Mass Effect 3 Wii U preview and hands-on
When it came out this past March for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Mass Effect 3 effectively wrapped up one of the best stories in video games, one revolving around Commander Shepard’s plight to save the universe from the Reapers, using whatever resources and teammates he (or she) could find to do so. Though some folks were less than thrilled with the ending, the Extended Cut DLC put their minds – and thumbs – at ease, especially at the price of free. But is the adventure really over for Shepard and the gang?
Actually, no. Along with a new piece of downloadable content that will be coming later this year called Leviathan (we’ll have impressions later this week), BioWare also recently confirmed that it will be bringing Shepard’s last hurrah to the Wii U later this year. Last week at Electronic Arts’ annual Summer Showcase event, it not only confirmed that Mass Effect 3 would be available as a launch day title for Nintendo’s system, but also provided extensive hands-on with one of the stages in the game, an assault to take back a students’ training facility.
First, let’s talk about the game’s appearance. If you’re used to how Mass Effect 3 appeared on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, you’ll be happy to know that the Wii U version keeps up just as effectively in performance. There was hardly any skip in frame rate performance, nor visual effects, and BioWare really hit a home run when it came to keeping all the weapon particles in the game, whether you’re using special enhancements or a good ol’ rifle. The animations are still pretty sharp, and the on-screen indications easy to read. Better still, you can switch the display at any time between your TV screen and the Wii U’s GamePad, and it looks just as razor sharp on the small display, which makes it perfect to play while the television is occupied.
When you have the display running on a TV, you can actually use the GamePad screen for secondary uses. The main one shows a highlighted map of the stage you’re on, indicating where enemies and doors are located through color markers. More importantly, it follows you around, so as you move, the map moves too, so you can keep everything within range.
Now, I said the GamePad also serves another purpose, and it does with both the Weapon Wheel and the customizable set of hotkeys. The Weapon Wheel, for instance, enables you to drag and use weapons without needing to tap buttons, instead using the touch screen for management duties. You can also assign tasks to teammates through this screen, commanding Garrus or Solus to do something for you without needing to hit a secondary button. It’ll take a little getting used to if you played the old-fashioned way in previous versions, but it’s a neat effect that really serves a purpose on the Wii U.
As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s serviceable, even with the bulkiness of the GamePad. We had no problems firing and running around the stage, taking down enemies and turrets like a pro. What’s more, the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 also comes with a pretty awesome exclusive weapon called the M-597 Landon, one that really does a number of enemies that are surrounding you. Though its use is limited, it’s quite effective, as it fires up to six lock-on missiles at targets that you highlight, from walking mechs to soldiers. (You’ll see highlighted targets through red HUD light-ups.) It would’ve been nice to have more ammunition, but this weapon really packs a punch.
Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U not only has the gameplay and the presentation to compare with other versions, but it’ll also contain most of the DLC introduced, including the new Extended Cut, built right in. No word yet if the new Leviathan mission will be thrown in, but, if push comes to shove, don’t be surprised if it shows up as a downloadable add-on at launch.
Even though you might’ve already beaten it – on more than one occasion – Mass Effect 3 definitely looks like it may be worth another round of exploration when it hits the Wii U later this year. We’ll let you know how it fares with a full review shortly following its launch arrival.