It’s finally here, the conclusion to a trilogy that’s been six years in the making. A series that’s been said to be “This Generations most important Science Fiction universe” according Kyle Munkittrick of the website io9.com.
One of the claims that developer BioWare was making during development was that Mass Effect 3 would be a perfect entry point for players new to the series. I would have to wholeheartedly disagree. There is lots of terms and recollection of events that is mentioned offhand, very casually. This is not a problem if you’ve been following the series since the first game, but for someone who does not have that background, they’ll often be confused.
Another thing that will be lost on new players is the impact of certain events that take place in the game. They’ll have no attachment to the characters that fall throughout the story. One of the themes that has been used throughout the series is “Victory through sacrifice.” New players won’t have to sacrifice anything; there is no attachment to the characters, or at least not as deep of one.
The game plays like a fairly standard third person shooter. You take cover, you come out of cover and then you shoot guys. While that may sound monotonous, you pick a class at the beginning of the game that could change this. You could focus on using biotic powers (think the force), an engineer who can create drones to fight for you and combinations of all of the above. This is the best the series has ever felt when it comes to combat; it’s visceral, exciting and never feels like a chore.
BioWare has set such a precedent with story telling in this series. The universe feels fully fleshed out, especially if you end up spending hours in the games codex, which is basically the encyclopedia of the world’s fiction. It’s a universe that you will have no problem spending hours upon hours in, given that you like science fiction.
This is the first time in the series that they have had multiplayer. The multiplayer is only of the cooperative type; there are no death matches to be found here. It’s most akin to the “Horde” mode, made popular by Gears of War. The basic premise is you and up to three other players have to survive ten waves of enemies, accomplishing small objectives along the way. It reuses the classes that are found in the story, and it is a good way to test out new play styles for the main game.
I played the PS3 version of the game, so I cannot speak to the PC and Xbox 360 versions, but there seems to some technical issues. The framerate is not incredibly stable and get dip down into 20 frames per second at times. This basically means that the game will lose smooth movement, and that the action may look staggered and stuttered. I also encountered a bug where I could not enter an area in the game without it crashing. It eventually resolved itself and let me pass, but it held up side mission progress and definitely was something that should have been caught before the game shipped. There are odd bugs throughout like characters disappearing and reappearing seconds later. It definitely feels like this game could used at least three more months, just to iron out the technical problems. The end result is a rushed feeling, and it’s surprising that it shipped like this.
The players who are invested in the Mass Effect franchise will love this game. The ending has amassed a lot of controversy, with people petitioning BioWare to go as far as change the ending. I’m not going to spoil it, but I was extremely disappointed with the ending. I was ready to join the raving hordes of fans, ready to burn BioWare at the stake. Then I remembered the journey to get there. With so many expertly crafted moments between the characters and the story at large. Could 15 minutes really spoil a 20 hour experience? I don’t think so, but that is up to you to decide.