Some mysterious psychological force has been holding me back from playing Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. Given how much I tend to enjoy Mass Effect experiences -- especially when colleagues tell me they love the game's multiplayer too -- that can be the only explanation.
But that inexplicable barrier keeping me from jumping online and fighting Reapers met its match last week when I tried out the Earth multiplayer DLC. I played as a space ninja, folks, and I loved it.
If you've played Mass Effect 3, then you'll have hate in your heart for the Cereberus Phantoms. The stealthy female antagonists are fast, invisible at times and, in general, a pain-in-the-ass to kill. But the Earth DLC introduces the Shadow Infiltrator, who's basically the playable Alliance equivalent of the Phantom, along with a new set of N7 human character classes -- Destroyer Soldier, Paladin Sentinel, Demolisher Engineer, Slayer Vanguard and Fury Adept.
The Shadow wields a sword like the Phantom, dodges attacks with quick cartwheels and can let out a concussive pulse wave that serves as a ranged attack. She's also got a cloaking ability that's perfect for sniping at attackers from a distant perch. Another combat skill appeared to be a cloak-and-teleport combo, putting me instantly in range for a fatal melee slice. The standard cooldown period mechanics prevent you from spamming any of these skills but mixing them up in a series of matches still proved to be incredibly fun.
I played on the three new maps -- Rio, Vancouver and London -- that will be included in the free add-on pack. Rio's the most most visually impressive of them all, taking place on a brightly-lit oceanfront base surrounding by swirling water. The London map takes places in the same environment as the solo campaign's final levels.
The Earth Multiplayer DLC also introduces a new Platinum difficulty that makes enemies harder to kill and new weapons, too.
But it's the Shadow class that will finally have me logging onto ME3's multiplayer and joining in a never-ending I've beat them already -- in both the original and Extended Cut ending sequences -- but playing as a frikkin' space ninja lets me do it in more style that ever before. The Earth multiplayer DLC is free and hits today. I'll definitely be downloading it.