By Undeadpool 16 Comments
Probably a titsch redundant at this point (since it's more than 5 minutes after the demo was released) but fuck it, it's my blog and I'll write I want to. Write if I want to. Wriiiiite if I want to. You would write too if you just played this demooooooo. Oh and I haven't tried the multiplayer, so I may edit this to include that after I do, or I may just make a separate post. Long story short on the single-player portion: You start where the game will start, play through the intro mission, and then jump ahead to somewhere seemingly within the first third of the game to give you some idea as to how the skill progressing works.
This demo starts out presumably around where the game itself will begin and herein lies my first, and biggest, complaint: the game begins with a whimper. After you played Arrival (in which you killed 250,000 batarians to cut the Reapers off from the Mass Relay that would give them unfettered access to the more populous parts of the galaxy), I expected Shepard to be in the midst of a court-martial when the Reavers interuppt the precedings, but no. You've been stripped of your rank and effectively grounded (with Andersen making vague reference to "that shit you pulled"), but the Alliance seems to have come around and believe in the presence of the Reapers. They call you in to consult (again, I thought the Reapers were being widely denied as even existing?), when the massive, sentient ships make landfall on Earth and begin indiscriminately blowing up EVERYTHING IN SIGHT! This is where the demo kicks off, but it's an oddly hollow moment compared to the absolute "WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK!?!?!?" moment of The Normandy being destroyed in the first five minutes of ME2. The whole thing came off as a little rote.
On a more nitpicky level: I chose the default JaneShep character and her facial animations were a little wonky at times. The closest thing I could think of is Juno in Force Unleashed who, in the first game, appeared to just be opening and closing her mouth when she talked, giving her a weird fish/ventriloquist dummy appearance. It wasn't NEARLY as pronounced in this game, but it looked weird. And Wrex's voice actor seems to have trouble finding his ...well voice. He sounded a little unsure, which is something Wrex absolutely should NOT sound like (but it was still good to have the big lug back).
Everything else. The game plays incredibly smoothly. The animations transition much more organically from one into the other (as opposed to the more "snap from one to the next" of the previous two games), Shepard is MUCH more dynamic now able to jump, climb, drop down, combat roll, and vault over cover, thus eliminating the incredible logistic irritation of the previous two games. On a more fundamental level, this game does exactly what they promised it would: it splits the difference between ME1 and ME2 in terms of action VS RPG. The shooting is still very much ME1 with Shep now able to wield any weapon effectively (as any combatant with this level of experience should), but the number of weapons you can take into a mission limited by class (with Soldier being the only one that can wield all of them), but the abilities now branching at every level past the third. Yes, even ammo abilities have completely different branches which, even just previewing them, makes me extremely excited since the branches seem to be change how each ability works substantially. It's also great to already see in this preview who's coming back and who has yet to be seen. Edit: Additionally, I picked up a number of weapon customizations, which I couldn't/didn't use in the demo, but the sheer number I got seem to indicate that customization is back in full force, so anyone missing it in ME2: your prayers have been answered.
Ultimately this demo failed to completely WOW me, but it did absolutely show me that they're going in the right direction. It also makes sense that they wouldn't put a giant "OH SHIT" moment in their demo necessarily, so I'm still absolutely willing to be wowed. For those worried that Bioware had somehow lost their way or were just shoveling a pile of crap when they talked about compromising between ME1 and 2, it absolutely seems like they're doing exactly that. And there are PLENTY of dialog wheels even in this hour or so, so no worries: the game is still plenty chatty. This demo did exactly what it should have: gave me a taste so that I'm absolutely down to pay for a full experience.