REVIEW: ‘Mass Effect 3’ Demo Time, Son! Daughter!

I spent this Valentine’s Day with someone special.   Someone that’s always been there for me.   Some one that I can tell my problems too.   Someone that will always listen.   Someone that I love.   Commander Shepard.

I was on the interewebs Monday night as I often am when I received an urgent message from Caffeine Powered.   It read “Dude, would you be game for doing a write up on tomorrow’s ME3 demo?”   (Now you know where I get my moniker)   My response was a verbal barrage of incoherent nonsense.   See, I had no idea a demo was dropping so soon.   If aliens has just landed and had no idea that humans were capable of speech, they still would have recognized my noises as unbridled joy.   To say I leapt at the opportunity would be incorrect … I said maybe.   Well, if you’re reading then, then I guess “maybe” became a yes.

We start the demo at the character selection.   The demo does not allow for imported characters, so you have to start fresh.   It’s a good way to see the cold opening if you have no characters to import You are then offered a few choices.   This is the gameplay mode that we’ve heard about.   The three options are: Action Mode, Roleplay Mode, and Story mode … forgive me if I messed up the names.

Action Mode was the worst of the three.   It felt like it ripped the soul out of what I loved.   No character creation and it removes virtually all of the dialogue options and just answers for you in the form of a cut scene.   I can see the merit if I just want to run through the game after a few play throughs, but to start a game on this mode is a disservice if you’re a fan of the franchise.

Roleplay mode is the classic Mass Effect gameplay that you know and love.   Feel free to be a dick, or an angel.   You can customize you character, upgrade them however you want, and let the ‘verse tremble in your wake.

Story mode is more focused on the initial character creation and the out of combat scenarios.   Combat is easy and like action mode, your skills are auto leveled for you (Roleplay mode seems to be the only one that lets you allocate your skill points how you want).   While I can see myself playing Action mode down the road, I could never see myself playing story mode.   If I just want easier combat, I’ll turn down the difficulty on roleplay mode.

So after selecting roleplay mode, I’m off to create my character.   Like the other Mass Effects, you can choose from a list of sliders to choose how your characters will look.   This is the third installment of the game, you’ve either played them or you haven’t.   If you have, it’s the same, if you haven’t, it will take too long to explain.

After playing around with the create-a -Shepard, I went with the default Fem Shepard.   They did a lot of work on her, so I figured I’d give her a whirl.   Next was class selection.   I love the Adept class.   Its my favorite.   It combines Shockwave, the best power in the second installment, and Singularity, the best power in the first game.   Next is a choice about who may or may not have died in previous installments.   Just in case one of you has lived under a rock, I won’t name names.

Shepard begins her tale on Earth.   It’s a nice site to see after two previous have pretty much glossed over humanity’s home.   Shepard has been relieved of duty, and she’s been order to appear before a tribunal to explain her actions.   Anderson is there of course right by her side.   That’s all the plot details I’m going to cover, but I will say that the shit hits the fan fast.

Combat is smooth, a tightened up version of two, and miles away from the clunky mess that was one.   Diving in an out of cover can be twitchy however.   Its human error more than anything.   I’m used to Modern Warfare and Skyrim, two games not known for their responsive controls.   So in the Mass Effect 3 demo, when I dive into cover and press A a few times, I dive into the cover, and then leap over it and take direct hits.   Long story short, trust the controller and don’t button mash.   The stupid clip system returns, but its not really an issue in the demo.

The biggest addition to combat is the upgraded melee system.   Instead of being activated by shooting at a target that in close combat rage, it gets its own button.   By pressing B Shepard will execute a melee attack.   By holding B Shepard makes a power attack based on your class.   The adept throws a biotically charged haymaker, the engineer backhands with fire damage, and the coolest one is the soldier who stabs with an omni-tool spike.   It’s a nice addition that is going to make going back to the older installment that much harder to play.

The menu system is similar to how its always been.   The powers interface has ben given a bit of an upgrade.   Each power seems to have three initial stages and three choices.   For example, with Shockwave, the first three levels deal with damage, recharge speed, and radius.   The next three powers are a choice between various damage and force upgrades.   Its very cool to be able to customize the powers to suit your play style.

The demo includes two levels, Earth and the Salarian home world.   At the end of the Earth level there is an event that I’ll admit, got to me a little.   When you play the demo you’ll know what it is.   It’s the kind of thing that sets the tone for the game and shows you just what it is Shepard is fighting for.   The writing seems up to snuff, with a few lines that struck me as “bro dude” schlock that belongs in Gear of War.   It seems that March 6th can’t get here soon enough.