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Mass Effect was a space RPG about killing a flying robot god - a Reaper. Mass Effect 2 was about stopping one from being built. In Mass Effect 3, they've warped in from darkspace in their hundreds. And that's all I'll say about the plot. This review will be spoiler-free even for those of you who've avoided the trailers and the demo. In all three games, your time is split evenly between persuading people to help you and shooting people who won't. The original's strength was its main quest: a chase that felt both personally motivated and galactically important. Mass Effect 2's plot was muddled and brief, but livened up by an exotic cast of new characters with interesting side stories. Mass Effect 3 tries for the best of both worlds: an urgent and galaxy-critical plot that directly involves the entire crowd of oddball personalities the series has built up. And it works.
Commander Shepard is the hero the Mass Effect galaxy needs. But he can’t be everywhere at once in the fight against the Reapers. So ME3’s multiplayer mode takes you out of Shepard’s snug space-suit for the first time (barring ME2’s titchy Joker section), plonking you into an enclosed space with up to three other no-names and asking you to fight against waves of enemy forces.
At the centre of the roleplaying petri dish, a colourful swirl of games are gently bleeding into each other. Flat-out action games adopt the character builds and XP systems of the traditional RPG, while roleplaying adventures of a certain mass-market mindset bury their statistics deep behind rows of headshots. Mass Effect 3 looks to be a high point of this trend. BioWare say that it’s set to make a leap in quality beyond ME2 like the leap ME2 made beyond the original.
After the momentous events at the end of Mass Effect, it was surprising that the sequel didn't spend much time in the Citadel. Speaking to OXM, lead writer Mac Walters has said that the huge station that forms the galactic centre of government will form a bigger part of Mass Effect 3. "There was a Mass Effect 2 plot that was a kind of callback to the first Mass Effect that was going to be on the Citadel, and we cut it. But now it's made a resurrection in Mass Effect 3," says Walters. "That's the nice thing about trilogies, sometimes you get a second chance." Hopefully it won't be a sequel to the Keeper scanning side quest.
Powerplay are reporting that Mass Effect 3 will feature some form of multilplayer component. The Australian magazine just posted this on their site: "That’s right - Mass Effect 3 is getting multiplayer! We travel to BioWare’s office in Edmonton for hands-on time with the series’ first foray into online gameplay, and chat with Mass Effect Series Producer and Mass Effect 3 Project Director Casey Hudson about the decision to go multiplayer in the epic battle for the galaxy." The coverline of the mag reads: "Fight alongside your friends as the galaxy goes to war!" Despite rumours that Mass Effect 3 would feature a multiplayer component, Bioware have been careful not to confirm the mode, until now. What's your Mass Effect multiplayer mode of choice? Co-op, adverserial, or a Brink-esque combination of the two? Or should Mass Effect have stuck to its singleplayer guns? Let's talk.
[bcvideo id="981945927001"] As reported on CVG, Bioware head Dr. Ray Muzyka has hinted that we might see a massively multiplayer expansion to the Mass Effect universe. Read on for the details.
A few weeks ago, Bioware decided they'd let the public decide on the female shepard that will adorn the posters and other marketing materials for Mass Effect 3. After some controversy, it was decided that the wispy-fringed blonde Shepard would take the prize. "But female Shepard is clearly a redhead!" many cried, and so Bioware opened up a separate vote to decide on Shepard's final look. An overwhelming majority voted for the image below.
The December issue of Official Xbox Magazine US has revealed a lot more details regarding the recently announced Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Which has apparently been in the planning stages ever since the first Mass Effect, but was the first time producer Casey Hudson felt comfortable integrating it into the series, in keeping with the theme of 'Galactic War'. Check inside for a full explanation of how multilayer will work, and how it will integrate with Mass Effect 3's single player story.
One of my favourite things about the Mass Effect games, particularly the third, is the gorgeous sci-fi vista of a new alien world as you swoop in to land. I screenshotted my favourites as I played through for our review, and I'll embed them here for your approval. Click through to the 1920x1080 versions for a nice wallpaper. No plot spoilers - there's one location you'll recognise, but I don't think it'll surprise anyone that you go back there.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you already have a strong sense of who your Commander Shepard is and what they’ve been through. If not, well, you’re missing out on one of the standout game narratives of the last five years. What are you waiting for? You’ve got a few months. Come back when you have a deeply-held opinion about the nature of Shepard’s chromosomes. According to executive producer Casey Hudson, ME3’s Shepard is a combination of the person you’ve made and the underlying themes that have been there since the opening moments of the first game. “There is a common experience among all versions of Commander Shepard. In particular, Shepard is really just an average human, swept up in exceptional circumstances. We’re trying some new methods to get people inside Shepard’s head, making them feel more of the internal struggle Shepard has been facing.”
