It will surprise you to learn that the longest line I stood in at E3 wasn’t for the Wii-U (not worth it!) but for Mass Effect 3. And it was a line for Press Only. This was a game people wanted to see and Bioware and EA wanted to oblige us. So group after group were escorted into a tiny room and shown about thirty minutes of Mass Effect 3 action. I was stuck watching from the floor and my ass fell asleep but I was totally okay with it because I’m a wierdo who kind of fangirls about Bioware. Seriously. I even know a person or two that works at Bioware and I quietly fangirl whenever I see them. Their devotion to telling good stories in video games means I’ve got to fangirl about them. They’re one of the only companies out there that are any good at telling a story. Did you see the narrative experiment that was Dragon Age 2? Never before was a game so like a novel in its structure. /end fangirl tirade. So Mass Effect 3 is due out early next year. Though it’s the end of the Mass Effect trilogy Bioware was still careful and has attempted to make it accessible to new players who don’t want to go back and play 60+ hours of video games to get caught up (WHY NOT?) Mass Effect 3 also features quite a few improvements over previous games. The last two games had kind of a half-assed stealth system built in. Bioware realized just how half-assed it was and they’ve beefed it up. Now if you want to sneak up behind a Turian and stab him through the chest you can! Speaking of stabbing, they’ve added a new weapon that you’ll have access to at all times. The omni-tool, the Mass Effect universe’s answer to the iPhone, now turns into a giant knife. Watching Shepherd mindlessly slaughter people with it brought to mind that stupid glitch in Halo 2 that allowed you to fly across the level when you had the sword and make your big sister cry by repeatedly killing her.* But the big thing? The monumental change that will forever alter your perception of the Mass Effect series? According to my notes it’s Ashley’s hair. Wait! Don’t go! I’ve found pictorial proof. In the first two games chica had a bad case of helmet hair. Look at that bun! The only time a woman’s hair looks that bad is when she hasn’t washed it in a while and has kept it squashed under some sort of helmet that provides life support. Ashley only made a cameo in Mass Effect 2 but I know for a fact she was jealous of Miranda. Because that woman rocked some glorious hair. Apparently Ashley was so jealous that she went out to CVS and purchased a lot of Pantene because holy hell is her hair long and lustrous and fabulous in Mass Effect 3. Watching the demo I did a double take. Unfortunately there are no official pictures of her new locks. So here’s one I found on the internet! She's all gussied up! Look at that hair and tell me it isn’t a huge change. This is like Felicity season 2 hair changing right here. But Ashley, my beloved bigot, isn’t the only one who’s had a model change. The Krogans are looking a bit different. Mainly because now there are female Krogans! The one in the demo was surly and sassy and I want to play as her all the time because she made fun of Wrex. You don’t actually get to play as her, but you do get to protect her from Reapers. And the scope of the Reapers and the Reaper invasion is extraordinary. One of the changes I wasn’t fond of in Mass Effect 2 was how small everything felt. The locations, and the action was all quite…tiny after Mass Effect. Gone were the Prothean ruins that made you feel like an ant, and gone were the enormous reaper ships looming at the horizon. In Mass Effect 3 that scope, that sense of enormity, is back. In the week since E3 Bioware has been busy and this week they announced some of the best news I’ve heard (in relation to Mass Effect 3). FemShep, the female version of the protagonist, is getting her own trailer and being added to the promotion campaign. FemShep is voiced by Jennifer Hale. Hale is one of the most solid voice actresses working today. Woman is amazing and she manages to paint Shepherd as a surly, no-nonsense badass who can have moments of tenderness. Apparently only about one-fifth of players have experienced the glory of FemShep and that’s a shame. Hale? Gives a much better performance than ManShep actor Mark Meer. The new FemShep trailer will be dropping sometime in the near future. Mass Effect 3 arrives March 6, 2012. *What? I would never do that! Dickwad im a dude, and for that reason, i play as dude shepard, but most guys ik who have played ME1/2 have at east one playthrough as a chick shepard, for the sole reason that hale’s voice is oddly sexy. which it is. and shes a pretty great voice actress. Dickwad im a dude, and for that reason, i play as dude shepard, but most guys ik who have played ME1/2 have at east one playthrough as a chick shepard, for the sole reason that hale’s voice is oddly sexy. which it is. and shes a pretty great voice actress. Alexandra Hinton Good to hear! Alexandra Hinton Good to hear! Sphinx I, too, play as Male Shepard because I’m a guy. And I like his voice, personally. But yeah, I’m very glad they’re bringing a FemShep into their marketing campaign. I have several female friends who play Mass Effect, and I know it would be easier to convince even more to play if it was obvious from trailers that playing as a female Shepard is just as legitimate choice as playing as a male one. Sphinx I, too, play as Male Shepard because I’m a guy. And I like his voice, personally. But yeah, I’m very glad they’re bringing a FemShep into their marketing campaign. I have several female friends who play Mass Effect, and I know it would be easier to convince even more to play if it was obvious from trailers that playing as a female Shepard is just as legitimate choice as playing as a male one. R P Bird I favor FemShep. I like women. I date them whenever I can. She’s better looking than the guy, there’s more of an emotional, dramatic