A few days ago I got the chance to take an early look at the Mass Effect 3 single player demo and all the glory that came with it. An updated levelling system, sharp graphics and some heart pounding action were just some of the highlights. Having played it to death however, it was time to move onto the much discussed and awaited multilpayer side of the Mass Effect 3 demo which was made available on the 14th for anyone who owns a Battlefield 3 online pass and will be available on the 17th for everyone else. The demo consists of two maps, all six available classes, three challenge modes and includes access to Xbox Live Gold for use only with the Mass Effect 3 demo for a limited amount of time. Bioware have not confirmed how long the free Gold access will last but they have made it very clear that it will be available only within multiplayer portion of the Mass Effect 3 demo.
The two maps, Firebase Ghost and Firebase White, are both situated in Alliance space and only human male or human female characters are available from the get go. Other races, weapons and customisation options are unlocked the longer you play for but none of your work will be carried forward to the full release. Initially this is a slight disappointment as one of the major things for me in terms of the multiplayer was being able to try out all the newly playable races, but I guess rushing into piles of enemies in full Krogan armour is just something that will have to wait.
If you have ever played Firefight maps in Halo before the way the multiplayer demo is set out should be very familiar to you. You are placed in a team of three people and are to work together to eliminate the incoming waves of Cerberus troops and occasionally an extra objective like hacking a computer or holding certain points on the map. The maps can be set at three difficulties: bronze, silver and gold and a tally of the scores are kept to view in the pause menu.
I tried out a few classes and instantly noticed that every time I started a new match my whole team consisted of the same class. Hopefully this is just a demo restriction as mixing classes is surely the way to go for maximum efficiency and fun. Again as I found in the single player, running in close and taking out an enemy with the Omni-Blade sure is satisfying and thankfully other team mates can revive you for a limited time if all goes pear-shaped.
Various medals can be achieved throughout the game for multiple kills, assists, revives and completing objectives which further count toward your score and your final XP haul. Levelling is just as in the single player, with slightly improved stat choices and the same abilities. Credits are also gained to unlock special abilities packs to use during play. These abilities are mapped to the d-pad and give you early access to weapons, extra ammo and the ability to revive yourself, but can only be used once or twice before they expire.
Another restriction I noticed was that there was no player versus player combat, it was your team against AI. I hope this is not the set up for all the multiplayer modes in the full game as some player on player action with mixed classes and a group of friends seems like it would be great fun.
As much as I was first opposed to the idea of multiplayer in Mass Effect, not everything about the demo was bad. I enjoyed the whole thing a little more than I was expecting and there were good points to take away. The AI were very intelligent compared to your normal wave based foe, ducking behind cover, setting up turrets and charging our team with shields held high. This made the higher difficulties very challenging and we all love a challenge, right? It all seemed very polished and well presented, not just an addition to the single player campaign but something that Bioware had really developed and added depth and meaning to. In the end without the full roster of game types and unlocks I’m reserving total judgement until I have seen the final version of the multiplayer in the March release.
Mass Effect 3 will be released in Europe on the 9th March on PS3, PC and Xbox 360.