Second Look Review: Mass Effect 3

  • Platform: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Published by:EA
  • Developed by: Bioware
  • Genre: RPG, Third-Person Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: M For Mature
  • Number of Players: 1, Online multiplayer 2-4
  • Release Date: March 6th, 2012

The Mass Effect series has been hands down one of the top new IP’s this generation. I was drawn in right away when I popped Mass Effect 1 into my Xbox 360 back in 2007. I was already well aware of the quality of work Bioware had been putting out, Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic and Jade Empire were among my favorites, so it wasn’t really much of a surprise when I instantly fell in love with this new space opera. People started to question Bioware when EA bought them out, many thought they would force an unfinished game and a game that changed its focus towards gaining more casual gamer’s, while sacrificing what millions of people loved about the game already. So, does Mass Effect 3 finish out the trilogy in a satisfying way?

In preparation for Mass Effect 3 I decided to go through Mass Effect 1 and 2 again in order to get the perfect save files for the final chapter in this trilogy. It was very exciting to see over a hundred hours of gameplay actually make a difference in Mass Effect 3, it was like the icing on the cake. If you haven’t gone back to play through the first two games, your missing out on a great pieces of storytelling and great overall games. I eagerly imported my Shepard character that has been with me since 2007 and started the epic conclusion to a fantastic trilogy of games.

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In the first two Mass Effect games you are trying to unravel the mysteries of who the Reapers are what do they want? In Mass Effect 3, there is no question about what they want, the absolute destruction of Earth and all life in the universe. All the warnings and missions come to fruition and its up to Shepard to save the day, but what else is new? In Mass Effect 2, you worked for Cerberus and had a crew of mercenaries working under you. In Mass Effect 3, your once again working for the alliance as they scramble to prepare and counterattack the dreaded Reaper invasion. For the first time in the series Earth is in danger and right at the start of the game you are thrown into an action packed situation. There is no time left to prepare, as the Reapers are here. It’s up to Shepard to go out into the galaxy and recruit as many different species as possible to help repel the deadly Reapers.

If the plot to this game sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it is. It’s almost the same exact plot as Dragon Age 2, people in trouble and its up to you to help people of different backgrounds and races come together for a common goal. There are plenty of old and new faces that make appearances in Mass Effect 3. One of the biggest surprises is that Ashley is back and can join your party, but she looks and acts totally different than in the previous Mass Effect games. She was so xenophobic in the first game, it was like meeting a whole new character, plus she looks like she had some damn good plastic surgery. If you romanced Ashley in the first game and Miranda in the second game, you get some interesting reactions and dialog.

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One of the interesting things about Mass Effect 3 is the Galactic Readiness rating. This is a little chart that lets you know how ready your army is for the upcoming final battle, the interesting thing is that it doesn’t move above the 50% mark unless you do some of the online multiplayer mode. This is a bit frustrating because I did every single quest, side quest and scanned every planet 100% and it still stayed at 50%. Bioware has come out and said you don’t need to do the multiplayer to get the “good” ending, but you would need to complete everything as I did. The scanning in and of itself was a bit annoying, the Reapers control almost everything in space and every time you scan in Reaper controlled space it alerts them to your presence and they come after you. So you have to do a little cat and mouse game with the Reapers every time you want to get an artifact or item to help in the war effort. You get little quests by listening to people’s conversations in the Citadel, you have to pay attention because you can get these quests randomly walking around. Make sure to check your open quest logs often.

The controls are tight and the games graphics are looking really good. Some of the gameplay mechanics has led me to nickname the game Gears Effect. In a lot of ways this game is playing out like a Gears Of War game, it’s looking more and more like a Gears game as well. Unfortunately the game has ditched some of its RPG roots in order to gather a larger audience and appeal to a wider variety of gamer’s. I don’t take issue to this as much as some people, I mostly chalk it up to EA. The core game is still Mass Effect, no matter how much action is put into the game. Unlike most RPG’s, Mass Effect 3 keeps you entertained all the way through. The cutscenes are fantastic, the voice acting is spot on and the score is perfection.

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When I bought the game I also purchased the day one DLC, I know Bioware has said you don’t need it, but it does in fact answer a lot of questions and there is a nice bit of back story that is explained. So, while it’s not necessary to get the content to have a complete game experience, there is a lot of story to be had with it. The day one DLC is also another thing I chalk up to the game being published by EA, along with the online pass. Overall the story is pretty good and it definitely lives up to the hype, while it’s a fantastic experience, it’s definitely not the best of the franchise. I still believe Mass Effect 1 to be the epitome of Bioware’s space opera.

A lot of people had questions about Mass Effect 3 and Kinect, well I used Kinect throughout the game and it worked perfect for me the whole time. One of the issues I didn’t like in the first two games was the chunky menu system, I always hate pausing the game to set up weapons and powers for my teammates. Kinect eliminated all of that and did it very, very well. I didn’t use the menu wheel once throughout the whole game, I don’t think Mass Effect 3 is a sole reason to own a Kinect, but if you have a Kinect already, its definitely worth playing through the game with it enabled. You have a more immersed feeling with the device and I was very surprised at how responsive it was as a whole.

At the end of the day Mass Effect 3 delivered on what was promised, an ending to the Reaper trilogy. I know the game is getting a lot of flack for the ending or endings, but I applaud Bioware for not delivering a ham-fisted or happy Hollywood ending. They stayed true to their vision and gave us an ending that truly fit within this wonderful world they created. It was something unexpected and original, I can see the Mass Effect world going forward, but I can say with certainty that it wont involve Reapers and most likely wont have the characters from the Reaper trilogy.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10 Great!

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One Response to “Second Look Review: Mass Effect 3”

  1. They didn’t stay true…they flipped the story from Karpyshyn’s vision of Dark Energy to the drivel of a mess we see today. For shame, for sure.

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