Mass Effect 3 will be a renegade punch in the neck of its predecessor. Here's why.
You'll know this is the third and final act in a galaxy-wide fight for survival. The implacable Reapers are preparing to purge the Milky Way of organic life, for real this time, setting the stage for an epic, space-operatic endgame.
You'll have noticed how pretty it all is, from the scuffing on Shepard's N7 battle gear, to the sleek squidbots descending on Vancouver harbour. In our recent hands-on with the upcoming demo, we watched red storm clouds roll in over the Mars horizon, flickering with otherworldly lightning, and they looked spiffy too.
But beyond the all-new co-op, celebrity cameos, and ever shinier visuals, Mass Effect 3 is about to hand Mass Effect 2, masterful though it was, a beating on a galactic scale. Here's why.
[Warning: may contain traces of spoiler. If story hints bring you out in a rash, click away.]
1. More customisation
Mass Effect's weapon and character customisation is richer and more meaningful than that of its forerunner, which cut a bit too deep when trimming the customisation fat. Options are still on the streamlined side, but this time your Shepard (and his or her crew and gear) will be a creation all of your own.
Biotic, tech, and combat powers are at the heart of customisation again. You can level up each of a character's powers through six ranks, with a branching choice after rank three, offering a couple of tempting specialisation options. Compare that to the four ranks per power in Mass Effect 2, with the option to finally evolve it into one of two more-powerful versions right at the end, in rank four. Evolving a power much earlier makes the choice more significant, not least because you'll spend much more time using it before (probably) nipping through a Mass Relay for a heroic final rumble with the Reapers.
Weapons also hit a sweet spot of streamlined customisation. Take scavenged upgrades to a weapons bench, and you can add a couple of mods to each gun, boosting damage, range, and the like. And your choices are reflected in the weapon models as well as the all-important stats so, hey, your gun will look different to how your gun looked before.
2. Shepard's got moves
Shepard is scrappier and more agile this time around. In addition to that flashy omni-blade melee kill, Shepard can sneak in, grab an enemy from behind cover, and give it a surprise helping of holographic stabbing. Other abilities include tossing grenades, sliding into cover, and vaulting up onto obstacles without pause.
Getting in, out, and around cover is smoother in general, and there's more up-and-down action, too; the levels we saw were generously populated with ladders to showcase Shep's all-new ladder-climbing power and designated points for hopping down onto lower levels.
And those early concerns that some shooter extremists at BioWare were turning Mass Effect 3 into a balls-out gun game and nothing else have resolved into something much more agreeable: shooting stuff is just plain more fun in 3 than it was in 2, whether you're sniping a riot-shielded enemy right in the eye slot or peppering a Reaper minion with space bullets from up close.
3. The old gang is back
So what has Liara been up to? Is Miranda still genetically perfect? Did Garrus ever fix that gaping hole in his armour? This we need to know. Tighter gunplay and fuller character customisation are grand, but it could all go hang if this last game in the trilogy weren't a big old Mass Effect reunion party. Luckily, it's a little bit of just that: all the squad members from the first two games make a return in Mass Effect 3. If you didn't get them killed, obviously.
They won't all be coming back as playable squad members; we're told there are fewer characters to team up with than in the expansive Normandy roster of the second game, with its crowded character select screen. But everyone's back in some form, with "a lot more of an organic feeling to the relationships," says associate producer Mike Gamble.
The first mission, in which Shepard swings by Mars on the way to the Citadel to investigate a Prothean technology archive, reunites her with two Mass Effect old-timers: Liara and either Kaidan or Ashley, according to which one you sacrificed all the way back in the first game. With Liara conjuring biotic singularities over clusters of bad guys, Kaidan snap-freezing them with cryo blast, and you gunning down the lot, it feels just like old times. Aw.
4. Cerberus are baddies, for real this time
We spent Mass Effect 2 uneasily cooperating with Cerberus because they had the resources and the intel we needed, but they were always shifty pro-human militants named after a triple-headed hellbeast; it's well past time those guys showed their true colours. Look for that in Mass Effect 3.
As the game begins, Shepard has severed ties with the Illusive Man and his posse, though Kaidan (or Ashley, presumably) is still giving you trouble for having done their dirty work. And up on the red planet, Cerberus soldiers are getting their hands bloody, executing the staff of the Mars base housing the Prothean archive.
They may have spared no expense bringing Shepard back from the dead in game two, rebuilding him or her around a charred scrap of corpse, but like holographic Martin Sheen says: he needed you once and now "your time is over." We predict plenty of Cerberus thugs mixing it up in the enemy ranks, alongside all the multiracial Husk variants. As a pitiless, genocidal machine-race, the Reapers are officially the Big Bad, but we're looking forward to being back on the right (wrong) side of Cerberus.
5. Earth, at last
Though we had a tantalising peek at Earth from the moon, Mass Effect never let us set foot on the blue planet. Through all of Shepard's planet-hopping, there has been no trip back to the cradle of humanity--until now.
Mass Effect 3 kicks off in future Vancouver, home of humanity's Defence Council, and with respect to that city, we can't imagine that's the only Earth location in the cards. Though the early trailer depicting a Reaper attack on London may have been just for flavour, not a promise we'd be omni-stabbing Husks in Hyde Park, we'd bet on Earth turning up more than just once.
"Earth in general has some significance," says associate producer Mike Gamble, and that's all the encouragement we need to be daydreaming of epic ground battles across semi-familiar territory. Because there's no place like home(world).
The Mass Effect 3 demo launches on February 14.
