In a nice closed off area, I had the chance to sit down and get some one on one time with Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect 3 brings some new features to the table. They improved A.I tactics, introduced new enemy types, new melee combat mechanics, and re-tooled classes.
I started off having to choose my class, the Soldier, the Engineer, or the Sentinel. I choose the Engineer and it came with quite a few tricks to play with – some old, some new. The Engineer has always been known as a distraction class with the use of the combat drone that stunned enemies and made them susceptible to gunfire and the various tech and biotic powers. Now I have a turret that does the same thing in conjunction with the combat drone leaving enemies open and interrupting their tactics.
As I upgraded my Shepard, I had a chance to look at the new upgrade system. So far, there are three main upgrades you have to get before it branches out. After that, the remaining upgrades present you with a choice between two upgrades. Do you want to increase the damage further or reduce the cooldown time. The new system allows players to create a more unique tailored to what they need.
Starting my demo, I was on the Salarian homeworld assisting Mordin with Garrus and Liara, escorting a fertile female Krogan dubbed ‘The Krogan Princess’ to Urdnot Wrex, who may or may not be alive depending on your decisions in previous Mass Effect games. Safely escorting the princess off world would secure one of the must-needed alliances that you need to form throughout the game to combat the Reapers. My task was to kill off the indoctrinated Cerberus troops who were hell bent on disrupting my mission.
With Liara and Garrus, I had to form tactics of my own against new enemies. In one situation, I had Garrus engage a Cerberus troop outfitted with a shield that protected himself from frontal attacks. As I flanked him, I told Garrus to use his concussion shot that slammed into the Cerberus troop shield, knocking him off balance. Getting up close and personal, I finished him off with a new enhanced melee attack – as the engineer holding down the B button resulted in me whipping out my Omni blade that lit on fire when I swung it, quickly ending the life of the tropper.
That didn’t remedy any of the pressure I was experiencing due to a lot more reinforcements showing up. As I fired at them, some of them took cover and while another handful tried to approach me from the side. Luckily, I took notice and threw my combat turret behind them to keep them busy while I repositioned myself to combat them more effectively.
As I repositioned I order Liara to use her singularity ability and the group who tried to flank me were lifted and suspended in the air, making them easy picking with the combined fire of all three of us. As we pushed ahead, I notice a workbench where we could change out our weapons as well as customize them to our tastes.
When you use the bench, you have the option of customizing your weapon: changing the barrel, the scope, magazine size etc. I was using the ‘matlock’ assault rifle and I was able to change out the barrel for a much longer one that provided additional damage. The upgrades so far don’t seem to provide any negative effects, however there are very specific in what they do and I only had two upgrade slots.
Progressing through the demo, I noticed that they have introduced more elevation in their design. As I moved into the next area, I had the opportunity to go up the stairs to fight those below; being the optimist I took it but I was shocked to find out that they could jet pack upstairs to fight me. Ruining my initial plans, I took the fight to them with my combat drone and turret, while using Garrus and Liara’s abilities to finish them off.
Near the end when I almost delivered the female to Wrex, Cerberus sent down a gigantic Atlus Mech – which I found out I could pilot it if I was crafty enough to kill the tropper inside. The Mech is a lot more threatening than the Mechs in Mass Effect 2 as they can travel over cover and terrain. Whereas before you could just game the system by moving over to the next piece of cover if it got to close. Now the mechs will just step over cover and get right on top of you if you just sit there. With good use of tactics and movement, I was able to take down the mech and avoid getting myself blown to pieces.
At the end of the demo, I was very satisfied with what I played. The game was familiar yet foreign with all the new moves and improvements made. Shepard feels a bit heavier as I moved around the area. The melee attacks feel like melee attacks – when I hit someone I really feels as if I’m trying to knock their heads as opposed to just jabbing them. I could roll, maneuver in between cover, as well as sprint whenever I wanted instead of power walking. I can’t wait to see more of the game as it progresses to its March 6, 2012 release date.