First Level: Mass Effect 3

I’ve been staring at the Mass Effect 3 icon on my desktop since Monday night, unable to play due to Origin’s release day locked DRM which, unfortunately, affected our review copy meaning that there was no way to even get several hundred words about the start of the game out when the embargo lifted on Tuesday evening.

That means, of course, the review will have to wait until next week; when I’ve saved the Universe enough to look at it in-depth. I have managed to play three or four hours of the game, though – essentially the first section – by staying up late into the early hours of the morning  – on a University night. That alone should give you an indication of just how good a game this could be.

[drop2]Mass Effect 3, much like its predecessor, starts with a monumental bang. Earth is under attack and the protagonist, Shepard, is grounded after the events of the previous instalment. The Reapers – sentient machines set on destroying all organic life in the Universe – concentrate their fire on Earth and it’s up to Shepard to once again save the day and, this time, save every sentient being in the Universe.


New features include a revamped melee system, using Shepard’s Omni Tool, which you’ll no doubt have seen if you’ve glanced at any trailers or promotional materials for the game. As well as being able to melee enemies with his Omni Tool, Shepard can now jump gaps and climb, making for more versatile, flowing gameplay. The upgrade system has also been refined, with different skill trees and ranks for each power, along with some new powers to boot.

Mass Effect 3 is, however, both aesthetically and functionally very similar to Mass Effect 2. It’s not quite the same step up as we saw from Mass Effect to its sequel, though there are noticable HUD improvements and other tweaks; the menus remain almost identical. The upgraded engine makes for stunning visuals, which are a noticeable improvement from ME2, along with a scale that is unmatched in most games, making for a grand experience.

It’s certainly a more cinematic game than the previous games in the series, with set-pieces and action sequences permeating the first few hours. The story remains as important as ever, too, with dialogue choices and a strong narrative weaved through the game, creating a brilliant blend of both story and combat.

As Shepard is without his faithful Normandy and crew from the start, the first section is rather linear; though this acts as a guide and introduces you – whether you’re a fan or a newcomer – to the game rather well. Familiar faces from the series return, which fans will be glad to see; these characters are introduced progressively, meaning you won’t be overwhelmed as Shepard recruits his crew for the revamped Normandy.

Whilst Mass Effect 2 was about building loyal friendships and relationships with those on your squad, Mass Effect 3 is a much more universal affair, as Shepard attempts to unite all races and gather resources to defeat the Reaper threat. It’s clear from the very start that this will be no easy task; some races will be difficult to unite, using their armies for their own benefit instead of joining together for the sake of the Universe.

If this ain’t the end of days, it’s pretty close.

Above is a single line of dialogue from within the first three hours of Mass Effect 3, which defines the game absolutely. This certainly feels like the end of it all, but if Commander Shepard does manage to unite the armies of the Universe to eradicate the Reaper threat before it destroys all life, it might just be close.

And that task is yours, and yours alone.



  1. Woo, First Level is back!

  2. I’m going out to get this RIGHT EFFING NOW, MOTHERFLIPPERS.

    I’m a bit excited.

    • I can see. You appear to have CAPITAL LETTERED all over my monitor.

      • Nearly completed it since I got it early :D unfortunately was on holiday so I couldn’t play it until Tuesday.

  3. Sounds about how I expected. It’ll be nice to sample for myself. Quite when that’ll be, though, is anybody’s guess.

  4. Mine just came but cant watch it die to the other half wantig to watch Newcastle(Geordie) Shore 2 Feckin Episodes

    • Due*

    • Yeah, you probably wouldn’t want to watch it ‘die’! The ‘cast’ of Geordie Shore is another matter though…

      • Funny thing is i have been out in newcastle and none of the lads or lasses i talked to were anythong like them lol not one fake tanned man in sight! i hate commenting on my Vita

      • Dude. You make the best typo’s :D

      • i know man my fingers are way too big for the vita haha

  5. My pre-order from HMV that was sent out wed hasn’t arrived, despite the two box set dispatched tues arriving yesterday. Grrrrr.

  6. I was thinking that the opening couldn’t be more explosive than ME2. I was so very pleasantly surprised :)

    Finally a game to kick me off Skyrim!

  7. Tomorrow!

  8. 10 hours in and loving it to bits. Shame the PS3 version suffers from technical probs.

    • I’m only 6 hours in, but I haven’t come across any technical issues – what sort of problems have you had?

      • It’s locked up my PS3 a couple of times. Slowdown, and sometimes the lips don’t sync with the sound. The framerate in cutscenes also drop quite noticeably. Digital Foundary tested this and the PS3 cutscenes run at 20 fps, whereas the Xbox version runs at 30.

      • It’s all bearable. Not anything Fallout-like.

      • Yep, didn’t say it wasn’t. Just a shame it sometimes takes the sheen off what’s otherwise an amazing game.

      • Ah, ok. I can live with slowdown, probably for the best as my reactions aren’t what they used to be. Console locking up sounds ominous, mind – and I remember Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 having issues with corrupted save files that I hope isn’t going to be a recurring theme.

      • Audio sync could be horrible on ME2 on PS3 :S

  9. Awesome…

  10. First level was crap I thought, minus the cutscenes. It soon picks up however.

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