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Mass Effect 3 hands-on preview – "It feels like 1 and 2 are just the prologue"

There’s no denying 2011 was one of the greatest years for gaming in recent memory, with a slew of high profile titles. However, in 2012, there are only a few titles on every gamer’s mind and Mass Effect 3 has more than a few people grinding their teeth in anticipation.

“If you play this game, it feels like 1 and 2 are just the prologue for this big massive game that is Mass Effect 3,” said Aaryn Flynn, Studio General Manager at BioWare Edmonton. Smooth gameplay, stunning graphics and wide-open customization – mainstays of the series – were all present and accounted for in our ten minute walkthrough of the game. In fact, many of these were noticeably improved.

One major change is a tightening of the cover system that includes a guiding arrow letting you know where you’ll be diving next. Moving in and out of cover, shooting exposed or just dancing over barriers, Shepard looks and feels better than ever. “We wanted the cover system to be both more relevant to the gameplay and at the same time more seamless,” Flynn told us, “we tried to make cover feel more natural.”

The game now includes a four-player co-op multiplayer mode that allows friends to finally show off their skills with their friends online. This new mode, called Galaxy at War, allows you to improve your "galactic readiness" level, which unlocks better endings. You can also improve your readiness level through the single player campaign too, so the friendless among us need not worry – the multiplayer is just another way to max out your readiness.

There are some other minor changes, such as added verticality in the game (ladders and the like), but the most obvious in our demo – and by far, the coolest – change is the Kinect functionality offered on the Xbox version. Using voice recognition to great effect, you can simply call out commands to Shepard and her squadmates without interrupting gameplay.

Our playthrough took place on what looked like a traditional base with all of the requisite cover and computer terminals. Within moments we had picked up on the voice commands and were yelling at our companions James and Liara to throw grenades, lift up enemies out of cover, and perform flanking maneuvers. We even used voice commands to open doors and switch our weapons - though these were less efficient. Voice commands through the Kinect essentially replace the Power Wheel of previous incarnations.

The rest of the playthrough featured the gameplay we’ve all come to expect from a Mass Effect title. Shooting from behind cover and moving aggressively toward enemies both felt smooth and seamless. Our demo ended with a battle against an armored mech and some other enemies. The baddies showed a noticeable improvement in AI as they moved to flank us while we tried to outflank the mech.

Having only ten minutes with the game, it’s hard to come out with a reliable opinion, but we’re pretty excited by what we saw. Look for more info as we get close to Mass Effect 3's March 6 release.

21 comments

  • R-ape - January 18, 2012 6:55 p.m.

    Why does it look like Shepherd has a shaven mohawk in the kinect trailer? Douchey hairstyles aside, this game is going to be the bomb diggity. Why? Because Garrus. 'Nuff said.
  • winner2 - January 18, 2012 3:58 p.m.

    I know I'm going to catch flak for this, but I can't help but worry that this is just going to be ME2 but with a story continuation. More of the same is ok when the material is good I suppose, but it's not standing out for me. ME1 was like a sleeper for me, I just picked it up out of boredom and it turned out to be good, so I got ME2. This feels a little more rushed. It's not like modern warfare rushed but I still get the same feeling.
  • yonderTheGreat - January 18, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    Great, now EA is going to shut down GamesRadar since naming one of their games is an infringement of copyright. Good going!
  • jackthemenace - January 18, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    I'm still concerened about this being closer to Mass Effect 2 than 1 :/ Oh well, they were both fun, and I suppose I can always just trade it in afterwards xD
  • inkyspot - January 18, 2012 8:14 a.m.

    Looks cool, I this will not make me buy a Kinect. Plus isn't a new concole coming out soon, will the kinect even work on that. Anyway, I', definately down with Mass Effect. Gerry
  • AxiamWolfe - January 18, 2012 5:35 a.m.

    Quite honestly, can't they implement the voice control functionality with any old microphone? It's not like the Kinect has extra processing power or anything. Except for better microphone arrays, but EndWar worked nontheless. Also, Kinect IS coming out for PCs anyways. Not that it'll be worth it......
  • avantguardian - January 18, 2012 5:22 a.m.

    by my estimation, this game has about a 98% chance of being amazing. i do feel, though , that kinect will contribute nothing either way to that percentage. seriously, even though you felt like a tool yelling at your squad/tv in the original socom (and in r6 vegas, according to redeater, but i didn't play those), it was certainly functional...especially for the time. i imagine a current iteration of that technology would trump anything kinect can do from a voice control standpoint. i mean, can you whisper at a kinect(genuine question)?
  • Clovin64 - January 18, 2012 3:19 a.m.

