Genre: Role Playing Developer: Publisher: Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 8th Mar 2012 Platforms:
Average of 14 Ratings
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When you start Mass Effect 3, you're greeted with a question. It's an easy one to answer, really. 'What sort of experience do you want?', it asks in its own special way. Do you want an Action game, an RPG or a Story?
If you think about it, those three options chart the progress of the entire Mass Effect series. The first game told a story - and it told it at its own pretty slow pace. It was all about introducing you to Commander Shepard and letting you get to grips with being humanity's first Spectre.
The second was an RPG. You managed a large team, you got in the thick of the action and you and your cohorts were trying to save the universe - sometimes from itself, sometimes from the Reapers (the series' big bad).
Mass Effect 3 then, is an action game. You have a cover mechanic, a dodge roll, guns you can upgrade and slightly competent enemy AI. Fans of the games might be tugging their collar right now, and understandably so. They signed on for an epic three part Space Opera RPG, and now they're getting some Halo horseshit?
Chill out. ME3 still lets you do those things series veterans will want from the game. You can still make decisions for yourself if that's what you want to do - just pick RPG or Story and you'll still get to decide whether to hit the rude reporter or not.
It's the end to the series, so of course everything is turned up to eleven. Even if you went the other two games not letting anyone you cared about die (you never cared about Ashley, she was a racist) you have to deal with the fact that you're going to watch people die in this game.
People you care about. People you - as Shepard - love.
That's what ME3 does so well. Games have killed in-game friends of mine before, but I've never felt remorse. I didn't choke back tears when Ghost died in MW2, and the saddest thing about Aeris dying to me was that I'd socketed some sweet materia on her and I wasn't sure I'd get it back. My aloofness didn't extend to ME3.
What made it worse was that one particular character was so stoic about their death. And worse still - I had witnessed significant personal growth in the character leading up to it. The final nail - there was nothing I could do about it.
Other characters die as a result of my actions. These losses I file away as necessary. They die because I made a choice, but as with any big choice in the ME series I sat there for a good minute or so pondering it first.
To borrow a term from Garrus in ME3, I applied the calculus of war to the situation and decided it was the only solution - but damn I felt conflicted afterwards.
In doing that - in making me feel that way - Mass Effect 3 deserves all the praise in the world.
That praise is diminished in other areas though. Mass Effect has always delivered a certain amount of polish, and ME3 doesn't seem to have that. I played with subtitles on and witnessed a number of typos and goofs in the subtitles - not game-breaking stuff, but surprising anyway.
Still, the biggest letdown was the combat system.
As you cavort about the galaxy attempting to save everyone and everything you bear witness to the best the Reapers have to offer in terms of Cannon Fodder. The terrifying Banshees and the hulking Brutes deliver some significant challenges as you attempt to take them on, but typically you're equipped enough to deal with the problems they present.
The game has a cover system bound to the A key (on 360), which doubles as the 'dodge roll' key and triples as the 'press the bloody button to end this encounter' key - or the interaction key.
For the vast majority of the game this is fine - you roll from cover to cover, sometimes taking cover on a wall when you meant to dodge away and sometimes rolling away when you meant to press the 'FIRE THE LASERS' button.
During the endgame sequence though - when the solution to firefight complexity becomes 'Throw more enemies at them!' - the margin for error present through the rest of the game evaporates, so taking cover against a wall facing your enemies (instead of rolling out of the way) is essentially a death sentence.
Then you consider the checkpoint system, which throws you back to the beginning of an encounter. I made it through the rest of the game without reloading a checkpoint once, so when this happened for the first time I wasn't pleased. I wasn't pleased that every time I'd make it through another increasingly challenging wave it would throw me back to that same first part again, either.
A spoiler-free example of these two things conspiring to destroy my morale; during the end game a giant laser starts firing in your general direction every now and then. The obvious gameplan is to use that laser to kill the shitload of enemies coming at you, wave after wave. The first time I made it two waves and then accidentally stuck my face into the laser. That was my bad.
So I start over. Fair enough.
The next time, I make it four waves in and instead of dodge rolling away from a nasty enemy's attack I snap to the nearest bit of cover, my enemy still standing there (probably laughing at me).
Cue another five attempts at this sequence - each time getting a wave further and dying when I roll instead of taking cover (or vice versa) - and I finally trigger the 'push the button to kill the laser!' sequence. To make the fight epic the game then just dumps as many enemies as it can on the screen at once, so I have to sprint over to the button. I take a lot of hits running there, but I make it with a sliver of health left, pressing A to interact with it... and I roll next to it. I die moments later.
15 minutes later - after apologising to my girlfriend for waking her with a 14 minute long screamed string of expletives - I try the sequence again. This time I succeed, and I'm so angry with the game that I have to wait half an hour to continue (lest my anger diminish elements of the story).
For the majority of the game this isn't an issue. The margin for error is large enough to accommodate these screw-ups, and the player isn't punished for the problems of the game. The only time this raises its ugly head is right at the end - but it's such a critical moment in the game that it's a massive error on the part of Bioware.
The ending is entirely fitting, by the way. It's the perfect way to wrap up the story - it's beautifully shaped to give the player closure to what for some will have been a 150+ hour journey through Commander Shepard's life.
There's so much to Mass Effect 3 that I desperately want to talk about, but I can't because of spoiler issues. The strength of the game is the strength of the series - the plot, the writing and the overall characterisation has always been watertight, and in ME3 it's no different. It's wonderful to watch a game tackle the challenge of making a player think successfully, and it's great to know how the whole series turns out.
The combat leaves something to be desired, which might diminish what you get out of playing it in 'Action' mode, but what Mass Effect 3 really sets out to do - wrap up one of the best space operas of all time - it does expertly. I'd recommend first-timers to the series go pick up Mass Effect 2 before 3, but for those who know the series, those who have lived Shepardís life, Mass Effect 3 is Return of the Jedi minus the ewoks.
I love the cover system, pin yourself to the wall, facing the incoming fire - sure! Take cover behind a rail that only a few cm thick, sure! Take cover in a door air lock door frame? No way! Sprint away from the incoming reaper - sure letís take cover against that crate!
Trying to rescue a person of interest for clan ergot - had so many check point reloads due to sticky cover systems.
One thing that I do like however is if youíre scanning a system that has been captured by reapers, and you canít find anything is get killed by the reapers and you can rescan the system again from scratch.
The game itself looks great so far - but why the frak did they mess with the character import tool and facegen.
Faces just dont look right - a game like this where you ARE Shepard should have a detailed facegen system - not an abbreviated system, that doesnt seem to give you the same face in the game as to the creation screen