Feb 5, 2013

Mass Effect 3 Review

Divider Reviews Mass Effect 3

My first game, and it is a doozy. Mass Effect 3 is the lovechild of Bioware, the "Holy Grail" of RPG's in their eyes. It's got everything you could ask for in a space RPG: tons of aliens, characters you can remember, equipment that feels different to use, a believable lore (for the most part), and an engaging main character that you can relate to, because you decide what he/she will say. Is it truly worth the time?

The graphics are good, from afar. The planets all look nice in the map, the models have a lot of texture, and the style is easy to look at. I especially like the textures on Shepard's armor, and the fact that you can customize your armor as well as his appearance and actions. The main problem I have in the graphics department is that they can blur a little bit up close. The textures on the landscapes look pretty bad as well.

The story is pretty simple if you just started. The galaxy is under attack by a race of sentient machines called the Reapers. Over the course of the first two games in the series, Commander Shepard has attempted to stop the Reapers from returning, but the Council, the authority in the galaxy, does nothing to help. Now that the Reapers are attacking Earth, however, the Council has no choice but to give Shepard the task of stopping them. The great thing about this series is that you can import your save from Mass Effect 1, into the second game, and finally into 3. This gives the player the feeling that they are actually Shepard, and that his decisions matter, even if only a little.

The morality system is also notably unique. You have two standpoints in morality: Paragon, the stereotype "hero of the galaxy," willing to die to save the galaxy, or Renegade, the bold, badass antihero. Neither are evil, but Renegade Shepard can be a dick at times. One or two sarcastic remarks does not override the Paragon Shepard you have created, but at the same time, saving someone's life does not keep people from fearing you. During cutscenes, you have the option of "Interrupts," a staple in ME2 which allows you to perform Paragon or Renegade actions. For example, a Paragon action will wave down a squadmate with his weapon drawn, while a Renegade action will cause Shepard to shoot the person himself. You also have the option of ignoring the interrupts.

The gameplay has evolved over the course of the series. In ME1, it was a micromanaging RPG at its core, with a cover mechanic. ME2 and 3, however, are third-person shooters with a story. The cover mechanic works well for the most part, but almost every action is mapped to the same button, which can make reviving squadmates or doing objectives difficult in the heat of fire, frustrating the player when Shepard takes cover with enemies shooting from behind him. The system is strangely rewarding, though. Enemies have decent AI, being able to take cover and return fire, and even flank you if you're not careful. The difficulty, however, has been toned down, and the game is more forgiving than ME2, which may be a turn-off for people who liked the struggle.

Biotic and tech powers are not new to the series, and you can be a straight soldier with grenades, a biotic master throwing enemies with your mind, a defense-based tech specialist, or a mix of any two, just like in the first two games. A new addition to the series is an evolved explosion system, allowing you to mix a "primer" power and a "detonator" power to devastating effect. This adds a new level to the meta, and makes experimenting with different powers rewarding.

Multiplayer is another new addition, pitting four N7 operatives against the AI of a specific faction, from the terrorist organization Cerberus, the Reapers, the robotic geth, or the harvesting Collectors. You earn credits for doing objectives which you can spend on reinforcement packs containing new weapons or characters. The multiplayer is very rewarding, and it's fun to play, if just to try to max out your manifest.

Overall, Mass Effect 3 is a fitting end to the trilogy, but the ending is still disappointing even after the free "Extended Cut" DLC. The gameplay is vastly improved over the first two games, and it's still worth a playthrough just to see Shepard finally take on the Reapers.

8.5/10. Points have been taken off for the disappointing ending, frustrating cover mechanic, and the fact that there is no tutorial for the Shepard Shuffle.


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