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Maintaining Mass Effect: 90 minutes with ME3 single-play

Wednesday, 8 February 2012 07:40 GMT By Stace Harman

Buckle-up soldier; the Reapers are at the door and Shepard’s got a universe to save. Stace Harman goes hands-on with the first 90 minutes of Mass Effect 3 and chats to Bioware’s Mike Gamble about the evolution of a franchise.

Mass Effect 3

As seen in this cast reveal, Mass Effect 3 boasts a varied array of voice actors including returning talent Seth Green and Martin Sheen and new cast member, IGN’s Jessica Chobot.

Hardcore and Insanity difficulty levels will require a different, more considered approach to combat, according to lead designer Preston Watamaniuk.

The latest novel tie-in should be available for you to read right now, Brenna told me so.

Wondering whether your PC will let Mass Effect 3 shine? Steph has the answers, in the form of spec requirements, right here.

Mass Effect launches on PS3, 360 and PC in March, but you knew that already, right?

Relief.

That’s the feeling that washes over me after playing through the first 90 minutes of Mass Effect 3. Relief that Bioware hasn’t screwed it up, that EA’s Galaxy at War gubbins hasn’t diluted the core, that Mass Effect is still very much Mass Effect.

It feels like we’ve all been talking so much about the provocative inclusion of multiplayer that the single-player narrative-driven crux of the game – the entire point of the game, no less – has gotten lost in the hubbub. Thankfully, upon sitting down with Shepard, Mass Effect 3 very quickly reminds me that there’s a fight to be finished and a tale to be told, but only to those that want to hear it.

One of the very first choices to be made is the kind of Mass Effect experience that you want to have. It’s an explicit choice made from three menu options: Action, RPG or Story. Those that bring with them a battle-worn Shepard from previous instalments will likely plump for RPG, in which you’re responsible for all customisation and dialogue choices – for many, this is what Mass Effect has always been about.

New players, lured by adrenaline-fuelled gameplay videos, or those that have always found Shepard to use too much lip and not enough gun, can opt for Action, in which conversations play as cut scenes; the choices made for you in advance and with an eye to getting you back to the fight as soon as possible. Finally, Story makes combat that much easier to ensure that narrative flow takes precedence.
Regardless of your play style, it appears that all areas of Mass Effect 3 have been buffed to a fine sheen as Bioware and EA look to satisfy itchy trigger fingers and galactic lore-hunters alike.

“Moving into Mass Effect 3 the increased RPG mechanics were really important to us, we didn’t want to alienate any sort of audience,” explains associate producer Mike Gamble. “Some people want to really dive deep into the customisation and we wanted to support that. We’ve brought back a lot of the weapon and armour customisation; RPG elements that may have gotten lost over time.

Mass Effect 3 totes goes to Mars.

“But we also wanted to support any new players and not assume you have knowledge of the previous games. It’s designed so that you can jump into and understand what’s happening in the first hour of the game and know what you need to do. We wanted to be able to encourage both sets of players.”

Sometimes, it pays to pursue a narrow slice of the gaming community and craft a game that doesn’t try to be all things to all people, but if you are going to try to please everyone it pays to have the resources to back your ambition.

Evolution of the species
It’s been a little over four years since the original Mass Effect launched and so Bioware must be commended for the progress it has made with the Unreal Engine, the scale and beauty of some of Mass Effect 3’s opening scenes is genuinely impressive. Behind the scenes, less obvious but more important changes have been made both to the overall game mechanics and environment design, as Gamble explains.

“There was a big leap from the first game to the second in terms of the combat and gameplay systems,” he says.

“Going from Mass 2 to 3, we wanted to refine those changes but also make some new additions. Even small things like cover movement and the ability to climb ladders and jump down drops – it changes the way we design our levels and makes the gameplay experience a lot more visceral.”

Multiplayer, for those keen on it.

These changes are barely noticeable when you’re absorbed in Mass Effect’s universe, which is exactly as it should be – instead, they simply serve to make the experience slicker and ensure it’s less likely that you’ll spend time wondering why a galactic hero can’t traverse a one metre gap in the floor.

