Mass Effect 3 review
At last, the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy has arrived. Fans of the series have been anxiously waiting to see how their Shepard’s story will conclude in Mass Effect 3. It has been nearly five years since we first took control of commander Shepard to save the galaxy from Saren and the reapers. Now, the reapers are more fearful than ever and their intention is to wipe out every living species on the galaxy. The fate of the entire galaxy lies on your shoulders and it’s up to you to determine how things will turn out.
What Commander Shepard was afraid of is actually happening; the reapers are hitting earth and caught the entire galaxy off-guard. Knowing that earth has no chance to win the war alone, Commander Shepard leaves earth to gather forces and unite the galaxy to settle the war with the reapers once and for all.
What made the story in Mass Effect 2 such an engrossing tale wasn’t the main plot, it was the great characterization and the excellent dialogue. In Mass Effect 3, the main focus of the game’s story is once again directed at the characters. Yes, we have a galaxy to save and the game does a great job in convincing the players that everything is on the line, but it’s the memorable interactions with the game’s characters and their stories that will excite you and pushes you to play the game to the end.
The most unique feature in the Mass Effect series is players can import their saved files from the previous game into the next one. Depend on what you have done in the previous games and what choices you made, the story in Mass Effect 3 will change accordingly. For example, if you have chosen to kill Urdnot Wrex in Mass Effect 1, he won’t appear in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, and will be replaced with another Krogan as a clan leader. Also, if you have chosen to preserve Maelon’s genophage cure data back in Mass Effect 2, Wrex (or the Krogan leader) will be relatively trusting and friendly, but if you destroyed Maelon’s genophage cure data back in Mass Effect 2, Wrex (or the Krogan leader) will be hostile and suspicious. This feature makes the entire experience dynamic and feel personal, and it’s really impressive how Bioware pulled it off across the entire trilogy.
The combat in Mass Effect 3 is similar to the combat we had enjoyed in Mass Effect 2, but there are some new additions that make the combat more refined and enjoyable. Thankfully, commander Shepard can now roll to evade enemies attacks and he can move from cover to cover Gears of War style. The melee combat has also been improved; If an enemy is very close to you, you can do some hefty damage to him by performing a charged melee attack.
However, the cover system in Mass Effect 3 isn’t perfect and it doesn’t work as good as you would hope for. In many times during my time with the game, I found myself being exposed to enemies gunshots and attacks because of the wonky cover system in this game.
Fans of the series were disappointed by the lack of variety in the weapons in Mass Effect 2. Fortunately, Bioware has addressed this issue in Mass Effect 3. Throughout the game, you will find different types of pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, etc scattered around the areas you are going to explore in the game and almost every weapon feels and looks different.
If that isn’t enough for you, you can customize your weapons with different scopes, mods, barrels and other things. Furthermore, you can level up your weapons and make them more effective in combat by spending some cash.
The most frustrating thing in Mass Effect 2 was the mining planets mini game in which players dig up mineral materials for upgrades. The idea was terrible and repetitive. Thankfully, Bioware replaced that mundane mini game with something less repetitive and time-consuming in Mass Effect 3. Instead of going to every planet and stay there for over 3-5 minutes scanning for materials, players can now scan areas and see if there is anything valuable to obtain while they are roaming the world map on the Normandy.
If you scan an area occupied by the reapers, a meter will be filled up gradually. If it gets filled up completely, the reapers will be aware of your place and their ships will start chasing you. If they catch you, it will be game over for you. It’s pretty lame that you can’t fight back and you only keep running from them. I was hoping to see ship to ship combat in this franchise a la Skies of Arcadia, but it seems that Bioware wanted to play it safe instead of creating something that could have been amazing.
You will travel the galaxy and help other species and gather war assets to aid you in the final battle against the reapers on earth. What will happen in the final mission depends on how many war assets you have accumulated. Another factor that plays a big part and determine which ending you will get is something called the readiness rating, a percentage by which your single player War Assets are multiplied by. To raise the readiness rating, you have to play the online co-op mode where you and up to three other players have to survive waves of AI enemies and complete objectives (similar to Horde mode in Gear Of War games). It’s a harsh system because if you don’t want to play the online co-op mode it will be harder for you to get the best ending possible. The co-op mode isn’t bad at all, but I only played it just to raise my readiness rating.
Mass Effect 3 is the best looking game in the series. The game runs on the latest version of Epic’s unreal Engine 3 and thankfully, Mass Effect 3 has some noticeable visual improvements over its predecessor. The lighting effects are prettier than ever, the texture work is great and character models are highly detailed.
Even though the game looks great, the facial animations are sometimes jerky which makes the conversations -sometimes- between characters look awkward. Also, you will notice Commander Shepard’s awful running animation immediately and you will wonder why his/her walking and running animations look worse in Mass Effect 3 than in Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 3 has one of the best voice acting I have ever heard in video games. The characters have been wonderfully brought to life that’s due to the excellent work done by the actors in Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect 3 is really an amazing experience and it’s a better game than its predecessor. The combat is more enjoyable, the level design has improved and the RPG elements are deeper. Despite the controversial ending, the story is fantastic, emotionally gripping and atmospheric. If you are a fan of the series, getting Mass Effect 3 should be no-brainer, but if you are newcomer, I recommend playing the previous games first, simply because, you will not feel any real connection with the game’s story or its characters if you jump immediately into Mass Effect 3.