Earlier this week we published our verdict on BioWare's excellent Mass Effect 2... and you may have heard it's a bit good.
With critical acclaim raining all over BioWare's Canadian brickwork then, our gaze has naturally already turned to the third game.
The official word is that work on Mass Effect 3 will start proper once the second's DLC is done and dusted. So right on time for the designers to take note, we've compiled a list of the four things we want to see in Mass Effect 3...
1. Keep snubbing stats: Mass Effect 2 shifted the balance from RPG towards shooter, whilst maintaining the rich narrative and deep character interaction the series is famous for.
The most successful - and brave - part of this shift was the axing of the over complex stats and loot role-playing games traditionally rely on. With less game time spent stressing over your inventory and skill points, the second Mass Effect is allowed to show off its true strengths; a glorious cinematic experience, sci-fi combat and moral choices that have you pondering over your mouse or joypad.
We'd like to see Mass Effect 3 continue this balance; expand the combat, world and conversation system, while again trying to surprise us with more difficult character choices and surprising set pieces. The act of character building and weapon customisation doesn't need to be over complicated; that's what Dragon Age is for.
2. Less shooting, more adventure: That said, if it weren't for BioWare's glorious art design, Mass Effect 2's story missions could've wobbled dangerously close to repetition. Gorgeous environments and interesting characters do a good job of keeping you engaged of course, but actually in the second game Sheppard never really does anything other than shoot baddies and collect stuff.
For Mass Effect 3, it'd be nice to see some more adventure-style scenarios and mechanics introduced to the mission structure; more puzzles and unique social situations.
We're not suggesting that BioWare resurrect the dodgy vehicle sections from the original, but something that involves Sheppard not moving around rigidly with a rifle would be a breath of fresh air. Assassin's Creed II, Gears of War and Resident Evil 4 each do a brilliant job or making sure you're never doing the same thing for too long - BioWare should take note.
3. Less Squadmates: The follow-up did a decent job of injecting some personality into the cast of colourful characters you encounter during Sheppard's battle against the Reapers. Each crew member has their own surprisingly polished side quest, unique personality and way of dealing. It's also fun to try and have sex with them, of course.
But as they say, nine's company and ten is far too bloody many squadmates to be dealing with. For as much effort as BioWare's put in to defining each Normandy crew member, most players end up sticking to the same few for their missions anyway. With fewer characters to focus on, Mass Effect 3's cast could be gifted more back story, side missions and perhaps we'll actually end up using them all.
4. Make the Normandy a Sandbox: In the new game the Normandy is far more complex and interesting to explore than before, and you can even buy fish for your tank, ornaments and fiddle with the audio system in Sheppard's private quarters.