Will: “Combat is just as hectic as before, but at least the AI has been upgraded slightly. Squad-mates seem to be more intelligent with their cover; they flank, watch your back, and will frequently use their powers without you manually telling them to. Enemy AI is similarly improved, but sometimes they spend too long in cover. They also have some terrible detection and pathfinding.
It looks like the weapons are essentially unchanged from ME2, as well, save for feeling more powerful. There are some new sound effects which remind me of the phasers in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek, which ME3 got the absurd lens flare idea from, too. Enemies will visibly react to getting shot; they will stumble backwards and become momentarily stunned. Combat on Normal difficulty was challenging in the second half of the demo, but that’s probably because I couldn’t pick my own weapons and upgrades.”
“Yes, lens flares everywhere! (See the screenshots.) They must be teaching that in director school now, along with killing children to make the situation seem more dire and tragic. Anyway, the combat does feel much the same, and ranged enemies do like to hide out in cover, waiting for you to take the alternate route and flank them. However they did add more aggressive enemies, sort of like the Krogans from ME2 that will charge right up at you.
This time they have those guys with the riot shields that are meant to grab your attention and make you use indirect tactics to bring them down before they get close and force you to relocate. If you have steady aim you can actually hit them with bullets while they’re holding the shield, but that biotic power that lifts them up is enough to make them vulnerable. Or I guess if you picked one of the close combat classes, you can just get in their face and tango that way. Not sure how that would work out on a boss like the one at the end of the demo, though -- I’d be too scared to try to melee or shotgun that weak spot on his back.”
Provided you’ve not chosen the ‘Combat’ gameplay mode, you get to customize a few various details about your Shepard, including traditional modifiers like gender, appearance, class, origin, and claim to fame, as well as which key character(s) died in ME1. (Unlike in Mass Effect 2
, importing a save game to ME3 can only add to the continuity of the storyline -- you won’t experience a bunch of forced references to past events even if you didn’t import your file.)
Then the introduction cutscene plays, with Admiral Hackett and Admiral Anderson discussing how they lost contact with perimeter space stations and that this must be a warning signal that the Reapers are coming. Commander Shepard is summoned to offer advice to the Alliance Defense Council, but there’s little more to talk about beyond the fact that the Reapers are here, now.
: “Through the duration of that cutscene, Earth loses contact with the Moon, London is blown to pieces, and then a bunch of Reapers pop out of the sky to blow the Alliance headquarters to smithereens. It literally happens just as fast as you’ve read this... I felt the intro was incredibly rushed and wasted a perfect opportunity to wow the audience. There was just no suspense leading up to what was supposed to be the climax of the previous two games: the motherf*cking Reapers are here!
At first I was under the impression that the beginning of the demo was not, in fact, the beginning of the game. There’s dialogue about events I didn’t experience, an uncertain time frame, and characters I’ve never seen before. Turns out you need to have played the ME2 DLC Arrival
where [*spoilers*] Shepard steers an asteroid into a Mass Relay to postpone the Reapers entering our galaxy. This in turn destroyed an entire Batarian solar system and hundreds of thousands of colonists, so Shepard was discharged and supposed to go to trial, not a briefing on the Reapers as the demo presented.”
: “That threw me for a loop at first, as well. I never played any of the post-release DLC for Mass Effect 2
, but apparently that last one was supposed to bridge the gap between that game and ME3. So when the promo videos were talking about Shepard being stripped of his command and grounded on Earth, I was like ‘WTF, I just saved the world, why do I need to be reinstated?’ You’re back in action quickly enough, though, once everything goes to hell during the tutorial/intro level you play in the demo. So the premise of ME3 seems like it will be very similar to the last game, with you traveling around the galaxy gathering forces and support to bring back to defeat the Reapers in the battle for Earth.”