It comes as no surprise that Mass Effect 3 looks amazing, but it is still mind-blowlingly fresh to actually see in person. If any word can describe Mass Effect 3, the word is ‘grandiose’. It truly caught me off guard how large this game is. It’s easy to feel like a tough guy when you’re shooting down a few geth, skull bashing some husks, and sniping mechs like they were cheap toys. Now that the Reapers have invaded Earth, Shepard is a spec standing “tall” to the opposition.
In the newest installment, things start off harsh as Shepard stands trial for his “crimes” against the Batarian colonies. Before Shepard is given the verdict, Reapers invade Earth, and it’s to each their own survival. All efforts on Earth prove to be futile. Shepard is then given orders by Lt. Anderson to guild together a feasible opposition as he is reinstated as Commander. Hesitantly, Shepard agrees to embark on a journey, leaving Earth to its seemingly inevitable destruction, in order to gain resources, alliances and whatever else he can possibly attain to defend Earth from Reaper onslaught.
The most amazing part of the E3 demo was the scale. It’s clear to see that BioWare wants Shepard to seem powerless — an ant being stepped on by giants. Mass Effect 3 plays with a dynamic camera angles during gameplay, and it looks exceedingly smooth and really contributes to the cinematic nature of the game. Think the newest iteration of War of the Worlds, but actually good. All this is set to the very beautiful Mass Effect 3 engine, tailored from the Unreal 3 engine. The game is so beautifully cinematic, it may even confuse people for another Blur trailer.
Many characters make a return, and it can only be assumed that everyone that survives Mass Effect 2 will somehow effect the story. In the demo I was shown, Liara, Garrus, Legion, Joker and Mordin all made their return. There seem to be new characters in Shepard’s squadron as well, but they’ve yet to develop.
The gameplay seems to largely follow the structure of the previous title, but there are many more options for how tactics may be enacted. Cover mechanics seem to be much more intuitive, and the game displays where Shepard will rush to, so that the player can be certain they are making careful tactical advancements without taking away from the pace in over-calculation.
Even better yet, the cover mechanics and beefed up AI allow for a more in-depth playstyle. Flanking is much more tactically relevant and useful, and Shepard can even sneak up to his opponents. Why would the player want to sneak behind an enemy? Well, shooting them in the back is fun and all, but it’s much more satisfying to stab them with the new “Omni-blade.” The new arm lance initiates a sort of in-game cutscene, stabbing opponents viciously, replacing punching as the melee option. It’s very much akin to Halo: Reach’s assassinations. Also, Shepard is able to pull people from across ledges, much like something seen in Splinter Cell: Conviction.
The new gear doesn’t stop there. Mass Effect 3 sports an upgrade system in which the player can add parts — like gun barrels, sights, etc. — to enhance the effectiveness and tactical advantages to guns. This is something that was brought up in one of the latest GameInformers, but until now, it’s yet to be seen. It uses a bench mechanic like Dead Space, but is more visually appealing and “hands-on”. Frag Grenades also make a return, but function much more realistically and dynamically.
Finally, Mass Effect 3 touts a more in-depth character stats progression. For example, many people remember combat mastery as adding damage, persuasion, health and storm speed. However, this time around, players can designate what parts of Combat Mastery they’d like to benefit from specifically. This is some exciting news, as it will mean that players will have a more unique character with different playstyles.
Mass Effect 3 has been largley a close-to-the-chest project, but it’s clear to see it’s not for any reason other than saving the best for when it’s available. BioWare staff said they’d not even show the gameplay demo that was previewed at E3 again untill the game is officially released. It’s bittersweet, really. On one hand, many gamers are craving the instant gratification of seeing more and more of Mass Effect 3, but it is sure to be a reward in and of itself when the disc is actually in their hands as they discover just how amazing this game is looking to be.