9 May 2013

The Mass Effect 3 Post

So it's done. I have finished the Mass Effect trilogy.

And what an experience it was. A unique combination of shooter and RPG, with some thrilling storytelling, wrapped up in a delightful space opera setting. Over 100 hours of fun times in total. (You may wish to check out my commentary on Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 before you proceed.)

Of course I don't want to build up too much hype. Like any thing, it won't be to everybody's tastes. And it's not like the games are without flaws. But, on a personal level, I did rather fall in love with the series. Saying it was my favourite game might be jumping the gun a little, as there are of course many games out there I really love, but it's definitely very, very high up on my list.

But onwards to my commentary on the third instalment!

I don't want to give out too much spoilers, of course. But as this is the finale of the trilogy, we're obviously heading into climax territory. A final showdown with the Reapers is looming. The entire galaxy is at war.

This premise means we're in for an epic story... but, as a downside, Mass Effect 3 seems to have the narrowest scope of the trilogy. It's all about the war, the big picture, less about individuals and exploration. You'll mostly just be fighting a couple different, relatively faceless factions. Even your choice of squadmates is more limited than in the previous game.

Gameplay remains mostly quite similar to Mass Effect 2, although there are some small changes again. There's a little more equipment management again, though not the full-blown inventory management of the original game. On the other hand, some of the mini-games (like hacking computers) are gone. Scanning planets remains, but in a very stumped form that makes you question the need for it in the first place...

In action you'll need to pay a little more attention to healing, as you'll only regenerate a portion of your health bar. Cover still plays a large role, perhaps even a little more refined than in Mass Effect 2. And you do need to be cautious. Some enemies can do a lot of damage in a very short time, if given a chance. Like the previous games, I played through it on normal difficulty. There were perhaps a few more challenging, even downright difficult parts this time, particularly towards the end of the game, even though I was at a reasonably high level (or at least I couldn't think of much more to do to level up). But nothing I couldn't beat in the end, and it was all pretty fun.

I probably visited many more systems than in the previous games, because this time exploration directly benefits the galaxy's readiness for the final battle. However, this exploration didn't feel particularly rewarding, mostly consisting of just scanning systems, without much action or story.

Technically, it may have felt marginally more glitchy than the previous game (but clearly more stable than the first game). Some of this was caused by the game still heavily loading data at the beginning of some scenes. Unlike the PS3 versions of the previous games, this one didn't install data on the hard drive, which I expect will have increased load times somewhat. Naturally being the newest game it's also probably a little more detailed visually, and there was some fairly decent music, too. But that stuff's just dressing, the meat of these games is elsewhere.

At around 40 hours, it was a little shorter than my playthrough of Mass Effect 2, but this is due to the fact that, unlike the first two games, the trilogy box version of Mass Effect 3 didn't include DLCs (not even the expanded ending, which you have to download yourself). There are several additional missions available, of course, but, frankly, they're relatively pricey and, alas, I just couldn't afford to buy them right now. Maybe for my next playthrough... Oh, and speaking of the ending, I'm going to steer right clear of that whole controversy. Suffice to say, I had no problems with the ending as it was now.

Oh, right. There's that multiplayer mode too. And... I couldn't be less interested. Seems kinda pointless. But I guess there are folks that enjoy teaming up to shoot some bad guys... Me, I'm all about the story.

I seem to be kinda focusing on negative aspects above. But the truth is, I loved every minute of this game. Now my main problem is, though, that the next game I play won't be a Mass Effect game...

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