Commander Shepard and crew mean business
What I Liked
Well, nearly everything. The game feels familiar to anyone who has played a third-person action game recently. Shepard moves from cover to cover, blasting baddies with extreme prejudice. Cover is still semi-sticky (you snap to it, but can leave if you press away from it). Aiming is still solid and the guns feel powerful. Powers are still accessed by a wheel and your squad is actually pretty helpful. Really, this feels just like Mass Effect 2, and that's a great thing.
I really enjoyed the addition of height to the battlefields. Before, there were ramps, but the high ground wasn't necessarily a big part of combat. Now that Shepard can climb ladders, the high ground is a bit more strategic. Enemies (especially those with jump-packs) transferred between levels with ease and flanked intelligently. It also helps the levels feel more organic, which is also a plus!
Liara and Shepard
I liked the new leveling system for powers, too. The base levels let you get used to the power, and then the more advanced levels force you to chose between two sides to that power. I like much more than the system in the last game, which had a static upgrade until you "mastered" the power, and then you would pick between a Power version or a Precision one. I think this new system will allow players to have more control over how their party develops and make for a more specialized party.
The game is still gorgeous with amazing voice acting. The characters all sound great and really sell the scenes. I'm also impressed with the cinematic views. The game sometimes feels more like an action movie. The way the camera pans and focuses during cinemas really helped sell the action. The team at Bioware has made a sharp-looking, tight-playing, cinematic adventure. Over three games, the game has been honed to near perfection.
Atlas mechs are not to be taken lightly
I like the new gameplay options. I think it's great that Bioware and EA want as many people to enjoy the rich world of Mass Effect as possible. (Note: I know it's to make money, but still). The choices to have the game be all-out action with the story presented in cinemas is a great idea. Players are treated to a canon Paragon or Renegade story and those that want to can just focus on killing enemies and saving the galaxy. Personally, I like the combat, but I don't love it. This mode will be great for those that just want to be a badass and leave the choices up to someone else. Cool idea, but not what Mass Effect is about (in my opinion). The story focused approach makes combat significantly easier and allows the player to enjoy the fiction. I blew through the demo on this mode because combat was so much easier. I will opt for the standard Mass Effect experience, but it's nice to know that if I want to see another story outcome, I can do so with minimal fuss on combat!
What I Was Mixed On
The new melee attack was hit-or-miss to me. I loved that it has a "charged" mode now that really tears through enemies. That's great when you can catch an enemy unawares and conserve ammunition. When it connected, it was glorious! But, I had some issues connecting. Sometimes my lunge would be stopped by debris or a corner. Other times, I would zip right by my target (them having moved slightly to the side) and then I was exposed as I slowly turned to fill them with lead. The melee upgrade is a good idea, but it wasn't a major game-changer.
New melee stabbings!
Fighting enemies is great most of the time. The new tactics that enemies use are generally intelligent and force you to move about the battlefield. It was great when you get flanked and are forced to readjust your tactics swiftly. What I didn't like is that the enemies seem tragically unaware of their surroundings sometimes. I saw pairs of troops running together and taking cover right next to my team or myself. I also saw quite a few instances of soldiers standing and watching me rush them without even trying to relocate. It just was a bit disappointing that the enemies still do the whack-a-mole thing and don't pay attention. It's a minor complaint overall, but still worth mentioning.
What I Didn't Like
The fact that the game is out in 20 days and not today.
Oh, and I guess it was kind of silly to have to rehash the story. It may be that the story is different when you load up your save, but the recap was a bit annoying. Yes. I know the Reapers are here and that they are beastly. I know that Shepard is the hero to unite us all. I have been really invested in this series, so I don't really need a "The story thus far..." recap.
Surrounded by enemies is no where good to be
So, go out and play this demo! Get this game next month and save the universe from sentient machines bent on wiping out all life!
Shepard against a Reaper. It's unfair...for the Reaper