GC '07: Mass Effect Combat Update

This open-ended sci-fi game is looking better than ever, and we saw some strategic new combat options in the latest version.

LEIPZIG, Germany--BioWare is here at the Games Convention with the latest build of their space role-playing epic Mass Effect, and we had to see what's new with one of this year's most promising Xbox 360 games. The demo focused on the game's open-ended combat, which allows you to approach battle scenarios in a huge number of ways. First, we got a quick glimpse of the character-specific talent trees, where you spend the talent points you earn while leveling up. Talents exist that grant passive stat bonuses and even new conversational options, but we mainly saw talents pertaining to specific weapon and biotic powers. For every few points you spend, you'll gain a new ability related to the weapon you're powering up. We also got to see some of those abilities in practice when a BioWare rep loaded up a save game to enter a specific combat situation.

The demo began with Commander Shepard and his crew heading to a lush colony world called Virmire, in pursuit of the source of a transmission containing information about the whereabouts of Saren, the game's antagonist and a former elite operative bent on the destruction of human life throughout the galaxy. Upon landing on Virmire, Shepard and two allies used their six-wheeled planetary off-road vehicle, the mako, to plow through the shallow waters just off the shoreline as they moved toward a beachside complex where the signal had apparently originated.

Things heated up after Shepard and crew exited the mako and made their way up the stairs to a courtyard in front of the complex's outer wall. They encountered light resistance from a group of Geth, the sentient machine race with whom Saren has allied himself. It was here the BioWare rep showed us how free and extensible Mass Effect's combat options will be. On its surface, the game can be played simply like a third-person shooter. You can take aim with your weapon and simply pull the trigger to fire it, just like in any shooter, and you can also perform simple evasive tactics like backing up against a wall, Gears of War-style. In fact, some character classes are more focused on brute-force combat than special powers. For example, if you play a soldier class, you might specialize in passive talents like the ability to wear heavier armor. In that case, you'd have fewer talent-based abilities to use against enemies, so by necessity you'd have to rely more on your shooting skills.

But if you do develop a wide variety of combat abilities for Shepard and his comrades, Mass Effect will provide an easy and accessible interface for using them in concert to strategically take on even the toughest foes. BioWare showed us the game's talent wheel for the first time, which is simply a radial pop-up menu that shows all of your three characters' abilities in three sections. More importantly, bringing up the talent wheel pauses the game, which means you can issue simultaneous commands to all three characters.

After the rep dispatched the Geth underlings with traditional shooter controls, we saw the talent wheel's effectiveness when Shepard and crew came upon a Geth Prime at the end of the corridor. These baddies are especially tough and brutal, and can essentially kill one of your crew in a single hit. Apparently, you'll usually only come up against them when you're in the mako and have its armor plating and heavier weaponry at your disposal--but in this case, Shepard and friends had to get it done on foot. The rep pulled up the talent wheel, picked three appropriate actions for the situation (including a psychic push ability for Shepard), and then unpaused the action, allowing all three combatants to attack simultaneously. From the sound of it, this will make the game's hardest encounters much, much more manageable than if you attempt to simply go in blindly, without a firm strategy.

After the combat ended, we witnessed some dramatic story points that we can't tell you about just yet. But we did get to see Mass Effect's innovative interactive dialogue system put to its fullest use when Shepard and one of his crew members got into a heated discussion over a particularly crucial topic. As we've reported frequently, the game gives you a number of dialogue--and in some cases, action--options as you progress through a conversation. In this case, we saw that this particular version of Shepard had spent talent points in the charm and intimidation categories, giving him two extra response options (in red and blue) that he wouldn't have had otherwise. Apparently, you won't even be able to complete some of the optional side missions without sufficient levels in these categories. At any rate, the confrontation came to a head, and Shepard had to make a decision between all six options, some of them quite extreme. (Again, unfortunately, BioWare wants certain plot points to remain secret for now.) This situation certainly exemplified the freedom you'll have to handle even the most tense, pivotal situations in multiple and diverse ways.

Mass Effect is looking great at this point, with both combat and dialogue sequences exhibiting a lot of polish and flowing smoothly. We're looking forward to seeing more of it before its release toward the end of the year, and we'll be sure to tell you about it when we do.

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Discussion

253 comments
youngsith88
youngsith88

Bioware makes great RPG games and in my opinion RPG games are all based around the story, which trust me when I say that Drew Karpyshyn knows what he is doing. The dialect in the other Bioware games (KOTOR and JE) were so amazing and so much fun! So if this story is ahything like KOTOR or JE (which it should be beacuse the novel was great) then this story is going to blow me away. I CANT WAIT!!!!

