The end is nigh… Mass Effect 3 review
Back in 2007, when BioWare announced it was producing a series of RPG’s that would change the face of games, most of us rolled our eyes to the skies and judged it as simple marketing ploy. The company claimed that it was to produce a trilogy of games in which the storyline carried over the actions of earlier gameplay choices. But truthfully upon reflection BioWare has done just that…
The first Mass Effect was like nothing ever conceived, an almost perfect western RPG that pulled you in from the first line of dialogue, mind-blowing action and a crazy experience. Then the second Mass Effect was released and it dramatically built on the first and gave an all-round stunning experience but still couldn’t reach the coveted 100% review mark.
Last week, the third and (perhaps) final game in the trilogy landed on my desk. Within hours the game was in my console and it has yet to leave it. From the first graphic of the opening scene you know you’re in for an amazing journey. BioWare have out done themselves, with what I can only call their masterpiece. The game is the perfect combination of exploration, progression and combat in a vast universe.
The story for this instalment is simple; playing as Shepard you must fight back against the Reapers, who have made it to Earth and launched a devastating attack on the planet, killing millions. For those of you yet to play the original two games, the Reapers are an advanced mechanical race who, every 50,000 years or so, wipe out all organic life in the universe and their first stop on the campaign is Earth.
Side note: if you have yet to play the first two games in this series, stop what you are doing and go get them. Why? Well, because they are brilliant.
Like oh so many good RPG’s, there are six different character classes, each focusing on a different set of tactics, weapons and each with their own special skills, ranging from an Adrenaline mode for the Soldier, to a Tactical Cloak for the Infiltrator or the Biotic Charge for the Vanguard.
The good news for those you who have lost hours honing their Shepard’s skills/character from the first two games, you can still import your profiles again and this time, your previous choices have a huge bearing on how the game and story plays out. If this is your first time, you’ll get a set of choices that the studio has deemed the key decisions but, for the greatest experience, (last time preaching I swear) it’s probably for the best to go and play through the last two titles before going through this new one.
Nearly everything in the game is improved. The graphics are sharper, and so are the enemies. Levelling up is slightly more flexible, and weapons are vastly more customisable. Customization has been brought back from the first Mass Effect and now plays a heavy role when configuring on your armor and weaponry, as you find different add-ons on your missions that offer a variety of bonuses that perk your health, shield power or shield regeneration, melee damage, and even stuff that will make you a better sniper.
Mass Effect 3 delivers an almost flawless gameplay experience, as you’re presented with all sorts of missions and side-missions (many which you can get by simply jogging past the relevant conversation), whether they’re related to the story or just secondary in terms of importance, and the action is neatly structured so that you don’t get the feeling you’re overwhelmed by all sorts of things, all at the same time.
The tedious planet scanning and mining of Mass Effect has been replaced with the gathering of war assets and a “galactic readiness” meter. This is the element that ties it everything together, the ongoing challenge that sees everything from a unit of Marines to an entire space fleet helping you in your final showdown against the Reapers.
One new element to the game is the co-operative multiplayer. RPG’s and multiplayer games don’t usually go hand in hand but strangely this new element of gameplay proves to be the perfect side dish. Made up of 10 wave survival matches, which can be played across six sprawling maps and even allows you play as races other than humans, with Krogan, Turian and Drell forces each adding their own unique flavour to the battle. A four-player skirmish with experienced players is amazing to watch, as biotic and tech abilities smash into brutal firepower for some spectacular showdowns.
All in all this game is a sum of its parts and is gaming on a grand scale. It’s truly a magnificent finale to Shepard’s epic saga. Apart from some slight graphic slips and lips being out-of-sync, everything about the game is astonishing, as full story lines and loose ends are tied-up, long running comrades return and there are still some significant surprises.
Mass Effect 3 is simple a magnificent game and one gaming experience you can’t miss out on. Think of Mass Effect being the Star Wars of this generation’s grown-ups.
Goodbye Shepard and I hope we meet again sometime in the future.
98% / 100%