Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Genre Science fiction finale
MtAMinutes to Action 11
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

Sequels to your favorite games of all time don't come out very often, and the results are often mixed. Chrono Cross had me giddy for a while until eventual disappointment set in, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island was incredible and I love it more than the original, and Mass Effect 2 was a supreme success, a better game in almost every way than the first, but I still love Mass Effect more.

So here we are with Mass Effect 3. The first hour to the first two games were both great, each setting the tone and pace for the rest of their respective title. I'm excited to see where Mass Effect 3 will take us, was the demo from a few weeks back the opening, or does Bioware have something else in store? I don't think I've been this excited to play a game since, well, Mass Effect 2 came out. Heck, the last time I paid full price for a game was Mass Effect 2.

So let's just get right to it. I'm excited, honored, and extremely biased to present the first hour of Mass Effect 3.

Minute by Minute

00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Mass Effect 3 begins. I’ve decided to stick with the default settings for now, assuming you either have never played a Mass Effect game before, or are not importing any characters. I go with Role-Playing style of gameplay, and then pick the Soldier character class. Since I’m playing a male Shepard I decide Kaidan is dead and Ashley Williams survived.

01 - Selections confirmed and the opening cutscene kicks off, it’s the same one from the demo. Some higher-ups in the Alliance military realize they’re finally being attacked by the Reapers. “How long do we have?” “Not long.” Those lines sound better in the game.

02 - The fleets are mobilizing. The Mass Effect quick-explanation text scrolls across the screen, and the cutscene resumes. A kid is flying a spaceship around with his hand as Shepard looks on from a building.

03 - James Vega enters, he’s to bring Shepard in front of the Defense Committee. Admiral Anderson shows up, and Shepard gets a bad feeling about the situation.

04 - Shepard knows it’s the Reapers, I show my certainty with the game’s first dialog option. Vega has been following us the whole time. Facial animation looks great, definitely a step up from the first two games, though all these Alliance blues aren’t flattering anyone.

05 - Except for Lieutenant Commander Ashley Williams! Been a long time, she’s let her hair down, definitely looks different than from before.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Anderson James Vega

06 - We’re in front of the committee now, the brass has lost contact with everything beyond our solar system. Shepard says the magical Reaper word and people finally start to listen, years too late. “This isn’t about strategy or tactics, this is about survival.”

07 - I tell them we have to stand together, they’re not impressed. Oh oh, the moon has gone dark. Here they come. Various screens show the Reapers hitting Earth hard.

08 - The big window behind the committee gives a good view of the destruction that is about to commence. A huge Reaper blows a building up and our room explodes, Shepard is knocked out, but Anderson gets him up.

Mass Effect 3 Earth Reaper Explosion

09 - I get a gun, and Anderson tries to contact our ship, the Normandy. I gain control. Shepard feels very mobile.

10 - There is a lot to take in, Reapers all over, little pods taking out our ships, woah.

11 - Take out my first set of husks climbing a building.

Mass Effect 3 Reapers Invading Earth Vancouver

12 - Now I knock some husk heads with my melee attack, feels much better than previous games.

13 - Ah, the infamous kid-in-a-vent scene. Demo received a lot of flack for this, and I kind of agree, trying a little too hard to pull on the emotional heartstrings. Shepard has to leave the kid, as he doesn’t want to come with the man with the gun.

14 - Anderson and Shepard make their way through the wreckage, Anderson says we need to go to the Citadel and talk to the Council. How do these guys even know where to go?

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Earth Reaper Dreadnought

16 - I’m watching a huge Alliance Dreadnought be shot down by a Reaper, love the scenery. Its destruction causes a HUGE shockwave that knocks us down and re-jumbles the level.

17 - We run into some soldiers, but we’re attacked by some sort of husks or something, they look like krogans.

18 - Wow! Some huge flying creature went by, that was crazy, missed that in the demo.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Level up Combat Mastery

19 - Another skirmish with some krogan-like husks, realized you could aim by holding down the right mouse button. Hey, I’ve basically only played the series on the Xbox 360.

20 - I take a moment to look at the level-up screen, Shepard has one point to spend, I’ll pop it in Combat Mastery.

21 - Shepard and Anderson find a radio to talk some more to Williams on the Normandy... lost the signal again.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Cannibal Firefight

22 - After a pretty fun battle that sucks out all my ammo, the Normandy finally arrives. I wonder if the cutscene kick-off is timed right for when you’re out of bullets? That would be good.

23 - Anderson decides to stay behind, guess he won’t be part of the crew this time. Aww...

24 - The Normandy leaves successfully, but we’ve got one more cutscene where that darned kid gets on a shuttle only to be blown up. Kaboom. Music is sad. Shepard is sad. I’m mostly ambivalent.

