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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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    Sony’s VR headset Project Morpheus has some impressive grunt. Virtual reality and Morpheus were the heart of Sony’s GDC 2015 presentation today, ahead of its newly announced first-half 2016 comemrcial launch. SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida detailed the headset’s impressive capabilities, notably the fact that it can handle 120 FPS VR games. The PS4 […]

  • Papo & Yo developer making a VR game about dinosaurs

    Some days you write a headline and it makes you so happy that that you have to do a little chair dance, you know what I mean? Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, whom I would personally go to the wall for after they cut out my heart and stomped on it via the medium […]

  • Wasteland 2, Shovel Knight and more in big ole bunch of indies coming to Xbox One

    Xbox One owners are about to receive a pile of great new indie games. At GDC 2015, Microsoft revealed a list of new indie games headed to Xbox One. Some of these titles have already released on other platforms, so it looks like Microsoft has really relaxed the parity clause of ID@Xbox – or perhaps […]

  • Here’s an indie VR game made with Unreal Engine 4

    GDC 2015 is blowing up with indie games, VR and Unreal Engine 4, so here’s a video combining all three. Loading Human is a virtual reality adventure from indie developer Untold Games. It’s in the works for Mac and PC, and Sony has given an early green light for Project Morpheus, too, so expect it […]

  • GTA Online: Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode coming next week

    Heists aren’t the only thing coming to GTA Online next week: players can also expect Adversary Modes, new Daily Objectives and other Freemode activities. GTA Online’s Adversary Modes are new PvP modes which feature a range of competitive challenges and will unlock as players progress through Heists. Here’s a rundown straight from Rockstar: Come Out […]

  • Syndicate is the latest free game download on Origin

    The latest free title to be added to EA’s Origin service is 1993′s Syndicate. For a limited time, you can download the game for free and keep it, much like previous titles such as Theme Hospital. The isometric, real-time, tactical-action game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in June 1993. It is a favorite […]

  • Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen now available

    The Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will run you $7.99 and builds upon the existing lore, characters, and storyline. Have a look at some new screenshots in the gallery below.

  • Shadowrun Online gets a name change and release date

    Shadowrun Online developer Cliffhanger Productions has announced the game’s name has been changed to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown and a release date for April has been set. The new title was formed via the developer and its Kickstarter backers, with the goal being to let those unfamiliar with the game know by the title alone […]

  • Amazon hosting Rockstar and 2K Games sale

    Amazon is hosting a Rockstar Games and 2K Games sale with discounts Max Payne titles, Bully and more. Here’s just some of the offerings listed: Manhunt 2 PC Download $3.00 Max Payne 3 PC Download $4.00 Bully: Scholarship Edition PC Download $3.00 LA Noire Xbox 360 $2.95 L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition PC Download $6.00 […]

  • Destiny weekly reset video shows off Inferno Crucible gameplay

    We have a gameplay video featuring Inferno Crucible gameplay featured in the Destiny weekly reset for you. In it, Arekkz Gaming gives you a look at Inferno Crucible and goes over the various intricacies. You can read up on the weekly reset through the links.

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 2 available from today

    Episode 2 for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is now available. If you’ve purchased the Complete Season, you’ll be able to download Episode 2 on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One. Steam players should see the episode go live around 9-10pm PST, and Xbox 360 owners should be able to download very early tomorrow morning, per Capcom […]

  • Here’s a sneak peek video for Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

    Fatshark Games has released a sneak peek video for its upcoming Games Workshop title, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. Vermintide is a FPS, co-op action title coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and its set during the End Times of the Warhammer universe in the city of Ubersreik. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video shows Ascendance DLC early access weapon

    As you know, Xbox Season Pass holders now have early access to the Ascendance DLC Pack bonus weapons for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now you can watch a trailer for the weapon. The OHM directed energy hybrid weapon can switch between an LMG and Shotgun “on the fly,” and it also includes the OHM-Werewolf […]

  • March PS Plus games include OlliOlli 2, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, more

    March PlayStation Plus titles have popped up on the PS Plus page. Noticed by NeoGAF user skynidas, the titles include: OlliOlli2 (PS4/VITA) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (PS4) Counterspy (PS4/PS3) Papo & Yo (PS3) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment (PS3) A notice has also been posted on the EU PS […]

  • Sci-fi horror game Caffeine will release on Xbox One, PS4 alongside PC – new trailer

    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]

  • Fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation is available for download

    The Trigger, which is is the fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation, is available to download from today. In it, players will “compete against the clock” across three new maps in Survivor Mode. Set before the events of the main game, players step into the shoes of Sevastopol Station’s Ricardo who will do what he […]

  • HBO Go app now available on PlayStation 4

    Sony has announced the HBO Go app will be made available for download later today for PlayStation 4. The app works just like the PS version. Now you can watch True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep and more through your console. Information on installation is available through the PS Blog.

