After much of the Mass Effect 3 news these past few weeks has centered around the new appearance of Female Shepard, it’s nice to know that there is still more of the game to be excited for. The latest batch of screenshots in from PAX Prime 2011 return the spotlight to the more familiar face of Commander Shepard, and some of the action that he and his squad will be dishing out against their enemies.

Mass Effect 3 has quite a task on its hands, with BioWare needing to keep excitement for the game building even though the game is still half a year away. If the developer was going to be giving out huge details on story this early, they wouldn’t really have any surprises left by the time the game shipped.

But it is clear even this far out that combat will be the star of ME3, with numerous trailers starting to detail the various tweaks and improvements that have been made to the way your squad will fight as a unit. But combat is really only one part of a series that remains committed to offering a compelling narrative, so it’s nice to be reminded by these screenshots out of PAX Prime that there will still be plenty of familiar faces and cool science fiction flourishes.

Take a look at some of the returning cast, a new armor look for Garrus, and yet another dose of Commander Shepard dispatching enemies in all the ways he knows how:

Aside from revealing that Shepard’s Turian ally is secretly a Lakers fan, there really isn’t much new content revealed in these shots. The way in which the Inferno Ammo indicator is projected off of Shepard’s weapon is a nice touch, and hopefully a sign of more tweaks that have been made to the game’s many interfaces.

What seems to be the nagging issue with all of the Mass Effect 3 images released so far is that regardless of how difficult new enemies are supposed to be, Shepard and his team seem to be able to eliminate them with ease. Hopefully the larger bosses will offer a bit more of a challenge, or at least a step away from the standard shooting galleries.

Our experiences playing Mass Effect 3 show that the combat is both new and exciting, so we’ll give Shepard the benefit of the doubt until that rumored demo release comes along.

How do you feel about the changes that are being made to the combat? Are you a believer that the developers can improve both the action and the story, or fear that they’re putting all their eggs in one basket? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Mass Effect 3 will be released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 6, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

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