Review by Cortolio

"This Franchise Peaked at Mass Effect 2"

Mass Effect 3, the closing chapter of the Commander Shepard story. No other franchise has attempted what Bioware set out to do with this series. For each game you, the player, crafted your own adventure, and decided the fate of the galaxy. As the final game in this saga Mass Effect 3 should be the end all in personalized RPG goodness. It is far from that.

Gameplay 7/10

A good number of the undesired mechanics of Mass Effect 2 have been improved upon. The tedious hacking challenges have been truncated and the planetary scanning system has been streamlined. You no longer have to play a guessing game as to which planet to start scanning, the game pretty much points out where all the goodies are.

Weapon customization has been brought back from Mass Effect 1, but now you can actually see the new additions you've outfitted your guns with as you play.

The controls for combat are still a little iffy. Sprinting and taking cover remain allocated to the A button and many a death will result from unwillingly gluing yourself to a wall when running away would have been the desired route. For some reason directing squad mates to take up positions has become nearly impossible. Instead they will just use their assigned powers on whatever location you toggle.

Besides control issues, the combat remains fast paced and fun. Assigning skill points has been expanded upon compared to Mass Effect 2, which was itself a step back from the first Mass Effect.

In Mass Effect 3 there are only seven possible characters to have on your team, and only three of those characters are new (that's if you count EDI) This is a letdown because you could have a maximum of twelve in the previous game.

Another grating aspect of the gameplay is you virtually only fight Cerberus and The Reaper forces for the entirety of the story. This takes all of the sense of discovery out of the experience because you always know what to expect when you go into battle no matter what planet you're on.

Graphics 7/10

There's not much to say about the graphics in this game. Compared to 2, the settings are a little more diverse and multi-faceted and that's about it. Character models range from looking crisp, to just plain ugly (mostly the human characters).

The framerate chugs in areas where more than 10 NPCs are milling about. The loading times have been improved upon slightly when you are navigating around the Normandy, however the Citadel is still a pain to explore.

Sound 9/10

The score for this game is dynamic, memorable and moving. Though maybe more Michael Bay than Sci-Fi, it's still nicely apt for a game of this genre.

Gun sounds are not too noteworthy, but the Sound FX during rendered cutscenes are fantastic. Big space battles really come to life with Dolby Digital 5.1 support.

Multiplayer 5/10

I never thought I'd be factoring this into a Mass Effect game, but here it is.

The multiplayer is Horde mode, plain and simple. And it's just that, plain and simple.

The fact that you have to play it, though in order to boost your stats for the singleplayer portion of the game is absolutely asinine. It even goes so far as to affecting the ending! Thanks Bioware.

It seems like whenever a new feature is added to a franchise (IE multiplayer when previously there was none) developers have to sacrifice some other element of gameplay to make room. I wonder what got scrapped because EA insisted they put this money grabbing feature into the game.

Story 6/10

Without getting into spoilers at all it must be said that this game ranges from being engaging and pertinent to being completely incoherent and contradictory. It is no falsehood to say that this game has one of the most controversial endings of any entertainment franchise.

For eighty-percent of Mass Effect 3 the game stays true to its lore. Some long lasting conflicts get resolved, and interesting new elements are revealed as the player progresses. This is all well and good…

And then the game takes a nose dive.

Again, without spoiling anything, the final few hours of this game are akin to diarrhea after enjoying a nice dinner with friends. Mass Effect has always been about exploration and choice, so why does the final part of this game turn into the movie Independence Day?

You'd think that being the final iteration of this series that there would be more closure. Many character side stories get left completely in the wayside. Prepare for disappointment as the plot holes will suck you in more than all the good points of this game.

Overall 7/10

Mass Effect 3 sports decent gameplay, a mostly engrossing story, and some genuinely great additions. However, a convoluted ending and bizarre creative decisions mar what could have been an amazing milestone in twenty-first century gaming.

Here's hoping the upcoming DLC will expand on what they left out.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/09/12

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

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