Mass Effect 3
“We fight or we die! That’s the plan!” – Shepard
Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that, but either way, we’re finally here. The last game in the Mass Effect trilogy has arrived. After countless hours of honing our decision making skills and jumping into bed (both figuratively and literally) with aliens of all different races, has enough been done to save the galaxy from the Reaper’s attack? You play Commander Shepard, and along with your best and brightest your job is to unite the galaxy and prepare the allied forces for the war to end all wars. Either the Reapers will destroy all intelligent organic life or somehow, you must end them.
Mass Effect 3 doesn’t waste any time in immersing you into it’s world. It throws you head first into a tirade of gun fights and decision making, so before you manage to catch your breath you’re already invested in what’s to come. The storyline is littered with cameos of characters you’ve met during the trilogy and every one has a part to play. Some of these cameos are squad-mates, who, providing you kept them alive in the previous games, will be powerful assets. However, you will also find a myriad of NPCs you’ve met before, who have moved up in the world and will now be able to help.
Still the same old Shepard…
As with Mass Effect 2, you can import your Shepard and continue the same story. Even frivolous decisions in the original Mass Effect will be remembered and this really does give the epic story telling we were promised. If anyone is approaching this game without a previous save I would strongly suggest starting at the beginning of the trilogy as you are only robbing yourself of a great and unique experience if you leap in at the end.
Whilst there is no loyalty system in ME3, there’s no doubt that you still see the characters progress personally. This is especially prevalent in those who have been with you from the start. Whilst Liara was once a carefree archaeologist, there’s no doubt her experiences have hardened her and similar effects can be seen on many a friendly face. Instead of worrying about squad-mates, the main goal of the game is to collect “war assets”. These vary from a particularly charismatic general, to an entire race’s fleet. Obtained through main missions and the huge number of side-quests, everything you do can effect these. Even if you want to tell someone to go to hell, you may end up having to play it paragon as an entire race is too much of a help to turn down.
“Kaidan – Overload, Liara – Warp”
Whilst the fighting systems and basic gameplay have not been altered in any major way, there is now a more in depth levelling up system, as ME tries to become the ultimate action RPG hybrid. Another noticeable change is the Kinect capability. Whilst this is purely voluntary I would strongly recommend you experiment if you have the option. It really adds something to the story when you have to speak the lines, making you feel immersed to a degree not really seen before. Additionally, in the battle sections you will be amazed at how seamlessly you can bark out orders to your squad-mates without having to mess about with the power wheel.
If you’re looking for the full ME experience then you’ll now have to indulge in some multiplayer games. Up to four players must defend themselves whilst 10 waves of enemies come crashing towards them. After each game you will find this boosts the readiness of the system you defended. Whilst this is an “optional” extra the readiness level does increases your chance of success in the final mission and can only sit at 50% if you only play single player.
Not perfect, but close enough
Whilst I appreciate that the ME world is running on what is now five year old tech, there are some minor annoyances in ME3. The loading screens are many, and in some cases inexcusably long. Additionally, some jagged frame-rates can be seen and the lip-syncing sometimes makes it look like a badly dubbed Kung-Fu movie. All of these fade into insignificance, however, when you consider the game as a whole. The only fault that can’t be seen as age-related is the quest book. When a mission involves you getting an item and delivering it, there is no update to say when you have obtained it. This can lead to frustrating trips back to the Citadel only to discover you are still empty handed. Whilst this is a small problem it seems like a rookie error for such a successful franchise.
There has been a lot of conflict over the ending of the story, and so it seems worth mentioning that such a furore has occurred that Bioware have said the “concerns have been heard” and that they “promise to address them”. Whether this will mean an extra DLC epilogue or purely an explanation is anyone’s guess, but if this is your reason to avoid the game then don’t let it put you off.
I cannot imagine for one second that this will be the last we’ll see of the Mass Effect universe. If there’s one thing EA are good for it’s creating sequels, especially with such a profitable franchise.
The Bottom Line
Mass Effect 3 is the end game we were all hoping for. It successfully ties up loose ends whilst taking into account every choice you’ve made along the way. It is a fitting end to one of the most epic RPG series seen and if you’ve played the first two games this is a no-brainer. With more than 30 hours of non-stop action and intense story-telling this is easily one of the games of the year.
Miss; Whilst you spend the game collecting war assets, they don’t really make much difference and therefore seem a little pointless.
Need; An ending that doesn’t belittle the diversity of choice available throughout the series, but finger’s crossed for Bioware fixing it.
If you liked Mass Effect 3, you might like Fable III and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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