Back in 2007 none of us had heard of Mass Effect, Commander Shepard, or the Normady. Yet when we heard about a new game coming from Bioware (the creator of Baldur’s Gate, Knight’s of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire) we waited to see what it was with bated breath. Flash forward 5 years and Mass Effect 3 had become one of the most anticipated games of 2012. So needless to say many of us ran home and tore the cellophane wrapping of our copy, and couldn’t wait to pop the disk in. So what did we think about the first few hours?
After redeeming the online pass, downloading the day one patch, and importing our Fem Shep from Mass Effect 2 it was time to play. The first thing we noticed was the visuals. Now if you thought Mass Effect 2 looked beautiful you haven’t seen anything til you see Mass Effect 3. The detail is amazing. The facial animations are much cleaner then they were in Mass Effect 2. The lighting effects are vastly improved. The contrast between the highlights and shadows are nice and very polished. The beginning of the game is exactly the same as the first part of the demo. Nothing is changed from that first sequence of the demo, to the opening of the game. While this is kind of disappointing, it’s still a great opening that will make your jaw drop. After the opening, the game sends you to another planet, which at first was a system shock. Not being able to make a choice of where to go was a bit jarring. The elements are just so tight in this section that the feeling soon goes away. Not long after landing on the planet is the first time the player gets to experience the full combat. The combat is so much better in Mass Effect 3 then in either of the other 2 games. The weapons feel more powerful. Whether your using an assault rifle or a pistol, each weapon feels like it has immense stopping power. the cover system is tightened up. Snapping in and out of cover is a breeze and smooth. The AI is greatly improved. Enemies will move from cover to cover and flank you. This is a great addition to combat. Making it a deeper experience.
After getting past this section of the game we finally get to see the Citadel. It’s much smaller and direct which was a bit disappointing. Again the game play and conversation aspect of the game help make it a bit more tolerable. Seeing the way the council is taking the Reaper invasion is a very satisfying thing. It was after the Citadel section that the game opens up. Flying around on the Normandy is just as smooth as it was in Mass Effect 2. The scanning has been more streamlined as well. The Normandy no sends out a pulse that will inform the player if there is anything on the planet they are scanning. Pulse in an area for too long and the Reapers will show up. At this point it’s either run or die. The worst part of this is the Reapers will not leave that area until you finish another mission which can make it annoying.
That has been our time with Mass Effect 3 up to this point. So far the experience has been enjoyable. The massive streamlining that Bioware has done to the game is a bit disappointing. But only time will tell if this streamlining is a major flaw or just a minor annoyance.