Mass Effect’s evolution isn’t confined only to game play mechanics and visual fidelity, of course. The characters have come a long way too and depending on the choices you made in previous games, or via the interactive primer at the start of this one, some familiar faces from Shepard’s past make a reappearance.

All have been changed by their experiences – Liara, in particular, has come a long way since Shepard rescued her from the ruins on Therum – and some will offer you a warmer welcome than others, but each of their stories will be resolved by the time the Reaper invasion has played out.

“It’s been emotional for us to develop these characters over the last decade or so,” says Gamble. “A lot of us are very close to them and so we’ve been intent on wrapping up these plot lines and characters in a way that will be satisfying for everyone. “It’s been a ride for us and we’re looking forward to finding out what everyone thinks.”

As I alluded to at the start, I’ve been sceptical of EA’s strategy with Mass Effect 3. But for all the hoo-ha about what female Shepard will look like and on how many fronts or in how many modes the Galaxy at War will play out, there remains cracking yarn of intergalactic politics and survival to be concluded.

Those that have been apprehensively anticipating the concluding part of Bioware’s trilogy can, like me, breathe a sigh of relief: there’s still choices to be made, customisation to tinker with and a sprawling universe to be explored. Thankfully, Mass Effect is still very much Mass Effect.

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14 Comments

  1. daytripper

    Cannot wait

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Malmer

    I played the same section at a swedish blog community event Bioware held at DICE’s offices in Stockholm. To begin with, it was awesome, but what I really must say is something about the official femshep since there has been some worry about her.

    She is awesome.

    She fits the voice perfectly. She doesn’t look like the teenager in the posters. She looks more mature and more fitting to the role than the artwork. She looks hard while still human and warm. In general I can’t see how anyone can complain about the official femshep after they’ve seen her in action.

    Can’t wait to play more though!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. daytripper

    @2 mass effect gets a lot of complaints from what i’ve seen, on forums i read far more negative than positive opinions about the series.

    i cant wait for this game and hope there are more games in the series, hopefully on the new consoles.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Night Hunter

    @3: That’s because BioWare managed to piss off their fans who now are only able to remember bad press about BioWare games, completely ignore the good things and in general just bitch and moan all day long …

    That’s why for example this article has now 4 comments while other articles with much less content (say for example one about Action, Story and RPG Mode) has dozens of comments, most of them bad and half of the time from people who didn’t even care to actually read the damn thing. ;)

    #4 3 years ago
  5. daytripper

    @4 the only thing they pissed me off with was getting rid of the Mako, i enjoyed the side missions exploring different planets rather than the side missions of mass 2 which were very linear in comparison.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. MegaGeek1

    I can’t fucking wait for this game! Going to give ME2 another rip once I’m all done with KOA-R.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Froseidon

    The Bioware forums are normally filled with trolls anyways. I personally love Mass Effect, in fact, I would go as far to say it is my favourite set of games. But I never participate in the community, the most I get to speak about it is to friends who play it. So depressing :(

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Moonwalker1982

    I was genuinely concerned for ME3 because of basically two things….

    Mass Effect 2
    Dragon Age 2

    While ME2 was still a very good game, it really wasn’t like the first one. It really lacked some true RPG aspects, it felt more like a third person shooter than a third person shooter/RPG. Conversations system felt simplistic, something was really missing.

    Dragon Age 2…Origins was so good, how the fuck did they manage to mess it up so bad with DA2? Horrible artstyle and graphics, recycling of locations and so on. The combat system is probably the only good thing about it.

    So to read this about Mass Effect 3,makes me happy.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Stace Harman

    @5 I agree with missing the Mako. In fact, a lot of people I’ve spoken to enjoyed that aspect of the first game, but it seems we were in the minority.

    @7 You can always come here to talk about it!

    @8 Like you, I had my concerns but as is evident it seems to be on track to deliver the best of both worlds. Genuinely relieved.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. ManuOtaku

    Well i hope bioware would combine for this game the mako section of the first game, with the minning one of the second game, but adding enemy encounters as well, i mean first discover the location with the data of the planet (scaning), then fight and last collect the goodies (precious metals),i think that will make everybody happy, and myself too, i love both parts on both games,therefore a combination of the two will be great IMHO.

