Title: Mass Effect 3
Platform: PS3, 360, PC, Wii U
Release Date: PS3, 360, PC – March 6th 2012
Wii U – December 18th
Genre: Action RPG, Third Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
– Brilliant voice acting and compelling music
– Breathtaking atmosphere
– Polished gameplay mechanics
– Large fantastic story and developed characters
– Fun horde-based multiplayer
– More linearity than previous games
– Clunky controls
– Multiplayer required to get a 100% campaign playthrough
Prices as of April 14th 2013:
Origin – USD $19.99, GBP £14.99
Minimum System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7
- CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD CPU
- RAM: 1 GB for Windows XP / 2 GB for Vista or Windows 7
- Graphics Card: 256 MB with Pixel Shader 3.0 support
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible
- Hard Drive: 15 GB free disk space
Reviewed by FrontalSpy
The galaxy is on the brink of destruction, all life is about to be annihilated and billions of lives slaughtered. There is only one hope left, you- Commander Shepard, be it man or woman you are the galaxy’s last hope against the reaper invasion. Whether you tackle it with great vigour and ruthlessness or with compassion and loyalty, Bioware has masterfully scripted and written a story to end Shepard’s story in the immersive Mass Effect Universe. Treated as a hero, a symbol and the only one that can prevent the Reaper’s total annihilation, your actions throughout the game will ultimately affect the game’s ending. Aided with your trusty companions and heart breaking choices from previous games, Shepard must embark on his/her greatest- and possibly last- quest to save the galaxy once and for all.
Bioware has treated this game with ultimate care. Mass Effect 3 is a brilliant game to end a brilliant trilogy. The story is its greatest asset built on the emotions and connections Shepard has made with his/her companions throughout the games and various attempts of saving the galaxy. Built upon this, is the brilliant voice acting done to bring the characters alive and identifiable in the galaxy. It is all a breathtaking experience and atmosphere heightened by the compelling music that adds so much more to the game. And new to the franchise, is multiplayer. Multiplayer is based on the horde-mode from Gears of War, surviving waves after waves of enemies with your mates and fellow soldiers. It isn’t all great and an utopia, with the game taking a more linear approach with less varied side quests and planets to explore. This PC port also gets a small fall with the controls being at times frustrating and clunky. Delve into the final chapter of Commander Shepard and Co. to save the galaxy from the largest threat ever.
Set after the many downloadable contents for Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard has managed to set word out about their impending doom, a Reaper invasion. Reapers are vast intelligent and sentinel beings that purge all life forms and adapt opposing civilisations into their ranks. Shepard is called for a meeting about the Reaper invasion becoming imminent, until they suddenly attack- Earth. The first planet to be attacked, with its strongest forces Shepard must escape the onslaught to fight them back. Looking on, the Reapers start to decimate all life on earth, destroying the billions of civilians and buildings throughout the planet. Shepard manages to escape, and is tasked to unite the galaxy together just to even pose a threat to the Reapers. Shepard must unite all the council members, all the races together and the technology into one power to stand a chance against the biggest threat.
The first half-hour pretty much sets up the entire game. The attack on Earth sets the tone and urgency for Shepard to quickly bring a force large enough to face the countless Reaper forces glassing and annihilating earth. As you travel throughout the first level you can see all the destruction caused by the Reapers. It saddens you that you need to leave the very planet you want to protect. Rather than joining the fight to stop them, you run away to gather more forces- and even Shepard hates that. Amongst the end of the first level, you pretty much see the scale of the Reaper invasion- it’s a gloomy picture. The race to stop the Reapers becomes your ultimate goal throughout the game, and it doesn’t get overshadowed completely. Even when completing side missions or wondering around on board the Normandy, you are constantly reminded of your mission to save the galaxy. Almost all of the side missions themselves have some connection to your main quest, helping you anyway they can along the way and you will need every single piece of help you can get.
The game offers three different game modes for every different type of player: Action, RPG and Story. Action is more focused on the shooting mechanics and combat, and the choices in dialogue are automatically selected and blended with cutscenes. In Story mode, the combat sections are much easier while the dialogue options are entirely up to the player. RPG mode is the more traditional game mode mixing in both challenging combat and challenging choices. The story is the main focus for any RPG, and the Mass Effect series confidently shares that perspective. Throughout the entire Mass Effect experience the rich story is its main selling point, and makes it unique. It’s an emotional, complex plot that is the pinnacle of the experience. It’s obvious that Bioware has built on the story since the beginning of the series, adding piece upon piece of brilliance to the immersive story.
