Game Review: Mass Effect 3 ends with a bang
Published: Friday, March 23, 2012
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2012 00:03
Most gamers have probably had the fate of the world rest at their fingertips more than once. Whether saving it from the Locust Horde, the Covenant, or one of the myriad of other alien races whose sole hobby is the destruction of humanity, that task never gets old.
This time, players are not doing it alone. With an unstoppable race of sentient machines bent on wiping out not just Earth, but all sapient life in the universe, the formula needs to be stepped up a notch. The player assumes the role of Commander Shepard, humanity’s greatest hero, returning for one last heroic stand as the Reapers, ancient, gargantuan machines, launch their invasion in the long-awaited conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy.
If there is one thing developer BioWare’s latest installment has proved in the legendary series it’s that they know how to wrap up a great storyline with an even greater conclusion.
Everything players have loved in the previous games, from the detailed plot and the in-depth conversations to the unique RPG gameplay, Mass Effect 3 amplifies it all into one big, explosive adventure.
As in the second game, players are given the option to either import a custom Commander Shepard from past save files or start a completely new file.
For those who import an already saved character, all the choices made in the previous games will affect the narrative and outcome of the new installment.
This feature, at which BioWare toiled tirelessly, truly connects the games to each other, providing one continuous narrative for the player. Whether they will be satisfied with how much those choices play a role in the new story is a different matter entirely.
Depending on your choices throughout the series, the characters you met in the previous games will play significantly different roles in the third iteration. This has led many to replay the previous titles before beginning the third, just to make sure they have a shot of romancing Miranda Lawson (or Garrus Vakarian, for you gals out there) in the conclusion.
The gameplay hasn’t really changed. Players still have a range of weapon customization options, along with basic RPG conventions such as leveling up and skill advancement.
What changes as you progress through the levels is that instead of attaining countless new abilities, players are given choices for how a particular power should develop. Each power has this feature. For example, you can get an electrical overload to either recharge more quickly or deal more damage.
Weapon customization also receives a unique spin. In addition to picking up better guns throughout the game, BioWare gave players the option to upgrade their arsenal with different modifications such as scopes, bayonets, and lighter materials.
Speaking of weight, adepts may cringe at the new affect weapon weight has on power recharging. The player can equip any and all weapon types, but the more Shepard carries, the less often he’ll be able to incinerate his foes.
Returning fans may also have an issue with the multiplayer. Whether you view it as an option to enhance your gameplay or another moneymaker for Xbox LIVE, the multiplayer is essential to Commander Shepard’s survival and the fate of the universe.
The player’s spaceship, The Normandy SR-2, will have a terminal available where Shepard will be able to check the war assets amassed through the player’s adventures. Vast amounts of these must be attained to guarantee survival before the final strike against the Reapers. Multiplayer serves as a multiplier, deciding the ultimate preparedness of your crew and sapient life at large.
For most, this is probably an unwelcome addition to the game. Never before have we had to rely on the efforts of others to guarantee the chivalry of Commander Shepard.
But this time, the compromise has been forced on players if you want to see the Reapers lying in pieces as the universe hails you as the savior you were meant to be.
Keeping this in mind, the game might grow more cumbersome to complete since this time, running around the galaxy in search of a trinket you have absolutely no care for actually plays a difference in how good your chances are of defeating a Reaper.
There is a sense or repetitiveness that starts to dominate your experience after a while. But BioWare is too considerate of its fans and they made sure that the boring side-quests are short and, if anything, serve as good combat practice.
Stepping aside from the bloodshed, what almost all Mass Effect fans would want to indulge in is the romancing. Unless you killed her off in the first game, Ashley Williams, the tom-boy-soldier-girl who-is-hot is making a return and she looks better than ever.
For those that got blown away by the “perfect” image of Miranda Lawson, she’ll be appearing as well. To add a little more variety to the party, Shepard, (or female Shepard) will have the opportunity to get a little intimate with a reporter (played by Jessica Chobot of IGN and G4) and a new Kelly Chambers, who this time is replaced by a tech-specialist.
Regardless of all the changes, which may or may not be welcome, there is no doubt that BioWare has set a new standard for what a dynamic and creative RPG should be with an epic conclusion to the Mass Effect series.