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On March 6th, BioWare will launch Mass Effect 3, the final chapter in Shepherd's epic journey. We take the game's demo for a spin in anticipation of how this highly-anticipated title will behave on a broad range of graphics cards and processors.
BioWare is on a roll. Star Wars: The Old Republic is perhaps the most talked-about MMO launch in recent history, and EA just announced that the game is already sitting at 1.7 million subscribers. Fresh on the heels of that introduction, the developer is just about ready to release its third and final chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy.
Although Mass Effect is in no way as pervasive as Star Wars, it has shown how far BioWare could go with its own intellectual property over the past five years. The series doesn’t fit into any standard mold; it mixes role-playing and shooter mechanics, and your ability to affect the story through dialogue choices set a bar that no other studio has yet matched. It’s a truly interactive space opera, and we know that many enthusiasts are looking forward to seeing how it ends when the game ships on March 6th.
In the meantime, BioWare recently released a tantalizing demo that included a number of surprises, including three single-player game modes and a significant multi-player component.
Mass Effect has always revolved around its single-player experience, so we were intrigued to find the multi-player content. BioWare put its own spin on a formula followed by most modern-day shooters, with different classes, upgrades, and weapons available as you gain experience online. We tooled around with the demo's limited multi-player settings, and it looks like it could be a lot of fun.
The single-player game modes are a new addition too, allowing you to tailor the experience with three options. The Action experience allows for adjustable combat difficulty, but no dialogue selection. So, all of the character’s choices are made automatically and shown through cut scenes. Role Playing delivers on the classic Mass Effect experience, with adjustable combat difficulty and all of the dialogue trees. Finally, Story mode provides the interactive story without difficult combat.
It's not particularly clear how Story and Role Playing with easy combat differ, and it wasn't clarified in the demo. However, it was fun to dive in and play the Action mode without worrying about making decisions. I’m not sure I would play the full game that way, but running and gunning without weighing the consequences of a conversation is a blast.
But how well does this epic story about one man's role in the fate of the galaxy play out on your PC? This is Tom's Hardware, after all, and we're here to explore the demo's performance, hopefully gaining some insight on what you can expect when the complete title is ready to play.