Mass Effect is on the horizon again and what better way to get worked up about saving the galaxy and making planet sized decisions with your favourite commander than to dig into the Mass Effect 3 demo. The single player section of the demo is in two parts and may be short and sweet but there is a lot to talk about and even more to get excited about.
The first thing that is clearly noticeable is the improved graphics, which look a lot crisper and more realistic than before. It’s also clear during the initial cut scenes that the viewing angles and choppiness are giving a sense of urgency from the get go. The Reapers are a near and deadly threat and there is no time to mess about in the politics of races and worlds with the outcome of the whole galaxy in the balance.
As an RPG player I like to understand my character before playing him and as soon as I was given the chance I paused to take a look around the menus. The improved leveling system looks like it will work very nicely, it seems more customisable and open than ME2‘s restrictive set up. When choosing to level various skills you are given further options to improve certain statistics of that skill over others. For example if you chose to advance Shepard’s Adrenaline Rush, you could chose length of the ability over damage it produces or vice versa.
War has well and truly begun on a galactic scale and this means the life and death decisions and choices you make will affect the story in greater ways than ever before. This becomes evidently clear when early on I find a scared child hiding in a wall vent. My attempts at trying to coax the child out in caring manner fail and he escapes my grasp to god knows where within the maze of air ducts. Later on in a cutscene I see the boy running into a passenger ship which is moments later ripped apart by a giant Reaper. I can only wonder if I had yelled at the lad to stop hiding he might still be alive and safe with me.
The second part of the demo has us attempting to escort a female Krogan to the safety of the Normandy whilst being hammered at all sides by the now hostile Cerberus corporation. The Krogan is safe in a capsule but has limited shields and time is of the essence. Ducking and covering seemed as annoyingly temperamental as ever but whilst in cover you can now move round corners and roll to other nearby cover which is at least a slight improvement and makes flanking the enemy easier. Getting up close and using the Omni-Blade to take down a foe is very satisfying and even though it was not the best approach on most occasions I used it, I felt like I couldn’t help myself.
Nearing the end of this section you face a huge Cerberus machine which takes some beating and is not just a straightforward shoot to kill encounter (at least not with the difficulty options I had chosen). Improving your abilities in the right way and really learning what each character powers are and how to effectively use them will no doubt be crucial to advancing through the tougher situations in the game and doing this took me a couple attempts. Getting back into the swing of things in the end I saved the female Krogan much to the delight of Wrex and the crew and so the demo ended.
My overall impressions of the demo were that the combat was more intense and tougher than previous and you don’t have as much time when it comes to decision making and making tactical choices in combat. The new leveling system looks like a good mix between the original system ME2’s simplified design, and that knowing your abilities and team will count more than ever with a seemingly stronger, numerous and more tactically aware enemy.
Keep your eyes on this space for details and first impressions about the multiplayer side of the demo.