Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sketched Game: Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

The Mass Effect 3 Demo is out, and with it comes the brand spanking new multiplayer.  I still haven't finished Mass Effect 2, so I'm not even THINKING of touching the Story mode, but over the last week I got the chance to try out the multiplayer spoiler free!  Considering the last two games were single player only, I, like many a gamer, was apprehensive at first. But I can safely assure you, the gaming masses, that it is an utter joy and a welcomed addition.

NOTE: I played the XBOX 360 version.

How good is the multiplayer you ask? Well consider first that Bioware was originally only going to keep the multiplayer servers open until February 17th. But when they saw that tons of people were playing and enjoying the hell out of it, they re-opened the servers up until the Mass Effect 3 release date!  People love it.  What's great is that it's not just Gears of War or COD multiplayer with a Mass Effect Skin, it really feels like you're playing Mass Effect with multiple people. They've expanded on the controls and gameplay experience they had for 2 and streamlined it for the better.

The controls do take a bit of time to get used to; holding A lets you run forever, holding X switches weapons, holding B gives you a stronger but slower melee attack, and the left and right shoulder buttons are now strictly powers. Probably the most frustrating aspect is that they made the A button the control for running, taking cover, jumping over cover, reviving an allay and interacting with an object. It can get especially infuriating when you're about to die, you can't see, and you try to run away only to have your character stupidly take cover right in front of the enemy. Guy, why don't you do what I tell you to do? Is it because I'm using the same words to describe five different ideas? It's an annoyance I wish they'd fix, but it's not a game-breaker.

So far, you're only allowed 2 weapons per match, and certain weapon combinations make you heavier while a lighter load will give you a shield regeneration bonus. Each class now only has three special abilities, mapped to the Y, and left and right shoulder buttons. Gone are the weapons and powers wheel, and while I miss the convenience of choosing from an array of different powers and weapons, it does keep for a faster paced game. I can only imagine how many more times I'd die if I were busy figuring out which power to throw in my enemy's face.

There are a multitude of classes to choose from in the demo, and while not all races are unlocked, they provide enough to give a taste of how each class plays. It's also possible to unlock more races by buying recruit packs, which you purchase with points, which you attain by playing the multiplayer demo. Clever bastards.  These packs also give you the chance to unlock more weapons, equipment, weapon upgrades, and even more customization options for your characters, so it's a fun and addictive tactic to get players to keep playing the game.

I tested out a number of classes before finally settling on my favorite: the infiltrator. She has a cloak, can freeze enemies, and is great with long ranged weapons.  It was tough at first, but after leveling up after a few rounds, I was sneaking and sniping with the best of them. There are a number of ways to play, and you'll quickly find your niche. I couldn't be happier with the high level of customization they have.  Even though a number of options are locked initially, you can see how detailed a player will be able to get. it's a fun game in of itself choosing a character and picking a name, color scheme, powers, weapons layout, and special equipment.  I can't wait for the full game when I'll be able to make a whole squad with varying layouts and personalities.

The gameplay is quick, fun, and quite challenging. Sure, you might think you're badass picking off a handful of armored guys in the first round, but wait until they bring out the snipers, giant mechs, engineers with turrets, and the dreaded ninjas! There are a number of different modes other than KILL ALL THE GUYS, ranging from disarming a reaper beacon to hacking a computer, and they are a nice change of pace. Plus, these other missions give you even more points to spend on recruit packs(Side note: don't bother with the veteran packs, they're a waste of points)! You'll easily spend hours with friends, even after you've beaten the ten rounds, just to level up your character to the max or try out a new class.

The Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is shaping up to be a buttload of fun, and I recommend everyone downloading it and giving it a try.  This might be the first 360 game I buy new, right out the gate. Now for the hard part, going back to Mass Effect 2!

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