The Mass Effect series has always prided itself on its ability to truly immerse the gamer in an expansive sci-fi universe. With the upcoming release of Mass Effect 3, gamers are wondering what developer BioWare will add to the already strong series. During Microsoft’s Press Conference at E3 2011, the game was demoed on stage in order to highlight its newest functionality: Kinect integration.
While it has been rumored for quite a while, the use of the Kinect hardware with Mass Effect 3 is becoming a reality. Shown in two different circumstances, the game will make use of voice commands in order to immerse gamers more fully into its narrative and gameplay. With the increased consequences of the game’s deeper relationships, it’s clear that BioWare is intent on creating a truly immersive gaming experience to substantiate the statement that Mass Effect is “the only trilogy” in games.
During the game’s conversations, Kinect users will have the option of actually saying the line that they would like Commander Sheppard to utter rather than inputting the selection using a controller. This simple action of having the gamer deliver Sheppard’s dialog while making pivotal choices could very well increase the immersion of the game, literally placing gamers in Sheppard’s shoes.
The other implementation of Kinect in Mass Effect 3 was shown in the heat of action during a firefight. Yelling out commands, the player is able to give direct orders to their squadmates. This can include actions like providing cover fire, taking cover, or making use of a biotic power. While the ability to verbally deliver Sheppard’s lines is an exciting gameplay mechanic, being able to immerse yourself in the game’s battles by yelling out commands to squadmates on the fly looks like it will be an extremely useful feature.
There remains a chance that voice integration in dialog situations could actually have the opposite of the intended effect on gamers. While the ability to deliver some of Sheppard’s lines for him may seem like it would add to the game’s immersion, there is also a chance that it could take away from the scene at hand. Gamers have become so accustomed to Sheppard’s voice and delivery that it may take them out of the moment if it is not him that delivers the lines.
This will not be the case for everyone though, as many gamers will find the feature to add a completely new level of depth to the game’s immersion. In any event, voice commands are only a matter of preference and will not be forced upon gamers.
It’s refreshing to see a company that is willing to effectively use the Kinect hardware as an important component of their game in a minimalistic fashion. Rather than making the game rely on the hardware, Kinect is simply used as a means of enhancing the experience for the gamer and providing a new depth of immersion. This is a concept that more companies in the gaming industry need to come to terms with if they want to make use of the hardware as effectively as possible.
How do you feel about this Kinect integration in Mass Effect 3? Will you be making use of it, or playing it exclusively with a controller?
Mass Effect 3 is scheduled for release on March 6, 2012, for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.