Image Quality And Settings
Like its predecessors, Mass Effect 3 employs the venerable Unreal Engine 3. The technology behind Epic Games' engine has been in use since 2006 (when it powered Gears of War). But we've seen it receive a number of updates over the years, and it still manages to deliver compelling visuals. It doesn't exploit the features packed into modern graphics cards quite like Crysis 2 or Battlefield 3, but the emphasis here is on a story, and decidedly not technology. Graphics-wise, you get a little more than was offered in previous Mass Effect titles. The experience is largerly similar, though.
Here's the bad news: as with so many games nowadays, Mass Effect 3 is a console-first title. The PC version is a port, and that means you won't get a lot of control over graphics quality. The demo gave us two options: dynamic shadows and anti-aliasing.
You'll want to take advantage of dynamic shadows whenever possible; they add a lot of depth and realism. Anti-aliasing obviously is there to help smooth out jagged lines. This is the first time a Mass Effect game has included an option for anti-aliasing, and the implementation isn't tied to hardware. Rather, BioWare went with Nvidia's software-based FXAA. The resulting workload isn't very taxing, and yet it does an impressive-enough job.
We also tried to force 4x MSAA through each card's driver panel to try improving display output quality. This approach only worked on AMD's cards, though, facilitating even smoother edges when we used it in conjunction with FXAA.