Today is a day of slight disappointment, but not really. BioWare has just announced that Mass Effect 3 will not release this fall and instead will hit store shelves in the first three months of 2012. You read that right: Mass Effect 3’s release date is in 2012.

Disappointed? We at Game Rant had placed Mass Effect 3 as our #1 most anticipated game of 2011, so now that doesn’t make sense. On the flip side, developers taking more time to work on their game is never a bad thing. In fact, some thought Mass Effect 3 was being rushed as it is, with Mass Effect 2 only coming out last January, only to have the next sequel debut less than two years later. For a game this big, it understandably needs more time.

There will still surely be some amazing Mass Effect 3 goodies shown at E3 and the biggest positive out of all of this, is that November 2011 is slightly less crowded now, with one less super blockbuster title in the month’s release line-up. That gives us more time for Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, the next Call of Duty and more!

Mass Effect Executive Producer Casey Hudson, explains the announcement and their focus on ensuring a quality product with the third and final installment to the story of Commander Shepard.

“Today we have confirmed that Mass Effect 3 will be released in the first three months of 2012. The development team is laser focused on making sure Mass Effect 3 is the biggest, boldest and best game in the series, ensuring that it exceeds everyone’s expectations.”

They did combine the news of the push-back with a pair of new screenshots though, so take a look:

Yeap, Kaidan and Liara back together again with Commander Shepard. Both characters were part of Shepard’s team in the first Mass Effect but not in the sequel. Liara became an intel dealer who you meet again in Mass Effect 2 and if you chose to save Kaidan over Ashley in the first game, you also meet him in a brief scene in the sequel where he despises you for working with Cerberus. I guess friendships/love from one game to the next didn’t hold too much value even after death…

Make sure you check out the previous batch of Mass Effect 3 screenshots, focusing on enemies and combat as well as our latest ME3 art gallery.

Mass Effect 3 releases early 2012 on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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Source: BioWare