Review by weissvulf

"A truely horrible end to a good series. Not worth playing"

I liked Mass Effect 1 and 2, but this last chapter has been too dumbed down and is plagued with plot holes and poor game play. I would rate it as one of the saddest endings to a trilogy in gaming history.

Graphics 2/10
This game is ugly. Console users may find Mass Effect 3 graphics acceptable, but this review is for PC users and it's clear that the PC version of this game has been degraded to meet the limitations of console hardware. Model textures have blotchy shading, environments look bland and flat, character models and animations range from unrealistic to nauseatingly bad. My player's run animation looked like a drunken dwarf waddling across ice and their scalp would routinely glitch out from under the "hair wig". The developers went all out in trying to use sex to sell this game - I guess it has little else to offer. Every female has breasts and bottoms enlarged to "mutant" proportions. They look infected and swollen more than titillating, and female outfits (even armor) are skin tight and leave nothing to the imagination. Seriously people, do we have nothing better to do than drool over a bunch of non-existent women with painted-on clothes? The developers seem to think their audience is shallow, hormone driven fools.

Story 0/10
I have never seen a plot so filled with gaping plot holes and stale cliches. The premise is that some huge alien robots invade our galaxy and for some reason, which is never stated, they are considered unbeatable. Even after the player easily defeats one of these massive robots by shooting it when it's armor plates open (as it prepares to fire its "LASER" beam -how original), this tactic is never again employed or mentioned. Instead, you spend the game darting around trying to unite everyone in the known universe because somehow that will make these indestructible robots destructible???

At a different time, a small group of terrorists manages to effortlessly take over the most secure space-fortress in the galaxy. No one gives an explanation as to how they accomplished this feat so easily, nor does anyone seem surprised that they did. Maybe the terrorists shot the space fortress with a "LASER" beam when its armor plates were open?

The entire plot is built around contrived and unrealistic points such as these. You'd have to shut off all higher brain function to get lost in this story. This game is not science fiction; it's closer to a cheap fantasy soap opera. It's a mockery of the intelligent and meaningful plots in Mass Effect 1 and 2. The story's original ending was actually so bad, that developers even had to release a downloadable addon to "fix" it.

Gameplay 3/10
Gameplay in Mass Effect 3 consists of three things, battle, flying to planets, and wondering around talking to people.

Battles:
This is the best part of the game, but it is still brainlessly repetitive and easy. I cranked the difficulty up to "insane" half way through the game because the stupid enemy AI made battles way too easy. But even on "insane", battles are repetitively easy. You crouch behind cover till shields recharge, pop up to shoot enemies, crouch again till shields recharge, repeat, repeat, repeat. Enemies don't employ strategy, but brainlessly jump out and are easily picked off. You are accompanied by a team of two squad mates, but they do little more than get in the way. They often ran into my line of fire and I don't recall ever seeing them kill an enemy. Most of the time they sit crouched behind cover doing nothing. You can pause the game and command them to attack your current enemy, but they are programmed to only do a fraction of the player's damage, and, as I said, enemies are easy to defeat so it's never worth the effort to issue commands. Battle arenas are narrow, linear hallways that leave no room for anything remotely strategic.

You may have read some reviews saying Mass Effect 3 has more weapons or an improved skill-tree; don't believe it. Most weapons are functionally identical, and I guarantee you'll only be using two for most of the game. It's the same with skill-powers; you only have two or three activated skills and they don't do a lot of damage. Skills often have no effect on strong enemies so there is rarely a point in using them. You can attach two accessories to a gun, but most accessories are almost useless, and they have absolutely no effect when equipped to a squad mate's weapons. For instance, ammo is plentiful so an accessory that increases ammo capacity by 10% is meaningless. Squadmate's never run out of ammo so this accessory is completely useless to them. Again, you'll probably be using the same two weapon addons for the whole game.

Flying to planets:
You'll spend hours of gamplay navigating through menus to fly to other planets. There's nothing you can do on other planets except click a "scan" button. If you find something, you get a pop up message, and that's it. Is that supposed to be fun? If you do find something on a planet, it's usually a "war asset". War assets are useless, contrived rewards that have no real effect on gameplay. Theoretically, if you collect enough war assets, you can unlock a game ending that is otherwise hidden. However, Mass Effect 3 is designed so that a person playing the single player campaign can NEVER unlock the ending even if you collect every war asset in the game. In short, exploring the galaxy is a useless, boring waste of time.

Wondering around talking to people:
In non-battle areas, various people will give you "fetch" quests or you get to choose sides when two NPCs are having a disagreement. These quests are dry and uninspiring as in "we need [insert item name here] to complete our research, please go to planet x and get it for us". Anyone with such a quest is highlighted by a big target circle so you really just wander around till you see a circle and click on it. The rewards are mostly useless. Like everything in this game, just poorly constructed time killers that add nothing to the gameplay experience.

Controls:
I honestly wanted to like this game, but ugh, the controls are sub standard too. Most actions have been dumbed-down into a single button whose function changes depending on context. For instance, run, duck for cover, leave cover, change cover, jump, pick-up, talk, skip talk etc. The result is that your character will constantly be "grabbing" walls when you try to run past them and jumping into the open when you want them to hide. You're more likely to die from poor controls than from lack of skill.

Conversations:
Dialog is filled with a lot of ridiculous bravado and player choices rarely have any effect on the game. There are always two reply choices; the top one is the "good guy" answer and the bottom is the "bad boy". Picking a reply affects your reputation, but reputation is nearly meaningless. Perhaps two or three times in the game, your reputation may affect a minor outcome, but the overall game line doesn't change. Just more desperate attempts to make people think they're doing something meaningful when they are really being led down a linear, poorly constructed hallway.


Bottom line 2/10
The first two Mass Effect games were built around intelligent and meaningful plots, presented by well developed and realistic characters. Mass Effect 3 is a pathetic, shallow imitation of the first two games. A collection of hollow cliches glued together to make money. Shame on you EA for slapping a respected name on a sub standard product. The people who give this game good reviews must be extremely easy to please, or more likely, they are projecting the quality of the first two Mass Effect games onto this pathetic third installment.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/18/13

Game Release: Mass Effect 3 (US, 03/06/12)


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