Mass Effect 3 Reaper Shuttle Little kid

25 - Last look of Earth shows dozens of huge Reapers and the burning wreckage of cities. The outer defenses in space are all on fire too, poor Admiral Hackett.

26 - James Vega made it aboard too, and doesn’t like that we’re leaving. I use a Paragon Interrupt to tell him to shut up.

27 - Joker comes on the comm, woah, Admiral Hackett is alive! Always the man to send me on a mission, he orders me to Mars to meet up with Liara.

Mass Effect 3 Normandy Mars Mission

28 - Normandy makes a short jump to the red planet, untouched by the Reapers.

30 - Shepard, Vega, and Williams head out, but I’m going to level them up first. Apparently we’re all pretty much soldiers, which is kind of annoying.

32 - Dead soldiers, not a good sign. I do find a weapon and checkout the weapon loadout screen. Carrying extra weapons increases your weight and slows down your power recharge speed, now that’s a first.

Mass Effect 3 Ashley Williams gun

35 - Cerberus is here and they’re executing Alliance soldiers and scientists, not so good.

36 - There’s not a lot of Cerberus soldiers, so our conclusion is that it must have been an inside job. We get in an elevator. An elevator? In my Mass Effect?

37 - Ashley is heavily interrogating Shepard on his actions in Cerberus, seems like she doesn’t totally trust him yet.

Mass Effect 3 Weapon Loadout Avenger

38 - Liara is crawling through some vents with soldiers on her tale, she escapes them, then executes them after some fancy biotic powers.

39 - She might have found a Prothean device that can be used to eliminate the Reapers! Liara’s been a busy girl.

40 - We need to get to the Archives to get the device blueprint. Cerberus is here for the blueprint too. “It’s a race to the Archives.” Hah, Shepard orders James Vega back to the shuttle, Liara is much better anyway.

Mass Effect 3 Liara Tsoni

41 - The game tells me how to use the power menu by holding Shift, ah, now that’s useful. After the battle I decide to level-up Liara.

44 - Shepard’s got some new moves, I melee’d a guy from behind cover, felt a bit like Uncharted.

45 - We’re trying to open up some bridge, the gang keeps saying “pedway”. That shouldn’t be a word.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Liara Singularity

47 - We head back outside to find another route, Cerberus is ahead of us. Ouch, they vented a room of air with a bunch of scientists inside, bastards.

48 - There’s also a storm coming in causing interference.

49 - Liara’s Singularity power continues to kick butt. After pressurizing the room again, we watch a video of the events. Ah, the mole is some woman named Eva Core.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Liara Flirting

50 - Feel like I’m doing a lot of flirting in front of the two ladies, this is going to wreck havoc in some of my saved Shepards.

54 - Wow, just mowed down a hallway of baddies using everyone’s powers. Felt... great.

55 - Awkward how run, cover, and activate are all mapped to space bar.

56 - A huge gatling gun doesn’t want us to advance, we roll around the room like monkeys to avoid its fire.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Gatling gun Roll

58 - Finally reached the security station, more video of Eva Core doing her naughty work. Cerberus has already reached the Archives.

59 - Ashley has an idea that might cheat our way into the Archives... oh oh, she opens a Cerberus helmet and his face is all messed up, looks like a husk.

60 - She’s worried Cerberus might have done something to me, probably with good reason. Shepard gets on the Cerberus comm and tries to convince them to send a tram over. Here comes the tram, and that’s the end of the first hour of Mass Effect 3!

Mass Effect 3 Cerberus Soldier Husk

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 11

Bias: Lots and lots of bias, I love the first two games and think they're some of the best games to come out in the last decade or so. I beat both previous Mass Effects multiple times, including the first game six times. I have seemingly spaceship-loads of Commander Shepards waiting to complete their mission.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I sure ain't gonna quit here, that's for sure. Commander Shepard has Earth, and an entire galaxy to save.

And in all honesty, this was a really enjoyable first hour. I was annoyed at first that the opening was just the first half of the demo, but I suppose familiar ground is useful at times, I was able to plow through it pretty quickly to venture into undiscovered territory. And after the initial cutscene, the game moves along at a pretty brisk pace, there isn't a lot of downtime during the first hour of Mass Effect 3.

Nearly every aspect of the game feels like it's been focused on, discussed, and improved. Combat feels more fluid, taking cover feels more natural, and even leveling your characters up reveals a ton more information. Selecting your weapon loadout certainly revealed some interesting design choices, including weight on your character affecting how often you can use your powers. If you never use the shotgun, simply don't bring it along and have the ability to use your powers more. Gives the player even more choice in how they want to tell their Shepard's story.

Dialog choices were pretty limited, I never had more than three, and that only happened once. Obviously there wasn't a lot of time for investigating things, but conversations almost felt too streamlined.

All in all, can't wait to play on. Look for a full review hopefully within a few weeks.