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Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 Preview: Not Bad With Kinect

Microsoft has teased 360 owners with Kinect applications for hardcore games like Forza Motorsport and Ghost Recon Future Soldier, but up to this point the voice and gesture controlled peripheral hasn’t impacted core gamers in a meaningful way outside of giving them new ways to navigate their Netflix queues. Changing your view of a car’s interior is a nice touch, but what about gameplay? BioWare takes up this challenge in Mass Effect 3.

For BioWare, the solution was leaving the gesture recognition behind in favor of a robust suite of voice commands. The Mass Effect 3 demo used to showcase the Kinect functionality is the same level we saw at E3, Gamescom, and PAX Prime. In this mission, Shepard and his crew are fighting to extract a Krogan female from the Salarian homeworld of Sur’Kesh before the Cerberus agents snatch her.

The voice controls integrate into the action seamlessly. Instead of accessing the power wheel to issue commands to your squadmates or using waypoints to guide them into cover, all you need to do is point your reticle at a target, say the name of the teammate you want to act, and issue a command. Anything you can do on the controller is available as a voice command. When you verbalize your instructions, a small microphone icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen indicates whether Kinect heard you properly. Outside a few instances where room chatter drowned out my voice, the Kinect understood my commands and processed the information quickly.

Moving to engage the Cerberus agents, I had no problems directing Liara and new squad member James Vega to cover and commanding them to use their special abilities on the fly. It’s a very satisfying feeling to say “James, Carnage” and watch an enemy explode into several bits of flesh seconds later. Even better, if your squad members have different specializations, you don’t even need to say their name during the order. My group was smart enough to know that went I said, “warp,” the order was intended for Liara. 

Voice commands also work for managing Shepard’s inventory and interacting with the environment. By saying a few simple words, I had the commander chucking grenades, switching weapons, changing ammo types, opening doors, and interacting with consoles. Best of all, if the going gets rough, you can save your progress without drilling into the menus by saying, “quick save.”  

I came into the demo skeptical of the Kinect voice controls, but after churning through baddies by issuing battlefield commands I’m pleasantly surprised how streamlined it integrates into the basic action. Not having to open the power wheel to order your squadmates around allows you to keep firing downrange, improving your overall battle effectiveness. As EA demonstrated during E3, the voice controls extend to dialogue situations as well.

The Mass Effect 3 voice commands aren’t a standalone reason to pick up Kinect, but if you already own it, give them a shot when this demo hits Xbox Live on February 14. You may finally have a Kinect experience worth talking about. 

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  • Shocking that it works so well. Unfortunately, I sold my Kinect a few months back.
  • This is pretty cool, It is probably smart that they ignored the gesture in favor of the voice command. I use the voice command much much much more often than the gesture controls in day to day life. I like the part were the lady says "Liana MOVE!" If I had a quarter for every time I yelled that at my tv, I would have, realistically, like 25 bucks.
  • Still not a huge fan of the kinect, I do like the voice commands but pressing the correct button is just as quick.
  • Give me a squad member named Ramirez and I'm sold.
  • I don't really care about any of the other Kinect functionality, but the quick save thing sounds really helpful.
  • pretty cool i hope they do the same for ps3 move
  • Why can't you do this with regular headphones mirophone?
  • tempting

  • Well, I am looking for a reason to buy a Kinect. Maybe this will be that reason, because this looks great. Makes me wonder if Halo 4 will do anything with it...
  • I look forward to screaming at my tv with good reason!
  • This is cool! Finally Kinect gets the right games and finally the right games get Kinect.

  • You may use kinect functionality for 10 minutes but after that It would be rediculous to play for hours shouting, eventually you will get tire and drop it. I know it was microsoft trying to adapt his device to a hardcore game, like Sony already did with Move implementing it in a few hardcord games but kinect is best for mini games and kids, leave it that way.
  • A kinect being used for hardcore gamers? ......mother of god
  • Well looks very cool but i always wounder ed if they are going to use voice recognition why don't they just stick to the mic on the Xbox headset and create a program with better voice recognition. Do they really need a $150 gadget just to do that? Some of the stuff like mic and chat pad on the Xbox are so underused when they had sooo much potential.If only the companies put a little effort into working those tools in they may have been able to create much more. A little Keyboard on your controller could really make RPG games shine on the system.
  • This is a neat feature I will take advantage of, when the game releases.

  • Might be cool but I'm not the kind who likes to talk to his tv while playing games, and I also don't own Kinect and don*t want it

  • cant wait

  • That's good, but I still wouldn't spend over $100 on a veritable microphone.

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