ultimasta's Mass Effect 3 (PC) review

Mass Effect Pt.3

Five years ago the story driven developer Bioware released their new franchise into the wild. Since then, players around the world have been enraptured by the story of Commander Shepard and The Reapers. As players interest in their own adventures grew; so too did the expectations that the final chapter of Shepard's adventure would be as fulfilling as the rest of the narrative. For the most part, Mass Effect 3 does tie off a fair number of loose ends. If you've been with the series since the beginning then you've probably already decided whether or not you want to finish this trilogy. In fact, you owe it to yourself to see how this epic adventure ends. However, events just might unfold a little differently from what you may have wanted or envisioned.

The game begins on Earth as Shepard stands in front of Earth's governors and is, once again, trying to get someone to heed his warning that The Reapers are real and that they're on their way. It comes as no surprise that nobody wants to believe him and before you even get a chance to storm out of the room, Reapers arrive on Earth and begin taking out cities like a planet-wide monster movie. After a brief tutorial to introduce you to the refinements in the combat system, Shepard is sent off to collect every able-bodied being in the galaxy to help prevent the end of all organic life. Provided they survived your past adventures, you'll come across all your old pals scattered across the universe. Most characters make pretty decent enterances to give you a nostalgic 'Oh hey it's so and so! We had some good times' moment. After one of these reunion missions, old friends often fade away as quickly as they arrived. You may get a little conversation with them afterwards but often times these missions are the only chance you'll get to interact with your old buddies before you never see them again. This will be a bit disappointing to you if you've really become attached to all of the interesting characters throughout the narrative. Old Companions don't always seem to have their character done justice when they decline your offer to help save the galaxy; stating that they've got to deal with their own problems. Shepard really should be trying harder to drive home the point that the galaxy is coming to an end.

Your squad contains a mere six (seven if you buy the 'From Ashes' DLC) members in Mass Effect 3 and even less if not everyone survived the suicide mission at the end of ME2. The squad is made up of mostly familiar faces except for one, James Vega. For old players James can seem a bit worthless as far as characters go since the rest of the team is already so well established. But it's nice of Bioware to give players another character to explore and learn about. Especially since Shepard has everyone else pretty much figured out by now.

As for the rest of the old gang that you manage to recruit, they won't be joining your party but instead will be fighting for you in the final battle against The Reapers and are added to your Total Military Strength Number. This number can be viewed in the new Normandy War Room and shows you all the different factions, races and heroes you've recruited to fight together against The Reapers. As exciting as it is to watch your military might get bigger and bigger, there is a downside that breaks a bit of the immersion. Your Total Military Strength is marked against your Readiness Rating which, without playing any of the multiplayer, will remain at fifty percent. This means that if you never play the multiplayer and have a Total Military Strength of say 3000, you'll only have 1500 points worth to help you at the end. Though it's possible to beat the game without ever getting into the multiplayer this feels like a trick to get you to try it out.

The multiplayer is a co-op wave based horde mode where you and three other players try to stick it out through all eleven waves. It doesn't take long for you to realize that all the items and upgrades are locked away and need to be purchased either with credits earned from playing multiplayer or by spending your own real world dollars. If you decide to spend your credits on some more multiplayer content you won't neccessarily get the weapon or modification you wanted. This is because you're buying a random item pack every single time; even if you spent your own money. The combat in Mass Effect isn't terrible but it's certainly not the reason players have become so involved in the series. It's never felt strong enough to stand on its own and it shows a little in the co-op. So implementing a tangible number into the campaign that makes the player feel required to play multiplayer and then to find out the system is filled with microtransactions makes the whole multiplayer mode feel cheap. It's a shame for those who were looking forward to playing with friends because if they want any sort of customization in their multiplayer they'll either have to play a lot or pay a lot. The co-op seems more like a cash grab than a full on part of the game and feels like missed potential.

Even if you ignore the multiplayer, the side missions will give you a tour of every multiplayer map where you will be accomplishing tasks akin to the ones found in the co-op mode itself. Mass Effect 3 also changes the mechanics of how Shepard begins many of his side missions. As you walk around one of the many locations around the galaxy, you may overhear characters on their cell phones complaining how they really need an item and they really wish they could find that item. Without even engaging that person, Shepard has now jotted down the quest to find whatever that npc wants. The planet scanning from Mass Effect 2 is back but instead of harvesting resources, you'll collect troops to your cause or an item that someone in the galaxy really wants. Shepard comes off as rather creepy as he walks up to an npc and gives them what they want without ever having been asked about it at all.

Bioware's claims that Mass Effect 3 is designed for anyone to enjoy even if they didn't play the first two games seems a little strange. Though new players may enjoy this last third of a whole story, the game won't have same impact if you haven't been following along from the start and immersing yourself into this world Bioware has created. Sure, some mechanics have jank to them but it's nothing new to the franchise and if you're a fan of Mass Effect you'll still be able to enjoy the journey despite these changes in gameplay. The game still gives you an exciting adventure that reunites Shepard with all his comrades in accomplishing a goal that's been five years in the making. It might not leave you with every question answered but it's a testament to the story's quality when after nearly one hundred hours of gameplay in the trilogy, it still leaves you wanting more.

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