Will: “Nevertheless, the opening of the demo was still very cool. You’re in a futuristic fusion of Vancouver and Seattle as it’s being torn apart by giant laser beams and multiple walking Reapers. The background is incredibly detailed with sprites running for their lives down below, and if you wait long enough that Reaper off in the distance will eventually make its way toward you. As you progress through the linear level there are a ton of scripted events showcasing even more destruction.
However, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the depiction of this Earth city. When you select “Earthborn” during the character creation process, the description makes it sound like Earth is covered in continent-sized cities suffering from some cyberpunk dystopia, but you only get to see a very sparse, clean city with cookie-cutter buildings and little to no distinguishing features. The interiors feel empty and lifeless because everything is so incredibly utilitarian. This was probably one of the few times where an environment in Mass Effect did not impress me.”
The second half of the single-player demo focuses on core ME3 combat and brings you to the Salarian homeworld, where you are tasked with extraditing a very rare and valuable Krogan female. It’s heavily edited, as it takes place at a later point in the game and they try to avoid spoiling things. All that you know for sure is that familiar characters from previous games, including Wrex, Liara, and Garrus, have joined Shepard for this rescue mission. Another familiar face, the quirky Salarian scientist Mordin Solus, also makes an appearance; he had apparently been relocated to his home planet and aided in negotiating the release of the Krogan. Tensions are still high between the two races (Salarians designed the bioweapon that nearly wiped out the Krogans), as Wrex nearly scrubs the mission and causes another war by assaulting the group of Salarians that greet Shepard and his crew on the landing platform.
Jacob: “To speculate, I would think the delivery of a rare, fertile female is part of the deal Shepard ends up making with the Krogans to get them to commit forces against the Reapers on Earth. Some of Wrex’s dialogue in the opening cutscene implies that he only came along to ensure things go smoothly (even though he ends up waiting on the ship) and that Shepard will be sorry if something happens to the female. If you recall the previous games, Krogans as a race are endangered because of the genetic mutation caused by the aforementioned Salarian bioweapon, used in the past when Krogans rebelled against the Citadel. With their numbers so few, they’re reluctant to go to war; having another female for breeding would help secure the race’s survival. If the Reapers are defeated, that is.”
Will: “This level of the game takes place in a secluded research facility, so there wasn’t much to showcase save for the combat. The graphics have been moderately improved since ME2; in particular, dynamic shadows and lighting have been given a boost. It appears the graphics have been reduced for the demo, with low-quality textures and perhaps some other special effects missing, so it’s not possible to accurately judge ME3 on that yet. The sound, however, has received a pretty major upgrade. Along with the aforementioned tweaked gun sounds, explosions and load noises have been given some oomph. The soundtrack is, as always, nothing short of epic and moving.”
Jacob: “The thing that really stuck out to me, as far as visuals go, are the awful animations, both in terms of overall character bodies and lip-synching. It’s probably on par with how it was in ME2, but after seeing newer games like L.A. Noire and Battlefield 3, it’s just so obvious and jarring when you see stiff transitions between a small number of pre-mapped gestures rather than a smoother, more natural flow of movement. Admiral Anderson looked almost like a stick figure when he's running around with you in the first level; his legs are moving like scissors and he's literally gliding across the floor! Then in the cutscenes, there’s little to no emotion expressed in faces when people are talking, and lips don’t move nearly as much as the jaw does, which kind of makes everyone look like muppets. Unlike the texture quality, animations aren't something that will likely change with the final game, which worries me a bit.”
Will: “Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is basically like a horde mode, where four players team up to fight wave after wave of enemy bots. Sometimes you will have to take up a position or complete an objective within a limited amount of time. The maps are small and the combat is a schizophrenic mess; teamplay is essential, but even if you have an incredibly good squad working together, the difficulty and lack of standout multiplayer items makes this a useless, tacked-on feature that you can safely ignore.”
Jacob: “I’m kind of interested to see how the meta-game for multiplayer pans out. They said it is not at all required to enjoy the single-player campaign to its fullest extent, yet it apparently can have an effect on it somehow. Maybe if that ends up being something kind of cool, I’ll look into it, but yeah, I didn’t even bother trying that portion of the demo. At least we can be grateful they’re trying to do more than just slap some team deathmatch on there.”
Will: “In conclusion, the demo was a little underwhelming but it’s important to remember that it is a demo with a lot of cut content. The most important thing to me was whether or not the base gameplay has been significantly changed, and I am pleased to say it wasn’t. This is, at the end of the day, Mass Effect 2 with a new story, and that’s all I ever wanted.”
Jacob: “So long as we get to see Miranda in that bodysuit again, I’m good.”
Don’t forget to share your thoughts on the Mass Effect 3 demo, or the series in general, in the article comments section!
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!