Mass Effect 3 is the epic conclusion to Bioware’s colossal space opera. The game starts off six months after the events of Mass Effect 2. Commander Shepard is on Earth, he’s been grounded by the Alliance high command for destroying a Batarian colony in an attempt to slow the Reaper invasion. The game picks up when the Reapers attack Earth while Commander Shepard is briefing the defense council on the Reapers. You’re thrown right into the mix as the game’s opening sequence servers as the training section. Earth is on fire, and a large galactic fleet is Shepard’s only hope for taking it back from the Reapers. From this point on it’s up to you to decide how to go about saving Earth. The game has you traversing the galaxy in search of war assets which will aide you in the final battle. The lead up to the final battle is quite rewarding, however the ending of the series has taken much criticism from the online community. Many feel that the game’s ending was lackluster at best, I won’t spoil the multiple endings for you, but I enjoyed the ending for my Shepard, especially given the context of the entire game.
In 2007, when the first Mass Effect title released the game suffered from a horrible frame-rate, buggy friendly AI, and repetitive side missions. This time around Mass Effect 3 delivers with the best gameplay of the series. Over the course of the game you will be manning turrets, calling in orbital strikes, fighting Ninjas, and battling hordes of Reaper troops. Mass Effect 3’s varied gameplay is something you won’t soon forget. The overall touch and go cover gameplay is still present and much smoother this time. In Mass Effect 2 Bioware introduced the scanning mini-game where players scanned planets for minerals that would later be used for upgrades. Many of the fans found this to be a boring monotonous task. In response to this feedback Bioware scrapped the planet scanning for a more refined scanning mini-game where you scan the star system you’re in and if a war asset is close to the scan pulse it appears in a red circle, but beware every time you scan it raises the alert level of the Reapers and they will come and chase you out the system when the bar is filled. Each time you’re chased out of a star system the Reapers will remain there until you’ve finished a mission. This can make the gathering of war assets quite annoying, but still less dull than effortlessly scanning a planet for minerals. The side missions are done well with detailed environments and varying objectives that usually lead to you gaining war assets for the final battle. There is a lack of “hub” worlds in Mass Effect 3 compared to Mass Effect 2 which had four Omega, Illium, Tuchanka and the Citadel. Mass Effect 3 only has the Citadel, but it’s bigger than any of the previous “hub” worlds in the series.
Another point of contention is the lack of RPG elements present within the gameplay. Mass Effect 3 does offer weapon augmentations which does spice up the combat and provide a little more RPG elements in what is otherwise in action game. One of the things that is severely annoying is the rehashed armor types that were present in Mass Effect 2. Gamers expect new equipment and while there is, it certainly feels like it’s the minority in comparison to any new sets of armor players come across. In this regard it seems that the complaints from Mass Effect 2 were simply ignored, and Bioware was more focused on the action side rather than the role-playing one.
Mass Effect 3’s sound is one that fits the genre well. The music in the game ranges from epic battle music that gets your heart pumping, to fist pumping dance hits that you can enjoy in the Citadel’s club Purgatory. The graphics this time around are much cleaner than any of the previous games, but they’re nothing that will make you jump out of your seat. At times the textures can take a minute to pop in which can break immersion for some.
Bioware and EA decided to add multiplayer to Mass Effect 3 and it’s basically a glorified version of horde mode with random varying objectives every other round which keep the multiplayer interesting. You can unlock the different characters in multiplayer by using credits earned from completing the multiplayer missions to buy equipment packs. Also, players can level up their characters just like in the single player, but they will have fewer powers than Shepard. The multiplayer also affects the single-player if you want it to, but is not vital to completing the campaign.
Mass Effect 3 can suffer at certain points from a frame-rate drop, but these are few and far between. There are also some minor glitches I encountered like squad-mates not using their assigned powers or squad-mates not appearing in dialog scenes when the camera points at them.
Overall Mass Effect 3 delivers in every category. For long time fans of the series, it’s a must have, and it’s very easy for new gamers to pick-up and delve deep into. If you decide to do every side mission you can have up to 35+ hours of content, which is plenty for the $60 price tag.