Being one of the most anticipated games of 2012, Mass Effect 3 had the biggest pull, attracting lines with at least two hour waits for the better part of the three day event - and rightfully so, as Mass Effect 3 definitely stole the gaming portion of the show.
The demo throws an Engineer, Soldier or Sentinel Shepard right into the fray with Liara and Garrus as team members, with supporting roles by Wrex and Mordin, fighting Cerbereus all the while as he attempts to free Mordin and a fertile female Krogan from captivity. The mission fits the tone of the trilogy ending, seeping an exihilarating sense of urgency. The fantastic voice acting returns, which also contains the same desperate tone and helps to create an even more realistic feel, as the entertaining conversations between characters are elevated as they yell over the battlefield. The environment and character design have never looked better, with movements looking crisper, especially in terms of sprinting, which feels significantly less awkward. The music also continues to bring eargasms, with the same electronic, futuristic beats ringing in the menus and over the battlefield.
Combat has stayed relatively the same, albeit with a few new and exciting additions. Shepard now has a more expansive set of melee attacks, allowing for combos with the butt of his rifle, SMG or pistol, as well as the savage hard melee attack (by holding down the button) that has Shepard shoving two omni blades at his foes. They're a ton of fun, and a hell of a lot more useful than melee was in the first two games. Shepard can now also dodge-roll and sprint more freely, but most importantly he has a bunch of new skills at his disposal. Playing as a Sentinel, the cyro blast freezes a large area of enemies, incapacitating them for a short period of time. Tech armor is available to Shepard, giving him defensive bonuses and changing his aesthetic by adding a glowing suit of armor, much like his enemies sported in ME2. The new skills were fresh and inviting, considerably useful in combat, and simply exciting and fun to use. Animations and general movements, particularly aiming and sprinting, feel more fluid, allowing Shepard to actually sprint around corners with ease.
And yet, the most impressive feature came with the customization options for both skills and weapons. Eight skills can be upgraded an initial three times, and then three more times, requiring Shepard to choose between two different types of upgrades, rather than the last level. They vary between longer durations, blast radius, enhanced damage, or other aspects depending on the skill being upgraded. It gives more control over his abilities and how they'll perform, addressing the issues some had with the ME2.
Weapon customization is done on a work bench, with each weapon having two slots to fill. Filling slots with different equipment will not only enhance the gun, but also change its appearance, giving a sense of personalization to each weapon chosen (the demo offering only the pistol, SMG, and the all-new mid-ranged battle rifle). It's a seamless transition to the bench when one is found, allowing Shepard to adjust and upgrade his loadout throughout the mission.
Unsurprisingly, Mass Effect 3 is already one of the most anticipated games of 2012. By combining elements of both predecessors to craft the definitive Mass Effect experience, Bioware is definitely taking the franchise to new heights. Look for the last intstalment in the trilogy on March 6th, 2012.