If you picked it up a few months ago for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or PC, then you already know that Mass Effect 3 is something special.  BioWare’s conclusive chapter to Commander Shepard’s ongoing battle to provide peace to the universe by taking on the unstoppable Reapers proved to be one of 2012’s triumphant game releases.

Thankfully, the adventure is not over!  Later this year, fans will be able to download an all new downloadable mission called Leviathan for all platforms which features a new story mission along with bits and pieces of other great content.  (We’ll be previewing that later this week.)  

There’s also an enhanced version of the game coming to Nintendo’s Wii U console, taking advantage of its GamePad set-up and featuring some refinements that players will want to take notice of.  This past week at its Summer Showcase event in Redwood City, Electronic Arts not only detailed the port, but provided us a hands-on go-around with it in one of the game’s early missions.

In the mission we tried out, Shepard and his/her two cohorts have to clear out a biotic training facility, which is being overrun by rogue soldiers and mech units.  Players who have gotten into the game before probably have a good idea where I’m fighting, in the middle of an atrium with enemies and turrets firing from up high and low.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Wii U version of the game is the use of a map, which displays on the GamePad screen.  Here, not only will you be able to see where you and your cohorts are, but also where enemies and doors appear, so that you can see where you need to head next and who still needs to be finished off in order to activate a way out.

The weapon and customization system has also been laid out through the GamePad screen, with eight icons highlighting the left and right sides of the screen, along with small markers on the bottom.  The first thing you’ll be able to do is pull up the Weapon Wheel, where you can drag over your favorite weapons to use almost immediately, without needing to go through a bothersome sub-menu.  

You’ll also be able to set up additional Biotics and abilities with ease, so that you can use them on the fly without needing to hit extra button combinations.  And though we didn’t use it much over the course of the demo, you’re also able to issue team commands on this screen, telling Garrus, Solus or whoever else is in your squad what you need them to do.  It’s a great alternative to shouting commands into a Kinect or hitting buttons.

But the coolest feature of all is being able to change your game display from TV to GamePad almost instantly.  Granted, you won’t have use of the map if the game is showing on the screen, but it looks fantastic, running at the same pace and featuring all the same details as previous versions of Mass Effect 3.  What’s more, it also looks splendid on a regular television, though we’re not quite sure how it’ll run at 1080p just yet.  Regardless, this is a version that can easily keep up with the others – even the zippy PC edition.

The Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 will have plenty of extras.  All the previously released downloadable content for the game is already included on the disc, save for Leviathan, though that’s likely to be a day one download when the game is released.

You’ll also get a very cool exclusive weapon called the M-587 Ladon.  Though its use will be limited due to its heavy firepower, it’ll definitely come in handy in a pitch.  It’s basically a lock-on missile launcher that fires six rounds at targets that you highlight in battle.  Once you’ve got your targets set, hit the fire button and watch the missiles do their magic work.  No word yet if you’ll be able to use it in co-op…but wouldn’t it be awesome if each member of your party had one?!

You may have played through Mass Effect 3 multiple times at this rate (we sure have), but the Wii U version looks like it’ll be packing enough innovation and extras to assure at least one more visit through Commander Shepard’s world.  Though an official release date hasn’t been given, it will be a day one launch title alongside the Wii U.  Can’t wait to see it hit.