The final mission we saw took place near the beginning of the game, and was easily the strongest thing we saw story-wise. We're told that previously to this mission, Shepard had been detained to stand trial after the events of The Arrival DLC, when reapers suddenly launch a full-on attack on the planet. Now that Shepard's claims about the reapers can finally no longer be denied, it's time for the naysayers to let him get to work.
Shepard and Captain Anderson (his sole squadmate) make their way to an escape shuttle through what looks like a mostly-evacuated settlement. As reapers descend into the city nearby, the duo fights off enemies called cannibals that look similar to the batarian husks we saw in earlier screens. The cannibals have a more biologically infected look though, with huge reddish pustules bubbling up all over their skin, rather than having a geth-like synthetic look.
Along the way, Shepard stops to help a young boy hiding in a duct that the evacuation crews must have missed, and selecting the paragon option in the familiar dialogue wheel, Shepard tries to coax the boy out, so they can move to safety together. The boy was too afraid to move though, and so Shepard and Anderson are forced to finally move on.
As the pair finally make it to the shuttle that will take them to the Normandy SR2, the captain decides to stay and lead the remaining survivors, despite Shepard's protests. Anderson tells Shepard that he must go and spread the word, and recruit as many races as he can in the battle against the reapers, and reluctantly Shepard agrees. As the shuttle ascends, Shepard glimpses the young boy he tried to help earlier boarding an escape shuttle at the last second, along with another shuttle full of evacuees. The happy moment is cruelly short-lived though, as moments later a reaper blasts both shuttles into shrapnel with a terrifyingly-powerful red laser beam.
Only Shepard's shuttle makes it, and as it escapes into orbit we see the extent of the reapers' assault on Earth – across the entire globe is nothing but complete and utter devastation. Smoke plumes up everywhere as the reapers sink their tentacle-esque appendages into the planet without mercy. Humankind's homeworld, the seat of our entire history and civilization, laid to waste by machines bent on nothing but the extermination of all sentient life.
The demo ended as Earth shrank into the distance, and left us wishing Mass Effect 3 was nearer than its March 6 2012 release date. For more footage and details on what we saw, make sure to check out our interview with BioWare's David Silverman below:
Jun 8, 2011