Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview

Mass Effect 3

The New York Comic Con had quite a few surprises when it hit the Jacob Javits Center from October 13-16, and one of those was found hiding on a single side of the Microsoft booth. Six stations played host to a playable demo of Mass Effect 3. Though the portion of the game available was already shown to GamerNode during E3, this time I was able to get a feel for the controls and check out the game’s new and improved leveling system. For details on the demo’s narrative arc, check out my E3 Mass Effect 3 preview here.

The game’s controls handle just like you remember them from Mass Effect 2, adopting the idiom “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s a good stance to take since the crew at BioWare did such an great job with the game’s predecessor. One addition is the Omni Blade, which can be called upon for a one-hit killing thrust by holding down the B button (Circle for PS3). The blade does make Shepard look and the player feel even more like a badass galactic savior, but there isn’t much variety in animation when it comes to the new addition to the arsenal. Special impalement animations showing the blade going through an enemy, lifting the enemy up, or even stabbing the blade to the floor at a downed foe are missing. There is just the one standard animation for every single use, which is a bit disappointing. Hopefully BioWare realizes this and puts some more work into the blade animations before release.

The leveling system has been tweaked once again for the final installment of the trilogy. Each character’s leveling bars are there as they appear in Mass Effect 2, except now when you select a bar you’re brought to a mini menu. This other screen shows the effects that each leveling of that ability will have either on itself or the player. Examples depend upon whether or not the ability is active or passive and include damage increase, extra health, persuasion boosts, squad stat upgrades, and more. If the upgrade does impact stats, that impact will be shown below the list of levels to give the player a better sense of how effective that improvement will be.

Mass Effect 3

The first three levels of each ability are predetermined and will give a specific boost to that power. For levels four through six, players will have a choice between two different upgrades. Once the choice is made, the other option will be locked away and no longer obtainable. As with the former titles in the series, each level for a power will increase the amount of points required from leveling to learn.

Having a new system that shows you just what each upgrade for an ability will do is certainly an improvement for both the game and the series. The Omni Blade addition to the already solid and easy-to-pick up controls adds another viable option for players to take down the Reapers and their indoctrinated slaves, though the animations may need some polishing before the title ships. Regardless, Mass Effect 3 still looks and plays so far like a true winner. Be sure to keep your eyes out for it when the game releases on March 6, 2012 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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