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Mass Effect 3 Review

Mass Effect 3 was one of the most anticipated games of 2011/2012. The franchise carries a big responsibility in terms of storytelling and gameplay. Bioware seems to know RPGs with Dragon Age and The Old Republic games They seem to deliver quite a bit on a player driven narrative. However, it seems like they have had troubles in the sequels department. Mass Effect 2 become more action oriented and less of a RPG like the first game. This may be due to newer gamers being introduced to the franchise and people will usually pick a fast paced action game rather than a strategic RPG. While ME2 was still a great game story wise, the gameplay was too simple and strayed way too far away from it’s roots. Sadly, ME3 has succumbed to the same thing.

The Reapers are back after 50,000 years to exterminate all organic life. Commander Shepard and his team must warn the Council and gain aid from every race in the galaxy to stop them. However, the imminent danger has made the Council, and many others, panic and resort to actions that will indirectly help the Reapers. It is up to Shepard to rally the races together and defeat the Reapers once and for all.

I may as well start with the good parts of ME3 and save the heartache for last. One thing I was looking forward to this game was the environment. Because the Reapers are destroying everything I was hoping it was not going to be a sleep and shiny environment like the previous games. I wanted a rundown cyberpunk esque look. While most of the game does not fit my desired image there are levels were you can see the carnage that the Reapers are throwing down. Most of it is in the background but it makes a difference. Mass Effect has a way to get you immersed in the atmosphere and ME3 does it best. The art design is well done and the scripted events are well animated. From a cinematic standpoint this is easily the best Mass Effect title.

One thing about the Mass Effect franchise I wish to point out the the brilliant work of storytelling. The Sci-Fi narrative is so well done you don’t want it to end. This also played out into the hype of the game and ending of ME2. You begin to see the apocalypse coming at the end of ME2. You see the human reaper and learn that they are making a return. You wanted to know what was going to happen and how every choice you made was going to change the course of the future. That is the plus side to ME as well. Being able to import your character file over was a way to keep people playing for the story. You get to keep your character, you get to see him or her evolve morally. Characters that once died are no longer in the game or mentioned. Even the DLC choices change the characters. If you did the shadow Broker DLC Liara is the Shadow Broker and she sets up shop on the Normandy. Because you have made so many choices throughout the games it is awesome to see how they change your experience after so much time has passed.

Characters that you were unable to use like Ashley (if she survived from the Krogan Facility) are in the game and look different. The characters seem to age and even my character looked a bit older. So in short, the atmosphere of ME3 is the better part about the game. I could not help but enjoy seeing the cutscenes and interactions with other characters from the past.

That is enough gushing for now. Sadly, there are aspects of ME3 that were a major disappointment, the gameplay. The first game felt a lot more like an RPG than ME2 and now ME3. Despite skill twigs (no way having only two options constitutes as a tree) there just does not seem like there is much added to the gameplay of ME3. While the action feels to be more like Gears of War with powers. You barely notice the upgrades and they may as well be non-existant and a part of your standard level up. How I feel like an RPG should be like is once you make a decision on what your next skill should be you immediately regret it because you won’t be able to experience what the other one does until you make a new character. However, that may be just me. ME3’s new “customization” just feels like a cop out. It does not feel as in-depth as Bioware lead to believe.

There is a new weapon modification system as well. This is something I do not mind too much but the same idea applies to the skill twigs mentioned above. Your choices do not seem to change the weapon too much. Yes the look changes but as I was trying out different mods they all felt the same. Even though I had my sniper had more ammo I still seemed to run out quickly. Or that my pistol had armor piercing rounds and I still did not do more damage to armored enemies. Most weapons also have the same modifications to in scope, the variety is very slim. However, this may be due to the fact I played through as a soldier. So I have access to all weapons. Nothing really changed about the armor system so I can leave that alone, I was hoping for a little more customization though. Because of the dire situation I was hoping I could change my armor to have bits and pieces from other armors. Like having two different shoulder pieces for example. That may have been a stretch though.

You can also buy anything you want from the Normandy. You used to be able to guy things only from shops on different planets, now (for a slight fee) you can buy weapons and upgrades in your armory. This somewhat takes away from the exploration factor of trying to find places that sold items that you did not have yet. Maybe the faster paced gameplay and heightened emphasis was changed because the story depicts an apocalypse scenario and that you must qork qickly and efficiently to save everyone from the Reapers. if this would be the case then it works. However, this is supposed to be an Action-RPG. Not an action game with RPG elements.

While ME3 is by no means a terrible game. I feel as though the gameplay was heavily simplified to be even more action based like ME2 and farther away from the RPG feeling of the original. Maybe gamers are getting inpatient and want to get to the action quicker and it is forcing developers to fit that demographic. We may never find out why, but I must say I was very disappointed with ME3 in terms of gameplay. I loved the story and how it was told. For that I give ME3 a 7/10.

1 Comment

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  1. Brian F says
    March 11, 2012, 12:05 AM

    I played the demo and got a pretty good idea of what the game would be like from that. It seems the retail version wasn’t much different. Good review, though it’s unfortunate the game isn’t as good as it could have been.
    Also you should categorize this under Xbox 360 and PC, too, since it’s not just a Playstation game. =P

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