First Impressions: Mass Effect 3 Single Player Demo

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By Christine Melgarejo

The Mass Effect 3 demo went live yesterday for Xbox 360 and PC players (PS3 peeps will have to wait until tomorrow), offering both a single player and multiplayer experience.  Last night, I delved into the single player, testing out some of the newer combat moves and checking out some of the major story.


The first thing I got to do was choose my Shepard. I went with the good old default of John, who I do have a save file as and play as Paragon. I was able to choose gender, class, background, even who died in the past games which all did affect parts of the story line in the demo.

I was also able to choose how I wanted to play; Story, Role-Playing or Action. This option threw me for a loop because, well, I thought Mass Effect was always  a role playing game at it’s core. Then I realized it’s apparently the new way Bioware is tackling the difficulty settings.

Story is basic combat customization and super easy combat, focusing more on experiencing the story than having a challenge. Role-Playing is the “normal” setting, letting you choose your dialogue while customizing your character and overall having that full control of what is going on. Action skips all the choices in dialogue and let’s it just play out one way, letting you get into more of the actual combat sequences (and for a game that’s all about story and your decisions making a difference, I have no idea WHY anyone would want to choose this setting).

I went in playing in Role-playing mode and started off as good ol’ Shepard on Earth, heading out with Anderson to warn others that the Reapers are coming. Well it’s too darn late, because 30 seconds later, here they are, destroying everything so Shepard has to make dramatic leaps and rolls to not die, as he’s wont to do.

After the opening cut scenes, you get control of Shepard, which I notice is all but exactly the same as ME2, except with a few different moves. You can now do a side roll if you press left and right and A while running, and is it just me or does Shepard look just a bit smoother when he jumps and slides over obstacles? After a couple of minutes, the controls came back to me and it was all intuitive.

After taking out some new baddies and contacting the Normandy so I can get my ass out of there, the demo changes over to a later, more action-packed part of the game where you have to protect a female Krogan and get her off a planet. Yes, you read that right. Female Krogan do exist!

After getting my ass handed to me by a mech a couple of times, I finished the demo and was greeted by a reminder to pre-order (already did in the summer, Bioware, thank you very much).

I enjoyed having control of Shepard again, enjoyed where the story is going and the new score is pretty awesome (it’s no longer Jack Wall but Clint Mansell of Requiem for a Dream fame), but did have some issues with the visuals. The animation of the lips was just terrible and didn’t match up well to the audio at all. I’m hoping this is a demo only issue, because I don’t appreciated my characters looking like tight lipped mannequins. It’s a serious step back.

All in all, I can’t wait for the full game in just less than a month. And I’ll be checking out the multiplayer aspect of the demo tonight, so check back tomorrow for my views on that.

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