E3 2011: Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 builds upon the foundation of the last game with improved cover and combat mechanics, larger scale battles, and more thorough character customization.

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QUICKTAKE: Earning "Game of the Year" accolades was, apparently, not enough for the Mass Effect 2 team. Mass Effect 3 builds upon the foundation of the last game with improved cover and combat mechanics, larger scale battles, and more thorough character customization. A new lighting system and larger environments makes the finale of the intergalactic trilogy seem that much more ambitious and impactful. THE DEMO: The demo showcased various action vignettes, running off an Xbox 360 system. In the first, Shepard and crew are being chased by a towering geth thing, and Shepard tries frantically to command a turret in an attempt to destroy it. An air raid gets called in, stalling the behemoth, but it continues its rampage. Mass Effect 3 is an action game at its heart, and BioWare intends on being competitive in the genre. The improvements made to the game's standard run-and-gun formula showcase this. Moving from cover to cover has been completely overhauled, giving Shepard the ability to move through the environment much more nimbly. He'll be able to roll to dodge oncoming fire and when he gets close, he'll be able to use a laser sword in contextual finishing animations. The final part of the demo takes place on Earth, and reminds us how dire Shepard's final adventure will be. DETAILS: BioWare tells us that they're trying to improve both the action and RPG elements of Mass Effect 3. However, very little was demonstrated on how the RPG aspect would be deepened. We caught a brief glimpse at an enhanced weapons station for Shepard and crew to choose their loadouts. In addition to choosing weapons, it appears you can also customize individual components of each of your weapons. Unlike in the original Mass Effect, the experience is far more visual. You'll see a full 3D representation of your weapon laid out on the table, and you can see which components get swapped in. Improved character customization was also promised, and hinted at. In the Squad subsection of the Pause menu, you'll once again be able to assign points to various attributes. However, ME3 features a new twist: once you select an ability, you can choose between multiple effects, branching the abilities of your character. ME1 allowed some branching as well, but there are seemingly more options this time around.

Mass Effect 3

While BioWare is promising deeper RPG mechanics, the purpose of the E3 demo was clearly to showcase the enhanced combat. Now that he's able to run, move from cover to cover, and roll with relative ease, Commander Shepard could easily join Delta Squad from Gears of War. New enemies, like one that carries a physical shield, encourage players to move around the environment to flank and gain the upper hand. The ready availability of grenades only further cements Mass Effect 3's transition into a full shooter. Purists may be wary of the action-heavy direction of the franchise, but it's potentially the end of all living things in the universe! The visuals do a great job of reflecting the stakes at hand. The environments are a lot bigger than before, letting you see vistas that stretch far into the distance. Perhaps this is necessary to accommodate for the size of some of the enemies in the game, some which tower many stories high. Not only are the environments bigger, they're a lot prettier. BioWare promised tweaks to the engine while working on the PS3 port of Mass Effect 2, and the results of their efforts is immediately evident in Mass Effect 3. One of the most striking elements of the game is the new lighting system. It is a very bright game, with super-saturated visuals reminiscent of the recent Star Trek reboot. The effect is quite jarring, making for a quite dramatic look for the franchise's last act. The environments are a lot more destructive, as well. The final part of the demo took place on Earth and suffice it to say, the situation did not look good for humanity. As Shepard attempts to escape the planet, his path gets destroyed by a Geth laser. To make his way past the debris, we saw one of Shepard's new abilities in the game: he can jump, likely automatically (a la Zelda). We saw some mild platforming as he attempted to flag down the Normandy. From what I've seen so far, Mass Effect 3 looks to be an exciting, fitting end for the franchise. I'm especially looking forward to seeing the ramifications of my decisions from the first two games. Even in the demo, I saw how some rather major arcs might end. (Don't worry, I won't spoil anything for you.) Seeing so many familiar faces return for the final act, with many fighting alongside Shepard, has me looking forward to Mass Effect 3's release on March 6, next year. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 10, 2011 1:15 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, E3 2011: Mass Effect 3.

    Mass Effect 3 builds upon the foundation of the last game with improved cover and combat mechanics, larger scale battles, and more thorough character customization.

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      June 10, 2011 1:22 PM

      Did they demo any more of the kinect integration?

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        June 10, 2011 2:35 PM

        No. I guess we'll have to wait to find out more about it!

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      June 10, 2011 1:29 PM

      Anyone know someone in the future who can send me back a copy?

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      June 10, 2011 2:39 PM

      I'm glad to see this franchise die (though I strongly doubt it will, EA doesn't let cash cows die) after seeing the direction EA has taken it. From solid RPG with basic shooter elements to stupid gears of war ripoff with a few character statistics and some dialogue.

      I blindly preordered the 2nd based on the first, I will not be preordering the 3rd, based mostly on the 2nd and everything I've read/watched about this upcoming title.

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        June 10, 2011 2:49 PM

        Haven't played any of them but isn't ME2 regarded as one of the best games ever?

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          June 10, 2011 3:03 PM

          It's nice, but after having seen the complete cockup that was DA2, i'm very worried that they won't know when to stop with the shooter elements.

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            June 10, 2011 3:11 PM

            You do realise that most of the stuff they're adding in to ME3 was stuff that was in ME1 and was taken out in ME2?

            Other than that, the new stuff looks like a huge improvement all around. Better movement, more character options, more abilities and so on.

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          June 10, 2011 3:13 PM

          it's great. I think he's talking about the Madden Dragon Age and the direction it went

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          June 10, 2011 3:24 PM

          Not by me.

