Mass Effect 3 – Demo Availability

The demo for BioWare‘s highly-anticipated action RPG Mass Effect 3 is planned for launch on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on February 14th.

Single-player will be available to all, and features two sections from the game: the opening level featuring the Reaper attack on Earth, and a level from later on in the game, where Shepard travels to an alien home world to request assistance in the war effort.

The co-op multiplayer demo is only available to those who have a an activated Battlefield 3 Online pass: this part of the demo opens up to everyone else on February 17th.  This demo features two maps: Slum and Noveria.

Xbox 360 players can win codes to get early access to the demo via a Facebook app, or via Twitter giveaways such as this one.

Our impressions of the single-player demo can be found here.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo

The demo for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning came out on Steam last week.. an action RPG in a colourful fantasy setting, with four playable races and a fully customisable set of skills and abilities.

The game has been developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, but is published by EA, so on launching the game I had to log in to my EA account.  Doing so unlocked a few items for use in the full game, if I go ahead and purchase later, as well as some themed armour for Mass Effect 3.

Players start as a blank slate, risen from the dead thanks to the powers of the Well of Souls.  After dragging myself out of a pile of dead bodies, I went in search of the exit.. finding starter gear, some gnomes, attacking Tuatha Soldiers, and eventually, the gnome researcher working with the Well of Souls.

The Tower was eventually overrun by the attacking forces, and on the way out I had a final battle with a Rock Troll.. a chance to string a few moves together after being shown the basics of weapons and magic.

At this point, my character’s abilities with each weapon was the same, but I liked the dual-wield daggers best.  During the exploration part of the demo, I found some better-quality daggers with bonus acid damage.. and after levelling up and spending some ability points, I was able to make a rather nice dashing combo too.

Levelling up provided me with a skill point, which I used to improve Detect Hidden, allowing enemies and treasure to appear on the mini map, and ability points which I used to increase damage with daggers, as well as unlocking the Shadow Strike ability.  This was all personal choice: I could have chosen any combination of abilities from Sorcery, Might or Finesse to suit my gameplay.

Reckoning Mode was interesting.. accessible after filling up the purple Fate meter, this gave me extra power and allowed me to finish off weakened enemies with special, and rather showy, moves..

I got different moves each time, too 🙂

The demo was reported to contain a few bugs and glitches: the first of these for me was the worst, as I had no graphics!  A friend told me this was down to having a Radeon, and to turn off post-processing, which fixed it.  Elsewhere, I had the odd short freeze, as well as text which appeared and then disappeared too quickly for me to read it.  The developers were aware of this, and replied to a thread on NeoGAF.  Apparently the demo was created by a third party, from older code, and so the full game should be free of these.

Bugs aside, I think this demo was very well done.  It allowed me to see the basics of the game, get an idea of the forces at play, and then explore the world as I pleased for up to 45 minutes.  For me, this was long enough to see that I’d enjoy playing it.. though I will probably wait till I’ve cleared some of my backlog before picking it up.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a single-player action RPG developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, and published by 38 Studios and Electronic Arts.

The game takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Amalur, where players can choose from four playable races and define their own class through the destiny system.  Players begin the game having arisen from the dead, and are free to choose and customise their character as they wish, while exploring a vast game world.

The game universe is also planned to be the setting of an upcoming MMO by 38 Studios, codenamed Project Copernicus.

A demo of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was made available on the 17th January, on Steam, Origin, Xbox Live and PSN, although critics complained of a number of bugs in the demo.

38 Studios and EA have also come under fire for the revelation that the game has an online pass.

Kingdoms of Amalur’s online pass is to be included with all new copies of the game, and unlocks a “House of Valor” content pack containing seven additional quests.  This is unusual, as it effectively locks out single-player content for anyone not buying new: the usual stated reason for using an online pass is to recuperate server costs and ongoing maintenance for online content.

Gamers annoyed by the inclusion of the online pass posted on the game’s forum to ask if the studio fought the restriction or not; studio head Curt Shilling also posted in the thread in defense of the online pass.  The debate is ongoing, with the thread now up to 137 pages.