Mass Effect 3 Review
Year after year, one epic battle after another, Mass Effect 3 is the grand final chapter to the beloved series we’ve all been waiting for. After a lot of improvement on gameplay, breaking the expansive RPG frontier and cinematic implementations, Mass Effect 3 was a hell of a ride saving the galaxy and taking Earth back as your own and unique Commander Shepard.
STORY AND ASSETS
It would take an entire page to fill you guys on the story, but I’ll make a long story short, you’re Commander Shepard, first human Spectre, and after so many years of having seen visions of Reapers wiping out the whole galaxy for harvesting every traces by finding a Prothean beam. But after warning the council, they didn’t listen, because he just sounded silly but put their fate in him anyway. Unprepared, a few years after destroying their second Reapers, the colossal alien- beasts show up to continue their cycle, as they’re supposed to every 50,000 years. Shepard assembles his crew and recruits new members, but the story is seems though a new looking-glass by a much bigger gauge that the previous games in the trilogy.
As the previous Mass Effect entries, the series always knew how to keep a great sense of scale. Mass Effect 3 certainly knows how to keep in you in the first lines of action without making you feel overpowered and grading the situation with a great deal of focus. The Reapers’ attack are just mind-blowing scary and stressful, and that’s because you feel proportionally small and overwhelmed next to imminent dangers. Every mission is rewarding and always a fun challenge when well prepared.
The characters, as always in BioWare’s history, have deep and intricate background storylines, and it’s always fun spend an extra few hours to find out what they are. Some of the new faces in the series, especially Vega, are heavily stereotyped and feel a bit silly to take seriously. But how the whole cast can be tied and solidified together is the most beautiful thing in Mass Effect 3. People’s relationship is what matters in this game and everything you get to accomplish by unifying long-fighting races and get your comrades to actually trust you, and that’s what this game is about.
The more side-quests you do, the more assets you unveil and acquire for the final mission. The way that Mass Effect 3 plays out is by your amount of time and dedication you put into your Galactic Readiness status. Every time you find or convince a race to join you to fight the Reapers, you gain them as a War Asset and each of them have a different value representing a fleet/battalion/squad. The intricacy here it by having to do that, you need to make hard choices over harder choices, and by that you need to be able to have very good persuasion and dialogue skills and choose what’s best in your case to sacrifice. Not all the races go along and it’s always up to you to decide to spare one, sacrifice one or take a chance on ruining the trust of somebody to save someone. This is the strongest point of where Mass Effect 3 differentiates itself from the whole trilogy and gets to be recognized as one of the best games that are out so far. Mass Effect 3 explores the shades of grey of morality often amiss in video games today, and it does it so well that you feel tearing up inside every time you need to make a judgement call. Everything you have is your own, and everything you own, you’ve probably earned it.
The deeply woven story is based upon the many choices to make in this game, which are all reactions to previous actions in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. No matter how small, they will either help you out in difficult situations or bite you in the ass. BioWare was brave enough to create such an immense universe to which you were always in the centre of, and now, your engagements will tie-in everything you’ve been working on for all those years. All that is done so seamlessly throughout the trilogy, and between different game plays, that it is hard not to applaud BioWare for trying and having succeeded something so fresh and so unique albeit the small thing that didn’t work in the game.
Not a lot of notes on the ending of the game since this is a spoiler-free review, but it had its controversies and polemics surrounding it. It’s a case by case basis. Either you like it, or you hate it, all that depending of whichever of the 3 main possible endings, with each small variations depending on your decisions, readiness and paragon/renegade actions. Never the less the ending should influence the whole experience or critique of an immense franchise nor overshadow its experience completely.
MECHANICS AND GAMEPLAY
The game’s mechanics are by far the best for an RPG, but not as a shooter. The cover-shooter system is not the best in the genre and can get a little in the way when you’re rushing. Then again, the game’s experience offers so much more that it’s easily forgiven. Again, those little stumbles will not ruin your excitement for any combat sequence since every element makes it very exhilarating. The usual combat wheel is back and nothing new changed there.
The weapons get to be customized and upgraded as you go along the way, so that you never have to part from your favourite pistol (rifle for me). Any weapon you wield, can be attributed a power for that ammo and will show up on top on your weapon’s hub, which as indicative as it is, gets to be very helpful during mission starts.
The cinematic is implemented with the best means so far and is probably the most outstanding effort in the series. How the cut-scene jumps into combat gives the game the integrity it was missing for the previous instalments. The fluidity of the conversations with the so many different characters is impressive considering the hundreds of variations in them.
Mass Effect 3’s scanning system is once again different, and got better, again. We all remember how blissfully painful it was going around on planets with the Mako in Mass Effect, and how excruciatingly long it was to scan every planet for the obsessive-completionists, but BioWare listens to its fan base and always find the remedy. The scanning is less time-consuming and this time it has a useful purpose. Thankfully, you don’t have to scan every planet, but instead you scan a system until you find a planet, to then find what’s on it with a more simplified version of the scanner in ME2, with only one thing to find on each. That is until the Reapers are alerted when you find the system. This adds a little spice and life into the monotonous method. The more side missions you find and complete, the more War Assets you accumulate, which is strongly recommended.
LOOK AND FEEL
The graphics in Mass Effect 3 are eye-candy mostly throughout the whole campaign, but doesn’t come with small hiccups. Occasionally, you’ll find some texture popping during mission start-ups or just in the middle of dialogues and it’s a shame. Poor pixel resolution is found on some characters or places unexplainably. Comparing that to where the graphics outshine the rest of the series, it feels like sloppiness more than anything else. But, after a while, you easily forget about it and move on, since the game justifiably redeems itself with being a sincere love letter to sci-fi fans.
The lighting in this instalment borrowed a lot from sci-fi movies nowadays with some cool lens flare effect. Very influential of J.J. Abrams’ movies, if you ask me, and this neat little light effect put a lot of life during gameplay and cut scenes.
The sounds effect are scary powerful and always make you feel like you’re in the middle of that battlefield. The gun effects are amazingly gorgeous and put to shame real guns (in real life). The Reapers have the most climatically scaring soundtrack of the game. Hearing those suckers while you run for your life, will want to make you piss on yourself.
If you haven’t played the game with the first-day release DLC From Ashes, it’s a real shame. Of course it was 10$ extra, but you get to have a Prothean, Javik, on your team. It’s astonishing how that character had unique dialogue options and the campaign implemented his presence so seamlessly. You also have tons of background on the Prothean’s history, which is also a plus, and got to have a kick ass teammate with pretty badass biotic powers.
BioWare made plenty of ways possible for players to boost their chances against the final battle, such as the multiplayer mode, similar to the Gears of Wars’ Horde mode, and a neat little iOS app called Mass Effect 3 Datapad, which includes the all codex from the game as well with the cool voiceovers, which tracks and remotely sends off ships to recover assets and such. So every little bit helps to raise your war readiness. So we can’t say that BioWare didn’t go overboard to satisfy true fans of the series.
Mass Effect 3 was the epic final conclusion worthy of its title and with that, gave a compass to every game studio, indicative on how more games should be. Mass Effect 3 has sluggish points but nothing in this (or other) world is perfect. The cinematic feel and strongpoints make us forget what doesn’t work and focus on everything else that does. We’ve been on a long and emotional journey with Commander Shepard for many years, and BioWare not only made us connect with a full-blown expanded universe but gave us a game that people will talk about for many, many years to come (good or bad). Mass Effect 3 was a fun ride, epic finish and sad departure from, what we call by now, our friends.
Review by Emi Bonaffini