Honchy
Honchy

Chonk-Swlhaus is right... i grabbed KOTR the other day and i was pretty frustrated by the combat, i don't get why i used to love it so much.... i hope they improve the combat on this baby

alex20077
alex20077

i hope that ea buying bioware doesnt mean this game is s***

bin-hiding
bin-hiding

WOW... i just found out what "KOTOR" was, this just took all the excitement away.

bin-hiding
bin-hiding

still don't quite understand how the combat is going to work, and i see this people talking about a game called "KOTOR" i'll go ahead and check that one out, since they seem to love it so much.

aringarosa101
aringarosa101

@ osxgp well, it looks like it's KOTOR except with a lot more intense combat. it's already seemingly legendary.. now it's just a matter of: how good will it be when it releases?

osxgp
osxgp

I can't wait for this game. If it's anything like KOTOR, it will be legendary.

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

aringarosa101
aringarosa101

this game looks awesome. i would use the shooter controls for my main characters, but have my allies use their special abilities. ftw

wjkflke
wjkflke

This Game is going to be awsum

wjkflke
wjkflke

This Game is going to be awsum

Nexeus
Nexeus

NEED...TIME...MACHINE!!!!!

Chonk_Swelhaus
Chonk_Swelhaus

I've recently picked up KOTOR again, and it reminded me of how much I didn't like the fighting gameplay. I just wish they chose between turn-based fighting, and real-time. Mass effect takes the KOTOR series and makes it into the perfect game. The concept is so good that If it's not perfect, then Bio-Ware dropped the ball.

gevans1989
gevans1989

Mass Effect is the most kick ass game comming out for 360, hell the best game full stop, stuff HALO, bite me GTA4, Come on Mass Effect

Vampyre_Ghost
Vampyre_Ghost

I've thought about picking up KOTOR I and II again because of the hype for this game. Only downside I can see, and what made KOTOR so good, is that the weapons and powers were easily recognized by casual fans... so those games perhaps did better then they would have otherwise, but that set up the hype for Mass Effect, so I'd expect great things. Although I don't think this or Halo3 will be GOTY worthy... my idea of GOTY is a reletivly new concept done to extrordinary perportions, this is basically a bigger better extension of the KOTOR series, and Halo3 is the same gameplay as the last 2 games with somewhat better graphics and a handful of new weapons thrown in. GOTY should be interesting this year though, and the vids and previews have definately made me preorder this one.

ukillwegrill
ukillwegrill

this year is going to be massive for the xbox but not so much for the ps3

360bloke
360bloke

YEAH!!! finally a new gameplay video update. I have been waiting since July for more to come out. I think everyone knows halo 3 will get game of the year just because its been soooo awaited. But, still, this has been the best year ever that i can remember, I mean the COOLEST 3 games ever are coming out : Halo 3, Mass Effect and Asassin's Creed. although I am more excited about Halo 3 and Mass Effect, I just hope I have enough money and a few friends remaining before Christmas!

patriotsrule47
patriotsrule47

awesome but every enemy i've seen so far seems too easy. that's still not enough to stop me from buying this game

Stockman
Stockman

Yay? Looks like trash IMO

LordLeckie
LordLeckie

Excuse me i think i have to preorder this NOW!

capitancahonas
capitancahonas

No life left! With this , Halo 3 , Bioshock, Halo wars, and every otherdamn fine game coming out by the end of the year, don't these people realise that people are gonna suffer man!!

packernation31
packernation31

This will be game of the year if halo 3 isn't no doubt

supaflyvenom13
supaflyvenom13

A Gigantic Star Wars-esque Bioware RPG with magic and real-time combat? Oh sweet baby Jesus yes. Mmmm... smells like a pre-order.

cesarblue
cesarblue

guys, this game is sure to be game of the year,, what you gail to realize is that this is the next level for kotr, How can you complain, about them using the same formula, The first kotr was one of the best games ever, now we get the graphics, better story, and amazing control over the character, like ghost recon when giving orders to your team. for those who don't like blue dragon cause i'm seeing alot of complaints, listen blue dragon is a old but good game, that we did have on firsgen xbox,, you have to appreciate it cause, while now revol - this games brings that 90's feel back to the xbox360 sucessfully. If you can't handle that, I suggest you just wait for lost odessy. I have to admit i was dissing bluedragon as well at first but i learnd that it was just one of two games being made,, look at blue-dragon as a mixtape, it's there to generate a buzz for the genre since we never really had one with that much focus... it's going to do numbers but if lost odessy would have came out first it would have no chance, this is more adult and is going to be on the level of final fantasy by no means is it final fantasy, you can never duplicate a classic, but what you can do is make another classic in it's own space and that's what lost odessy is going to do. Watch what I say Just like i predict Mass Effect will be game of the year Lost Odessy will be the jrpg that gives x360 the go ahead nod as the best gaming system in the world. ps3 will be crushed after this there already got two strikes against them in oblivion, and bio shock, now there about to get hit with halo 3 , Mass Effect , Cod4 , and Lost Odessy you tell me how they going to counter all that, too many punches coming at them. Now we have to be patient cause just those titles alone have to be position so that there not competing with each other, to get there full potential out of them, ( games 60 dollars) so watch and see how they set it up for the release blue dragon will do about 150thousand by the time these games come out. at least. halo is going 1.5mil release mass effect 800k release lost odessy 1.1mil

