Mass Effect 3 Demo Impressions: Single Player Campaign On XBLA

With two weeks to go before the release of Mass Effect 3, BioWare has released the single player and multiplayer demo on PC and XBLA. Naturally the demo is short, probably not more than 15 or 20 minutes worth of play. BioWare isn’t going to give the milk away for free after all. But is there anything new? While it’s certainly true that those of you following Mass Effect 3′s somewhat schizoid development over the last year will already be familiar with the majority of content contained in each scene, there’s a surprisignly large amount of new, if vague, information about the final chapter in the Commander Shepard trilogy.

The demo begins (somewhat) in media res with a very brief prologue set aboard Admiral Hackett (Lance Henriksen) command ship. We then cut to title cards explaining the facts of life in the Mass Effect galaxy (more on that below), and then to a new cutscene set at an Alliance base in Vancouver, where Commander Shepard meets James Vega . Vega will be escorting Shepard to a meeting with Alliance brass convened to deal with an unknown (but obviously, Reaper) threat. On their way you’re joined by Anderson, experience your first taste of ME3 dialogue, and run into either Kaiden or Ashley.

The meeting with Alliance command coincidentally (and as far as the narrative is concerned, ham-handedly) happens just in time for the Reapers to begin their attack on Earth. Naturally, Vancouver is among the targeted cities, the base is hit, and everyone in the room except for Shepard and Anderson are killed and the cut scene ends. The player can finally play the Mass Effect 3 training mission, which coincidentally happens to be one of the three scenes we saw at E3 2011. Shepard following Anderson through the wreckage of the Alliance base in order to reach the Normandy. You get two more bits of dialogue, see the much-talked about child, fight off several Reaper husks and finally get rescued by the Normandy. At this point, Anderson urges Shepard to flee earth and seek help from the Citadel Council. The scene concludes with a very pensive looking Shepard bearing silent witness to the destruction of Vancouver.

The second playable sequence, taking place much later in the game, is the same one we got our hands-on last summer. It begins with a short cutscene on an Alliance shuttle. Urdnot Wrex has joined Shepard’s party and the two are discussing an undescribed conflict between Salarians and the Krogan. For some reason, the Salarians have a captured Krogan Female, one they’ve apparently agreed to turn over to Sheridan and Wrex. We get a another taste of dialogue between Shep and Wrex, followed by the appearance of Liara and Garrus, who give Wrex the opportunity to show that he, like, totally misses the old gang and stuff. Then it’s planet time, and time for Shep to mitigate tensions between the Salarian soldiers guarding the Krogan female, and Wrex who, being Krogan, already spends 20 hours a day angry for tax purposes and is just itching for an excuse to kill members of the species that inflicted the Genophage on his people. Crisis averted, Wrex agrees to stay in the shuttle while Shep, Liara and Garrus handle things on the ground.

We then skip again to a short scene with Mordin, who appears to be in charge of the Krogan Female. He is concerned she may be indoctrinated and is performing tests. Into the middle of this, Cerberus troops arrive and start blowing things up with the kind of abandon that can only come from having unlimited corporate funding from your corrupt, shadowy mastermind of a boss. At this point, the action begins and it’s largely the same as we saw last summer, minus some key content (more on that below). After battling Cerberus shock troops up three floors of a bombed out science facility, you get more of the scene than was shown last summer, finally face off against a giant Cerberus Mech. Defeat him, and the scene ends with a dying Cerberus soldier gasping for breath, calling for Shep’s attention. Shep tries to get the soldier to explain what he wants, but the soldier dies, leaving an incredulous Shepard staring blankly and the player wondering “what happened?”.

None of this, as we’ve said, is that new (aside from more cutscenes than we’ve seen before). So what’s our verdict? The demo is mostly good news, even if this close to release there’s still plenty to worry about.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

6 Comments on Mass Effect 3 Demo Impressions: Single Player Campaign On XBLA

user

On February 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm

“The demo is mostly good news, even if this close to release there’s still plenty to worry about.”

I completely agree with that.

There’s even more that you didn’t touch on – like despite the better graphics, there are still invisible walls everywhere which takes away from the experience.

The animations are not well done.

And more…

Though I’ve never considered myself a ME fan because of all I dislike, I did enjoy 1&2 despite all that could have been better. 1&2 were 8/10 [to me] and 3 looks like it’ll be the same.

Ross Lincoln

On February 16, 2012 at 12:03 am

I would tend to agree, though I would also add that until infinite RAM is available, and of course, infinite storage, there will always be invisible walls in games. So long as the ones we have to endure aren’t annoyingly obvious – and I did feel they weren’t so bad in ME3 – I am willing to forgive.

Though EA is making me rethink that position.

user

On February 16, 2012 at 3:43 am

“aren’t annoyingly obvious – and I did feel they weren’t so bad in ME3″

Maybe its just me but if your running along a ledge of some sort you should be allowed to fall off. ME3 doesn’t allow you to at all anywhere.

There’s no sense of danger from falling at all running along ruined buildings and with Reapers blowing things apart left and right. No danger at all.

That’s as restrictive as it gets.

Ross Lincoln

On February 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

That’s a fair point; while I’d prefer not to have to constantly remind myself not to pitch over steep drops in the middle of battles, in some places, where you are navigating dangerous narrow ledges for instance, it would be nice if there was some actual danger.

user

On February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Sure, the ability to look around while moving without worry is one less thing to think about and no loading screens too. In a way that is nice :)

Ross Lincoln

On February 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

I meant to add that I agree with you RE: the animations looking pretty bad. However, I left that out because I am assuming, much like with the Dragon Age 2 demo, that the graphics have been nerfed somewhat. The final game, however you might have felt about it, looked way way better than the demo. I’m assuming the same is true here, particularly as the environments look so great.