Review by paleselan

"Nothing But Greatness from a Mass Effect Game"

The Mass Effect Franchise is nothing to scoff at. The universe created by Bioware is immense, crafting in immense amounts of lore and legend, nary rivaled by other games. Already spending 75 hours with the franchise I went in with incredibly high expectations, nothing less could ever be expected from a Mass Effect game, let alone a Bioware game. The game met my expectations head on, providing an experience that was epic and it felt like it too. This third installment proves that the Mass Effect “experiment” was a success.

The game does not start out small, unlike most other games; the reapers have come down straight to Earth, right down to Commander Shepard, the playable character. Total annihilation of the galaxy has begun for and time has pretty much run out. In addition to a collapsing galaxy several diplomatic problems sprout out in addition to the war as well.

Hatred still brews in the galaxy. Most species want to fend for themselves; they aren't focused on helping others. Whole races still despise each other, leading to a complicated situation in the galaxy. Everyone needs to be united, and Shepard is in charge of that. While all this trouble stirs between races, humans are dividing amongst themselves. This inner-fighting leads to a weakened human race. Shepard must deal with human, intergalactic, and apocalyptic problems.

He doesn't do it all alone though. In addition to friendly faces from previous games, new friends appear as well. This allows Shepard to reestablish and forge new religions. Unfortunately, there are less dialogue options in Mass Effect 3 than any of the other games in the franchise. This makes visits around the Normandy less entertaining, and forging a romance isn't as meaningful. Romancing a character now takes less effort than ever, which is slightly annoying in comparison to all the effort I put into the previous games when forging a relationship.

Not only is romance dialogue lacking, but dialogue choices overall are. In comparison to previous games I find way less input into conversations. There are times when I want Shepard to say something different, but the option is not present. This is disappointing, but is forgivable since the story itself is incredible. You still have the power to make the most important dialogue choices, so meaning to the game is not lost.

The story itself is ingeniously told. Many choices from both the first and second game had a consequence in Mass Effect 3. Some choices were more subtle than others, but most were present. The greatest part about many of the choices in Mass Effect 3 is that they're not just black in white. Although there is a reputation meter, measuring both paragon (good) and renegade (bad) options, it's not set in stone. Although I play through Mass Effect as a paragon, with many of these choices I was forced to set my controller down and think. It was no longer good or bad, it was finally my choice. This is a genius step. This freed me from my shackles of morality and now I could make the decisions that I would actually make in real life.

Unfortunately, the ending and conclusion to the whole trilogy was terrible. All of the endings were pretty much the same cutscene with a different color. I no longer felt like my dedication and time spent on the series mattered. All together I spent 100 hours on the franchise by the time I got to the conclusion, and it almost felt like a waste. The ending was incredibly confusing and didn't close off the franchise at all. I now have ten times the amount of questions than I got answers, and that is incredibly frustrating. Not only did I feel like my choices over the last 100 hours didn't mean anything, but that the developers that developed the ending were completely different from the ending of the game. There were so many contradictions with what was said previously that it amazed me. Although I do not support the fact that Bioware gave into the disrespectful, rude, and vulgar minority, I'm relieved to know that there will be some proper closure to the franchise.

Even with an outstanding RPG narrative, Mass Effect 3 also sports great third-person-shooter gameplay. All of the standard TPS elements are present with special abilities exclusive to the Mass Effect franchise. Special ammo and biotic powers (lifting, throwing, etc) are available to use and upgrade. Furthermore, Mass Effect keeps combat interesting with tons of different types of enemies, changing for every mission. These keeps combat from getting stale. These special powers and enemies make Mass Effect's combat unique and fun compared to other shooter games.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the side quests, or the multiplayer. Side quests are just fetch quest missions where planets must be scanned in order to find different artifacts. These missions are in no way unique, and are a complete waste of time. The same can also be said about multiplayer.

Mass Effect 3 is the first game to sport multiplayer, and I would much rather have preferred Bioware have used their resources on the ending instead. The multiplayer is only online, with no split-screen. This is already a blow to those that just want to play with their friends. Furthermore, the multiplayer doesn't boast anything unique. It's just a standard hoard mode. Shoot wave after wave of enemy leveling up your character. The maps were okay and the enemies didn't fit as well into an online multiplayer experience. The worst part of the multiplayer is that it's required in order to get the best ending. Three to four hours of the multiplayer must be played if the best ending is to be achieved. I played for 45 minutes and was already ready to be done. I hate when multiplayer is forced into a single player game, but I hate it even more when it is mandatory.

On the other end of the spectrum is the game's soundtrack, which is easily the best in the franchise. The composer captures the emotion and the mood of the game perfectly. One could easily listen to the music without dialogue and know that something dire is happening. The music is perfectly choreographed to major emotional plot points and easily initiates goosebumps when they happen.
Overall, Mass Effect 3 is a game of massive scope. It captures everything that ever went right in the franchise and brings it together in the third game. Although the end and multiplayer is heavily lacking the game still succeeds, and proves that the Mass Effect franchise is a success. The game can best be summed up by Mr. Don Williams Jr, an American writer, who said that "The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” In Mass Effect's case, the journey is one of the best in gaming, and that's what really matters.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/07/12

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

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