edge to her, and…..ok, I’m shallow….I don’t fancy playing through 30 hours staring at a guy’s butt. Alex, you may be ignoring an early Bioware title: Jade Empire. It might tie Dragon Age II for the most novelistic game ever. Also, don’t neglect KOTOR I and II. Those had more content than half of all the Star Wars novels ever written. Alexandra Hinton KOTOR remains one of my favorite games ever made and started my whole girl crush on Jennifer Hale. KOTOR 2 is another manner. I wasn’t too fond of Obsidian’s take and I think the story pales in comparison to what Bioware did with KOTOR 1. But that’s always been the case with Bioware vs. Obsidian. I actually bought Jade Empire the day it came out, but unfortunately I was in the middle of my college comprehensive exams and had to take a break early in. The next two times I attempted to play it my power went out for over 24 hours (two separate occasions years apart!). I’ve been afraid to play it since for fear that my power will go out again and never return. I guess I’ll just have to plug it into my little UPS backup and give it another go. Hatred10s_the_man I think Mark is better, just saying. Dave Same here Alexandra Hinton Oh sir it is on like Donkey Kong! Madfoot713 Default Shephard is the only Shephard! >:O qwertyuiop Wow, your grammer SUCKS. I could write a more coherent artical if I was blind drunk. Alexandra Hinton Go for it. I’ll read it. Gina You misspelled grammar and article. Davidowenbailey I thought the male voice sounded far too robotic and uninterested in what was going on around Shapard. The female voice brought life to the conversations that the male voice lacked. Don’t get me wrong, the male voice sounds awesome, it just lacked that emotional touch. Brandon J Edited for tired jokes about how lame feminism is. Take that shit elsewhere sir! Plissken prefer male shep, sounds much less fake. Sorry ladies, if we have acknowledge areas of life where women are better than men, I see no problem in doing so with the fact that men are naturally better soldiers. It doesnt help that, even playing as the male Shepard, he looks ridiculous with some of the “beat downs” he does on enemies in cutscenes. With female Shepard it just looks beyond comical. Still, its nice to know female Shepard is getting some measure of equal treatment. Maybe if it keeps coming, femshep loyalists can shut up about how us manshep players have made some kind of inferior choice. Comes across as quite sexist and all that. Brian Buckler The DOD released fitness reports (“Too Fat To Fight”) showing that many male soldiers were more likely to be overweight and outside uniform regulations. I can also vouch as a vet myself that I’ve seen way more dudes turn pudgy in the military, while the women are usually seen jogging during morning PT hours. Sorry, but with too many male fatties in the military, that argument no longer holds any weight. Kreedzfreak Played ME1 with both versions and then went on in ME2 only with FemShep because the MaleShep bores me out and Hale’s voice is just better than the other one. Kenny Hoonan fuck off this fucking site suxs feminism is lame as hell Anonymous I completely agree that female Shepard is much better than male Shepard. This is the first game that I can remember in which my choice of gender for the main character was based almost exclusively on the gap in the quality of the voice acting. Sometimes I play as a male (like in KOTOR with my badass, bald, goeteed Asian guy), and sometimes I play as female (like in KOTOR 2 with my gorgeous brunette who was equally badass). I kind of felt like playing as a mel for Mass Effect, but Jennifer Hale is fantastic (I loved her work as Bastilla in KOTOR, which had one of the better RPG love stories of all time, along with Xenogears and Final Fantasy X), and the robot playing the guy just irritates me. When I met the Elcor diplomat, I laughed when he explained that he had to qualify all his statements with their corresponding emotions because his voice was too monotone. He could have been talking about male Shepard. As for the rest of what you found out about the game, I’m intrigued by the female krogans, but making fun of Wrex is a big no-no in my book. Hopefully, it was well meaning. Wrex is my favorite character in the entire series, followed by Mordin (it’s no accident that the best characters revolve heavily around the single best plot element of the series–the genophage) and Samara. Wrex is on my Mount Rushmore of RPG badasses, along with Gorath from Betrayal at Krondor, Auron from Final Fantasy X and Citan from Xenogears. I’m glad I was able to keep him alive on Vermire. In fact, when I had Samara on Tuchanka, she mentioned that she didn’t approve of the krogans making their varren fight each other, and she might have to come back with a lot of bullets to teach them a lesson. I was like, “Don’t you dare do anything to Wrex, Samara” and actually reloaded my game and left her on the ship on the .000001 percent chance that this would be imported into ME3. And I love Samara. I’m still disappointed that I wasn’t able to pursue a romance with her, since I was so underwhelmed by the other options. Oh, and as for the KOTOR games, I think the second one is unfairly maligned. The first one is better, no doubt. It’s one of the five best RPGs of all time, along with Final Fantasy VI, Betrayal at Krondor, Xenogears and Final Fantasy X. But that doesn’t mean the second wasn’t high quality too. In fact, I thought that it was almost equally as good through most of the game, right up until the story abruptly drops you off on the final planet and one character is “explaining” everything instead of, you know, showing the actual story. What a mess. But it was still an excellent game, and if you use the mod that restores a lot of the cut content (the ending is still cut off, but there’s enough there that it feels like a real ending), it’s much better.