  • Skyrim mods no longer restricted to 100MB in size

    Bethesda has announced a beta for Creation Kit update 1.9.33, lifts the 100MB size restriction for Skyrim mod makers. The beta is for both Skyrim’s PC launcher and the Creation Kit which will allow for unlimited file sizes. Here are the notes: Creation Kit 1.9.33 Update Creation Kit now supports unlimited file sizes for mods […]

  • Mad Max release date set for September, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions canned

    Mad Max from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios has been given a September release date, along with the new of a last-gen cancellation. The axing of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were announced via Game Informer. Mad Max is the magazine’s featured game for the April issue. Avalanche, according GI, nixed development on […]

  • MGS 5: The Phantom Pain out in September, Kojima “closing the loop” on saga

    Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be released in September, according to an IGN Italy video, which also features Hideo Kojima discussing “With Metal Gear Solid 5, I’m finally “closing the loop” on the Metal Gear saga. The video has since been removed, but an image cap of the date is posted above. […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 Rockstar Energy Car Pack now available

    The Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is available now, alongside the free car for March. The free car is the Acura Integra Type-R, and the Rockstar pack included the following vehicles: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC 2015 Subaru WRX STI 1996 BMW 850CSi 2015 Jaguar XFR-S 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert […]

  • 3DS firmware update kills web browser exploit

    Nintendo has issued a 3DS firmware update which fixes a web browser exploit that was being used to run pirated Game Boy Color ROMs since January as well as inject code within downloadable games. Another piece of code, per Eurogamer, changed the setting on the handheld to make it region-free. The exploit was only available […]

  • Unreal Tournament video shows updated textures on Outpost 23

    The latest footage from Epic’s new Unreal Tournament has surfaced, and it shows off the game’s first high-textured map which is called Outpost 23. As you can see from Zaccubus’ video, its the same are which Epic showed in the flythrough video from last year, only with updated textures and some new areas outside. The […]

  • Final add-on for Sunset Overdrive arrives in April

    The final add-on for Sunset Overdrive, Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, will be released in April. On April 1 to be exact. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke from Insomniac Games either. Below, you can watch a fist-look at the new story, area, and traversal mechanic.

  • Heroes of the Storm playable at EGX Rezzed

    Heroes of the Storm will be playable at EGX Rezzed. This will be the first UK public hands-on with the online team brawler. Blizzard will also host giveaways and friendly tournaments at its stand. Tickets for all three days of Rezzed are still available, and you can purchase a pass through the official website. EGX […]

  • PES 2015 Data Pack 4 coming next week with Winter Transfers, new faces

    Data Pack 4 for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has been dated, and it updates the game with Winter Transfers, new player faces, and additional stadiums. The latest free update contains real-time player transfers made within the January window, and player ratings have also been updated. Additionally, a number of improved likenesses to key players will […]

  • Here’s the changelog for Dragon Age: Inquisition Patch 5

    Notes for upcoming Patch 5 for Dragon Age: Inquisition have been posted, noting improvements to gameplay and stability, and the new features outlined back in early February. Along with the new party storage system added to the Undercroft at Skyhold, players also have the ability to adjust the size of subtitles. Below you will find […]

  • Game of Thrones, Mortal Kombat X, Batman mobile games on the way

    Warner Bros. has announced free-to-play mobile titles spanning its DC Comics, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones properties. The following five new games under development are: Mortal Kombat X from NetherRealm Studios: The game blends fighting and card collection with cinematic gameplay and Fatalities. Play as both classic and fighters, and if you own the […]

  • Win! Beta access to new MMORPG Skyforge and DLC worth $70

    We have ten Wrath of the Gods Founders Packs to giveaway for new RPG Skyforge, worth over $70. All you need to do to win a Wrath of the Gods pack is enter your details in the form below and we’ll pick 10 winners at random on Thursday, March 5, after 3pm GMT. Skyforge is […]

  • PC gaming expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018

    PC gaming is alive and well. In fact, it’s expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018. According to game-business group Open Gaming Alliance, the PC gaming industry is expected to grow beyond its current $26 billion worth and to a massive $35 billion by the year 2018. The information is based on data collected […]

  • Advanced Warfare: new patch adds new weapon, Master Prestige ranks, more

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has received a new patch that gives season pass holders early access to a new weapon and everyone else a myriad of fixes and additions. The patch went live today on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, without any official notes. CharlieIntel reports that among the new additions is the new […]

  • Destiny’s end game and raids explained

    Destiny’s end game can be a bit obtuse to those not used to MMO games. Fear not, we’ve got a few quick tips on how to crack it. Arekkz Gaming has a video for new players of Destiny or those who are looking to brush up on their knowledge of the game. Today’s theme is […]

  • Capcom adds local co-op to Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on PC

    Following fan outrage over lack of local co-op support for the PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Capcom has now added it. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 now officially supports split-screen local co-op in both campaign and raid mode. The update is currently in beta on Steam, but anyone can opt-in to try it. Capcom […]

  • New Destiny glitch spawns infinite Thralls on Earth

    Destiny’s latest glitch spawns infinite Thralls to help fuel your bounty hunting and loot lust. The glitch is simple to replicate. You’ll need to start The Dark Within mission on Earth, on any difficulty. Then follow the steps in the video below (Via DualShockers) to get to an area out of the map. You’ll then […]