One of the game’s most unique aspects is dialogue. Throughout all the games decisions from dialogue choices would affect the entire game’s outcome. Many of these dialogue options are quite black and white split between Renegade and Paragon- Renegade being unruly and criminal and Paragon being lawful and understanding. This system has affected how players played and enjoyed the game in previous entries, and here too this affects a large portion of the game. Playing either side will allow different types of benefits ranging from weapons to even different companions sharing your final journey. This reputation system allows players to experience their game differently to others, to enjoy the game their way. In Mass Effect 3, the morality has combined into one bar rather than the two for each moral. This combines both your paragon and renegade choices into one concise meter that affects your future choices. This gives the game further depth into the prominent role your placing on Shepard.
Many things return and are affected from not only Mass Effect 2, but the first as well. If you do have a saved game from either, those choices can be imported and affect your game of Mass Effect 3. This covers from the look of your character to the impossible choices of sacrificing your own companions for the job. The ability to carry on your stats and choices plays a big impact on the immersion within the Mass Effect universe. Atmosphere plays a major factor into many Sci-Fi medium. In Mass Effect 3 the atmosphere is simply breathtaking. With the overcoming urgency of the Reapers, you really do experience the fight for survival in full flight. The breakdown between political powers, the cry for help or the mental image of a burning planet sets the grim atmosphere. Whether its Shepard fending off waves of Reapers or choosing a decision that would change the entire fate of a species, you constantly feel the dynamic atmosphere changing with every little moment that passes. The atmosphere is also enhanced by the excellent score that embraces all the emotions significantly. From the powerful and beautiful main theme to the upbeat and heroic scores during the battles to eliminate the Reapers, the music serves its purpose tenfold to bring the ultimate atmospheric game to life.
Different to many traditional Role Playing Games, the Mass Effect series incorporates a very solid third person shooter. Almost enemy and ally in the game have two status before being killed: Shields and health. Shields are a short rechargeable covering that can protect the person. Health can only regenerate up to a certain point then medi-gels (health packs) are used to heal the rest. Shields can be easily taken out with biotic powers and health with headshots. The game primarily encourages the use of cover and has a pretty smooth slip in and slip out cover system. Whilst in cover, you can blind fire at enemies- taking them down with getting much damage, recover your damaged shields and crawl around. The cover system has been upgraded to allow further strategic planning. These include the ability to roll from cover to cover in an easy fashion, moving around corners easily and being able to vault over cover for easy travel. This improved cover system makes the combat much more enjoyable, but the shooting is only half the action. Another staple are biotic powers which vary depending on the role you choose at the beginning of the game. You can select from either Adept, Engineer, Infiltrator, Sentinel, Vanguard and Soldier. All these classes have different powers and will alter your method of gameplay. For example, an Infiltrator will have stealthy powers such as cloak, while Vanguards are more offensive and use close range powers such as shockwave. This along with the dialogue options greatly increases the player’s ability to mould the game to their liking.
There are heaps for customisation options ranging from the type of powers to use to the weapons, armour and companions to travel with. Weapons wise, the game allows every class to use any weapon, and is only limited to weight of the weapons. If you are overweighted with weapons, you tend to gain negative attributes. Weapons can be modified by adding different parts such as barrels and scopes. These all change the weapons’ attributes to give more damage, accuracy, reload times etc. There are many types of weapons to choose from and each have distinct and different pros and cons to them. Vanguards should use shotguns to get close and deal massive damage, and Soldiers should use assault rifles. Armours play a big role in combat adding useful attributes to Shepard. You can either build your own armour set with bits and pieces or buy an entire set with pre-set attributes. This large amount of customisation further enhances the gameplay and immersion of the Mass Effect Universe. Melee has also been changed and given a massive boost, so Shepard can quickly dispose of close by enemies with breeze at close range, which also opens up new strategies.
There are different planets to visit, many of which are Cerberus bases. Although being ‘non-linear’ the game’s side missions and free-roaming feel more restricted and linear than previous games. Since everything ties to defeating the Reapers, you never feel apart from your main mission. This may sound like a good thing, but for a large RPG, it doesn’t feel very large at all. Many of the side missions themselves are salvage missions which items can be found during main missions or in salvaging and rescues. Despite having many side missions, you tend to forget them as you move along. Throughout many cases you won’t even know you finished a mission, due to how quests are set up and how hard it is to check where to finish the quests. The game’s newfound linearity is a negative impact on the overall experience, possibly to allow a tighter, action based story that doesn’t draw its attention away from the atmosphere and main goal.
