In 2157, humanity discovered it was not alone in the universe.
Thirty years later, they found a peaceful place among dozens of galactic species. But this idyllic future is overshadowed by a dark past: Reapers, a sentient race of machines responsible for cleansing the galaxy of all organic life every 50,000 years, are about to return. The leaders of the galaxy are paralyzed by indecision, unable to accept the legend of Reapers as fact. But one soldier has seen the legend come to life.
And now, the fate of the galaxy depends on him.
Thus begins Mass Effect 3
, the third entry in EA/BioWare’s series of increasingly action-oriented sci-fi RPGs. Though it releases on March 6th in North America, playable demos have arrived on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 this week. (If you do not have Battlefield 3
registered to your EA account, you’ll have to wait until Friday, February 17th to play the multiplayer portion.) Both Will and Jacob have played through the demo, and will now share their thoughts with you, the FiringSquad readership.
“As a fan of the Mass Effect
franchise, I was deathly afraid of what BioWare and EA might do with ME3. After the incomprehensible turd that was Dragon Age II
and comments from the developers about making ME3 'more accessible' (an industry term for dumbing something down), I had to spend a very long time debating myself over pre-ordering. Thankfully, EA released this demo and my fears have been quenched. That and I had a gift card, so I’m not actually spending any of my own money.”
This new-found “accessibility” essentially boils down to players having a choice of three fundamentally different gameplay modes for the single-player campaign: Action, Role-Play, and Story. The first option sort of distances you from protagonist Commander Shepard, so you have no choice of dialog options and all conversations play out as regular cut-scenes, like you would see in other action games. This is perfect for those more casual players that don’t care for RPGs unless they’re the kind that go *boom*.
The second choice is the unchanged Mass Effect
experience, with the same balance of character creation/customization, story-branching decisions, and fierce combat. The last one introduces a new, easier difficulty level for those that merely want to experience the story and role-playing aspects of ME3, with much less emphasis on engaging combat.
: “This game mode setup is good design, as it caters to everyone without alienating the core base. You can mix and match the settings at any time in the options menu. Interface-wise, there are new direction identifiers for leaving cover and objective waypoints but everything else is exactly the same, including the dreaded one-button does-all. Like in ME2, your space bar functions as the sprint key, the action key, and dodge key at the same time.”
: “That consolidated key-mapping is probably my biggest pet peeve about the Mass Effect
series. I’m always tempted to rebind it to ‘Shift’ so that I can sprint and enter cover more naturally, but then I’d be pressing that to use items and dodge, too, which just doesn’t feel right. I’ve never understood how they could add hotkeys for abilities on the PC version, but we’re still not allowed to rebind individual functions of this ‘omni-button.’ It’s not like we’re really lacking for real estate on a keyboard as they are on a controller.”