My Mass Effect 3 Review
A good number of games this generation have had the problem of going flat by the third installment, Mass Effect 3 for the most part has fallen into that trap as well. It could be argued that this happens with games these days, because console cycles didn’t really ever last this long and by the time there was a third game, usually it was on a whole new system. Mass Effect 3 had a few exceptions that made it more important for BioWare to hit a homerun with this installment. The save system, which was different than any other games trilogy out there was created to make your game play that much more important. BioWare doing this made a sci-fi universe really worth obsessing over. It truly made Shepard your own and that story yours by adjusting itself to the choices that were made throughout the last two games. This as mentioned before was something never done before and new to gaming at all. It made expectations so high, that it would be unreasonable to think BioWare could reach every expectation possible from its predecessors. This is were Mass Effect 3 stands alone from other third installments to series this generation, most of it worked out very well for it. Most of what really hurt it was the same things that hurt all of the Mass Effect games.
After two games standing on a soapbox making wild accusations about The Reapers, they are finally here and everything Shepard said and tried to warn the universe about has come to be true and now everyone sees what horror lies in front of them. The game starts with the attack literally hitting home for Commander Shepard as The Reapers attack Earth. It is at this time the game basically gives you a tutorial of the game play such as shooting and how to use abilities, then before you know it Shepard is back on the Normandy looking to take on The Reapers with orders to get help from the rest of the alien races around the galaxy, seeing as he is really the only one with experience taking on The Reapers. Mass Effect 3 is much like Mass Effect 2, but on a much larger scale. In the second game you had to put together a crew and gain their loyalty for a suicide mission. Here in the third game you have to pull together every race in the universe and gain their loyalty by doing anything in your power to get them all to put their differences aside and take on The Reapers in a last ditch effort to save the galaxy from being wiped clean from existence.
Every little thing you do from missions to tasks goes to fuel your fleets strength for the Global War Assets. There are the smaller tasks of finding things on different planets while scanning that you can turn in that in some way boosts your number for the fleets, but also the larger missions like finding a middle ground with the Turians and Krogans so they might work together and perhaps in turn work with you. Much like the possibility in Mass Effect 2, you can hurry past most of the plot points and straight into the end game with less then recommended amount of allies, but your actions will have their consequences. The filling of the fleet strength bar is far from challenging assuming as you are willing to scan a planet from time to time or complete a few random side missions; again everything counts to the fleet strength.
Building up of alliances will also get you help for the scientists that are creating something that is believed to stop The Reapers. However, Cerberus the organization that only looks out for humanity has their own plans for The Reapers and so when you are not fighting to bring different alien races together, you will be fending off humans that are only looking to get what is best for them. Most of this is done in side missions that are called “N7 Missions”. Most of the side content and filler for the main missions are done through third person shooting, which is fine for the most part seeing the shooting mechanics of Mass Effect 3 have been cleaned up from the second game, but still is not substantial enough to be the main focus for game play. As bad as the shooting was in the first game, it was made up by the amount of RPG elements that it had, where that is no longer the case as BioWare has gone more for action shooter games rather then RPG.
Mass Effect as a whole is not only centered on the story, but the characters as well. Both are effected by your choices over the last two games and both grow are fall apart from whatever aspect you went with. With that said, it can be quite easy at time seeing where your old crew fits right into the game, but also where basically a generic stand-in is used to fill the spot. For me, the only crew member that died in the second game was Jack (I didn’t like her anyway), so you find too many situations or I guess you could call them coincidences of running into old crew members. You do battle with the Geth once again and you bet, Legion appears along the way. Going to encounter Quarians? You will be meeting Tali once again. These characters are all great, but the cheap explanation of “Hey, what are you doing here?” does start to get old. Sometimes they are written in to be more important and those are the ones with the best reasoning to run into them. Most of them do not return with Shepard to the this time, much like most of the characters from the first game to the second. Some you will have missions with, but never really as actual teammates. Usually they will be leading a second squad and be only in contact through radio. This really takes away from the ending of Mass Effect 2, you work so hard to keep your team alive and together and then make it clear that your team will do all it can to put an ends to The Reapers, just to have everyone broken apart and doing something different for Mass Effect 3. It feels like a slap in the face to the effort you go through for your team, trying to get them loyal to you in the second game. With that said, it is great having characters reunite from time to time throughout the game.
Mass Effect 3 also has a few new faces, such as James Vega, A rough neck stereotypical marine. He isn’t one to screw around too much, however he did like giving everyone odd nicknames on the team. I put a stop to his “loco” nickname for Shepard right away, as I was quickly annoyed with it and him. Throughout the game James does start to grow as a very interesting character. It is refreshing having him around, probably because so many people in Mass Effect 3 are just people you have met in the past two games. There are a few others you will meet, but none really you can take with you on missions.