Although Reapers are the main threat, Shepard’s old pals Cerberus and the Illusive Man are also a big threat. Throughout most of the game you’ll have many encounters with them with your mission to destroy the Reapers. Their objective remains very unclear and their large involvement interesting. Most of Cerberus’ goons are typical soldiers with guns, shields and health. Every now and again you will face harder archetypes such as nemesis, which pack a big punch. The AI at times can be quite ‘stupid’ with many of the enemies not going into cover when you’re far out or not getting out of cover when you are behind them. This can snag up some easy kills but looks out of place, it also gets frustrating when your own do this. The Reapers mainly use harvested civilisations as their main force. Husks are melee units that try to climb on Shepard’s back but usually get stuck on pieces of cover lying around. There are a good amount of variety of enemies and require different tactics to take them out. This makes the combat much more pleasing and tactical.
Mass Effect 3 manages to look great even as a PC port. The game isn’t very demanding and focuses a lot on lighting effects. The game has a great art direction that has been praised before. All the enemies, different races all look distinct and unique in their own way. They may look terrifying or even nightmarish but they all look graphically amazing. The game runs on Unreal 3 and holds up, even with all the particle effects of Reapers firing lasers, Mobs sprinting into cover or massive pretty explosions occurring everywhere. The game does a great deal to convey a massive war, with many burning planets and buildings in the distance and other insane events in the background. The character models look pretty good and so do all the weapons and armour that Shepard can switch out and in of .There hasn’t been any crashes or freezes that I have experienced so far.
Controls are pretty tight and sometimes clunky. To make the cover system more fluid, many of the commands are confined to the space bar. This includes: moving into cover, moving out of cover, moving from and to cover, opening doors, using items, vaulting over cover and more! Having pretty much an ‘action key’ to do almost everything is very infuriating. Shepard will do the wrong action many times throughout the game and this will kill you. Trying to go into cover? Nope, lets vault over that cover. Want to open that door? Let’s slide into cover. This happens many times and gets on my nerves. The rest of the controls are all good. You can bind your powers to your quick bar, easily order your companions to do your biding and shooting feels spot on.
And then there’s the controversial ending which is rather flat and not up to par with Bioware’s standards. While the ending itself is not the best and may seem like a betrayal, it doesn’t derive too much from the rest of the experience.
Singleplayer Score: 85/100
New to the Mass Effect Franchise is multiplayer. It isn’t competitive multiplayer but co-operative wave defence multiplayer. Modelled after the popular Horde mode from Gears of War (another cover based shooter) you can three other players must survive wave after wave of increasingly tougher opponents. There are a few objectives in this mode, from killing X amount of guys to surviving for X time and capturing a certain point. This can be played in three difficulties from bronze to gold. For multiplayer, you need to create a brand new character with new weapons and powers. All the classes and powers are the same. There is also a store to purchase weapons, weapon parts, equipment, experience points or even set characters. Set characters are characters from the single player and have set abilities which can pack a punch. The customisation is the same as the single player and levelling up is determined by how well you held up in the match. You are given awards to boost experience and these awards are based on your individual actions. Many are standard shooting awards such as headshots and melee kills.
The multiplayer system itself is not bad using matchmaking and neglecting dedicated servers. I guess Origin has something to do with it. Regardless all the matches are fine, load well and have no significant lag at all. All the maps are straight from the single player. Many offer different strategies and have different levels of depth involved. Going in guns blazing will mean a quick death, so careful planning and good cover will prolong your death. The multiplayer is surprisingly good fun and is done well. A four player co-op mode against waves of enemies is a great choice of multiplayer and is executed well. Constantly playing and winning matches will increase your galaxy readiness in single player. The connection between multiplayer and single player is that you increase the morale of the fighting section- or whatever. This is a very odd implementation for a big single player focused franchise, letting the multiplayer ultimately being a must play to get the best ending. Many will not even touch it and will not experience a full ending. But for those who do, will get a good blast out of it.
Multiplayer Score: 85/100
Mass Effect 3 has been riding the hype train since its announcement and much of the hype has been repaid. The game delivers on many fronts improving the combat immensely and creating a strong atmosphere. Although it improves on combat, it does take a step back on the Role Playing side of things restricting many ‘non-linear’ experiences to be had. The multiplayer is a very nice and surprising add-in allowing for some fun four player shenanigans. The controls hold up the game somewhat and so does the requirement of multiplayer to properly finish the single player campaign completely. Mass Effect 3 is a marginally acceptable ending to one of the greatest franchises, ending Shepard’s story in a big epic finale. And it’s been a great ride from the very beginning.