    Having said that reading this makes me happy again, i mean the player choose how he/she wants to play the game, if you want a more third person shooter, select action, but if you like a more RPG interaction, then select RPG, thats great in my book, why they didnt went this way with number two is beyond me, but thank god they put this option on this game.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Moonwalker1982

    I do wonder if they still have those 3 different modes though..

    adventure mode
    rpg mode
    action mode

    something like that.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Mace

    I just wish Bioware would provide real characters and not those pseudo-characters like Miranda and all those other tough-talking, stereotypical placeholders with railway romance. I couldn’t give less about the supposed “emotional attachment” of the developers and fans to them. They wouldn’t feel any differently about any other unimaginative creation. The only halfway believable character might be Joker.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Moonwalker1982

    Miranda is actually quite cool when you really get to ‘know’ here. I really didn’t dislike her all that much at all. Most of the characters are great man, Joker is cool, Garrus is awesome, Liara, Mordin, etc…i have no idea what you are talking about with ‘tough-talking’ cause i really don’t see them like that at all.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Mace

    I know there is always something slightly “more” to the characters. That in itself is always handled in the most generic way and only adds a mere patina of depth. I’m also not talking about “sympathy”. But about whether they’re good, well-written characters. When you design a character for its marketability, it’s not enough to make it authentic by just adding a bit of “ambiguity” or a generic “get to know me” dialogue. The “eccentric” characters are also nothing else but stereotypes. And they are all exact copies of each other, with only a few different variables of their attitutde and “problems”.

    And here’s the whole extent of character development in these games: the sensitive ones get toughened or get a tough background added. The tough ones get a bit of sensitivity. Character development accomplished.

    Read more than one book a year (not of a gaming franchise) and watch one or the other serious movie, and perhaps you know what I mean. There is such a thing as stereotypes.

    #14 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]

  • PS Store Easter sale discounts MGS: Ground Zeroes, Far Cry 4, more

    The Easter Sale is live on the EU PS Store, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for less than £10, FIFA 15 Deluxe Edition for £30 and other savings. Some of the PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita discounts are valid through April 8, other through April 15. PlayStation Plus members can also take an […]

  • Bloodborne video: how to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam

    Here’s a video for Bloodborne players showing a quick way to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam. It also provides a look at things you may have missed in Central Yharnam and The Sewers, courtesy of VaatiVidya. Don’t forget, we have guides posted for the game with more updates coming soon. Bloodborne released in […]

  • Bloodborne issue prevents summons at Vicar Amelia fight

    A Bloodborne bug has prevented players calling on help to take on one of the nasty early bosses. Bloodborne bosses are significantly easier to take down in co-op. Unfortunately, at least one of them is proving difficult to find help for – and not just because not many players have obtained the Small Resonant Bell […]

  • Mass Effect 3 on sale on EU PSN, but not free

    Mass Effect 3 is discounted on the European PSN, but it’s not free. Update 2: The option to add to cart now lets you choose between the free trial or full version. The full version is on sale for £6.49 or £5.84 for PlayStation Plus members. The free trial is of course is still available, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Race to Elite winners announced, one player makes £10,000

    The winners of Elite: Dangerous’ Race To Elite competition have been announced, with one player receiving the grand prize of £10,000. Back when Elite: Dangerous launched, developer Frontier announced a competition that would award players to first reach Elite rank in trading, exploration, or combat, a prize of £1,000 each. The grand prize – £10,000 […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: How to make the most money with Special Bonuses and Elite Challenges

    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]

  • The Crew two-hour demo now available in US, tomorrow in the UK

    Ubisoft has announced a free trial of its driving MMO The Crew will be available tomorrow, March 25 in the UK. It’s live today in North America. For current players, the Vintage Car Pack and Vintage Live Update, including a new PvP mode, are now available. The Vintage Car Pack included the Chevrolet Corvette C2 […]

  • Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up and Pattern Texture Pack out from today

