Mass Effect 3 Review (PC)
Mass Effect 3 is the final installment in the critically acclaimed third person role-playing game series. BioWare, creators of the franchise and no stranger to controversy, had fans in fits about the overall ending of the game.
I must admit to being wildly curious about what had created all the fuss and though I studiously avoided spoilers, it was impossible not to anticipate something about the ending being different.
I finished, curiosity urging me onward and though I finally experienced the notorious ending, I was still confused about what had made everyone so upset.
So I went online to see if I could figure it out. There were lots of reasons, but it distills down to one thing, people didn’t like that it wasn’t really a happy ending. (I’m trying not to spoil it.)
The ending was dramatic and final and I didn’t mind it at all, but then I was prepared for something unusual, maybe I was simply expecting worse. But mostly I think the entire game was preparing Shepard for this difficult ending. Mass Effect 3 seemed to have a higher percentage of ‘resulting in death’ choices. (No, Shepard doesn’t necessarily die; ugh, okay that was a spoiler.)
The whole experience was still really enjoyable. I played on easy since I really didn’t want to struggle with combat. This also allowed me to skate by without having to min max my character or fuss with my teammates. Thank you BioWare for making my game experience be as micro management free as possible.
But for multiplayer all these things matter. Though I don’t have to worry about teammates anymore, I do have to make sure that my character is as effective as possible in gear and power usage. Thankfully the internet is here to help me catch up. =)
It is interesting to play a game that is so directly linked to its previous versions. It almost feels like three iterations on the same game with the last being the best and final product. Mass Effect 3 is certainly the most refined version.
Much of the grinding that was inherent in the previous version has been smoothed out, like the gear upgrades or planet probing, while the skills have been expanded to allow for a bit more customization and choice.
But it’s still a third person shooter with finite ammo and missions. There are still plenty of cut scenes and lots of conversation trees, just like a fan of the series would expect.
All in all I think this is really my favorite of the bunch. Not only do the missions seem to be more cohesive, but also the entire meta game is simplified and streamlined without loosing depth.
The overall mission of the game is to build up armed forces, by doing whatever it takes to forge strong alliances.
In the process Shepard must make tough choices, it is war after all and the consequences of losing are much more dire then any of the previous games.
For anyone who has played the previous games, saved games may be imported at the beginning of Mass Effect 3. But all those choices that were made before are carried over and do make a difference. Which has been one of the franchises biggest selling points. The story you create while playing the game continues on, into the next game.
Despite all that, there are still plenty of tiny graphics glitches with animation and clipping. Like all games that try for too much realism, these little oddities are more noticeable since they clearly defy reality.
But in the end, what I am looking for in the graphics if for them to not impede my enjoyment of the game and Mass Effect 3 certainly delivered in that regard.
Mass Effect 3 feels like a much bigger game then the previous two. More of the choices have dire consequences, thus making a replay seem more feasible. There are also different character classes to try out and of course harder difficulty levels.
But the real reason to keep playing is multiplayer. BioWare finally added it to the franchise in this final installment and it seems like the perfect time. This way the game isn’t really over.
I honestly didn’t think I would like it, but wanted to try so I would have something to say about it for the review. After logging in and making a character, I joined a few games and suddenly two hours had gone by. I was quite surprised at the amount of fun it was.
What I like best is that it’s cooperative multiplayer. Four human players team up against the computer in various tower defense encounters. Each wave has a new set of opponents and tasks to complete.
Each match will earn you money and experience, which can be used to upgrade your character and unlock new options. (These can also be purchased with real life money.)
It is really fun and I’m not generally a fan of shooter multiplayer. I haven’t had that much fun playing with random people in a long time, maybe ever.
The other thing that is quite interesting is that there are online multiplayer events every so often. The community is tasked with a huge goal that requires everyone’s participation to succeed. If they do, goody bags are the reward.
Things that bothered me (This got a little long, sorry.)
-I don’t like my choices
One of the big things about this game and series is that the choices you make as a character effect the entire game, even games to come. But there are two things that I am not so fond of in the Mass Effect implementation.
First, the overall story doesn’t change almost at all regardless of my choices. The fact is this is a huge game and it’s simply not cost effective to make a game where people only really play a third of the content. Which is what would happen if there were real story divergence due to choices. This rift would simply continue to widen as the games progress.
I understand all this and sometimes wish I could skip all this fake deciding and just get to the playing.
The second is that quite often I don’t like the choices presented. Who wants to pick between an awful choice and horrible one?
Again, I understand they can’t make choices to suite everyone on the planet, but it does serve to strengthen my preference to skip all the fake role-playing stuff.
It also seemed that in Mass Effect 3 there were more of the really horrible choices to be made. I wasn’t happy about having to loose as many characters as I did.
-Menus didn’t stick with my selection
This is just a little UI pet peeve. I found the selection process to sometimes be a bit frustrating, as the hover over to select didn’t always stick. I will always prefer the click to select routine.
There were sooooooooooo many missions, pages and pages and it was impossible to sort through them all. The mission log failed to be helpful in anyway.
I hate dream sequences, especially ones that are pointless.
-Resetting Reavers to go probe
While probing wasn’t quite as endless as it was the previous game, I did have to contend with the Reavers breathing down my neck. What I ended up doing most of the time was that I would just fly around and scan as much as I possibly could, revealing all the hidden loot and then flying off before the Reavers could catch me.
Problem was that if I came back the Reavers would still be there. The only thing I found that could reset them, to not being on alert, was going on a mission. This made gathering a rather frustrating experience since it essentially had forced mission breaks.
-Item and level dependency in multiplayer
This is rather a kiss/curse. While the leveling of characters and equipping them is fun, the way that the item gaining game is set up is rather frustrating. Points gained while playing multiplayer are used to purchase Packs, which contain random items in them. There is no way to purchase a specific upgrade that you want or need.
Well that’s not quite true, you can spend real money on purchasing as many packs as you want.
The real problem is that better weapons make a huge difference. As a new player I am finding myself rather ineffective. Not only am I low level with very few powers, I am also stuck with the most basic weapons and no weapon mods.
It’s a little frustrating since I don’t like being the dead weight on a team. But I also feel odd buying my way to gear upgrades.
-Single use items in multiplayer
Each pack comes with five random items, three of which seem to be these single use items. Equipment seems to be usable for a single mission, while health and ammo packs are immediately used up.
I’m just not a big fan of this. Its probably more my personality, but I hate the idea of running out of something. There might be a dire emergency when I would really need it. Logically I know that saving it for this theoretical magical moment is silly, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway.
Progress (Time played/Game finished)
I finished the single player campaign on easy and don’t really feel the urge to go back and play it again. It took me around twenty-six hours. I did complete all the side quests and collected almost every single item found through probing the planets. I was very thorough.
But I am quite interested in playing some more multiplayer, especially the community events. I’ve play around six hours of multiplayer and leveled a character up to 14. Sticking with the female human adept for now.
I played an all ladies team on as many missions as I could. Also Edi and Joker. <3