The Mass Effect series has always been an attempt by its developer BioWare to combine the third person shooter genre with a deep RPG experience. The first game got the RPG aspects dead on but the combat was a bit clunky. Mass Effect 2 improved the combat and shooting aspects of the game but it was still an RPG title. Now with Mass Effect 3 BioWare is upping the action and shooting aspects of the game even more. At least that's the impression we go from seeing a live demo of the game at E3 2011.
The long demo (much longer than most E3 demos on the show floor) started with the sequence that was shown at publisher Electronic Arts' E3 2011 press conference. The massive Reaper attack is in full effect and Commander Shepard goes full auto on the threat, first on foot with his handy blaster taking out smaller Reapers and later manning a rear gun on a vehicle as he tries to hold off a massive Reaper vehicle.
The second part of the demo showed off Shepard and his AI teammates going on a mission on another planet to defeat the Reapers. As with the previous two games players will be able to explore a vast universe any way they see fit. The mission showed off how players can order AI teammates to get to set positions and take out enemies. The second part of the demo also showed off how players can alter their personal weapons with a high degree of customization. The demo showed how the weapon alterations work with players able to add barrels, accessories and more.
The final part of the demo showcased the RPG aspects of the game. It takes place early in Mass Effect 3 as the Reaper invasion hits Earth. At one point Commander Shepard sees a young boy in an air ventilation duck in an abandoned building. Shepard has some choices on how to address the boy to get him to get out of the duct. However the boy decides not to follow Shepard. Later we see an evacuation shuttle with the boy on board trying to leave Earth but then the Reapers shoot down and destroy the shuttle. It's a powerful emotional sequence in the game and shows how choices can truly affect the game.
Not shown in our E3 2011 demo is the support for Kinect for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. Shown during Microsoft's E3 2011 press conference, the Kinect support will allow gamers to speak orders to teammates as well as other features. It's currently unknown if that Kinect support will be extended to the PC version which is supposed to get official Kinect drivers from Microsoft any day now.
Fans of the first two Mass Effect games are certainly wondering if the payoff in Mass Effect 3 will be worth it. From what we can tell, BioWare is making a truly epic conclusion to this part of the Mass Effect saga and it's already one of our most anticipated games of 2012.
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