I was a huge fan of the first ME the second outing stripped it of most of it's awesomeness (is that how ya spell it?) i've been playing the ME3 demo with friends and apart from a little change in the movement I have to say it's looking good
I cant wait for this game to finally come out!!! I want to see the ending already and who doesn't love girl on Alien girl action lol!! I just hope that there is a lot of content to explore in this final show down with the reapers. ME1 and ME2 are by far my favorite games and RPG's ever made. I could care less if the brought back the MAKO cause the Hammerhead is cooler to romp around in. For those who talk 'hit on bioware cause they don't make games like BG1 and BG2 go F yourselves cause they are still one of the best RPG makers around. I own almost every game that Bioware has made for the PC and the XBOX360 and I love everyone. Sure they make mistakes and change things around with each new title, but hey that's what the team gets paid for. If you don't like it then go to F'ing school and try to do it for yourself and see how far you F'ing get. As for the guys at BIOWARE if you reads this keep up the good work guys/ladies alike cause you make great games I dont mind spending $60 to over $100 on cause I get my monies worth of gaming. If your hating on these DEV's then you have problems in life cause creating a simple game is a monumental task. Making epic games as BIOWARE has is close to being as monstrous and monumental a task as Michelangelo being commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel. Go bioware Go!!! You create wonderful works of art!
The only complaint about ME2 was the planet scanning...just plain boring...I hope we don't have to deal with that again.Can't wait for this!
i am just looking forward to having the Racni join in on the final battle against the reapers. a strange Asari told me they would help and in holding her to it
Oh great, 'more organic' npcs... Least they admit that they were nothing more than 'quest/lame romance' dispensers... Which is pretty much every BioWare game since NWN:HotU. And I am just not paying full retail to a company that has been cruising on/pimping on their reputation from the days of BG and BG2. So, when this hits the bargin bin/used market I'll buy it. Just like ME1 and ME2. Though I did pass on the excreteable DA2... I only wish I wouldn't have had some insanity and jumped on SWTOR. After all, having been burned way too often with shabby-stories suitiable for Youth Fiction in thier 'rail-CRPGs' I was just stupidly optimistic to think they could deliver the quality of games they did before they got stale and started just maling it in...
Bioware, just be honest, just sell the ME series to activision or microsoft, so they do a proper MassEffect/callofduty/Gearofwars game... because this transition from ME1 (which was amazing and the only real RPG), then to the "Rush Our ME2" and now this "Counter Strike Reloaded Tokyo Drift" ME3, is just insulting (for we gamers that are just a lil smart, just a little bit)
I hope being able to free roam and explore dozens and dozens of planets in the mako(or a new vehicle) is back like in the 1st game, that was 1 of my fav parts and gave it high re-play value
When are they gonna fix stiff animation? Look at arkham series, ghost recon future soldier. EA didn't allow understandable fund for motion capture team? And what about non interactable environment? which feels like dead set pieces all the time? non destructible, non interactable, no havoc physics nothing at all. If you played arkham series, or full havoc utilized destructible environment like red faction, ME is just too stiff, feels very unnaturally limiting. If they decided to go action TPS at least make good one.
im really want to know if thay didnt change the controlls becuse there is now sneak and grande so i hope thay dont move it to RS(r3 for ps) or LS (l3 for ps3) and thay didn't say a thing about the co-op so that means thay put more work for the campigan good 4 them
You guys must be pretty confident about ME3 to do an article like this. I'm really skeptical.. I actually think ME2 has been my favourite or most memorable game this generation
@smythmarcello And then defend why 6.0s aren't so bad. REALLY? Then maybe you should have given them more than 6's, ya nitpickin' douches....
Sorry, will not happen for me until EA gets off their High-Horse and allows Steam users to purchase it and BF3.
I didn't like mass effect 2, I didn't like any of the crew I had to make, I didn't like having to deal with cerebus, I played the story just to play the story. Given the galactic level threat of one reaper in the mass effect 1, I fail to see how earth can do anything against a fleet of reapers lol...
Jeez, as if i needed anymore reasons to want this game. I can't wait, finally the conclusion to the mass effect series. I just hope that it has more of an rpg feel of it compared to it's predecessor.
what about Tali's story XD??!?!?! and the krogen and the insect thingies that the Krogen beat back (forgot name) !!!?? and the Prothians... will we see the human Dreadnoughts??!!! can we control space ships (unlikely :P) TELL US NOW
man ive been trying to get through ME 1 to get the choices i want and then start ME 2 and finish that so i can play ME 3 with the right choices and ive got a question. does the stuff within the DLC affect the story in ME 3 like choice wise and that kind of thing please tell me
So do this mean you and Miranda are going to be enemies? I never really liked her much to begin with but I'd like to hope she'd have the sense to know that the Elusive Man was up to something... and to stay the hell away from him.
Seriously? When I just read the title I was like WTF!!! I literately said "IT BETTER BE". Why in the hell will I buy ME3 if it's not better then the last game? Would you buy a game that was the same thing just with a new name? I'm not even going to read this post because I know for a fact ME3 is going to molest my soul when it's released.
I just hope whoever wrote the dialog for ME2 doesn't work on ME3. That would the single biggest improvement.
I have not played the first ME but I loved ME2. Because I am a pc-only gamer, what I wish for ME3 (and for all the games that is available to buy for my PC) is the developers to have the willingness and ability to make the best use of PC gaming potential. Sorry for my bad english and greetings to all pc gamers!
- Release Date: Mar 6, 2012 (US)
- ESRB: MTitles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older.
- Release Date: Nov 13, 2012 (US)
- ESRB: MTitles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older.