Truth about Mass Effect 3
WARNING! REVIEW MIGHT HAVE SOME SPOILERS!
The game has been out for weeks now. As a fan of the series, I've played the previous two Mass Effects, and created my own personal Shepards. Now Mass Effect 3 is here to conclude the story people have been following for years. Does the game wrap up the trilogy in satisfying form? The simple answer is no... it doesn't...
The story begins when the Reapers arrive and start attacking the galaxy. Shepard, whose warnings about the Reapers got completely ignored, is the first one people run to, after the Reapers attack Earth. Shepard is freed from the military's leash and must unite all the races in the galaxy together to destroy the Reapers, once and for all.
Mass Effect 3 at first, seems like it's not much different than the previous game. You start out getting introduced to a new character named James; a stereotypical Jar-Head looking solider. You meet more new characters along the way and get to know them. You also reunite with previous party members. Which ones you meet up with, depends on the choices you made in the last two games. And herein lies the problem. You discover, especially if you do repeat play-throughs, that your choices really didn't make that much of a difference, in terms of how the overall conclusion of the plot unfolds.
For example: In Mass Effect 1 you had a choice to either kill Wrex or let him live. If you decide to let him live, he'll play a role in Mass Effect 3. If you decide to kill him instead, it doesn't matter, another Krogan will be used to fulfill his role in the story. So Wrex death ready doesn't matter. Another one is the Ranchi queen. If you choose to destroy her in the first game, it doesn't matter. The game uses another Ranchi queen, to continue the plot points, even though the one in the first game, was suppose to be the last. That's very disheartening, especially since the choices at the end of Mass Effect 2, seemed really powerful to how your individual story could conclude. In Mass Effect 3, all the choices you have made, is solely to decide which characters you can finish the trilogy with, and which made up characters will be along for the ride. This destroys the open choice freedom the first two games seem to have.
It comes to a crashing end, with the ending. I won't get into it. You can either read the many articles and comments on this website and dozens of other websites for why many fans are disappointed, to the point many are sending their games back and getting refunds from online sites like Amazon.
Sadly, it's not only the story that's a problem. The execution of the game is also inferior to the previous games in the series. First of all, the story has you fighting Cerberus. Even though in the Mass Effect 2, you could chose to side with the Illusive Man and give him the Collector data at the end of the story. None of that matters, Cerberus is the enemy interfering with the war against the Reapers. That alone would be fine, if you had the Renegade choice to help and do missions under the Illusive Man... you don't get that choice. The reason, I highlight this, is because of the Cerberus missions throughout the game. Turns out they're not really that important and are solely used to give gamers a preview of the multi-player feature. This results in the flow of the game breaking up and ruins some of the pacing.
Another problem is the new map mini-game feature. Instead of mining for minerals to power your weapon and armor, you play a game of avoid the Reapers. The mini-game feature ties into a lazy side-quest feature, where if you collect something from a planet, you might just cross the person who needs it on the Citadel. Often times they're talking on the phone or to someone else in public view. Simply approach them and that's it, side-quest over. All this is done to require war assets. The determination on how successful you'll be against the Reapers, depends on how much war assets you collect before the final mission in the game. Ultimately, is doesn't matter that much - again, look up the ending debates for more information. There are some more involved side-quest, but they're not that deep or meaningful like in the previous games.
Fortunately, the core game is still excellent. Mass Effect 3 perfects its gameplay. Mass Effect 1 was heavy on RPG elements. Mass Effect 2 was heaving on the shooting. Mass Effect 3 strikes a perfect balance between the two. You can choose to either be heavy on shooting, or use combat abilities more often. You can upgrade every weapon and use modifiers to add extra effects. You can also collect different armor pieces throughout the game and buy full armor sets on the Citadel.
The graphics have been upgraded a little bit. Using integrated flash video and other techniques to give the game an epic depth as things happen all around you during combat. The music and voice acting is still very strong and give all the dramatic punches we've grown to love throughout the series.
Sadly, like most trilogies, Mass Effect 3 failed to deliver on its promises. As a video game, it's still fun to play and experience, but when you factor in the story and the freedom you're suppose to have, the game is a disappointment. BioWare claims they're working on a DLC to give games a more conclusive experience. If this was their plan all along, then I don't like the direction video games are headed in the future.