It appears the game will have 3 main types or styles of play: Action Mode, Story Mode and RPG Mode.
Action Mode emphasizes combat over story, using automatic replies to move things along. Story Mode is the opposite, with fully conversation options and low combat difficulty. RPG Mode is full conversation options with normal combat difficult. You are still able to select such things a combat difficulty.
This seems to be a short cut way to get into the action with presets. I am not sure why you would want to play Action Mode (it's an RPG, if you just wan the combat, go to Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare). There are some who think Bioware is trying to make the game more accessible to the Modern Warfare crowd. As long as they don't dumb the game down to try to get this group, I don't see that the hard core fans will be affected.
From the article:
“We want to stress that these features are still in the early stages of development and will receive considerable iteration and refinement,” he said. “These modes are designed to give players an even finer degree of control over their game experience than ever before. Whether it be someone who finds the combat difficult but wants to experience the amazing story, someone who wants to focus on the action and combat game play, or fans who want the rich, story-driven RPG Mass Effect experience they’ve come to love – Mass Effect 3 will support all of these options.
The beta was supposedly devoid of sound, animation and textures, but from these screenshots, it seems to look great, even without textures. Note that at the above link, there is some links to YouTube video, but these links have been taken down.
Some may feel some of the images are spoilers, but they all seem to revolve around combat against the Reapers on Earth, something you should already be aware of if you watched the trailers on the Mass Effect site.
More Mass Effect: Interview with Mass Effect 3 Producer Jesse Houston
Update: It seems some story documents were also leaked yesterday. I am not following up on this, as screen shots are one thing, but I don't want to know any more about the storyline.