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Mass Effect 3 Review

It’s time to take back earth.  We had been warned and did nothing, and now the Reapers are not just knocking on the door, they are storming through our house.  There is only one man who can do what needs to be done to not only save earth, but every other life form across the galaxy.  That man is Commander John Sheppard, and “Mass Effect 3” is his last stand against the Reapers. Will the third Installment of the series go the way of “Return of the Jedi” and “Return of the King” and wrap up the series strong, or will it go the way of “The Godfather Part III” or even worse, “Robocop 3”?

I know this game has been out a while and, in all honesty, I got it Tuesday morning and had the heart of the game and a lot of the side missions beat by Wednesday night. I played non-stop for pretty much 23 hours according to the game clock.  Okay, so let’s get a few things out of the way before I start this review.  Going into “Mass Effect 3”:

  • My Commander Sheppard was male
  • I had completed “Mass Effect 2”
  • All of my crew members survived
  • I was a full-on Paragon
  • I told the Illusive man to go fuck himself and destroyed the Collector Base
  • I had played the original “Mass Effect” and beat it, but the console I completed it on was not mine so I could not carry it over

This review is going to be hard because things play out differently for everyone.  Your choices in the game truly impact damn near everything. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.  “Mass Effect 3” is the final chapter in BioWare’s epic space-adventure-RPG-amazingness series. If you have not played the first two, I feel sorry for you.  They are truly some of the best video games ever made, and make a great argument for video games to be thought of on the same level as movies, music and, hell, even art.  Anywho, quick rundown: It’s the future and humans have found out they are not alone in the universe.  In fact, they are the annoying little brother.  Traveling throughout space to different planets and systems is achieved through devices known as Mass Relays that were built by an ancient extinct race and are now used by all species.  Everyone caught up? Good.

“Mass Effect 3” is a truly beautiful game.  The insane amount of detail put into levels is amazing, be it walking into the bar Purgatory as people dance while techno pumps, catching random pieces of peoples convos, all the way down to the great facial animations.  You could just take all the cut scenes, play them together and watch them for hours.  The game is just that well done.  Weapons look amazing.  Planets look amazing.  Even the little knick-knacks you can buy, like replica ships that just sit in your cabin, are great to look at.  I only had two issues with the graphics. The first one is, coming from “ME2” to “ME3”, everything seems a tad bit darker, which I understand is probably to drive home the fact that the galaxy is in dire trouble.  The Cerberus Normandy in “ME2” was a bright, happy, open place and in “ME3” it is dark and just doesn’t look good anymore.  They added clutter, which I guess is to show the difference between a government ship and a private sector ship.  Also, the conversation wheels look fine when you just have to choose between regular conversation points, but when you can make a Paragon or Renegade conversation choice they seem blurred and ugly.  This is also the first game that I went and downloaded its soundtrack.  The music in the game is great.

The gameplay is maybe the best for any cover and shoot game out there.  For the first time in the series you can climb and drop down at certain points.  Your squad AI is is pretty spot on. I only experienced a few hiccups such as squadmates not moving with me or just not moving when getting killed, but it did not happen enough to really mess up the flow of the game.  It’s a solid third person shooter and enemy AI is challenging and not always just a place to keep my bullets warm.  Enemies provide a challenge and the shooting and covering system makes you forget you are playing an RPG.  Although, before the game starts you can choose how the game will play for you, If you just want to shoot and watch cut scenes you can pick Action Mode.  That takes the conversation options out of your hands and just lets you focus on the action.  Another mode you can choose gives a story driven experience: Story Mode.  It lowers the combat difficulty and gives you the ability to make the conversation choices.  Or you can pick the truest form of the game, RPG mode, which has the action of Action Mode and Story Mode’s conversational choices.

The gameplay is not flawless.  There are a few issues that made me want to rage quit a few times. The Cover/Vaulting mechanic is slightly flawed since they are linked to the same button(you hit A or X depending on your system). There were more then a few times when I would run to a crate or ledge in an attempt to vault over and I would instead take cover.  That’s no big deal right?  It is a big deal because there are times when in cover and hitting up and A to vault, you instead just pop out of cover or start moving up and down whatever you are hiding behind.  Also, there were times when running to cover while being shot at by a turret you reach wherever you wanted to take cover and nothing happened, you would be exposed and getting shot at, and no matter how much you hit A nothing would happen.  It was frustrating and lead to more then a few deaths at key moments.

Another issue I had was that for some reason they moved a weapon class. In “ME3” you cannot carry a heavy weapon and you have weight limits, which sucks.  That is one of the things I hate about RPGs and to now have one thrust upon me pisses me off and is uncalled for.  Oh, and I do not know if this was just my version of the game, but the time I spent waiting for doors to open was crazy.  For some reason I would spend 5-10 seconds just watching the green interface disc spinning on the door.  There were times i would walk away and come back a few seconds later just in time for the door to finally open.

The story in the “Mass Effect” series is incredible, and up until the ending “Mass Effect 3” delivers another amazing story.  I will not go into a nerd rant about the ending because you cannot do it without releasing spoilers.  I am just gonna put it as this: there are logical holes in the ending and you are left with a few annoying questions but the overall endings make sense, they just left out some details that are annoying.  I will admit right now that there were three times before the ending that had me close to crying.  You grow attached to these characters, you form friendships with them, and maybe have a romantic relationship with some of them. This game is different than most because when you beat it, it isn’t just another game you beat. You feel that you accomplished something. And that is because of the deep story,  In the game you can choose to cure a disease and save a race, you can bring sworn rivals together, and you unite nations to help a race of people recapture their home world. The game puts these incredible decisions in your hands and they do not feel cheap or throw away pieces. Choices you made in the first game have sent ripples that have shaped and molded your gameplay five years later. The story to me is second to none, These three games were my “Lord of the Rings”(the books).

This is just an incredible game and even a slightly flawed ending does not tarnish how great of a game it is. Yes, the ending angered some people, but the overall story is amazing, the gameplay is tight, and the graphics are beautiful. The fact that your choices from past games have molded this one and the fact that their are times you truly feel hopeless is very cool.  You end up caring for characters, which is something that a lot of games aim to achieve and fall frighteningly short of. The “Mass Effect” series achieved that and it is what makes this game so much more epic.  “Mass Effect 3” is a beautiful, enjoyable, deep game that if you call yourself a gamer or you are a fan of a great story you have to play. You owe it to yourself.

Final Verdict for Mass Effect 3:

5 out of 5