Monday, June 13, 2011

E3 Part 1: I Shed A Tear For Mass Effect 3

...But not in a bad way.

The E3 demo for Mass Effect 3 wasn't so shitty that I wept for this series' future. Nor was it so beautiful that I cried at greatness, or any such nonsense. Rather, the angle that BioWare is taking with Mass Effect 3 has been the same ever since the announcement trailer: Saving Earth.

Our lonely little planet has been largely out of the picture for the Mass Effect series. Now, it suddenly has a very central focus in the biggest part of the trilogy. Until now, Shepard's been everywhere in the Milky Way, even to the Galactic Centre for fuck's sakes. Earth made a very brief blip on the radar in Mass Effect 2, but now we're gonna get a lot more intimate with home.

PROBABLY MINOR SPOILERS AFTER THIS - really minor, but the thing I talk about has much more effect (har har) when seen for yourself. (But if you saw the E3 demo you should be good to go.)

The demo was behind closed doors, but it was almost a 30-minute presentation in all. Though we saw much (which I won't get into since I'd already written a preview), the last of the three-part demo served to remind us of that whole 'saving Earth' thing. Now, I was far from alone in having less than dry eyes, you could hear all kinds of sniffles as the demo ends in a sad silence. Just seconds prior, Commander Shepard had been unable to save a young, innocent bystander from Reaper attacks, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Initially, he sees the boy crawling through a duct after the attacks begin. Shepard tries to convince him to come out, but as soon as he turns around the duct is empty. Later the kid is seen running to and climbing inside an N7 ship - and presumably safety, but BioWare tricked us. As soon as the vehicle takes off, a Reaper shatters it and many others like it, to pieces.

That type of ending is supposed to hit home, and I get that. BioWare pulled it off well. But it kind of hit home for me even more - literally. The city depicted here is painfully, obviously Vancouver. I may bitch about the Canucks all the time, but after living here for 15 years, seeing a bunch of oversized aliens tear apart your home city no matter how fictional is always going to be terribly unsettling.


What happened in the demo may just be a consequence of paragon/renegade actions. But that brings me to another points: All those decisions you made in Mass Effect... and Mass Effect 2... and obviously, Mass Effect 3 are all going to finally have repercussions, even if it didn't seem like it in the first two games. If you saved this alien species or killed that one, that'll alter how those races react to you needing their help against the Reapers.

A lot of common things I hear is that it looks a lot like Mass Effect 2. Yes it does, but it looks better, it looks bigger, and it sounds wonderful even with a new composer. It still sounds like Mass Effect. I love Mass Effect 2, so I'm fine with all of that. I also love plot in my games - ME2 may not have had much of this, but it was very character-driven (no complaints at all mind you). And that is what excites me about Mass Effect 3. Having not played the first game, I've yet to experience a major chunk of story, which ME3 will undoubtedly change.

BioWare is pretty damn talented at this. I can't wait to see how they execute and close the Mass Effect story in a galaxy and characters I already adore.


  1. Love this blog post, Liz! Probably one of your best yet! I really feel like that demo was foreshadowing some awful stuff for Shepard - some tough decisions, an inability to save everyone. Shepard can't always be the hero, and it totally wouldn't surprise me if the third game ended on not the happiest note. What's amazing is that a short scene like the one we saw could impact us to such a great degree. I think that says a lot about what type of game Mass Effect 3 will be.

  2. Thanks! :) I think, without all this, it's easy to sit back and say 'well Shepard's going to defeat the Reapers, DUH' - but BioWare is trying to plant this seed of doubt that you may not necessarily be able to do that. And that you're going to have to execute a hell of a plan - it's not going to be spoonfed to you. I'm hoping there's a few endings!