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Mass Effect 3 First Look (PC)

Developer/Publisher: BioWare/Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

By Matthew F. Hibben
3/3/2012

Mass Effect 3 is a new shooter soon to be released by Bioware, giving players a new entry into the Sci-Fi marketplace for gamers.  Mass Effect 3 (ME3) is fast approaching, however a sneak peak of game play is available on the BioWare site, allowing players to get a taste of the action in store.  In this Game Tech article I break away from the RPG and MMO’s to delve into a shooter with many RPG elements, ME3.

The Story

ME3 takes place a hundred plus years in the future where the world (earth) is part of a galactic alliance.  At the start of the game it is discovered that all is not well and that a group called “The Reapers” are hell bent on destroying life as we know it.  The player controls a human anti-hero type that is present during the attack on earth by The Reapers, in which the story unfolds as a theme of salvation not only for Earth but all planets.

Gameplay

Gameplay in ME3 is set up as a third person shooter, think over the shoulder view.  I was a little disappointed that a first person view wasn’t something players could toggle between, even for aiming purposes,  but from what I understand that is the nature of the ME series. 

In ME3 many abilities that a player will use are controlled by a very limited range of button presses, specifically the spacebar.  In ME3 the spacebar governs sprinting, ducking into cover, jumping, and interacting with objects like ladders.  I found that with such a wide array of abilities all associated to this one button, I was ducking when I was trying to sprint and vice versa.   Getting a handle on how sticky cover works as well as the proper distance players will need to be from various objects to actually interact with them as intended by the player is something that takes practice. 

In addition to the mechanics of the gameplay there is the ability for players to select a specialization (spec) at character creation.  Each spec gives players a different focus as well as different abilities to utilize, from things like different types of ammo, to abilities like cloaking.

RPG Elements

There are plenty of RPG elements in ME3 starting with character creation.  Players get to design a background story for their character as well as selecting role playing as one of the gameplay options.  Players can at various intervals interact with various NPC’s using a chat wheel style dialog. 

However it is too early to tell based on the demo if these chat decisions impact the story.  In addition, players are given a set of crew members that add to the immersion in the story by both adding to out of combat chat interactions as well as in combat chatter.

Another element I most often associate with RPG/MMO’s is the talent tree type system which is well developed in ME3.  As players level up they will gain points that can be spent to upgrade various abilities for themselves as well as their squad members.

Performance

Based on the demo I can say that the graphics are quite stunning, and the game does a great job of running smoothly.  I ran the demo many times using a variety of different character types and found only one small instance of hitching and lag that occurred, which I was unable to reproduce on any subsequent incarnations of gameplay. 

Shooters typically don’t get me excited, but armed with only a one level demo, I found ME3 to be a lot of fun.   If the quality of the full game comes up to the level of the demo, I feel ME3 is going to be benchmark game for the year.  Check back with me next week when I tackle the full game and the various video’s that will be associated with the experience of ME3.

  • 1.
    The Story
  • 2.
    Gameplay
  • 3.
    RPG Element
  • 4.
    Dialog
  • 5.
    Character Creation
  • 6.
    Character Talents
  • 7.
    Video
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