Angry about Mass Effect 3's ending? Or angry at people who are angry about Mass Effect 3's ending? This has nothing to do with that—just had to get it out of the way. This is a skit by USC film student Andrew Allen of Padinga, and while the premise is well-worn (heavy investment in games = strain on relationship), it's done cleverly, so it has earned our hearty "hey, this is cute, so watch it" endorsement.
Bioware have released the first shots of Mass Effect 3. There's only two of them, but they're enough to make us want to dive straight back into that slick sci-fi world. You'll find both screens embedded below.
Just we were get excited by the latest screenshots, Bioware have announced on Facebook that Mass Effect 3 has been delayed until the start of 2012. No specific reason for the delay is given beyond executive producer Casey Hudson's explanation that "the development team is laser focused on making sure Mass Effect 3 is the biggest, boldest and best game in the series." Still, at least it gives those of us planning a mammoth total Mass Effect replay more time to save the universe again before the final part of the trilogy comes out. Okay, I admit, that's not much consolation. Get your Mass Effect fix from our Mass Effect 3 news feed instead.
The Earth is under threat. A fleet of Mass Effect 3 trailers are poised above the Earth ready to descend and convert us all into Mass Effect obsessed husks. It's already happened to Chris. He doesn't sleep anymore. He talks about Mass Effect, goes home, plugs into the mains to recharge and then returns to talk about Mass Effect some more. Only the game's release on March 6 (US)/March 9 (EU) will silence him, until then we've sat him front of the live action trailer above, which looks to have been leaked ahead of its TV debut on VG247. It's a bit like last week's Mass Effect 3 CGI trailer, except this one has more crying people, and shocking scenes of bridge destruction.
More pearls of Mass Effect 3 knowledge have dropped form the latest issue of Game Informer. There's news on Mass Effect 3's updated combat, and some spoilery plot details. If you don't want to know anything about Mass Effect 3's story, steer clear. Otherwise, here's the latest on Shepard's latest mission to save the universe.
The EA Gamescom press conference is happening right now, and EA have just dropped a small payload of new Mass Effect 3 screenshots showing Shepard doing battle with giant robots and aliens using some familiar Mass Effect rifles, and what looks to be some sort of flaming close combat weapon. See the new screens below. Click to see them full size.
Big game marketing campaigns are getting more and more aggressive. If you hop into a shuttle and fling yourself into the atmosphere you still won't be able to escape the hype for Mass Effect 3. USA Today say that EA will be sending six copies of Mass Effect 3 into space. They'll be tied to weather balloons in New York, San Francisco, Vegas, Berlin, London and Paris and sent up into the stratosphere. If you find a copy when it lands, it's yours. Unless it lands in a volcano. In that case it'll belong to Ifrit, Lord of Fire, who is not going to give it back without a fight. Each copy has been fitted with a GPS tracker and the Mass Effect site will be updated with their progress as they gently fall back to Earth, or become dislodged and fly off into some distant corner of the universe. The lucky few who do manage to retrieve a disk will get to play the game about a week before release. If you think the chances of a copy of Mass Effect 3 falling out of the sky onto your lawn are too slim to plan around, there's always the Mass Effect 3 demo, which will let you try out the first couple of missions and the co-op survival multiplayer mode.
A post on the Bioware blog describes how Mass Effect 3's reputation system has moved on from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2's Renegade vs. Paragon setup. We'll still be able to unlock extra conversation options and satisfying interrupts, of course, but the adjusted reputation system should let us do this without feeling the need to commit exclusively to a Paragon or Renegade path. "In Mass Effect 2, if you wanted to get the hardest Charm options, you had to play an almost completely Paragon character," Patrik Weekes explains. "We intended many of those Charms to be fun Easter eggs, but many players felt like they had to play pure Paragon to avoid being penalized by the loss of a dialog option. In Mass Effect 3, your Reputation score determines both Charm and Intimidate options, and that score is determined by adding your Paragon and Renegade scores together."