Preview: Mass Effect 3 Special Edition
Currently I’ve put in somewhere in the region of 280 hours into Mass Effect 3 on Xbox 360, with only about 90 or so of those put into campaign. I recently got the chance to go hands on with the Wii U version to see how this slightly reworked iteration stacks up against the more traditional version. Even with the new consoles bells and whistles it is essentially the same game, this makes up the titles biggest strengths and faults at the same time.
Seeing Shepard on the Wii U is quite a feat when you initially think about it, this is something that most would have scoffed at just a few years ago, but nonetheless we have Mass Effect 3 on Nintendo’s upcoming home console. Very few adjustments have been made to the look and feel of the game, being a quite early build, the demo did have a few quirks that didn’t make it as smooth as the traditional versions. Enemies would wander aimlessly at points, and generally the game didn’t feel as polished in how things flowed. The controls handle in pretty much the same way a standard controllers with all the buttons, triggers and sticks in near enough the same place.
Using the touchscreen will give you better control of how you command your squad, dragging their marker to a new location is easy and responsive. The only problem is that it takes focus away from the screen, this can quickly lead to be overwhelmed by enemies, though their positions are displayed on the map also. This proves incredibly useful when you can balance this well between the two screens – looking down briefly can mean the difference between being flanked and taking the offensive. Powers and ammo abilities can be custom mapped to the touch screen for easy access with just the flick of a thumb, making this system particularly easy to manage.
Three different methods to play the game, the key way will be with the Gamepad being used as an extension of the main game that takes place on the TV. However if you want to avoid disturbing activity in the living room you can take the game fully on the Gamepad in a more traditional format, this is also the same setup when using the Pro controller playing just through the TV. Along with Mass Effect 3 Special Edition bundling a whole host of DLC, you’ll also get a Wii U exclusive heavy weapon. Making my way through Grissom Academy I came across this weapon that allows you to hone in on an enemy and then deliver a payload of six missiles all at once. This was the only exclusive weapon mentioned and due to the its nature will most likely only appear once or twice, therefore not breaking the balance of the game.
To sum it all up this is more Mass Effect goodness, with a few additional bells and whistles. You can play it the traditional console way, but that’s not really doing justice to what the Wii U offers. I really like the idea of being able to take the game away from the TV on just the Gamepad, while having the map and powers displayed when playing on the big screen helps give some extra control. It’s just something a bit new to get your head around, I did fumble a bit with the position of buttons early on but soon found my stride. I’ve already pre-ordered a Wii U, and would I pick up Mass Effect 3 Special Edition? Probably, I’m already obsessed with this game/franchise and would like to check out the Genesis 2 motion comic for the story catch-up.