Games You’ve Slept On: Mass Effect 3

No GravatarI had been dreading playing Mass Effect 3 for years because I knew how bad the ending was.  In fact, I procrastinated for a couple of years by continuously playing Mass Effect 2 over and over again.  Well, after I finished ME2 four times through, I decided it was finally time to move onto Mass Effect 3.  I began the game with a bit of trepidation, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that ninety-nine percent of ME3 is actually an amazing game.  It’s that pesky one percent that wrecks the whole thing.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, let’s concentrate on the good:

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Mass Effect 3 is a third person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in March of 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and eventually Wii U.  The game uses the Unreal 3 Enginge and improved upon the graphics and game play of its predecessors.

For a moment, let’s pretend that the last five to ten minutes of the game does not exist and only concentrate on the good parts of the story.  And there are many.  Mass Effect 3 leaves off where ME2 left us: after years of warning, the Reapers finally come and invade Earth.  Commander Shepard is recruited to rally a force that will be able to stop them.  After finding a an ancient Prothean artifact on Mars that may be the key to the Reapers’ undoing, Shepard and his team must gather materials and help in order to build the device that will hopefully save Earth and the rest of the galaxy.

It’s a really fun story line, though it’s a bit desperate at times.  There is still a bit of humor thrown  in every once in awhile to keep it from being too dark (i.e. Joker’s The Hunt for Red October joke, which was quite a cute little Easter Egg).  Since the player accumulates resources throughout the game, every missions feels like it matters, even the side missions.

Again, just like the first two Mass Effect games, the space setting is done right.  ME3 has more of the amazingly rich settings that I have loved about the franchise, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the pseudo-science jargon feels like it could actually be real.  From the relays to the use of biotics to the Crucible, everything seems to be plausible and like it could actually happen.

For those players who had played through the first two games, there is an overlying tone of sadness as many of your previous team’s homes get wiped away by the Reapers.  There are also some set characters that will die on you, and depending on how you played the previous two games, others team members may go as well.  I actually cried several times during the game because I had gotten so attached to a few of the ones that died.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Mass Effect 3 moved me so much that I cried.  I cried more in ME3 than ME2, which I enjoyed much more.  The game would have been amazing without those last ten minutes, but I will leave aspect last.

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The game play was actually much improved from Mass Effect 2…once a player gets used to the controls.  I had some issues with the roll from cover to cover for a bit because I was so used to the mechanics of ME2.  After awhile, I got much better at it.  Though it still has standard duck and cover, third person shooting elements, I found that the game enemy AI was much sneakier than in the first two Mass Effect games.  Multiple bad guys would actually try to outflank me on many occasions, something that happened very rarely in the ME2.  The RPG elements felt pretty similar to Mass Effect 2.  In ME3, the missions take on a sense of desperation.  Even better, the planet mining that was the worst part of ME2 has been replaced with a scanning for resources in ME3.  I can be a pain because the more the player scans, the more the Reapers are attracted.  This could be an annoying feature.  However,  at this point, anyone can Google any sector and get the precise places of the resources.  Problem solved.

Just like Mass Effect 2, ME3 is not a typical open-world RPG because of the whole space thing.  However, just like with the previous games, the player does get free roam of the galaxy, as long as there are no Reapers actively looking for you.

Mass Effect 3 continues with the great choice-driven tradition of the series.  Unfortunately, that goes down the drain in the final few minutes, but the rest of the game gives you some amazing choices.  The ability to make decision that will affect how the game goes is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players still have the option to player Shepard however they’d like.  Dialogue options are more paragon/renegade focused without as many neutral options.  One thing that I did not like about the dialogue options was that a player has to hit all of the right paragon options earlier on in the game to get the “good” Illusive Man response at the end.  I totally missed it, but I really didn’t want to mess with a walk-through on a game that really shouldn’t need one.

Mass Effect 3 is one of the few last-gen games that I can still play and not cringe a bit.  It still looks great.  The upgrades from ME2 were amazing.  The characters looks great and the environment looks even better.  The regular game play is great, but the cut-scenes are what really look amazing.  It is still a game that I would recommend to play graphics-wise even after a year and a half of the current gen of consoles.

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I cannot say enough of the amazing voice actors that have contributed to Mass Effect 3.  BioWare pulled an amazing team together, as always.  Honestly, nothing really disappoints in this game.  Well, except…

Everything goes downhill in the last ten minutes of the game.
I honestly felt like I wanted to hit my head through a wall when I finished the game, and I am not exaggerating.  How can you go from such a great story to such a disappointment?  The last ten minutes of the game are just absolutely awful.  I don’t even really care that Shepard dies no matter what.  He did go up against the Reapers, but the explanation about why the Reapers were destroying everything made no sense.  There was also no real ending choices.  The player basically gets to choose what filter color he or she wants over the end sequence.  I am not exactly sure what BioWare was trying to do there, but I’m assuming that it was a rush to get the game out for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, that rush led to one of the worst game endings in the history of video games.  It’s unfortunate too because the rest of the game is so good.

I still love Mass Effect 3, despite the ending.  To get around the ending, I recommend stopping after saying goodbye to all of your teammates and friends.  Then you can just make up a better ending in your head because what BioWare gave us is just awful.

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