    A Mass Effect Mash-up pack and the Pattern Texture Pack will release on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. The Pattern Texture Pack is also available for Xbox consoles today. The Mass Effect Mash-Up pack contains the Mars Facility from Mass Effect 3 plus textures and craftable items […]

  • The Talos Principle expansion pack Road to Gehenna announced

    An expansion for The Talos Principle has been announced titled Road to Gehenna. The expansion follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a “strange, hidden part of the simulation” on a mission of “mercy and redemption.” Uriel is attempting to free the souls of the damned “at all costs.” Road to Gehenna […]

  • Twitch Plays Pokemon finally catches ‘em all – even the rare Mewtwo

    Twitch Plays Pokemon players have captured all 151 original Pokemon which were included in a modified version of Pokemon Red, and this includes the rare Mewtwo. It took 39 days for Twitch players to catch ‘em all. Have a look at the impressive feat for yourself below. Thanks, Polygon.

  • GameStop will have limited units of Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL back in stock

    Those who missed out on the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL will have another opportunity to purchase it outside of eBay. Tomorrow only, GameStop stores in the United States will have four units in stock, according to and internal memo sent to Kotaku. This is every store in the country, and again, only […]

  • Second phase of Fortnite closed Alpha launches today

    Fortnite’s second closed Alpha test will go live this afternoon, according to the official website. Those currently participating will have until April 14 to test the online aspects for 12 hours per day (noon -12am EDT). All progress from the previous Alpha test will be wiped, and other changes are listed in the patch notes. […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon out now on PC, Xbox One

    As promised yesterday, the single-player DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon, is now available on PC and Xbox One. It will run you or £11.99 or your regional equivalent. The new content expands the land of Thedas with mountainous regions and forests, and it is full of “vicious enemies.” Players will also be […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer shows Ascendance gameplay

    Activision has released a new gamepay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to support the Ascendance DLC which releases next week. Ascendance, will release first on Xbox consoles March 31 and includes the next chapter of the Exo Zombies Saga, Infected, along with four new multiplayer maps: Perplex, Site 244, Climate and Chop Shop. […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight will be a digital only release on PC – report

    It appears Batman: Arkham Knight will not see a physical release on PC, according to ShopTo. The retailer was told by its buyer the Rocksteady game will only be released on PC in digital form. ShopTo is currently double checking the information. If accurate, it is unknown if this will be case in North America […]

  • Bloodborne patch focusing on load times, performance optimizations in the works

    A patch for Bloodborne which will address load times is in the works, Sony has said The load times were one of the issues noted in Digital Foundry’s report on the From Software title. Sony told Eurogamer the patch would also explore other issues as well. “The development team is currently exploring another patch for […]

  • Gearbox would “love” to have entire Borderlands collection on current-gen

    An Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version of the original Borderlands game is something Gearbox Software is interested in, according to studio boss Randy Pitchford. Speaking in the latest Major Nelson podcast, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said should Borderlands: The Handsome Collection prove successful, 2K Games might consider a current-gen version. “The fact that The […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork shows the catacombs, dock, more

    Over the weekend we posted Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork along with news of a retail release in Europe. Today, we have better quality images of said artwork to share with you. Enjoy. The standalone prequel will be released digitally on May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in North America, and digitally on […]

  • Slender: The Arrival terrorizes PS4 and Xbox One this week

    In case you forgot, what with Bloodborne out today and other high profile releases of late, Slender: The Arrival is out today on PlayStation 4 in North America. The scary game will arrive on Xbox One tomorrow, March 25, and in Europe on PS4. Slender: The Arrival is an expansion on the original Slender game […]

  • World of Warcraft’s WoW Token rollout slated after launch of patch 6.1.2

    Blizzard has announced it will start rollout its WoW Token option in the weeks following the launch of patch 6.1.2 on March 24. WoW Token allows players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard will release WoW Token first in realms serving North America, Oceania, and Latin America and will expand […]

  • The Evil Within: The Consequence dated for April, teaser video released

    Part 2 of Juli Kidman’s adventure in The Evil Within will arrive next month with the release of The Consequence. Above is a brief teaser showing some of the “madness” Kidman will encounter. The Consequence will arrive on Tuesday, April 21 on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. European PlayStation players will […]