Mass Effect 3 Review
- Posted March 16th, 2012 at 16:08 EDT by Michael Harradence
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Mass Effect 3 is unequivocally the game to beat this year. If you're not a fan, this is a great time to hop on board the Normandy.
- Superb plot filled with gripping twists and thought-provoking choices
- Finds a great balance between ME1 and 2 in terms of combat/upgrades
- Multiplayer is surprisingly solid
- Some minor performance issues
- Quest management not as good as ME2
(continued from previous page) ...nucleus of Mass Effect 3’s driving narrative, and the basis of the Military Readiness system, which basically gives you an idea of how prepared you are for the decisive, final battle. Progressing through the game earns you War Assets to augment the Alliance’s forces, whether it’s a squad of infantry or a full-scale Turian fleet. These are primarily obtained by completing the plethora of missions on offer, or scanning planets for valuable assets. Sure, some are rudimentary fetch-quests, but the bulk of tasks are filled with meaty narrative elements and frantic, action-packed segments. I found them to be pretty varied and compelling indulgences, each one feeling meaningful to the greater good.
Naturally, rallying the galaxy for War Assets isn't a cakewalk. Calling on the plethora of races out there for aid intrinsically opens up the door to some of the Mass Effect series’ most profound decision making to date, and your moral compass will be working overtime as you cope with the numerous political, military and philosophical turbulence of the population. Races harbour deep animosity, factions are bitter rivals, and it’s up to you to try and unite them for the good of the galaxy. Do you cure the Krogan Genophage at the risk of alienating their long-time rivals the Salarians? Do you spring a known criminal from the brink to gain the loyalty of a notorious mercenary group? These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of decisions to make.
However, the perennial threat of the Reaper invasion really accentuates the choices forced up on you this time, more so than any other game in the series to date. And, while it’s hard to tell how much is just smoke and mirrors, I ultimately felt that I was making a difference, and the repercussions of my former actions definitely weighed on my mind. That’s something few games can boast. Planet scanning also returns, though it's far removed from the laborious incarnation of its predecessor. Now, simply scan the immediate area, locate the source of interest, scan and probe for assets, and bob's your uncle. Just be careful; spam your scanner too much, and you'll have to avoid a fleet of Reaper ships that spells instant game over if you're caught.
The contentious multiplayer also plays its part too. Essentially Mass Effect’s take on Gears of War’s Horde mode, you team up with up to three other players, taking down waves of enemies, be it Cerberus troops, Reapers or Geth. Furthermore, major races are now playable, such as Turian, Krogan and Asari. Players can level-up powers in a similar manner to the campaign via EXP points (though available powers and guns are limited compared to the main game), and use earned credits or real-life funds to purchase randomly-packaged perk packs. Make no mistake, multiplayer is a tough gig; I teamed up with a friend, and even on the lowest setting available we were pulverized on the eighth wave. The combat holds up on its own merits even while separated from the narrative trappings of the single-player, and BioWare has made an effort to nullify any potential monotony by giving you objectives throughout, such as taking down specific foes or disarming devices. It’s a fun experience, and while nowhere near as consequential as your actions in the campaign – you can do a fine job without even touching multiplayer – it serves as a pleasant addition nonetheless.
BioWare has again done a top-notch job at bringing to life an intricate, futuristic sci-fi playground. Character models are showing a few wrinkles after the likes of L.A. Noire arrived on the scene, but still showcase a surprising amount of depth. Locations really shine however, with areas such as the Citadel, war-torn Tuchanka and the lush Salarian home world exquisitely realised; some are punctuated with small touches that really pull at the heart strings, such as countless ‘Missing’ photos lining the Citadel’s docking bay flocked by concerned loved ones. Other elements aren’t ... (continued on next page)