Mass Effect 3 Voice Control Makes You A Devil, Enables Pause-Free Combat

The Kinect integration in next year's Mass Effect 3 just might be a great idea. Pardon the scepticism, but after two Mass Effect games that did just fine without any connection to Microsoft's hands-free sensor, it is a surprise.

We found out on Monday, officially, that Mass Effect 3 includes optional Kinect support. (That had leaked earlier). But it wasn't until I rant into David Silverman, a BioWare developer working on the game, that I understood how useful the Kinect support can be.

Here are the key details:

- Players can use the Kinect mic in dialogue sequences. Traditionally, Mass Effect gamers pick phrases from the game's discussion wheel in order to direct the flow of protagonist Commander Shepard's conversations. You won't read Shepard's lines. You'll read the phrases that then make Shepard say his or her lines. This struck me as a bit odd, mainly because I've been playing the first two games in the series with a female Shepard. In real life, however, I'm not a woman. I am a man. Wouldn't it be odd for me to read the shorthand of lady Shepard's lines, I asked? No, BioWare's Silverman told me: think of yourself as the angel and devil on Shepard's shoulders. That made it *click*. I love that way of thinking about it. I'm whispering suggestions, one way or the other to this Shepard, and then she does them. I tell her to be a jerk, so she'll then say something obnoxious. I recommend that she be nice; so she's nice. (We've been waiting for this kind of ability to chat with game characters since last year; it's nice to see it evolving.)

- Kinect voice commands can also be used in battles. The BioWare developer I chatted with explained that, in combat, a player can verbally call for help and Shepard's allies will smartly do whatever is best to assist. That sounded like it might dumb combat down a bit, but it turns out you can still direct the characters manually by placing waypoints with a traditional controller. You'll also be able to use voice commands to swiftly change weapons, saying the names of your guns to suddenly see Shepard wielding it. Thanks to that set-up, Silverman told me, you don't have to pause combat if you don't want to. The voice commands can take care of a lot of what you used to have to pause combat to do.

I'm not sure how much I'll take advantage of either of these Kinect options in Mass Effect 3. But both sound like they've been smartly designed. I will try them when Mass Effect 3 launches in March.


    I already have pause free combat. And texture mods.

    / Show sympathy for console owners.
    \ Shepard needs no Kinect.

    "I don't need your gimmicky console voice controls."

    I just hope they offer headset implementation. I have no intention of buying kinect fir voice control in one game.

      Then it wouldn't be a Kinect feature... This years E3 is MS saying "Buy more Kinect"

      The kinect has voice recognition built into. So part of that processing is done on kinect hardware.

      Simply implementing voice control via headset would require additional resource load on the xbox itself and also the voice recognition smarts implemented in kinect would also need to be migrated. So very unlikely in the timeframe.

    Any particular reason why developers aren't bothering to put these voice controls into the PC versions, which could have done this functionality years ago?

    Hopefully we won't have any need to scream "Garrus get into f***ing cover!" unlike with ME2, or if we do, hopefully they listen.

      I can imagine Garrus' response now.

      "Can it wait a minute? I am busy with these calibrations."

    The line from the Matrix "!" springs to mind. Just another gimmich to try and move Kinect units if you ask me.

    Renegade for life

    Compared to the stuff Wii U is doing with Ghost Recon online and Aliens, this seems lame and half-baked. Call for help and your allies will do what's best for the situation? uh, I'll just use the controller to direct them thanks.

    I am extremely skeptic with a lot of the new tech that is coming out with games.

    I understand that they've got to start somewhere however I'm just to stick to a controller. I'd feel silly talking to my TV. :/

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