get used to the awkwardness of talking out loud to an inanimate object, it begins to make perfect sense. And it supports English (British/Australian), French, Italian, German, so even if you feel strange talking to your television, just know there are plenty of other people around the world doing the exact same thing.

Mass Effect’s firefights can be intense and complicated, with you commanding multiple squad mates and juggling various weapons and abilities. The Kinect makes this sometimes daunting task easier by removing the need to remember how to switch to a shotgun or change to incendiary ammo. Instead of hitting a button and navigating a rotary menu, you simply yell “Incendiary Ammo” and you’ll be shooting flaming bullets in no time at all.

In combat, Shepard responds to commands such as: “switch weapons,” “sniper rifle,” “shotgun,” “submachine gun,” “assault rifle,” “heavy pistol,” and “sidearm.” These are all useful commands, but you’ll note “reload” is not included. Hopefully, this will be rectified by the time the game comes out in March.

Mass Effect 3

Even more useful than commanding the Commander is commanding his squad-mates. The demo featured James and Liara, and you could pretty much order them to do whatever is needed. They respond to simple squad commands like “move,” “attack,” and “follow me,” and also to character and ability specific commands. So you can order Liara to use “warp” or “singularity,” by saying: “Liara: warp.” Or, you can order James to throw a frag grenade by saying, “James: frag grenade.”

You don’t directly target your squad-mates’ abilities. Instead, you look in the general direction where you want them to aim their attacks, and they’ll respond by (hopefully) targeting the right enemies. While I didn’t have extensive time to test out all the abilities, the level I played was long enough and varied enough to serve as a true test of the service. It passed with high marks.

Once the novelty wore off, the voice commands proved a useful and fun way to eliminate some of the clutter and minutia of combat management in the Mass Effect universe. It frees up your eyes and attention during key parts of your fight, plus it’s fun. There’s something primal and great about facing a lone, cowering enemy and yelling “Shotgun” while approaching him to deliver a shell to the dome. I like to imagine he hears me.

When exploring, the Kinect integration does seem a little extraneous, though. When faced with a choice between hitting the blue button to open a door and saying the word “open,” most gamers are going to pick the “X” button after a couple tries of the voice commands. That’s mainly because opening a door or examining something is a one-button move, performed in a relatively calm situation. Combat, though, is another bag of hammers.

Mass Effect 3

Technically, the Kinect does a good job of recognizing voice commands. Our demo was performed in less than sterile conditions, in a relatively crowded room, with cross talk and environmental sounds. Even given these not-ideal circumstances, the device still answered my orders, even when I spoke them quietly.

The ability to recognize quiet speech is a bit of a double-edged sword, though. This is prime trolling ground for anyone else in the room.  If you were, say, lining up a perfect solo shot, a prankster could come by and yell “Shotgun” to totally destroy your game; that’s just the kind of thing a prankster would do.

The demo for Mass Effect 3 comes out on February 14 for the 360, PS3, and PC, so you can test out ordering around your virtual compadres then, assuming you're playing on the 360; Kinect support for the PC version is yet to be confirmed (even though it seems hard to believe that it wouldn't support it).

Comments are Closed

  • lowkevmic

    I finally sat down and played the demo and used the Kinect voice commands for it, and I can say that the use of the Kinect is far from a gimmick with ME3. Just the fact of how easy the game responded to my commands, and how it will recognize if I was to call the weapon out by its technical name or simply "shotgun" or "assault rifle" was awesome. The characters also respond pretty well to my commands too. I can say cover fire or move forward, and sure enough someone will respond even if I don't say their name specifically. It makes having to pause the game or go into your special menu in order to make sudden adjustments now more on the fly, which makes for a more shooter based experience instead of an RPG based one. Which in my opinion for a game like ME3 was a great idea.

    Posted: February 27, 2012 4:50 PM
  • luckey7

    This is a cool and fantastic idea BUT, its no reason to spend money so you can use your voice to command. If other games were going to do something like this then i would start saving for a kinect. Untill I see more games that gamers are more into such as skyrim, MDW, BF, Assasins, Final Fantasy, Saints, and Madden then I think They will really see kinects flying out the door. But that is my oppinion and everyone has one.

    Posted: January 23, 2012 12:16 PM
  • Bloodthr0e

    So does it easily recognize voice commands with accents? I wonder why voice commands aren't on the PS3 or PC. The PS3 camera has proven capable of voice commands in the game SingStar and there is no reason you shouldn't be able to just use a headset for this. I guess switching weapons and magic in some games can be daunting, but games like Dead Space or Resistance have shown that it can be a one or quick two button action. So not really necessary.

    Posted: January 19, 2012 8:11 AM
  • MarkWidder

    Personally i talk to myself a lot while playing a lot so this is rather difficult, they had a small portion of kinect voice command in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and i accidently threw grenades at a random wall a lot., and i wouldn't want to randomly start reloading in the middle of a firefight if i don't want to.

    Posted: January 18, 2012 10:16 AM
  • Zzanzabar

    Of course if I OWNED a kinect I would use this feature just to add another function to my gimmicky little toy, but I don't, and this feature isn't quite good enough to get me to buy one. It DOES sound cool though, especially if they add reload as a command.

    Posted: January 18, 2012 7:32 AM
  • Fuzion9

    I plan on ignoring the Kinect features and just playin the game the "old fashion way"

    Posted: January 18, 2012 6:45 AM
  • thekingdom195

    I hope they add the reload command too. That would make things so much easier than reaching all the way over to that X button...

    Posted: January 18, 2012 6:42 AM