Just finished the demo. Not entirely sure what to think, largely I think in part because I'd seen this accursed thread before playing it
. So, observations and impressions!
At any rate, the combat seems to be channeling Gears even more, except that it's actually pretty frenetic. I personally like the changes to the cover system, and feel that the gunplay at least is solid- run' n gun might actually be half-viable now, despite Shep's frailty compared to ME1 (Immunity hax ftw). I did observe what appeared to be weapon/armor upgrades, I cannot make many conclusions based just on the demo, but it looks like my crack, upgrading, is going to be a thing. The expansion of skills pleases me, ME2 skill trees just felt so... limited.
The game seemed to be moving really quickly, graphics-wise; that's probably a consequence of my upgraded machine. Not a complaint, simply an observation.
And the elephant in the room- the story and characters. I'll reserve judgment for now. I know, I know, that's really kind of a cop-out, but I'm not going to heap praise or derision on a sci-fi RPG epic based solely on ~20 minutes of gameplay. Especially when most of that gameplay was filled with asplosions and gunfighting.
To address some points raised earlier in the thread:
*Yes, the characters did seem a little flatter and more awkward, but that might be confirmation bias seeping in (assholes).
*Perhaps the Reapers didn't melt Earth to slag from orbit because they're sadistic and complacent; they believe themselves invincible god-machines, and have all the time in the world to leisurely slaughter and terrorize their prey.
*(corollary of previous) So, because of that laziness, the Normandy simply kept a low profile and didn't dally in Earth airspace, and thus managed to not get vaporized by the Reapers! [/pointlessspeculation]
I think the most appropriate metaphor for the direction Mass Effect has taken could be drawn from one of our own most beloved projects here on HLP: the Blue Planet saga, except in reverse. AoA has been described as a "kickass hellyeah adventure", where WiH has been described as "brutal... gritty...". Before anybody rips me to shreds, that's only my opinion and I recognize that it's an imperfect metaphor, but the TONE of the entries seems to correspond.
I will however, close by mentioning that I probably am going to pre-order it, both because I want free ****, and because I am in fact excited for this release, even after playing the demo. The demo probably isn't the best representative of the final product, and whether that's good or bad I won't be the judge of.