Did I ever mention how much I like Mass Effect? The first game created a universe that was so diverse and filled it with characters that were all expertly fleshed out and amazingly well realised. Mass Effect 2 bettered the previous instalment in every way, drawing out the player’s emotional engagement with key characters and further filling in details of the created universe. I liked Mass Effect 2 so much that I own it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
So, Mass Effect 3 takes a well-deserved place high up on our most anticipated list. But what is it that we’re looking forward to so keenly?
Well, it’s due at the beginning of March with the customary couple of days disparity in US and EU/UK releases. The exemplary musical scoring will doubtless return as, despite Jack Wall’s departure from musical duties, Clint Mansell is on board. Mansell is the composer of scores for all of Darren Aronofsky’s films, including the much loved Lux Æterna from Requiem for a Dream and, most recently, the Black Swan soundtrack.
The same classic action RPG gameplay will, of course, feature. We hope and expect that more games will be made within the Mass Effect universe but it has been said that this third instalment will mark the end of Commander Shepherd’s story.
For the first time in a Mass Effect game, four player cooperative play will feature. Players will be able to import their saves from Mass Effect 2 to continue their own story but of course you’ll be able to jump right in too, if you haven’t played the first two games. We would expect another “previously on Mass Effect…” video on the main menu to fill in for those of you who are late to the trilogy.
Kinect functionality has been mooted for the Xbox 360 version, with players able to speak their dialogue choices rather than selecting from the dialogue wheels as usual. We see no reason why this couldn’t be done with a PC or PS3 headset, as it was in Tom Clancy’s EndWar, but Kinect’s improved voice recognition might make it easier to implement.
Leaks from the prematurely launched beta, made available briefly thanks to a mistake at Microsoft, have revealed that Mass Effect 3 will have three distinct gameplay modes – Action mode where conversations are automatically finished, Story mode where you choose your own conversational responses but the combat difficulty is reduced and RPG mode which will most closely reflect the typical Mass Effect gameplay.
We’ve been promised RPG mechanics that slightly improve on the very pared down systems in Mass Effect 2. There will be more variety and intricacy in levelling up, with branching routes, and more customisation of weapons and armour. It’s unlikely that we’ll get planet scanning and mining back but Mako missions have been touted, as well as some unannounced integrated mini games.
BioWare are masters of this genre and Mass Effect has been a wonderful series so far so it was hardly surprising to see it feature so far up our list of most anticipated titles for 2012. March can’t come soon enough.