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Mass Effect Multiplayer Madness

Mass Effect

The demo for Mass Effect 3 was recently released, the highly-anticipated third installment of BioWare’s epic space saga with an ever-evolving narrative based on player decisions made in previous titles. Commander Shepherd is doing his/her best to save the universe from the threat of the Reapers, so the pressure is on. However, the biggest shocker so far has been the inclusion of multiplayer in what until now has been largely a story-driven RPG.

Is this a good direction for the franchise? After playing the multiplayer portion of the demo, I’d have to say no. If there are a lot more elements from the main game in the retail version, then maybe, but the demo includes a rather bare bones clone of Horde mode that’s playable with up to four people.

Players get to choose from several maps and equip their avatar with a handful of weapons (limited to two) to face an onslaught of enemies. It’s possible to level-up and use a few powers, but naturally this is all limited as it’s just a demo. The main focus is on using cover and shooting lots of enemies, reviving downed allies when the time inevitably comes.

The co-op mode is tough, throwing tons of enemies from all sides at the players with no regenerating health. Expect to die often, slowly grinding out some XP that will hopefully make you strong enough to survive one more wave of enemies. Playing Mass Effect stripped of all characterization and plot feels bizarre, and just makes the whole thing feel like a clunkier version of Gears of War and it’s difficult to imagine this becoming a headlining feature of the game.

In today’s market, it’s expected that a game launch with an online multiplayer mode of some sort rather than stick to strictly single. For all the massive success online gaming has brought to certain franchises, there are some games that shouldn’t have bothered and would’ve been better off sticking to their offline guns. Namely, BioShock 2 and Dead Space 2 come to mind, although in the former there is something to be said for being able to brain other players with a golf club.

Of course, this is a demo and I take the claim that it represents a work-in-progress at face value. Besides which, there’s always DLC down the line to beef-up the multiplayer portion, but without dialogue trees, decisions, a plot and characters to follow–well, at least there’s still the main campaign.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

Gentle persuasion

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