Mass Effect 3 Preview - The Reapers Must Pay!
I am not a very sentimental person. I don't "get" sympathy, and I haven't cried since I was in primary school. I look at Dexter as my hero, a man totally unaffected by what goes on around him.
Mass Effect 3 may very well change me. I don't appreciate games as I used to: reviewing them instills a sense of obligation, and I've lost a bit of the passion.
However, the Mass Effect series keeps me coming back. Maybe it's my obsession with cosmology and the opportunity I'm given in the game to travel through the stars. Maybe it's the characters that I keep going back to. Maybe it's the depth of the gameplay.
When I think about it, there are too many good reasons as to why I get as excited about Mass Effect as I do. I'm not big on RPG's, but this is a series that gets me excited. With Mass Effect 3, I am anticipating a heart-wrenching, emotionally-driven experience. I know all of my favourite attributes of the series will return, but, even as hardhearted as I am (or at least I think I am), I simply cannot wait to shed a tear when I finally play this game.
I know this now because after having seen a short preview of Mass Effect 3 at E3, I know exactly what to expect. This is a game that's going to really push our emotions and rely on them to drive the experience. Every decision we make will be totally dependent on our association and connection with the characters.
I know this after a mere 30-minute hands-off presentation.
What I saw of Mass Effect 3 initially was no different to what I've seen in any other game in the series: action, explosions, big spacecraft, slimy enemies and varied arsenal.
What started as an intense firefight turned into an emotionally challenging moment as Commander Shepard attempted to persuade a frightened young boy to leave the confounds of the vent he was hiding in.
It was a very short moment, but there was something distinctively human in Shepard's reaction to the young boy. Something that reminded us that the seemingly cold, hardened soldier was as human as you or I. Yes, the option was there to aggressively direct the boy to safety, but the humanity of the characters was on show here, and Shepard calmly tried to assist the boy as best he could in the situation.
What preceded this moment was action: plenty of hardcore action. I got a look at a number of new weapons -- one of which seemed to be a very effective hand grenade -- as well as an improved covering system. The team at BioWare made it clear throughout the presentation that they are really focusing on the third-person combat, hoping to improve on any issues that were present in the first two games.
From my perspective the action has always been secondary to the progression of the story and characters throughout the Mass Effect series, but the narrative seems to dictate the hardened action we've seen so far in Mass Effect 3: as Earth is compromised and the galaxy is under heightened threat, conflict on the battlefield seems to be the inevitable direction for the series. After all, conflict seems to always precede peace throughout the history of mankind.
As the presentation wounded down and Commander Shepard made his way to safety, we got a quick glimpse of the young boy reaching safety and jumping aboard a friendly spacecraft. As the ship took off, Commander Shepard looked to be at peace, perhaps relieved that the frightened young boy would live to fight another day.
Then, shortly after take-off, the boy's ship was attacked and destroyed.
The look on Commander Shepard's face wasn't of anger or sadness.
It wasn't of frustration, confusion or guilt.
It was a look of acceptance -- acceptance of death in the eye of conflict.
His facial expression was distinctively void of emotion, and that said more about the character and environment he was in than any other moment throughout the presentation. It was a perfectly executed moment, one that gave us a very clear insight into Commander Shepard's personality and what he has faced up to that point in time. It was heart wrenching.
I wish I'd seen more of this game in action because it looks absolutely outstanding. Never has a game been so quick to twist my emotions as Mass Effect 3 did. I walked away genuinely angry at the Reapers and what they were doing to my planet, and that tells me more about the game than any amount of hands-on time could.
That's exactly how I want to feel about this game.
Next year couldn't come soon enough.
By Gaetano Prestia