GAME NAME: Mass Effect 3
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox 360, Wii U
GENRE(S): Third Person Shooter, RPG
RELEASE DATE(S): March 9th 2012
The Mass Effect universe is one of the greatest fictional settings ever created in a videogame.
Full of likeable species and unique locales, it has generated a very large fan base that remains loyal to the stern hero that is Commander Shepard.
As the series finally comes to a close, does Mass Effect 3 end the franchise on a high note, or leave fans wanting more?
There’s a great deal of hope surrounding the third instalment in a series, and such hope has recently been seen in the form of Naughty Dog’s PlayStation exclusive Uncharted 3.
Uncharted’s arrival was approached with a pessimistic outlook from fans, who believed the game couldn’t top the previous entry in terms of cinematic quality. Luckily, the game’s release silenced the critics and set a new gold standard for single player cinematic experiences.
In a similar fashion, gamers were also left wondering just how Mass Effect 2 could be improved , and I’m therefore pleased to say that in Mass Effect 3, gameplay has been tweaked, weapons feel more powerful and biotic powers have been enhanced giving Shepard and his allies some serious firepower to take down the reapers. The story a direct continuation from Mass Effect 1 and 2, and is even more epic, jaw dropping and emotionally involving than its predecessors.
Character voice acting, arguably one of the best features of previous instalments, is just as brilliant in Mass Effect 3, with famous actors such as Seth Green and Martin Sheen making a return, providing flawless voice acting for a phenomenally written script. Joker (Green) is genuinely funny, and continues to be my favourite character in the Normandy (your own personal spaceship) to go and discuss the games events with.
Character models are also brilliant, and with new characters such as romance option Diane Allers (successfully portrayed by IGN’s very own Jessica Chobot) and returning favourites such Ashley looking better than ever, there’s always plenty to look at…
Cutscenes, dialogue, narrative, characters… everything you know and love from the predecessors has been improved making Mass Effect 3 an incredible experience for all.
However, it’s the truly epic and powerful narrative that pushes the game to being platinum standard.
A Story of Desperation
Mass Effect 3 sees the arrival of the Reapers as they execute plans to destroy Earth, the universe and everything Shepard has ever known and fought for. This invasion is perfectly executed, and gives the whole game a strong feeling of desperation and fear.
If you’ve played Mass Effect 1 and 2, you’ll be fighting desperately for a familiar universe which you love and one which is truly believable as a future setting. Personally, I don’t believe there has ever been another game which has a universe as gripping and loving as the one Bioware have so artfully created.
It’s like a big cuddly dog, just waiting for you to love it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that even newcomers will constantly fall in love with it over and over again.
Your opinions on races and situations play a pivotal role in how you tackle the story in your first playthrough, and you will therefore be forced to make some surprisingly difficult situations that can have catastrophic effects on entire races if you’re not too careful. The aforementioned races are represented by their Normandy representatives, all of which are likeable in their own way, and are at the services of decorated don Commander Shepard (IE, you).
Your choices can upset your friends and crew, and believe me when I say you won’t be able to live with yourself if you let them down. My own personal story had plenty of circumstances where I was forced to choose between characters and species I liked, making each decision a personal struggle for me, the player. The choices you are forced to make really can be difficult, and it’s refreshing to see real consequences for your actions in a videogame.
Unfortunately Mass Effect’s story is a story of loss, and oh boy is it depressing. There really isn’t any shame in shedding a few tears if characters you have loved since the first game begin to die, in fact it’s a true testament to the script writers, whose imaginations have developed one of the greatest, if not the greatest universe, in gaming history.
However, it’s worth noting that on my second playthrough, I noticed a lack in variety with the final mission. I had hoped that different choices throughout the story would lead to a variety of different situations at the final battle for Earth, but the mission was pretty much the same every time I played it. The endings were different, sure, but they also felt a bit too similar for me, which could be seen as a bit lazy on the developers part. Still, don’t let a couple of negatives put you off. The story can’t be faulted, particularly on your first time around.
The story is perfectly blended into the other games and carries on almost directly from Mass Effect 2. The choices made in previous games still matter, and these can have circumstances that can have dramatic effects on your playthrough. These really help the game feel more personal. The story really is your own. Romance is also a big part of the narrative, and although your romantic ventures from previous games carry over to Mass Effect 3, you don’t need to pursue them.
For example, a female character who I romanced in the second game contacted me at the beginning of the game, saying she wanted to meet. I went to meet her, but said we shouldn’t be together anymore and went off to romance someone else instead. This had a massive effect on the storyline as a whole, as the dumped female played a large role in the narrative, a prime example of how your own preferences to characters can make the story truly yours. Only Heavy Rain has yet to take advantage of unique choices within a story in the same way as Mass Effect 3.
Commander Shepard certainly lives up to his title this time around, as he is responsible for the control of, pretty much, the entire galaxy. He is required to raise an army, however this is no easy feat by any means. The galaxy is still busy fighting amongst themselves, meaning Shepard will need to help the galaxy first before he can lead fleets of ships and military units towards the final battle for Earth. Conflicts such as the Solarians and Turians with the Krogans over the “genophage”, a recurring conflict in the series, will need to be solved somehow by Shepard and your own views on the species and the events will affect how the situations end.
Seeing as Mass Effect 3 is the end of the series, it certainly wouldn’t be the end if all the loose ends that have accumulated over the course of three games weren’t tied. Luckily, the writers have created an amazing story which gives you the potential to see the end of everything you care about, bringing the series down to a fine close and leaving no stone unturned.
Continued on the next page…