LOS ANGELES (AP) - Commander Shepard is getting a little help from his - or her - friends.
The third installment of "Mass Effect" will include a multiplayer mode for the first time in BioWare's sprawling sci-fi video game series. The cooperative four-player mode will be separate from the single-player campaign, which focuses on protagonist Commander Shepard - who can be portrayed as either a man or a woman - working to stop the alien Reapers.
"It's an opportunity for players to have a different way to participate in the all-out galactic war that's going on in "Mass Effect 3,"' BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn said at an Electronic Arts Inc. trade show last month. "It's a chance to experience other battles that are going on while Shepard is working to stop the Reaper invasion on Earth."
In the multiplayer mode, gamers will be tasked with taking down waves of encroaching enemy forces as elite soldiers representing one of six different species: the Asari, Humans, Turians, Salarians, Krogan and Drell. The co-op mode will allow players to upgrade their special abilities and customize their weapons with credits earned in the multiplayer game.
"Mass Effect 3" is scheduled for release March 6 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The original "Mass Effect" was released in 2007, and "Mass Effect 2" debuted in 2010. Other gaming franchises that have featured similar multiplayer survival co-op modes to "Mass Effect 3" include the respective Horde and Firefight modes from "Gears of War" and "Halo."