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Hands-on with Mass Effect 3 for Wii U


Every time the Mass Effect franchise leaps to a new console, it loses a chunk of Commander Shepard's history. Mass Effect 3 on Wii U, which has no previous games on which to build its galaxy-shaking conclusion, will include a new version of the "Genesis" interactive graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The stylized recap has been extended to include the events of both Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2.

After completing the truncated story and cementing some of Shepard's major decisions, you'll dive into Mass Effect 3 proper. It's only BioWare's second game for Nintendo consoles (following Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood for DS), and appears to have suffered no obvious reductions compared to previous versions. Based on what I played at EA's Summer Showcase Event today – a snippet from Shepard's battle in a training ground for biotics – the game's Unreal-powered looks and framerate are comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3 games. (The PC, of course, has the upper hand over all of them.)

The Wii U version adds an exclusive weapon, the M-597 Ladon, to Shepard's arsenal. It can target up to six enemies simultaneously (all marked in red on the HUD), and unleashes a barrage of devastating homing rockets once you pull the right trigger. The Wii U's pad takes a few moments to get used to if you're usually grafted to the Xbox 360 controller (the X button is where?), but once you're up to speed you can glance down and use some of the new control options.

Gallery: Mass Effect 3 (Wii U) | 3 Photos

You can pause Mass Effect 3 to drag and drop icons from the weapon wheel, which encompasses all of the abilities you and your two squad mates can activate during battle, into a customizable set of eight hotkeys – four on each side of the touchscreen. If you want to have Garrus send out a concussive shot, you just target an enemy and tap the appropriate icon as you play. Pressing an icon for Cryo or Disruptor ammo should also be a godsend if Shepard and co. retain their annoying habit of deactivating persistent powers every time they land somewhere new. Glancing down to find it can feel distracting, but I imagine you'll be able to find the right spots without looking after some practice.

The hotkeys bookend a persistently displayed map of the environment, which can be enlarged or shifted around by dragging your finger across it. The tactical use of a map doesn't seem essential, but it can help you track down that last, pesky enemy that's hampering your progress through the story.

Mass Effect 3 for Wii U will include the Extended Cut DLC on the disc, along with the full multiplayer suite. Right now, BioWare isn't saying how much of the existing multiplayer DLC will be included, or if the upcoming single-player DLC, "Leviathan," will be thrown in on launch day.

This version of Mass Effect 3 should be out right alongside the Wii U, which has yet to receive an official release date.

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