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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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  • Final Fantasy 4: The After Years 3D remake releasing on Steam next month

    Final Fantasy 4: The After Years has been given a makeover and will be released on Steam of PC next month. You can now pre-order it on Steam and take 10% off for the time being. The game will be released on the digital service May 12 and will include trading cards and achievements. Thanks, […]

  • This Project Cars video shows off the racer’s multiplayer

    Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has released a new video giving you a look at the game’s multiplayer. The game is out next month, and if you would like to refresh yourself on the tracks included,  give this a look. While you are clicking links, here’s the minimum and recommended PC specifications which dropped last […]

  • Looks like Logitech is getting out of OEM mouse production business [Clarification]

    Logitech will no longer produce “low-end” mice, citing a decline in PC accessories. This story has been updated to include a clarification. According to a Reuters report, per MCV, the firm will instead focus on video accessories and streaming music, as its wireless Bluetooth speakers are now its best-selling product rage. This will help offset […]

  • Win! We have 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys to give away

    Must have more MOBA? Win one of our 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys and see if you’re more Blizzard than LoL. Can’t wait for June 2? Of course you can’t. We have 1,000 closed beta keys for Heroes of the Storm to give away this week, allowing you access before Blizzard’s MOBA goes […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct airs tomorrow, April 24

    A Nintendo Direct devoted entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles X will air this Friday, April 24. The video showcase will start at 11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK. After the showcase, a new Nintendo Treehouse: Live presentation featuring the game will air. This is the second Xenoblace Chronicles X Nintendo Direct, but the first in English. The first […]

  • Blizzard will have 500 game stations set up at gamescom 2015

    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]