    "Mass Effect 3: Better with Kinect!" I lol'd.
  • yonderTheGreat - January 18, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    Actually they SEEMED to do this fairly well. It's mostly voice, and SOME of it looks very awesome. "Liara, move!" (mind you, we'd also say "Liara, move b*tch, NOW") is actually pretty cool. I see no reason to say "Bypass" instead of hitting the A button but since it's not required, it's no big deal.
  • xarab4lyfex - January 18, 2012 12:57 a.m.

    Probably gonna get flamed for this, but I personally don't really like mass effect. I didn't play the first one, but i played a lot of the second one. I stopped probably a mission before the "suicide mission" whatever that is. I just didn't like it. I usually try to finish a game, but I lost interest as the game went on and I thought the characters were extremely boring and it just felt like a generic third person shooter. Maybe it'll be better with co-op because to me trying to play this game alone is like playing gears of war alone. Even still I might buy this game when the price inevitably drops in the winter. I'm much more interested in Borderlands 2 anyway.
  • avantguardian - January 18, 2012 5:10 a.m.

    i think you're safe on the flaming, dude. you actually wrote coherent sentences, didn't use all caps, and calmly stated an understandable opinion. and even though i disagree with you, i think it's innocuously so...
  • yonderTheGreat - January 18, 2012 11:10 a.m.

    Starting in the MIDDLE of a planned sci-fi trilogy is probably one of the worst ways to play a game. Think about it... one of the main draws we all (ALL!) had was the emotional attachment to the plotlines and characters. You had none of this. It's proper to expect the action to be weakest in the middle game, and the epicness to be least as well. And, unless EA *COMPLETELY* EA-ifies ME3, we'll be right. You're basically judging an experience solely by the bridge connecting the introduction and the conclusion. Shame on those friends who allowed you to make such a huge mistake. I *WOULD* recommend playing ME1, but that would be like watching The Crying Game after you were told about the penis. Pretty much pointless. Um... /spoiler!
  • Gibsonsg527 - January 17, 2012 11:03 p.m.

    Why use efficient buttons when you could talk to your TV!
  • Gibsonsg527 - January 17, 2012 11:02 p.m.

    Why use efficient buttons when you could talk to your TV!
  • BladedFalcon - January 17, 2012 10:07 p.m.

    *laughs* Man... Skraight Skreet might be a retard, but he's an amusing retard. He's trolled all of you guys mighty good XD And you STILL reply to him :P
  • avantguardian - January 18, 2012 5:11 a.m.

    he's got 'em all riled up today...
  • Ubnoxish - January 17, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    Oh my. I didnt scroll down far enough. Skraight Skreet has a boner for Red Dead Redemption that he plans to use for mass effect. Did you see my lame pun? I thought it was pretty good. Super troll is angry Super troll has trouble forming a cohesive argument. The troll also appears to be wounded by poor grammar/punctuation. Quickly team. We must act. Aanngree trull not lik arguooment sticking too. Dude. GTFO.
  • DevonOO7 - January 17, 2012 6:52 p.m.

    I love talking to my fucking tv.
  • Redeater - January 17, 2012 6:26 p.m.

    I am really excited for this game but that kinect nonsense is complete garbage. Why exactly could I use my mic on my old original Xbox to command my squad in Rainbow 6 and yet here it is many many years later I can't use my mic for the Halo library or Mass Effect 3?? I understand they want to increase kinect sales but I would love to ask one of the reps this question and watch them squirm!
  • Rowdie - January 17, 2012 8:44 p.m.

    The voice recognition is part of the kinect. It's much less work for the developer. So it's not just a push Kinect marketing thing. There's actually very valid reasons why the mic didn't get the voice command support I thought it would. Yeah for kinect in this case. All the stuff that was talked about back when we first learned 360 would come with a mic stand a much better chance of actually happening with the kinect.

Showing 1-20 of 21 comments

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