I remember playing the first Mass Effect way back in 2007 and it captivated me as a gamer, this was a new type of RPG/Action game, with choices that would impact the galaxy across not just the original game, but also promised to do so for the next 2 games. I almost wish Saren didn’t die in the original, as he would have made quite the adversary in the sequels. Mass Effect 2 perfected the flaws of the original’s gameplay design, while fleshing out the story with more characters that became like family by the end. The final chapter in Shepard’s saga is here and now that the dust has settled, it’s time to look at it logically and without biased or swayed public opinion.
The story picks up 6 months after “The Arrival” DLC from ME2 which saw Shepard blow up a Mass Relay to delay the Reapers’ invasion, but in doing so wiped out thousands of Batarians and is under lockdown on Earth, when suddenly he is summoned to the council. The Reapers have started their attack and no-one is prepared for it, Shepard escapes Earth in the Normandy and must unite all the universe to work together to save not just Earth, but the whole universe.
Now if you’ve played the past 2 games can import their ME2 save, which will impact which characters make an appearance in the game, as well as a few references to past decisions that were either a good or ball call, but I was a little disappointed that certain big choices like choosing to either save or destory Maelon’s data on the Genophage or saving/destroying the Collector base had little to no actual impact to the story. The real elephant in the room has to be the ending, which is causing a lot of controversy along the internet as I type this and while I agree it’s far from perfect, to consider it the true end of Mass Effect is silly…we all know that DLC will come along at some point to correct this, not to mention an inevitable sequel of some sort.
Gameplay remains the same as in Mass Effect 2, although combat has become more fluid and challenging thanks to the sheer number of enemies, not to mention the defences that they carry. Enemies vary from Husks, Reapers, Geth, Cerberus troops and even a few surprises along the way. Travelling across space is the same as before, but you can’t stay scanning all the planets for too long before the Reapers come to chase the Normandy, but scanning them is essential to raising your Effective Military Rating, which preps the galaxy for war, although I’m not actually sure if it really makes a difference to the outcome if you choose not to, besides unlocking an achievement.
You will have to make some difficult choices in Mass Effect 3, not just who Shepard will bunk up with before the final mission, but settling old rivalries in the galaxy, like the Krogan/Salarian and Quarian/Geth conflicts. I was happy with the outcomes available, although I’m going through the game again on Insanity to see what will transpire if I decide differently. You can choose your character class like in past games, I personally like being a Vanguard and I’m using Particle Rifle as it has replenishing ammo.
Multiplayer was always going to be a difficult area to please fans of Mass Effect, but Bioware have done a decent job in producing a 4-player Horde-like mode called “Galaxy at War”. Essentially you pick the level, enemies to face, difficulty and survive for 10 waves, while spending the 11th wave trying to survive before being picked up. It’s incredibly difficult, even on Bronze challenges as you can only use certain power-ups, while you have to stock up on medi-gel and missiles with the money earned from playing (or buying them online if you are so cheap) and there are also timed objectives during the waves like securing an area, hacking terminals or defeating specific enemies before the clock runs out.
Visuals in Mass Effect 3 are impressive. Each planet looks beautiful and is well designed, while character models look nicely upgraded from it’s predecessors. There are a few framerate slowdowns from time to time, but luckily it isn’t too often. Voice-acting is superb as always, not to mention a brilliant soundtrack with some truly emotional tunes.
So Mass Effect 3 may not have delivered the true finale that we were all hoping for, yet it remains a truly exceptional game in its design, the multiplayer is addictive as well and I’m pretty certain that the story of Shepard is far from over. I’d seriously recommend picking this up if you havent already, and just relax regarding the ending, there’s an old saying that “the end is just the beginning” and I like to think that this is the case regarding Mass Effect 3.