Not to sound like a fangirl or anything (which I’m totally about to sound like), but holy wow this was fantastic and it was just the demo! I can’t wait for the actual game! Space! Reapers! The Normandy! SUBMACHINE GUN! Queue hysterical Beatles fans screaming and subsequent passing out.
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the demo for Mass Effect 3 that BioWare released for fans as possibly the best Valentine’s Day gift I know I’ve ever gotten/will ever get (let’s not go into the implication of that statement here). If ever there was a perfect example of a demo and the purpose of a demo, it would be this one in my opinion. It showed off the goods as far as what the game will look like, how it will run and the new features without giving away everything about the game. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have issues with the gameplay while I was doing my first run through (which I’ll get to later), but as an overall experience this is the only demo that comes to recent memory that made me want to freeze myself a’la Eric Cartman so that I didn’t have to suffer the geek agony that is waiting three weeks for the March 6th release date of the actual game. I’m not exaggerating here. The agony that is waiting.
What I found nice about this demo was that you got three options of how you wanted to get your sneak peek at what to expect from Mass Effect 3: Action, Role Playing and Story. Fairly self explanatory, the Action experience drops you right into the action in as Commander Shepard (female or male) with the dialogue as cutscenes, the Role Playing experience is more like the actual gameplay of Mass Effect with dialogue, cutscenes and action, and the Story experience is basically just experiencing the story without difficult combat. I chose Role Playing my first run through, went with the newly minted default Jane Shepard (Vanguard, Spacer, Sole Survivor – my established Fem!Shep’s records and psychological profile) and off I went. There is a new feature added to the psychological profile that I found very interesting and appropriate for a more “realistic” gaming experience that I’ll leave out for anyone who might consider it a spoiler.
Beyond that, you start the story presumably some time after the events of the Arrival DLC for Mass Effect 2. I’m guessing here because it’s suitably vague, which I attribute to the multiple outcomes of the DLC, the fact that not everyone might have played the DLC and that BioWare probably didn’t want to give the whole story away in the demo. There’s a decent-sized chunk of cutscene before you start the action, but it’s not wasted time as it sets up the high emotion of that sequence of events you’re playing nicely (I got a bit verklempt at the end of it). This entire first half is footage and gameplay that I hadn’t seen prior to the demo (trying not to spoil myself before the game too much), so this was all a pleasant surprise for me and I appreciated that despite not using my Shepard and having this half be mostly an in-game tutorial on how to use the controls, I was invested in the story rather quickly and easily. The second half of the demo is the female Krogan rescue that we’ve seen footage of before and is the more combat-heavy, using your team elements of the game.
The second half of the demo is where I had a few issues, and they could be user errors more than game glitches. You don’t have to utilize this feature in order to play the demo (or game from what I understand), but I decided to try out the Kinect element of the game because actually verbally giving Garrus or Liara commands in the midst of a firefight appeals to me very much. Turns out, I may be very enthusiastic about the opportunity to yell out, “Garrus, overload!” when in reality that enthusiasm hinders my ability to do so. In short, it quickly degraded to my yelling, “take f-ing cover, Liara!” followed by Hulk-esque noises as I struggled to figure out what words/phrases the Kinect would recognize (by the way, “take f-ing cover” is not one of them). Towards the end, I had pretty well sussed out what I could say to my teammates and to my Shepard to get them to do things in battle. The satisfaction of being able to rattle off orders in quick succession is well worth the initial frustration of incorporating the Kinect into your gameplay. Just be sure to annunciate your commands like you’re talking to your half-deaf elderly relative and you’ll be commanding your squad like Sherman during his Atlanta campaign in no time.
Now, I’m off for a 3-week deep freeze nap. Wake me when March 6th comes.