Mass Effect 3's Kinect Enabled Demo Impressions

The Mass Effect series is one of the absolute best this generation, it definitely ranks in my top 3 new IP’s for this current generation and I feel that Bioware has done a fantastic job with the games up till this point. The new Mass Effect 3 demo recently came out and I wanted to write up some of my impressions on it, the interesting thing about the demo is that it’s Kinect enabled on the Xbox 360 version, so I was more than interested to try out the much hyped and publicized Kinect compatibility with the latest Mass Effect game, which is scheduled to release in the United States on March 6th.

The demo itself is rather large, weighing in at 1.7 gigabytes. I was interested in playing through the demo, but I was also torn because I didn’t want to spoil any of the plot or game by playing through some of it ahead of time. In the end, the journalist in me won out and I booted it up and started playing through the demo. Right away I noticed some pretty nice improvements with the character animations, though I was thrown a bit by Ashley Williams new look, she looks like she has had some pretty good plastic surgery since the second game. The character looks great, but it’s just a bit of a shock to not even recognize a character you have spent so much time with, especially in the first Mass Effect game.

The story in the Mass Effect 3 demo is filled with spoilers, so if you are dead set on not learning anything about the game before it’s launch you might want to avoid the demo. I know some people do what’s considered a “black out” and avoid sites, videos and demos of games in order to preserve the story and any surprises that might be within the story. I know I got the feeling that the game’s story and scope were far beyond that of the first two Mass Effect games, I wont spoil anything here, but I do think this has the potential to be the best and largest Mass Effect game to date.

The main thing I wanted to try out in the demo was the Kinect functionality. The first thing you get to try out in the voice prompts that come up for conversations. I wasn’t too sure as to how loud I’d have to be for it to pick up what I was saying, so I started off rather loud with the first conversation and gradually worked down to being almost a whisper. Everything worked to perfection with Kinect, I got very used to speaking quietly and having the option I spoke being the one picked. If you thought you’d have to scream or embarrass yourself while using Kinect with the voice commands, I can definitely put your mind at ease. It works great and you don’t have to be loud at all, the game picked up what I said 100% of the time.

The next thing I wanted to test was the Kinect functionality with squad commands, which is the real reason I was looking forward to the Kinect functions in the first place. I loved Mass Effect 1 & 2, but it was a bit cumbersome to pause the game to set my players up how I wanted them, you also had to stop the action in order to get your particular party members to use a different weapon or power. With Kinect, you can just keep the action going and it’s seamless and flawless. When I was pinned down I would just say “Liara Singularity” and she would carry out the command. This worked just as well as the voice commands for conversations earlier in the game. You can also change your own weapons, add specific ammo and use powers with Kinect voice commands. I admit I was a bit skeptical of the whole Kinect enabled functions, but after playing the demo I know I’ll be playing through the game with my Kinect turned on.

If you’re at all familiar with the Kinect Functionality with Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, then you already get the idea behind what the Kinect features will be like in Mass Effect 3, but it’s taken to the next level. I understand people were weary or skeptical about Kinect being implemented into more core games, well once again I will put your mind at ease, it works and it works well. You are absolutely immersed in the game, sure you might want to pause the game to take a break in the action, but with my big screen HDTV I think I like the added immersion of being able to tell my squad mates what to use and what to do. I thought Forza Motorsport 4 was better with Kinect, Halo CEA was definitely better with Kinect, but Mass Effect 3 is taking that to a whole new level. Kinect is giving Xbox 360 and Kinect owners a little something extra to look forward to as far as Mass Effect 3 is concerned.

Other then the Kinect functionality I thought the demo was pretty good, but the running animations were bit off, they almost looked like they were skating across the ground, hopefully this was an earlier build. I was originally a bit worried that Mass Effect 3 wouldn’t live up to my expectations because of the debacle that was Dragon Age 2. It seems like EA has a tendency to ruin a lot of once great franchises, and rushing games is an easy way to do that. The second Mass Effect came out three years after the first, that is a cycle I’m a bit more comfortable with, Mass Effect 3 is coming out less than two years after the second game, so I am a bit worried. The demo however was pretty well done and it’s clear Bioware is confident in their game and I’m very excited to play through the finished product. If you don’t have a Kinect, it’s probably not worth it to buy one strictly for this game, but if you had your eye on several games for Kinect and are a fan of the functions they are putting out in games like this, Forza, Halo and Ghost Recon, then I definitely suggest picking one up.

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