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Mass Effect 3 straddles action, story and roleplay modes. However it is the support for your previous adventures that is most exciting here.
The first two Mass Effect games were essentially single player experiences, but because of their team building mechanics and superb characterisation you never really felt on your own. This meant that even a stalwart multiplayer gamer like me, was soon lost in the Mass Effect universe.
Those that played the original Mass Effect were surprised to find so many changes to the sequel's game mechanics. What had been a very hardcore role play game was simplified and streamlined to bring a greater emphasis on strategy and action.
Mass Effect 3 promises to create a similar reaction. Again we will find a number of tweaks to the way the game plays as well as enhancements to interactions and story telling.
Of course the central theme of sculpting your own Shepard character will remain, but around that the game now offers a choice of three play styles - action, story or role-play. The action mode streamlines the conversational elements of the game while keeping the shooting and tactical elements key. The story mode tasks you with navigating the conversations yourself while making the action a little easier. Finally, the role play mode is like the previous game with an emphasis on character progression.
The customisation will continue with choice over Shepard's character class (Soldier, Infiltrator, Vanguard, Sentinel and so on) as well as his/her origin (Spacer, Colonist, Sole Survivor, War Hero etcetera).
If you have a save character from the previous Mass Effect games you will be able to load this instead of these various choices and get straight down to the action with all the progress and relationships honoured.
Regardless of how you choose to approach the game, and which of these choices you settle for the central pull of the game remains: developing relationship between Shepard and your team to ensure the safe conclusion of the story.
Gamers will enjoy being able to interact with their console with just their voice.
The story starts on Earth as Shepard oversees the apocalyptic loss of the planet to the Reapers. This leaves Shepard with the task of commanding the Normandy and working out how to save the day. Here he is joined by Liara T'Soni, a familiar face if you've played the previous games.
As things progress the game promises to tick all the classic Mass Effect boxes. Relationships on board and between the ever expanding team options are often strained and Shepard it faced with a variety of difficult decisions.
One novel addition is the ability to navigate conversations (and issue battle commands) using the Kinect sensor's voice detection. While core gamers are likely to find this a bit of a gimmick more casual gamers will enjoy being able to interact with their console with just their voice (as well as find another use for the Kinect controller).
Mass Effect 3 is wrapped up with impressive visuals and voice work. It's the sort of production values that you would normally associate with a blockbuster film, here in interactive form it really is very impressive.
Mass Effect 3 is something very special.
There will be a multiplayer mode to complement the main singleplayer campaign, and I am looking forward to hearing more about this. So far all we know is that it will support four player co-operative play and have the name "Galaxy At War".
Overall Mass Effect 3 is shaping up to be something very special. If it can hold its nerve and deliver a strong next chapter in the story this will be a game not to be missed. Add to this the new gameplay options and multiplayer mode and you have what some are already calling the Game of the Year.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: