The Mass Effect 3 demo was recently released, and we posted our impressions of the single player component of the demo here. As promised, here’re our impressions of the co-op mode.
There are two inherent problems with Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer component- the first is that it’s Mass Effect. To even imagine that a game like Mass Effect would have multiplayer seems strange. It’s a single player game. after all, and at first it just seems like BioWare is trying to cash in on the multiplayer craze, trying to attract the “Call of Duty crowd.” The second problem is that it’s another take on Gears of War 3’s Horde mode. We’ve already had so many games that utilize that kind of mode. Uncharted 3, Halo, and more recently, Call of Duty. It just doesn’t seem like a fresh idea anymore.
Does ME3 integrate it into the overall experience properly? Does the idea still seem fresh? Is it just a cash in on the multiplayer craze?
In short- yes, yes and no. Now, for the longer version.
As I’ve already established in my hands on preview of the single player demo (linked at the beginning of the article), Mass Effect 3 feels exactly like a third person shooter should, good enough to rival the likes of Uncharted and Gears, and with its own complexities and depth thrown into the mix, maybe it even outdoes them. So it is that the multiplayer component doesn’t seem much out of place here. Sure, it still takes time to get used to the very idea- it’s multiplayer in a Mass Effect game, after all. But once you get down to playing it, you realize just how much fun it is.
The co-op mode basically puts you and three other people in an arena and keeps hitting you with waves and waves of increasingly tougher and smarter enemies. It’s a typical Horde mode rip off, but it never feels too familiar, because it utilizes the several complexities and eccentricities that have now become staples of the franchise. Using biotic powers and special ammo types to take out enemies feels exhilarating, and healing your downed squadmates and assisting in kills creates a wonderful sense of team spirit, which can be rivalled only by the likes of Battlefield 3 and Gears of War 3. I cannot tell you how much fun I had whenever I used my Charge power on enemies (as a Vanguard) and followed that by a round of bullets.
But you have to work together in Mass Effect 3 if you are to be successful against your enemies. Sometimes you may have to activate some devices, or deactivate them, or just take down the incoming waves of enemies. I’m curious to see how this will fit in with the single player mode, though.
Shooting is smooth and slick, and hit detection is spot on. Getting in and out of cover, rolling, swat turning, shooting and using your powers and special ammos is all ingeniously infused, and makes the action much smoother, addictive and exciting than you could have ever imagined.
What struck me most, however, was how incredible the AI was, just as it did in the single player component. Enemies position themselves tactically and help each other out, use shields and try to flank and trap. You will die a lot, and your allies may not always be able to heal you (sometimes dying in the process themselves).
Levelling up and upgrading your character is deep and engaging, and I expect it will keep players addicted and hooked for several dozen hours. The single player already seems promising, but the multiplayer seems like it will add a lot of longevity and replay value to the game. It feels flashy and thrilling, yet deep and engaging, all at the same time. I’m not yet sure how well BioWare will integrate it with the single player component, but from what I’ve seen of the game so far, I don’t seem to have any doubts any longer. Mass Effect 3 looks like a promising game, and it may just be able to outclass the masterpiece that was Mass Effect 2.