Mass Effect 3

Genre: RPG
Platform: PS3, XBox 360, PC
Allegiance: Bioware
Vintage: 2012
Rating: M

Intelligence Agency Report by Shadow:

The Reapers have come for Earth.  As Commander Shepard stands for his court martial, the Reapers lay a devastating attack on all of humanity, destroying countless lives in mere minutes.  Shepard is forced to leave Earth to get the support of the Council while Admiral Anderson stays behind and leads the resistance.  Unfortunately, the rest of the Council doesn’t see the Earth’s plight in a kind way, the Turian home world is under attack, and the Salarian and Asari counselors don’t see a reason to help.  Shepard must find a way to save Earth, and it may just come in unlikely alliances.

Field Agent Report by Shadow

Plot: 10.00
Characters: 8.00
Gameplay: 9.00
Visual: 9.00
Audio: 9.00
Impact: 9.00

Overall: 9.00

Mass Effect 3 (ME3) once more hit the mark for controversy in the series.  Though, not for alien sex or questionable morality, but for the ending.  The short story is that gamers feel shafted by the ending, which is rumored to have been set as the ending because someone hacked the original ending and posted it, resulting on BioWare’s “revenge” by giving us a poor ending.  That said, it should be ignored, and the game should at least be played and enjoyed from a gameplay and plot standpoint.

Like Mass Effect 2 ( ME2), the player is able to import characters that survived the final mission of ME2.  For ME3, this results even more heavily in the plot line being altered as well as characters that are alive to assist or harm Shepard in the player’s ultimate goal: the salvation of Earth and all of humanity.  Unlike ME2, there is no comic book that will help make initial choices from the previous two games, so prior decisions have to have been played through and imported.  Players that will want the full ME3 experience of choices being carried through will either need to play ME and ME2 before hand, or use the comic book and ME2 (something PS3 gamers will have to do).  Gameplay is much the same as in ME2, especially in terms of combat and abilities.  The main changes are that the combat system now allows for considerably better melee options, running and shooting is no longer suicide, the abilities system is enhanced, and there are more armor and weapon choices for the player to use to decimate Reaper forces.  Also, the planet-searching has been heavily reduced to point location, which makes it much simpler to find items that help Shepard with the war against the Reapers.  While planet-searching is much simpler it now comes with the risk of attracting the Reapers, which will chase Shepard and the Normandy if they detect them.  This adds an element of fun to the game both in terms of the challenge of eluding the Reaper, as well as occasionally doing it just to piss them off.

Part of the character development of the game is that your previous choices are still in play and heavily affect the story line, which will in turn influence other characters and actions.  ME3 handed you a slew of new characters that are well-developed, as is typical of a BioWare game.  Returning party characters bring the feel of a bond to the game, and that brothers-in-arms (and a few sisters) are still with you.  Garrus, Liara, Tali’Zorah, and Ashley return to help fight the Reapers, with the new editions of EDI and James.  Further developments of the characters occur during the game, and romances from both ME and ME2 can still be in play, and can even result in love triangles that must eventually be worked out.

Graphics and audio get minimal time in review because they are simply an upgrade of the ME2 engine.  While they are better, it wasn’t an impressive stretch from what was previously accomplished.  This is acceptable, however, because any massive improvements on ME2 graphics would probably begin to bog the system and result in lengthier load timings.

The plot is engaging and straightforward: save Earth.  Simple, until galactic infighting presents a problem.  The plot becomes about interspecies relationships, human emotion, and a sense of desperation that permeates the entire galaxy.  The story runs through anger, revenge, sorrow, and denial, as well as a slew of other emotions.  The plot in the game actually will tug at any hardcore gamer’s heart strings, in a very masterful and tasteful way.  Part of what makes this successful is that BioWare looked at the failures that happened in parts of ME2 and Dragon Age II and worked very heavily to improve from them.  The plot ties in to all of the gamer’s previous choices, as well making moral decisions even harder than ever before.  Despite the poor ending, this was another game that is worth buying instead of renting because of the engaging story and the fun that goes with it.