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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Mass Effect 3 Review

Publisher: EA Games

Developer: BioWare

Release Date: March 6

Grade: A-

So this is how Mass Effect ends - not with a bang, but with a whimper.

For anyone unfamiliar with the series, Mass Effect is a sci-fi RPG and the previous two installments are widely regarded as two of the best games ever made. However, like Return of the Jedi and The Godfather Part III, Mass Effect 3, while a worthy closing chapter in an epic saga, fails to live up to its predecessors.

When the gameopens, the long-fabled reapers are arriving on earth and effectively destroying, well, everything. Yet again it's up to Commander Shepard to bring the alien races together in order to defeat the robotic baddies. This means making friends with half of the species, gunning down the other half, and finding one lucky alien - or human if you're not feeling too adventurous - to essentially be your intergalactic prom date.

Any returning fans of the series should be able to hop right in and be content with what awaits. The cinematics are more beautiful than ever; the story is satisfying (mostly); and it handles even better than the previous two.

The story is actually quite captivating. On one side you have this robotic alien species intent on wiping out all sentient life in the galaxy and, on the other, a radical human terrorist organization that appears to only exist to make Shepard's life more difficult. Throw in a few personal squabbles for good measure and you have Mass Effect 3 in a galaxy-sized nutshell.

It's well written, for the most part, and the voice acting throughout is the best this side of the Milky Way. With contributing voice talent like Seth Green, Martin Sheen, Keith David, and Lance Henrikson, the dialogue exchanges are almost as fun as the frenetic firefights.

The downside to the story comes in the closing moments of the game. Without giving anything away, it should suffice to say that your benevolent or malevolent choices throughout don't carry as much weight as one might expect. It essentially comes down to a game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe to decide the fate of all life in the galaxy.

Gameplay wise, the series hasn't changed much in the two years since ME2, and that is by no means a bad thing. It's still very much cover-based action oriented and equipping weapons and powers still runs seamlessly through the selection wheel as in 2. Don't be surprised to find yourself hung up on some random bit of cover every now and again, though.

There are a few slight enhancements here and there, however. As made famous by the Mario Bros., Shepard can now jump. Well, he can jump when prompted to do so. In keeping with this newfound acrobatic ability, he can also roll in the middle of a firefight. They're small additions but good ones. They help the combat feel more fluid and natural, assuming you're playing with a class that suits your style.

All the classes of the previous installments are back and they brought along a couple friends. Whether you're strictly a run-and-gun soldier, a telekinetic-esque biotic, or some sort of combination, you're guaranteed to find a class that's tailored specifically to how you want to play. The best part about the classes is that they're all available in multiplayer.

That's right, one of the most definitive single player series of current gens has gotten a multiplayer upgrade andit's more impressive than the Normandy's overhauls. It operates much in the same fashion of Gears of War's Horde mode or Halo's Firefight, in which you and three teammates take on several waves of enemies. Along the way you'll earn credits and be able to upgrade your character and weapons.

The most interesting part of the multiplayer, and what really makes it work in a Mass Effect setting, is that it directly impacts your single player experience. How combat ready the galaxy is in your campaign is dependent on the level of success you have in the multiplayer.

All in all, Mass Effect 3 is a must-have for any fan of the series or sci-fi RPGs in general. The vast majority of the time spent playing should keep you in a constant state of awe akin to that of staring up at a starry night sky. Unfortunately, when the credits roll you're left with a bitter aftertaste courtesy of the lackluster conclusion.

That is, until you start your second play through and get lost in the galactic romp yet again thinking maybe, just maybe, next time it'll end differently.

Email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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