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Preview: Hands-on with Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U

3:00 PM on 08.03.2012

The announcement of Mass Effect 3 being released on the Wii U was a pleasant surprise. As BioWare’s first entry into the Nintendo console, Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U takes advantage of the new hardware, while at the same time featuring the most recent Mass Effect 3 content. Specifically, the inclusion of the extended cut DLC, and much of the multiplayer updates and expansions.

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Mass Effect 3 (Wii U)
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release: 2012

Our demo started about a quarter of the way into Mass Effect 3 during the Cerberus’ assault on the Biotics Academy. Visually, the Wii U version holds up quite well compared to the other console releases. The frame rate is solid, the textures looks great, and overall sound is just as impressive as the others.

ME3 takes advantage of the Wii U touch screen by having a persistent map which shows squad movement, objectives, and enemy positions in real time. You can even make use of the touch capabilities by controlling your squad mates movements. Tapping on your squad icons will prep them for orders, tapping again to a specific position on the map will cause them to head to that location. With the inclusion of an overhead map with persistent changes, the squad ordering mechanic feels much more intuitive and handy in this version.



While you still can use the traditional ability menu by holding down the right shoulder button, the touch pad also includes hot keys for the abilities of Shepard and his squad mates. You can rearrange and organize the hot keys to your liking by dragging and dropping them into open slots while in the menu screen. While this is a really great feature for the touch pad, I do have some concerns about organization of these abilities. When placing the similar skills on the hot keys among squad mates, it can become difficult to discern which ability belongs to who since they share the same icons. Hopefully, BioWare will add an indicator for skill/ability ownership before release.

Since the Wii U version is coming out several months after ME3’s original release, BioWare has taken the time to include some original content for the series debut on Nintendo‘s console. Considering that players won’t have access to the previous titles, the Wii U edition will include an expanded version of Genesis, the digital comic by Dark Horse Comics. The preliminary comic will get players up to speed with its recount of the events of the previous two games, and will have real time choices to help shape their version of Shepard and the course of the series prior to beginning the campaign for Mass Effect 3.

Also included is a brand new weapon exclusive to the Wii U edition. The M-597 Ladon is a brand new heavy weapon that fires homing lasers at up to six different targets. It’s an extremely powerful weapon that does significant damage to squads of enemies.



Lastly, players can even switch the gameplay over onto the Wii U screen. Weirdly enough, the game feels much tighter when played on the smaller screen. I’m not too sure what accounts for this, but there seemed to have been a very slight latency period when playing ME3 on the TV screen. However, you lose the clarity of sound, as the Wii U speakers don’t do much justice.

All in all, Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U looks to be a great addition to the console’s launch. While there were some slight issues with touch organization and the presentation, this port is an admirable effort by BioWare. Players looking to get their hands on the Wii U, and never experienced the Mass Effect games now have the perfect opportunity to do so when it's released this holiday alongside the launch of the Wii U.


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