The difference between clever and cunning.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Screenburn: Mass Effect 3

Hello again gentle readers.

It’s Spring once again, which means it’s time for the Austin South By South-West festival, which means it’s time for the Screenburn arcade.

Azeroth to Zork was there of course, fighting through pouring rain and baying mobs to bring you coverage. 

There’s a lot of cool stuff at this year’s show, including the massive team based shooter/MMO Firefall and Starhawk, a slick looking space-western with some nifty RTS elements. Today we’ll briefly be talking about my experiences with Mass Effect 3 and its co-op mode.
“But James!” you say. “Hasn’t Mass Effect 3 already been out for a couple of days already? Why not tell us something about the games they were showing off that you can’t just walk into a store and buy.”

Well first, who buys games from a physical store anymore? Well aside from console gamers. Or people without internet connections. And people who like having a wrap-able, physical gift to give to their children/spouse/pets. 

Second, I won a t-shirt and I’m easily bribed by clothing and other consumer goods.

Thirdly ME 3 was what I had time to play today, so that’s what we’ll be talking about. 

Finally I’ve been playing Skyrim more or less non-stop for the past month and kind of lost track of time and space and all the other dimensions, so I’d actually forgotten ME3 was even coming out till today.

Anyhow, I was a little skeptical when I’d heard ME 3 was going to include a multiplayer mode. I’ve played other games with a single player focus that tried to include serious multiplayer, like Bioshock 2 and Dead Space 2 (It seems to happen a lot with sequels.) While the multiplayer in those games wasn’t terrible it felt a little tacked on and I wondered at how they might have been if the developers hadn’t had to split their resources. 

Having not had a chance to see the single player yet I can say that ME 3’s co-op mode is slick, fun, and highly playable. With only a few minutes to organize my character and figure out the controls I was able to put together a workable load-out for a Soldier featuring a Shotgun with freezing ammo and some sort of grenade attachment. All the ME classes are playable, and many of the races as well, though all the pre-made characters we had to work with were human.

You’re restricted to two guns, and heavier weapons make your abilities take longer to recharge. Of course a player carrying a big enough gun may not feel they need any fancy schmancy special abilities. I suspect this is more important for the less weapon dependent classes, but you’re also limited to only a handful of abilities and consumables per mission. It’s not quite a full on RPG, but there’s plenty of opportunities for customization and specialization, at least as much as in shooters like the Modern Warfare series. 

"You run out there firing wildly. I'll stay back here where it's safe and cover you."
Actual gameplay is not unlike the Gears of War “Horde” mode, pitting me and three random scrubs against successive waves of enemies. The map was small and quick to learn, but tactically interesting, with plenty of cover and alternate approaches. Some rounds had us just killing a set number of enemies, but others had us defending an area, capturing specific points, or hunting down targets while enemies continuously poured in. We couldn’t just hole up in a corner and try to hold out till the end of the match.

Enemies and objectives both emphasize and reward teamwork. I could handle the generic troopers, but the riot shield carrying goons, high tech ninja assassins, and twelve foot assault mechs took good use of cover and the massed firepower and special abilities of the entire team to bring down. Every time I ran off alone I got shot down in short order, though my team-mates were generally able to scrape me off the ground before I expired. 

From half an hour of playing with strangers I can say that ME 3 Co-op is worth playing. I’ll probably pick the game up whenever the Skyrim main theme stops continuously running through my head. Tomorrow I’m going to try to get a look at Firefall, which looked very cool, so stay tuned.

Articles copyright James Cousar, games and images copyright their respective owners.

1 comment:

  1. I had the pleasure of playing ME3 co-op at Screenburn today. Also, I got to meet you. He's a nice guy, Readers.

    I didn't manage to get any time with Firefall and look forward to your report.