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          June 11, 2011 1:22 PM

          Only if you haven'tplayed some of the actual best games ever

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        June 10, 2011 3:28 PM

        I'm not really sure how you compare ME2 to Gears other than the cover aspect.

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          June 10, 2011 3:41 PM

          You compare it really easy, especially once they implemented that fast regenerating health for every class and gave anyone the option to carry assault rifles (making Soldier obsolete). The whole point of Mass Effect is to be presentationally just like a major shooter bros are familiar with (Gears in gameplay, Halo in visuals) and then at the macro level of gameplay layer on top of that some light RPG character building stuff, and being able to pick from any three missions at a time. Cause that's what Bioware actually knows what to do.

          The result is a surprisingly fun shooter RPG even though its aims and ends are rather cynical. So the idea of making the shooting in ME3 better than in ME2 totally fits the franchise for me, cause that game was always as much a shooter as it was an RPG, if not a shooter foremost. Coupled with this other stuff about better customization, I think this makes for good news.

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            June 10, 2011 3:59 PM

            ME1 is a shooter with a super shitty driving sim built in.

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            June 11, 2011 2:12 AM

            iawtSpaecKow. ME1's combat feels really horrible, especially after playing #2. I feel they trimmed the right things for the sequel, I hope they don't trim too much for #3.

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              June 11, 2011 3:36 AM

              Personally, I don't think ME2 gained that much by cutting the stuff they cut, like the inventory and a lot of the character building. I didn't care, the whole point for me in ME1 was to roam around and check out the galaxy and be sweet roaming around doing space science action, so it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the game. But the whole thing of "oh the inventory sucked so we got rid of the inventory but what we have is a screen you can go to that shows a list of armors, or weapons, or special buffing items for you to select from - not an inventory though!" kind of self defeating.

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        June 10, 2011 4:06 PM

        But the only thing they really did to the RPG elements was all but remove the inventory/weapon customization stuff. Unless you are sad the hero from the first game didn't forget how to use guns.

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        June 10, 2011 5:39 PM

        LOL, OK buddy.

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        June 10, 2011 8:06 PM

        It'll never die. I would live to see a Mass Effect with a bit of space combat. Something like Star Control in the Mass Effect setting.

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          June 13, 2011 2:27 PM

          I've been wanting a Star Control game that plays like Mass Effect since day one of this series- that would be completely amazing.

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        June 11, 2011 4:37 AM

        Well there's just very little truth to this. I can perfectly understand why some people prefer ME1 to ME2, mainly because of the story, but blaming it on the improvements to the combat system is just absurd. ME1 action was already shooter action, but it was clunky at that, and ME2 made it better all around. The lack of an inventory could be argued as a simplification that they didn't need to make, but I'm having a hard time seeing how junking / selling obsolete weapons could make or break an entire game for you. As for the dialogue and RPG elements, there were just as much of those in ME2 and it was all just as well, if not better, produced.

        In short, ME2 was really no less a RPG than ME1 was. The one clear advantage the first part holds over it's otherwise superior sequel is the story that had more juice to it. This coming from someone who has played through both of them back to back nearly 3 times now.

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        June 11, 2011 6:33 AM

        First one was a "solid RPG"?

        And this series is doing far too well to go anywhere. This will end just like the Halo franchise did (i.e. not at all).

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      June 10, 2011 2:47 PM

      I hope the environments are more than just big storage rooms with suspiciously placed boxes and partial walls for cover.

      • DM7
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        June 10, 2011 3:23 PM

        Waist high crates for everyone!

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        June 10, 2011 3:29 PM

        More destructible terrain would be nice. Sit behind the same wall too long and it gets destroyed and you have to find something else to hide behind.

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        June 10, 2011 5:41 PM

        You mean warehouses where combat walls pop out of the floor for absolutely no reason? Oh yeah!

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      June 10, 2011 3:35 PM

      I liked the games in general but I have some issues with it all so far.

      The cover system makes all the enemies become controlled by the same simple AI. Predictable, Stupid and boring.
      Also seems like everything in these games shares the same animation for running around with guns. Hunched over tactical stance. Doesn't matter if your a 2-Ton Krogan, or scrawny little girl, giant geth humanoid attack robot, you'll all look the same when holding the same weapons. Why even have aliens if everything is exactly the same.

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        June 10, 2011 4:01 PM

        So you can have pretend racism, just like in fantasy.

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        June 10, 2011 4:12 PM

        Unfortunately these seems to be a common theme. The most customizable things become in the game the more generic they become since they have to account for all of the customization variables...or just ignore them which seems to be Biowares general solution to the issue.

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      June 10, 2011 5:28 PM

      no mention of gay/lesbian shepard in the preview

      is this the real mass effect 3?

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      June 10, 2011 7:10 PM

      This is my most wanted game along with Diablo 3.

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      June 11, 2011 12:18 AM

      i'll be serious: i have tears at my eyes now. can't wait to play this!!!

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      June 11, 2011 6:02 AM

      Sounds awesome; good article, Andrew!

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      June 11, 2011 6:31 AM

      "Rests in his hands" What is this bullshit? Everyone knows that Shepard is female.

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        June 11, 2011 7:14 AM

        Lol I thought that as well when I watched the trailer, Jennifer Hale is the best voice actress in gaming.

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        June 11, 2011 4:54 PM

        /Like. SO TRUE

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      June 12, 2011 4:35 PM

      I don't want on-rails shooting sections in Mass Effect :|