Release Date: 3/6/2012
For Fans Of: Sci-fi, Aliens, Galactic Extinction
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Mass Effect made such a huge impact on me and the gaming world that no one probably expected. To create such a vast universe of likes of Star Wars is just incredible. BioWare pulled it off, and each game is very memorable. Mass Effect 3 pulls all the punches this time around and is the epic climax to the Reaper invasion that is sent to wipe out all organic life in the galaxy. Of course, Commander Shepard is supposed to fix this along with his/her recruits that you brought along throughout the series. Never before has a game spread so much across a trilogy. I have never kept a game save so sacred as I have my Mass Effect save because every choice you make carries heavily throughout the whole series.
It was obvious in ME2 how choices carried over, but ME3 is huge. Main characters will die, some that died in the last games will make an impact on how ME3 turns out. Instead of going around recruiting people like the last two games you are recruiting entire war assets for the war on the Reapers. You are trying to bring whole nations together and making huge decisions that will impact the galaxy for the rest of time. Things like whether or not you should cure the Krogan genophage, help the Council, help Cerberus, or just say screw it and make everyone’s lives hell. You have the choices here and they will make you think a lot. Never before in a shooter have I cared about seeing certain races die or get hit. Seeing the Turian homeworld Palaven getting creamed left me feeling sad and determined to make choices that helped them. In this game, some civilizations actually get wiped out due to your choices. Some are just as subtle as helping someone out on the Citadel with a side mission that decides whether the Elcor, Hanar, Batarian, and Volus survive or not. This game is that big and bold.
Aside from the obvious story, the gameplay has improved a lot. The action and shooting are more refined and feel better. There are whole new weapons, cover system, as well as a dodge and roll mechanic that comes in handy. Everything just feels tight and weapons hit heavy. Speaking of weapons you can now customize them by adding mods to improve damage, stability, accuracy, and even clip capacity. You can now buy mods through shops on the Citadel from the Normandy instead of running around on every planet trying to get what you need. You can also buy armor and have more customization options for your character which is very welcome. You also can’t carry every weapon with you anymore. I guess with was to balance the game more. Each weapon you have will add weight which can be reduced by upgrading weapons. Carrying every weapon with you will slow you down and reduce recharge speed of biotic powers so choose carefully.
The overall structure of the game is just more streamlined and less messy and annoying. Small side missions usually are stuck to the Citadel where you have to find an item for someone during space exploration. Exploration in space still isn’t fun, but it’s a lot better than scanning every damn planet for resources. They have completely scrapped this time around so everything is just bought with credits which are how it originally should have been. You can still scan, but you do it on the map and EDI will tell you if she found something. Certain planets will have a war asset or an item someone on the Citadel is looking for. If you scan too much the Reapers will come after you and you have to high tail it out of the system before they catch you and come back after a mission has been completed.
Almost everything you do in this game is big, and I can’t think of any mission that felt small like in the last two games. ME3 is just huge in scope and there are some memorable and impressive moments. The story is very cerebral, but here’s the catch: If you have never played a Mass Effect game before go back to the first one and start from the beginning. You just won’t appreciate every decision if you jump right in. The comic that explains the last two games isn’t enough and doesn’t do this excellent and amazing sci-fi series justice. Only fans who have played through the last two will appreciate this game and truly feel that every decision is personal.
The controversy about the endings is understandable. I got to use the Extended Cut DLC while playing this and after some research, the ending would suck without it. Without any spoilers, the ending gives you three choices at the end this time around instead of two. The choices are explained more and there are some extras shots stuck in the endings to make more sense of it all. The original endings were just sloppy and, to be honest, lazily put together. BioWare did everyone a service by offering these endings for free.
Overall, Mass Effect 3 looks amazing, plays well, and has some of the most memorable choices I have ever had to make in a game. This is about all life as we know it and not just some city or civilization. This is about all organic and synthetic life, and what ME has done for the gaming world is a huge feat that I haven’t seen since Star Wars. This is a true sci-fi masterpiece that all fans of the genre will love. If I did have any complaints it would be the said original endings, and there are some issues like collision detection, linearity, the game feels shorter than the last two games, and the space exploration pretty much sucks. These are minor though and don’t really bring it down much.
Mass Effect 3 is the final game in the Mass Effect trilogy, and it ends Commander Shepard’s story in a beautifully written tale with tons of emotional twists and turns (that is, if you played the first two games) which may lead up to a mediocre conclusion, but nonetheless is a worthwhile experience.
The first two things I noticed with Mass Effect 3 were unfortunately negatives. Shepard seemed to be talking on his own, only letting me make decisions at key moments. Some conversations would go on and on without me making a single choice. This “auto-dialogue” does give Commander Shepard a bigger personality but at the same time it disengages you from the plot for the first few hours (that is only if you played the previous games – which if you haven’t then your only getting 1/3rd of the story). The other thing I noticed was the absence of neutral dialogue options, which will certainly disappoint the few who used them on a regular basis.
While I was initially disappointed by the new conversation wheel, the gameplay somewhat made up for that. In the previous Mass Effect installments I either found the combat an utter mess or just mediocre whereas this time around I found it actual fun. While it’s nothing to write home about it is vastly improved as it was given a Gears of War-style treatment. You can dodge and cover easily and there are some really cool powers and weapons. There are also some awesome set piece moments.
Mass Effect 3 only includes 6 squadmates (7 with the From Ashes DLC, and 3 who only join depending on your choices in the series) which is both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, that is far less than the amount of squadmates in Mass Effect 2 and you could be playing your game with just three squadmates but on the other hand it means you get to know each one of them very well (or, if you already knew them you can further develop your relationship with them) and each of them has numerous conversations in-between missions. It is annoying though that a space on the Normandy is reserved for Diana Allers over a squadmate from the previous games.
I played the game with Extended Cut installed but also went back and watched the original endings. The Extended Cut is a vast improvement from the original, as it fixes many plot holes, but if you were hoping for full closure on the relationships you had developed throughout the franchise or an ending which makes complete sense then you will be disappointed.
There are many difficult choices to be made in this game and you’ll truly feel like the fate of the galaxy is in Commander Shepard’s hands. At a more emotional level, you’ll feel the weight of Shepard’s friend’s lives and fates in his/her hands. You’ll often need to decide which you value more- friends or the galaxy.
Mass Effect 3 is a masterpiece and while it is not without it’s flaws, it is an amazing finisher to an epic series. Bioware deserves a pat on the back and I look forward to whatever future endeavors they pursue, both in and out of the Mass Effect universe.