It really is amazing having the save system basically port most of your decisions from one game to the next, all coming together here in Mass Effect 3. It really gives what you have done a feeling of importance. However, the making of this game I am sure was hard when not knowing for sure what out come the player was going for. It really shows in some of the more in depth conversations, such as a love interest or even a heart to heart with someone that you kept as nothing more then a close friend. There are times that it can seem like the conversation is out of place, maybe even misleading. Talking to one person that you had a love interest with could at one point seem deep and heart felt and at other times seem distant, but not in a pushing you away feeling. More like a “we are just friends” kind of way. This can some times work the same way, but opposite when talking to someone that you spent all the games being good friends with. It does also accrue during some shorter conversations with old crew members you run into, sometimes making the reunion somewhat awkward. The latter is by no means as intrusive as when it happens during a conversation with someone you slept with in a previous game.
As stated before, the shooting in the game has been cleaned up pretty well compared with the second game, but that does not help when the game has so many hang-ups during the game play, some that are the same problems the series has had as a whole. This is where the game is at its worst and really needs an overhaul. Mass Effect has been pretty much turned from an RPG with shooter elements into a shooter with very few RPG elements, which come off as a bad choice simply because it seems like BioWare does not know how to make shooters all that well. It is clear they are much better at the RPG side of game making as a whole. Your teams AI is still one of the worst ever in video games at all. A lot of the time it feels as if your team is working against you in anyway possible without coming right out and telling you that they are trying to sabotage the mission and get you killed. Your teammates will not only walk in front of you as you are firing at the enemy, they will often get right in your way and stand there allowing you to fire at their back instead of the enemy. They also seem to have a hard time taking cover, but that is somewhat understandable as it is hard for you the player to take cover as well. If you are next to something and want to take cover behind it, you must be completely facing it. If your Sherpard is at all facing a little to the left or right, you will just stand there getting shot in the face. This is quite annoying when in a middle of a heated gun battle with multiple enemies. Your teammates will also make it difficult to move around an area, as it seems they always want to be right on top of you at all times. It doesn’t help the situation when you run into them and they don’t budge, making it equal to running up against a wall. It is situations like these that made yelling at my television something that happen quite often while fighting off baddies.
Right when you start the game up you will have a meter to the right of the screen that shows you were you are at with your war assets, it is automatically set at fifty percent. If you don’t feel like doing all the side missions and such, but still want to get all the assets up to the fullest for the most prepared ending, you can do so through the games multiplayer. Which I feel it is worth noting that the war assets meter that appears at the main screen will always say everything is at fifty percent, until you at least logged into the multiplayer, no matter what you have done in the single player. I do not know why that is and it has no effect on anything anyway, so it really doesn’t matter. Just a heads up for anyone that doesn’t know about that.
Simply put the multiplayer is just a horde mode, so there are no competitive matches of any kind. It is set up so four players fight their way through ten waves of enemies. I am no expert of the wave-based survival mode format, but is all pretty standard in this game. You have your ammo dumps throughout the level and allow you to heal you teammates if you get to them in time, which can be tricky at times. Not to mention that if you are downed the enemy can easy come over and stomp on you and kill you before your bleed out timer ends. During the ten waves there will be different objectives you are forced to do that does help mix things up some. You might have to hold down an area while you are hacking a computer, kill for specific baddies in a certain amount of time or capture for nodes in different areas in a given amount of time, all this while shooting down all kinds of different enemies. If you fail at any of these or if you and all your teammates go down, you lose and get sent packing to the main lobby menu and have to start all over again. Which isn’t all bad, you do still get your credits and XP for what you did complete, just not nearly as much as if you had finished all ten waves. The XP is broken up by the different classes the game offers and each class offers a few different races that you can unlock over time. So if you want to play one of the classes that offer the Krogan, it will also count if latter in that class you would like to play as a Turian. Each race/class offers different powers and such so you don’t feel like you are simply playing the same character with a different skin. Also choosing which character you want comes as easy as changing your weapons and abilities before the match starts, so you can quickly change out a race if you want right before going into a new match. Setting up your character in the multiplayer is exactly like setting up your character in the single player with the weapons and so on and the leveling up of your character as well. As you play you get XP and credits, which that can be used for buying different packages that give you randomly placed things. They are set at 5,000 credits, 20,000 credits and 60,000 credits. You can always for the cheapy one or save up for the more expensive one. The main difference is the chances of getting rare things from the package, obviously the more expensive the better the chance at something rare. In these packs you can unlock different alien races, weapons and different abilities. The only thing about the abilities is they are used up after each game and can not be used again unless you unlock them again in the packs.
The multiplayer can be a lot of fun, but is best played with friends you know. It is fun playing with strangers, but it gets annoying when people want to go all gung-ho on their own and usually end up dying pretty fast. It is also frustrating how the killing is set up, even though you are all on the same team, it gets annoying shooting a bad guy down and then having a teammate come over and put one bullet into them and getting the credit for the kill. You do however get credit of the assist on the kill, so it is not all bad.
Mass Effect 3 had big shoes to fill and in some ways did so with success. However, the story didn’t reach the level it did in the first game and the character didn’t reach the level they did in the second game. The problems with the game were in some ways too much and took center stage, it wasn’t helped with the story and character development being mediocre at best compared to the previous games. I don’t know what BioWare could have done different, but with this behind us and Shepard’s story closed, I am sure whatever is next for the Mass Effect universe will be great.