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Mass Effect 3 hits critical mass

March 6, 2012 10:24am
December 2010 was a breakthrough month for the Spike Video Game Awards (VGA), as it was the year when they were able to attain a respectable clout as a venue for exclusive previews and as a legit award-giving body. It also was during that particular show when the teaser trailers of the most anticipated games debuted -- The SSX reboot, the insanely popular Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
 
However, one teaser completely stood out from the rest.

At the start of the video, the audience stayed quiet as they stared at a black screen, which was later broken by the BioWare and Electronic Arts (EA) eye-catch in an all-too-familiar red-orange digital glow.

A scene fades in, overlayed with a rough voice saying “Two million dead in the first day...” The camera zooms out to reveal who was talking, a bloodied marine resting inside a clocktower. He keeps talking as he injects himself with some medigel, looks through his scope and takes down a creature that was chasing one of his comrades.

He then stands up as the camera reveals the bigger picture: An invasion!

“If Shepard doesn’t bring help soon... there won’t be an Earth left to save,” he manages to blurt out.
 
It is at this moment that the video reveals the main protagonist looking at an under-seige Earth from a spaceship window. He then turns around, showing full well who he is, and walks towards the camera; giving the audience a glimpse of his familiar face, and blacking out the visual with the “N7” symbol on his chest.

There was no doubt about it, Mass Effect 3 (ME3) is coming. And the epic sci-fi trilogy will be concluded in a battle to save the Earth.

 
It has been a little over a year since then, but the anticipation for the game has never faltered. And now that it’s only days away from its commercial release, fans are probably putting “Go to game store” or “Download ME3 on PSN/Xbox Live” on top of their respective to-do lists.
 
But before going out to celebrate the release of one of the most anticipated games of the year, let’s look back at how BioWare and EA appeased the fans’ need for updates and keep them wanting more.
 
Calm before the storm
It has been relatively silent since the VGA 2010 teaser, which announced a “Holiday 2011” release, with some trickles of information from the Twitter accounts of actors Seth Green and Tricia Helfer confirming their reprisals of their respective roles in the previous ME games.
 
The Internet went abuzz with the first-ever development screenshots posted on Game Informer on April 2011. It was also in the same month that BioWare announced that the release has been pushed back to early 2012.
 
Prior to its anticipated appearance in the prestigious Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June 2011, EA made a mistake in uploading artwork that revealed ME3 will have Microsoft Kinect support. The artwork was taken down almost immediately, but come June on E3, gameplay demos confirmed that Kinect may be used to play ME3.
 
Leak Spin
Gamers who signed up to beta test the new Xbox 360 Dashboard were caught by surprise on November 4, 2011. Apparently they were also given access to a private beta version of ME3. BioWare took immediate action to take down the ME3 beta, but those who had access to it have already posted gameplay and cut-scene videos on YouTube. According to official announcements, the leak was the result of a Microsoft employee’s error.
 
A Happy Valentine
Gamer’s all over the world got a welcome Valentine’s Day gift from BioWare when the official ME3 demo was released. Prior to the demo release, IGN released a pie chart entitled “My thoughts on Valentine’s Day,” which depicted an all red chart representing the release of the Mass Effect demo. The image was shared all throughout social networking sites and became an unintentional promotion for ME3.
 
According to gaming news sites, the demo was well-received, having garnered as much anticipation as the game itself. The apart from the story and role-playing elements that ME was known for, the demo featured a taste of the refurbished combat system and the multiplayer platform that focused more on cooperative missions.
 
Spaced out
In the second half of February of 2012, BioWare launched copies of ME3, known as Mass Effect 3 - Space Edition, into the stratosphere through the use of weather balloons. The balloons were equipped with GPS trackers so their locations can be traced via the ME3 website. Whoever finds these weather balloons have themselves a copy of the game, a week ahead of the intended release, and some other ME3 merchandise.
 
Five cities has such launch events. The first launch happened on February 23, 2012 in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the balloon has yet to be found. On the brightside, it kind of makes us fans here in the Philippines hope that some freakishly strong easterly winds carry that balloon over here for us to find, even if it takes awhile. All the other balloons launched in Las Vegas, New York, London, and Berlin on the 24th, 25th, 27th, and 29th, respectively, were successfully recovered, leaving some gamers happily playing way ahead of the rest.

 
Holding the line
As of this posting, ME3 has just been released North American stores and direct download sales portals. And according to Philippine gam retailer Datablitz, it will be released locally in the afternoon of March 6. It won’t be long before most of us will be fighting Reapers, messing with the multi-tool, and commanding a squad of alien warriors as Commander Shepard. Until then, we can only hold on and prepare ourselves for the coming invasion in our gaming platforms.
 
Watch out for a review, coming soon. — TJD, GMA News
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