Mass Effect 3 didn’t draw big crowds at Eurogamer. The game was due for release this year, but had to be rescheduled for March 6, 2012. That’s a long time to wait, with plenty of huge games coming out between now and then. Besides, the playable demo on offer was the one you might have seen at E3 in June. Well, we haven’t been to E3, so here are our fresh impressions.
The game feels great. It’s not just the updated graphics or changes in gameplay. Everything around you is more solid, has more weight to it. Mass Effect was a game of unbelievable depth, but (don’t hit me for this) once it came to action, it was simplistic and unimpressive. Mass Effect 2 kept the depth, and polished the combat. And now, at this new stage of evolution, in Mass Effect 3, you might actually enjoy combat as much as complex interactions with characters.
Fighting is a fluid experience, when you move, shoot and use tech abilities or bionic powers all at the same time. Finally, Shepard moves like he’s a person, not a rusty tin robot. He can jump, he can roll and he can climb ladders.
Stealth is a viable option. The movement in cover is similar to what we have seen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You can roll from cover to cover, and go around the corner while still hugging the wall. In case the enemies haven’t noticed you, you can perform stealth kills with a newly-modified multitool, which now looks like a claw. Badass.
The story is woven trough action sequences. In the available mission, we had to defend a capsule with a Krogan female (!) from indoctrinated Cerberus operatives. This is how it worked: you had fight through the building full of bad guys, while following Mordin’s hysterical directions. It’s all “hit a switch!” and “press a button!”, but done very well. An interesting addition to the bestiary are soldiers carrying huge riot shields. it’s absolutely, completely 100% pointless to attack these guys head on. I tried, and I died.
By the end of the demo, we encountered the ATLAS – a huge battle robot, quicker, bigger and smarter than Mass Effect 2 YMIR Mechs. Not discouraged by its size, the robot was actively pursuing me and my squad mates around the room, dishing out ridiculous amounts of pain. I can barely remember 2-3 encounters in the previous games as intense as this.
The soundtrack makes sure you know you are saving the universe. In contrast with somewhat synthetic music from the previous games, Mass Effect 3 sounds like the work of a full orchestra. It’s glorious, epic stuff by Hollywood composer Clint Mansell (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan, The Wrestler, Moon and countless others).
Mass Effect 3 feels like a complete game/film hybrid, an interactive story with multiple outcomes. This story started in 2007, and as time went along, BioWare have become progressively better at telling it.
It all ends in 2012, and although the game won’t come out anytime soon, I am already sad that it means that Shepard’s story will be finished.
While that hasn’t happened, enjoy this gorgeous trailer with some of the footage of the aforementioned demo: