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
“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
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
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.