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E3 First Impressions: Mass Effect 3

Posted on Wednesday, June 8 @ 01:08:08 PST by


The Reapers are coming, their ships like black hands clawing at the remains of the universe. Your warnings have fallen on the deaf ears of the Citadel, who only now realize the need for all races to unite or fall as yet another failed attempt of evolution. But not even the combined strength of human, turian, salarian, and asari is enough. Only Shepard, true to his name, can bring the other races together to fight against their collective fate. That is his destiny, lest all be lost to the darkness beyond space itself.

The final act in the Mass Effect trilogy deserves an ending worthy of an epic. All of the choices Shepard has made in the first two chapters, the relationships that have been fostered or ignored, the credits and abilities awarded, the sacrifices, have led to one long leap of faith. Mass Effect 3 is the last shot of adrenaline before the plunge.

At E3, BioWare showed much and not much at all; that is, mostly much of the same. As it stands now, the presentation and the third-person shooting mechanics from Mass Effect 2, down to the computers on the menu screen and the three-member party system, has been kept. Finding cover, aiming at enemies with a rifle, selecting powers from a radial menu, looking at the semi-circular interface for the health of Shepard's teammates, and finding a heat sink on the floor all work similarly, though plenty of significant tweaks have been made to perfect the moment-to-moment action.


Arrows have been added to the cover system to make it easier for Shepard to transition from wall to wall, and grenades can be thrown to take out enemies who are trying to camp, particularly against indoctrinated and aggressive Cerberus soldiers with riot shields resistant to bullets. Another enhanced attack is the incredibly helpful omni-blade, which extends the omni-tool into an assassin-friendly blade for a quick one-hit kill, instead of needing to hook-punch a fool three times in the face. If that doesn't work, Shepard can now sneak behind an enemy from behind cover and perform a stealth kill.

To quell complaints that Mass Effect 2 strayed too far from its RPG roots, BioWare has introduced the ability to craft weapons that can adjust their stability, magazine size, firing rate, and accuracy. The parameters for upgrading Shepard's attributes during a level up have been broken into individual components, to the point that he can deal more damage with a specific weapon. My hope is that this will allow players to customize Shepard's class instead of being restricted to one of the six classes, but we weren't given more details than a few moments to see the upgrade system.

On that note, there was no mention of how the paragon/renegade system will work, if hacking and decrypting still work the same, what (if any) carries over from Mass Effect 2, and how special abilities work outside of one brief use of incinerating bullets. What is clear, though, is that Garrus, Miranda, Liara, Mordin, Legion, Wrex, Captain Anderson, and Kaidan (and by that logic, Ashley for some players) at least provide support for Shepard during the last leg of his journey. Oh, and that Earth gets invaded by Reapers during Shepard's trial on Earth. Let's just say it doesn't go very well.

No A Collector's Edition for Mass Effect 3 has been announced (check below in the comments!), but as Mordin tells me that this is a scientific certainty. Get the chance to save the universe at last in Q1 2012.
Related Games:   Mass Effect 3
Tags:   mass effect, e3, ea, bioware
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