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.

9.5/10

 

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.

 

EXTRA HELP

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.

 

CLOSING COMMENTS

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

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Comments
3 Responses to “Mass Effect 3 Review”
  1. Chuck Claude says:

    You could pour that review over waffles…

    Mass Effect 1 and 2 were NOT cinema. Movies require a passive response to the presentation. By default, a reactive presentation is one where you react to various input to the “action” while what you do has little or no effect on the end result. An extreme example would be “Pong”.

    The entire Mass Effect series broke new ground by being neither passive nor reactive; they had cerated a truly INTERACTIVE game. What you did had direct repercussions NOT just in the same game, but throughout all three Mass Effects…until…

    Mass Effect 3 is a great game. The action is fantastic and the graphics are equally impressive. The voice actors are especially good in this game. Then in about the last 10 minutes or so everything goes south. None of the of the choices you made in any of the Mass Effect series influences the three choices you have; NOT EVEN THE ONES YOU MADE IN MASS EFFECT 3! This is NOT the Mass Effect series most of the fans of Mass Effect have grown to know.

    Please keep in mind that this is a uniquely INTERACTIVE game. As you play your character through the series–even game to game–your character grows and changes based on often difficult decisions. If you only play and/or review games for their individual shoot `em up stuff, well then I would give it a solid 8.5. However, that is not what the bulk of the true fans admire so much about the series. I will not belabor the points already made so from a SERIES FAN such as myself sadly Mass Effect 3 will drop to easily a three, if not even worse. If Bioware had been running out of money it is almost as if your could see the “money well” go dry in those last several minutes. Budget cuts…

    Also, please do not insult my intelligence by saying that we are looking for a “happy ending”. Pretty much all of us knew that ME 3 was to have, at best, a bitter sweet ending. Or should I say “ENDINGS”. Each unique to all the decisions you have made before. NOT an infinite number of permutations, but a set that we ALL can be satisfied with.

    Which brings me to the sadly misguided notion of “artistic integrity”. The makers of video games are NOT artists; they are corporate artists. Even movies have test audiences where they field different endings to see which ending meets with peoples’ ideas for entertainment. Although the design of ME 3 is astounding and incredibly rich, it is NOT the Mona Lisa.

    One last thing if I may: Neither those “series fans” nor I am a juvenile malcontent who has nothing better to do with our time than write snarky and pathetic tripe like juvenile delinquents. I am 47 years old and a disabled veteran.

    Please keep these things in mind as you continue your work. Thank you for your time.

    Kirk, out.

    • Well, I’m not sure I entirely agree with that.
      I understand your point of view, but you also need to consider that this is a still a video game, and there are so many programmable limitations developers go through. What I mean by that, is that no matter what your choices are, it’s not going to entirely affect your story, since that’s the only thing on rails. Your decisions will affect how your character reacts to them, but more than that, it will not.

      Let’s say you choose to play as a Paragon player and let the council live in Mass Effect, and do a completely different play though with Renegade and decide to kill them instead, it won’t affect how Mass Effect 2 will play out by that much. That goes for pretty much all of your decisions; characters around you will react differently to you and you will have to approach decisions in other ways, but your main outcome, has no choice but to stay the same.

      No matter how interactive a game is, it’s still a video game and can run on so many limitations. Look at Skyrim for example: no moral compass, meaning you can do whatever you want without any notion of good or bad except your own judgment. And no matter what you do, or how you play, you’ll still run through the same “rails” and have a similar ending to anybody no matter what you do. But that’s the beauty of video games; you think you’re in full control, but there are so many things you can actually have an effect on.

      Mass Effect 3 delivered a beautiful story and BioWare deserves to be applauded for the effort they are putting in those types of games. If they wanted the series to end in such way, I think it’s fair to give them that and enjoy the game for its journey. For BioWare to satisfy everyone and give a good ending, it would take 100 different possibilities to choose from since the every game gets to be personalized to a unsatisfying level at this point.

      And even if, there would be still people not happy with it due to inconsistencies, plot holes, hell, you name it. There is always going to be some one not happy with it cause he will not see his efforts reflected the ramifications of his actions. But tons of movies or other games suffer from that, and that’s fine. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called a difference of opinion and we might as well all be robots.
      Yes, the ending could have used some refinement and a bit more clarity due some minor plot holes, but the whole game shouldn’t be antagonized for its last 10 minutes of game play. For I, was perfectly content by the turnouts of events and got nothing to complain.

      That is my point of view on the subject. I enjoyed myself very much playing as Shepard and being able to say proudly to have followed such a renowned series for such a long time and be a dedicated gamer. Therefore I wish more games could satisfy me just as much as Mass Effect 3 did, but that’;s just me.

      Thanks for your feedback though, I enjoy any kind I can take, as long as it’s done in a well-mannered way. So, I hope you understand a little more my take on the review.

      And remember, be excellent to each other! 🙂

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