Published on March 7th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Mass Effect 3 Review
Platforms: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Release Date: March 6, 2012
The Mass Effect series is one of the most beloved franchises of this generation–the modern day Star Wars, if you will, and with this kind of story telling it is without a shadow of a doubt that BioWare was going to conclude the saga with an epic finish. The first two were considered some of the greatest games ever made and, even though Mass Effect was not one of my favorite games, Mass Effect 2 set the bar for all sci-fi RPGs and story-driven titles. Mass Effect 3 also does not falter.
You play as Commander Shepard, and the Reapers are back and have finally hit home. Shepard has gone above and beyond his Spectre status as one of the first human spectres in the galaxy. He was working for Cerberus and stopped the collectors by passing through the Omega 4 Relay. Mass Effect 3 starts off with Shepard being grounded and on full surveillance until humanity is at the will of the Reapers, who are beginning to invade the galaxies. Earth and the humans are the first race targeted.
Shepard is tasked with trying to get the Citadel council to unite the races of the galaxy and to challenge the Reaper threat. This is great, however, the council is more concerned with using the time to build up their own defenses against them, and to hold on to their resources. Shepard will have to travel the galaxy, forcing races that hate each other to work together, and is impeded by conflicts from past games which spear head this friction. This is the heart of Mass Effect 3. The decisions you make truly have a lasting effect on the outcome of the game. The ways you talk to and interact with others have various outcomes in the game, so going Renegade or Paragon will have their own consequences.
Mass Effect 3 does a solid job of telling the story, and splits the game into a pure action based shooter, or a diplomatic story driven game. If you are new to the franchise, the game does a decent job of giving a little bit of background on what’s going on. You can create your ideal Shepard, like in past games, and develop him/her into the way you want them to act in the game. However, if you are a continuing player and import your character from a previous save file, you get that pure sense of “This is my Character that I have followed for 5 years.”
This is the character that you have developed a story and relationships and doesn’t go unnoticed. So, it is a good idea if you are a new player to start off by playing the first Mass Effect (if you’re on the Xbox 360, or second one if you’re on PlayStation 3). If you are new, you will be forced to make a new character and make some tough decisions from previous game that will affect the outcome of Mass Effect 3. Making these decisions without knowledge of the previous situations may leave some gamers feeling less fulfilled.
If you’re coming from Mass Effect 2, you will find that Mass Effect 3 just expands on what the second game got right. From the storytelling and combat, and the game takes very little from Mass Effect. Thankfully, the scanning planets for minerals elements have been removed. Yes, you can explore the different planets, but only a few of those planets will have something that you will find useful.
Side quests have also been cut down. Previous games allowed Shepard to take on a bunch of side quests that would take him from planet-to-planet, whereas Mass Effect 3 is so concentrated on the Main Story line that side-questing is almost an afterthought. You can still earn a few quests by listening to the conversations that other people around you are having.
The game also continues on the concept of having different classes to choose from, and the RPG elements are still there, just not as heavy as in the prior titles. Mass Effect 3 is still a heavy focused third person action shooter with class building, but the leveling system caps off at 60. The cover based shooting mechanics are still a focal point, and with the added melee mechanic, it makes the combat that much of an upgrade. With the improved combat, also comes improved AI. The enemies will react to your actions and tend to take cover on a consistent basis.
For me to talk about the graphics and environments in Mass Effect 3 is not a necessity. We all know the world very well, and we saw the graphical upgrade from Mass Effect 2 with the PlayStation 3 version. In Mass Effect 3 there are some little draw distance mistakes but the animations are fluid and authentic. The world is large and extremely elaborate; from the attention to detail from the water physics and the general look of all the different planets, the game is guaranteed to leave you in awe.
The voice acting and music is still very, very strong. The dialogue feels authentic, and the character interactions feel fluid and realistic. The musical score is very impactful. Take the opening of the game for instance, when Shepard takes off in the Normandy after the Reapers invade for the first time. That opening cinematic, tied in with the musical score prepare you for an emotional roller coaster that Mass Effect 3 takes you on.
If you are curious as to how the Xbox 360’s Kinect features work, I can tell you in a very brief way that you will probably feel more comfortable and immersed with ignoring the voice commands. That’s not to say that the Kinect does not work well, it does it just feels like I am constantly yelling at my television screen to get my squad mates to move and mix their powers up against enemies. That’s just not the way I would like to play this series, even though it does work well.
Mass Effect 3 brings with it the series’ first multiplayer mode. No, it’s not some tacked-on game mode that serves little to no purpose, it is actually very entertaining and fun to play through on a consistent basis. It is not a necessity, but if you do play multiplayer you do gain resources for use in the single player campaign. Think of the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer as a Gears of War-style Horde Mode. That is essentially what it is, just not as strong. You have 11 waves of combat. All of the stages are taken from the single-player campaign against adversaries that are also from the campaign. You can play with up to four players and each player can choose a class and character associated with that class. With each kill, spell used, and weapon upgraded, you will earn points. The points can then be used to unlock more weapons, mods and abilities for your character to use.
Mass Effect 3 is genre defining, and can even be considered generation defining. This is the ultimate franchise that sits very high on a pedestal that other great franchises are perched on. Even though it is still early in the year, this game will not be out of the “Game of Year” conversation at any time. This puts the exclamation point on the series, and fans of the franchise will not be disappointed. Even if you’re new to the series, now is the time to dive in. Even though it is strongly recommended that you start from the very beginning, there is very little wrong with this iteration, and what the series gets right. This is the kind of game that you really don’t need a review score to know this is going to be worth the money, and it was definitely worth the journey across the galaxy.
[xrr label=”Rating: 9.75/10″ rating=9.75/10]
+ Strong story
+ Voice acting
+ Graphics and environments
– Fewer side quests
– Less impact full to newcomers