Review by DandyQuackShot
"Don't Fear the Reapers"
Here's to the end of a once noble undertaking in video games. Mass Effect 3 delivers but as with a lot of popular games that continue to pop out sequel after sequel the series starts losing flavor and Mass Effect 3 will definitely leave a sour taste for a lot of fans. Mass Effect 3 simply becomes too big for itself by trying to mix the concept of leadership and making hard choices with a plot that devolves into a simple conflict between advanced civilization and machine. The features added to Mass Effect 3 only work if you take the time out from your single player game to add the multiplayer feature into your single player campaign and explore the side missions that the DLC provides to also add to the game's story. In the end, if you have followed everything to the T in uniting all the different headbutting factions in the galaxy, you will be rewarded, but this game will still leave most everybody scratching their heads for years to come. Mass Effect 3 and its prequels were highly stylized versions of RPGs and they are very engrossing games, but taking on the galaxy and the hope for finding intelligent life and a means to reach that life leaves you with the feeling that this series had more to offer than dealing with very human qualities in all the other alien species.
The story is the culmination of what Commander John Shepard has been warning all of galactic civilization about. The Reapers, an artificial intelligence that thrives on the harvesting of intelligent life forms has come to claim all organic beings that can screw in a ligh tbulb in the galaxy. The Reapers attack Earth (on a side note they had already wiped out the Batarians and nobody really cared) and you must relocate some old friends from Mass Effect 1 and unite the galaxy to uncover old technology that will defeat the Reapers and save the homeworld. It's an excellent concept and even better if you have been a paragon of society and kept everybody alive and happy in the first two games. If you don't import your progress from Mass Effect 2, you can choose from three different story options to stay on whatever path you want to take. The endings are not what you would expect. Even if you are successful in getting the "best" ending to the game you are left with a lot of unanswered questions. We don't need a Halo 4, but could definitely stand to see a Mass Effect 4 if only to answer all those questions. Another problem I had with the game was the injection of modern day social issues playing a larger part with the social interaction of the game. I share Joker's sentiments when he asked, "If the Asari are so smart, why didn't they have more soldiers than dancers?" And then you have the whole thing about the Normandy's AI becoming the equivalent of a blow up doll for Joker. Why do most all of the aliens look human and speak English anyway?
The game play incorporates many variables of weapon, armor, special attack abilities, and other customization and upgrade capabilities. The level up system pretty much stays the same and as a Spectre, you get special access to weapons and armor. It probably would have helped to have all this stuff in one place. It takes awhile after the game has started before you can start the process of upgrading weapons and armor and even then you have to explore the Normandy and go to different levels of the ship to find where you can customize and upgrade. I was half way through the game before I realized you could buy weapon upgrades in the docking bay. The fighting has not changed at all. You still have to take cover and take out wave after wave of squads of enemies. Added to the mix this time are mechs, which finalizes the conclusion that Mass Effect has borrowed every idea imaginable for this game. So long originality. The force powers, I mean, biotic powers are helpful in stopping enemies but my favorite was the cryo-ammo upgrade to totally Sub-Zero those bad guys. The game play will be affected by the decisions you have made before and the ones you make. You will have to build a massive galactic army and get them ready by the end of the game through searching the galaxy for hidden items and war assets and convincing the alien races to join your effort to save Earth and stop the Reapers. Old friends will reappear (or not) to help you in the cause. Their influence weighs more heavily than yours does and will affect the outcome of the decisions you make in gaining war assets.
You can use the multiplayer feature to take on wave after wave of enemies and build experience to add to your war assets. You can name the character you create for the multiplayer and add him or her to your war assets. So nothing beats having Cloned Elvis Presley on your side. I was hoping you could compete against other players in the multiplayer but instead you can play a one to four player cooperative game and fight to survive the enemies. Experience and extra characters are unlocked as you progress through this mode.
The graphics, music, and voice overs are of course the best part of Mass Effect 3. The cinematics are good and Martin Sheen is still an evil bad guy. Keith David and Seth Green are great and more talent is added to this game. I thought the characters could have changed expressions a little better in the dialogue sequences though. Shepard is not much on smiling or frowning, but for the first time you can see him get pretty frustrated with everything. And of course that leads to another question: Why do all the aliens have teeth? I couldn't get over the very human qualities of the aliens in this series.
I felt the replay value of Mass Effect 3 suffered tremendously once the game has been played through once. I put in a lot of time and effort and after playing through, it was very hard to go back and start over again. With Mass Effect 3's feature of building war assets for a final battle, it would have been a great to keep getting a bad ending until you had leveled up enough and built up enough war assets to have a more gratifying conclusion to the game. Dead Rising made this a great concept and it would have been excellent for Mass Effect 3. The ending of the game just makes things difficult to want to go back and spend the time to play through again. You can always measure a game's replay value by seeing how long it takes the game to go from its release date to appearing on the used game shelf at Gamestop.
Final Recommendation 7/10
The Mass Effect series has been a fun experience, but Mass Effect 3 feels like a let down in some respects. The concept of leadership and building a team can be more successful on a smaller scale and I would hope to see another Bioware RPG in the future. Making tough decisions is great, but the game ended up being very linear which gives you the feeling that everything is pointless after all. Mass Effect 3 is great if you take the time to do everything right but it would be hard to try to play through again, much less go on a Mass Effect marathon. And I feel sorry for all those who did play through both games in anticipation for this game.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/12
Game Release: Mass Effect 3 (US, 03/06/12)
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