Mass Effect 3 Preview: The Epic Saga Continues

For our latest preview of Mass Effect 3, we look at the importance of player choice, and if the final installment in the trilogy can raise the bar on one of the most epic opening sequences in modern gaming.

Of all the opening sequences in gaming over the past decade, the intro to
Mass Effect 2 is easily one of the most epic. From the first moment when you
discover that the original Normandy and its crew is facing certain doom in the
form of an unknown assailant it kicks you in the face and doesn’t let up until
long after you witness the haunting vision of Commander Shepard drifting
helplessly through space.

This opening sequence naturally had the most impact on gamers who had played
through the first game in the trilogy and imported their saved game files, but
was still an equally epic experience (and introduction to the series) even for those who hadn’t. Either way it’s a tough act to follow but that’s exactly what BioWare is
attempting to do with the third installment of the epic saga of Commander
Shepard and the crew of the Normandy in Mass Effect 3.

Outside of the overarching storyline of the Reapers – an element that’s
oftentimes easy to lose sight of while fully immersed in the more immediate
concerns that the ME series throws at you – players can count on having a
radically different experience in ME3 depending on the decisions you’ve made in
the first two games.

Mass Effect 3 - Combat
Mass Effect 3 - Combat 2

Certain decisions you made in the first game that may not have directly factored into the
second in obvious ways finally come into play, such as how you chose to handle the situations involving the Rachni Queen
and Wrex. And, as we’ve seen in the preview videos so
far, crew members from the first game (Ashley or Kaidan depending on who survived assault on Vermire) that only had brief cameos in the second
will rejoin Shepard.

The size and scope of how far reaching these earlier decisions will prove to be
when Mass Effect 3 is released next year isn’t fully known as of yet, but it’s
no wonder that an entire subculture of saved game hosting and trading sites has
emerged in the meantime.

During one of E3’s infamous evening festivities last month, I was fortunate
enough to spend some time talking to BioWare Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Ray Muzyka
about this and other social impacts the trilogy has made on gamers so far.
Realizing that not only do players want to be able to track the high level of
decision making but share those experience with other players has given BioWare
some keen insights as to how important that will likely be for BioWare’s other
epic sci-fi saga in the making, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I alluded to the fact that the current BioWare social network is a natural
platform for that type of thing (and one that would make a much safer repository
for saved game file trading) and while Dr. Muzyka took note of my suggestions
only time will tell if that system will be used to its full potential for the
release of ME3.

Mass Effect 3 Combat 3
Mass Effect 3 Combat 4

Combat Upgrades in ME3

Much like the second installment of the trilogy, combat has also undergone another upgrade. Still keeping the tactical
flow from the previous games, the shooter gameplay will thankfully make it less of a necessity to constantly
rely on the cover mechanic. In fact, one of the biggest crowd pleasers during
the gameplay demo last month during E3 was Shepard’s liberal use of the new
omni-blade in close combat.

With a more viable form of melee combat maneuvers finally in the mix, stealth
will also be an option depending on which class you choose to play. Hopefully
this means some of the badass stealth attacks that Kasumi Goto (a crew member
introduced in the ME2 addon pack Kasumi – Stolen Memory) uses will become available
for Shepard as well.

Players will be able to hijack and pilot some of the mechs found in ME3 - how much does that rock?

Another interesting new twist to combat is the inclusion of heavy combat mechs
that Shepard will be able to hijack. That is, assuming you’re able to take out
the enemy unit piloting one without blowing the thing up in the process. It’s hard to say how frequently we’ll be given the
opportunity – it may be only seeded in a few individual missions, or mechs may
be seen extensively throughout the game – but considering the immense scale of
the Reapers we can only assume that Shepard will be given the firepower to
match when needed. And with any luck, that will also save us from having Reaper encounters devlove into frustratingly annoying God of War style combat scenarios like the unfortunately anti-climactic final boss in ME2

As we march closer to the March 2012 release date, Ten Ton Hammer will be keeping close tabs on the development of Mass Effect 3. Along the way many of us will no doubt be stockpiling different save options to import, but we'd love to hear what kind of Shepard you'll be brining to the party as well, so be sure to let us know in the comments!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Mass Effect 3 Game Page.

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