The demo for Mass Effect 3 hit PSN and XBLA yesterday, and after playing through the PS3 version a few times, here are my brief impressions.
This covers the single player only, as I won’t get to experience the multiplayer until Friday (there will be a Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Demo Impressions posted sometime after playing around that). I say this is a brief impression post, because quite frankly it is a lot like the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, and you can read my review of that here.
There are two parts to this demo. The first part is at the beginning of the game and there’s a lot of cutscenes. The Reapers arrive on Earth, and they’re wasting no time doing what they tend to do best… destroy stuff. After some lengthy cutscenes (with some dialog choice, as I chose to play RPG-style; there’s also action and story, so something for everyone and every skill level), you finally get to move around and shoot some things. It took me a few minutes to get used to running with the X button, as I kept wanting to click the right-stick, but I adapted pretty quickly.
The beginning does a great job of painting a frantic doomsday scenario, as ships and Reapers are buzzing all over the place with explosions. You want to keep moving, but it’s hard to do when you keep stopping to marvel at the scenery: Mass Effect 3 is a gorgeous game.
The shooting is as easy as ever, and taking down enemies in this portion isn’t much of a challenge. Having said that, there was one area where you’re pinned down waiting for the Normandy to arrive that got a little hairy once I ran out of ammo. I actually thought I was going to die in the cutscene since I was apparently still getting shot after it started. All in all, this first portion does a great job of setting up the conflict and the rest of the game, and just playing this part alone will have you aching for the game.
As they did with the Mass Effect 2 demo, there is a second portion that takes place later in the game (Shepard was level 12 at this point, and I ended it at level 14). This one gives you the chance to play with some old buddies at your side, and a chance to play with the new skill tree level up, which is a bit nicer than what we saw in ME2 in my opinion. In this section, you’re trying to rescue a female krogan female who could be the key to saving the krogan species.
Of course you’re old pals at Cerberus have other plans, and a big battle breaks out with you having to protect the female krogan. This portion of the demo gives you the chance to explore more combat options, but the boat here really hasn’t been rocked from the second one. That is to say the combat is really good and at no point do the skirmishes get boring.
The Mass Effect 3 demo is an absolute joy to play, and it’s definitely going to leave you wanting the game even more than you probably already did. From the terrific cutscenes to the great combat, this demo only serves to remind everyone of how great Mass Effect 2 was and how Mass Effect 3 is poised to be even better. And thanks to the demo being fun through multiple playthroughs, the wait until March 6th seems both shorter AND longer… a rare accomplishment for a demo.