Dill-Man
Dill-Man

hooray for bioware, im sure this will be their best, maybe i dont know KOTOR was amazing

fallingtree
fallingtree

I understand that people like to conjecture about things, but a lot of the opinions being expressed sound like fore-gone conclusions. I think many people would agree, Bioware is a top notch game designer, leaders in their field, and one of the most innovative companies out there. So even though many of the elements being described are things we've previously seen (in Bioware games) I think coming to the conclusion that this game is not innovative before you play it is simply closing yourself off to what will most likely be an incredible and ... *gasp* innovative game. It's simply that I've enough faith in Bioware to believe that Mass Effect will be quite unique in it's execution, if nothing else. Chances are the elements of this game which will make it innovative have yet to come to light. I'll end this by asking, if it were exactly like KOTOR in it's design and execution, would that be bad? That game has set the bar so high (along with baldur's gate etc) that people are starting to reject the old rpg formula out of hand.

mrwibbly
mrwibbly

the kotor games are good enough reason for me to get this

bmg5230
bmg5230

i'm usually not the RPG "type" but this one looks too good to miss

blue_hazy_basic
blue_hazy_basic

Bennie 12 I don't think MSG is coming out this year (March 08 i think its pencilled in for).

bennie12
bennie12

Even though would be extremely happy if this game won game of the year (and it has a good chance), I'm sick of people saying "Mass Effect and Halo 3" won for sure. There is a ton of good games coming out next year that could knock them off, ig. Star Wars The Force Unleashed, Fracture, MGS4, and that's only a few. This game will be good but people need to keep their options open.

kazraycrawley
kazraycrawley

yeah really cant wait need a good rpg and i hope its not like blue dragon

Viridianzealot
Viridianzealot

Oh dear! I guess my English iz not zo very well. Which part of "Don't get me wrong I really like this game, and I don’t have any problems with it." Didn’t you get kingster113? Also … bah I won’t bother. Anyway. Following Bioware’s field record this game will be huge and innovative. It will be an evolution of the RPG genre. Why? Because Bioware have done that for all their games. From MDK (although not an RPG)to Jade Empire. So with that out of the way, I would like to support my previous post. It’s not about the games themselves. It’s just that ever since the Console Wars started, objectivity has gone out of the window. Good games get lame reviews because “oh ze lips don’t sync” on a console that should be able to make ILM blush. Lame games get support because they came out for a given console. Finally games get discredited because the same magazines/site have upped the hype so much that in the end it didn’t fulfill their own expectations. So what do they do? They bury it. How can a game that is so FANTASTIC, INNOVATIVE, A FUTURE BENCHMARK during so many Hands-On previews become such a waste after release, is beyond me. I’ve seen it happening many times, but in these past few months it’s happening all too often. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it happens is so damn obvious. Kudos to the ones that reviewed Okami and said that it was good. It was freakin brilliant. And you know what? I wish games go all multiplatform so we can stop worrying about the machines and who wins the war (as if we are shareholders or something) and start focusing on the pure fun of it all. THE GAMES. Oh and Aureatus. Very good point m8. That's why I bough a PS2 just to play FFX and that's why I will propably buy an XBOX360 to play this. :) Unless they spoil it and release it on PC so I will have no excuse to get one. TimeSplitters_ Someone else wsa playing it a Bioware rep.

bcolter
bcolter

Oh... my poor wallet... :)

TimeSplitters_
TimeSplitters_

did they get to play or was it vidoe or did someone else play while gamespot watched

Merl57
Merl57

DAMN IT I want this for PC :(

Aureatus
Aureatus

Viridianzealot , I have been playing BioWare games for 11 years, and I have also played many of the other really good RPG games. Dagger's Fall - Oblivion for example are Great games, but not truly innovative. The character interaction is static and limited. There is no cinematic interaction coupled with emotional responses. So in my humble opinion Mass Effect takes single play to the "next step", so it is innovative. As for the better console system... Really, it is getting old. I own a PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, and a High end computer (Quad Core, 4GB RAM, 8800GTX Sli, and X-Fi) I am a gamer I buy what games I like and if the PS3 has a good game I buy it. Just like I would for the 360 or Wii. But for the most part I am a PC RPG fan. True gamers get what ever system or platform that feeds the habit, so to me there is only the game. Build the game worthy and I will buy any system to play it.

HBOMB29
HBOMB29

LOOKS LIKE A FOR SURE CANDIDATE FOR GAME OF THE YEAR, WITH BIO SHOCK AND PROBABLY HALO 3 PS3 HAS NOTHING ON THE XBOX360 WITH GAMES LIKE THESE (EVEN IF BIO DOES COME OUT ON PS3 EVENTUALLY) coming out this holiday season, nothing on either of the two systems comes close .

volpexpress
volpexpress

its a good tihng i reserved this game cuz its going to be one of the best sci-fi shooters of this year and its going to be great. Cant wait!!!