Mass Effect 3
|March 21, 2012||Posted by S.A.Perkins under reviews, technology|
So, after playing it for more than a week, I’ve decided to at last review Mass Effect 3, something which my editor has been harassing me to do for a while. Now, I appreciate that I did tell him if anyone else were to do this review I would actually tear someone’s face off, but come on, did he really expect me to stop playing long enough to review it? However, I’ve managed to tear myself away – mostly because I realised I do also have coursework I sort of need to do – and so here it goes: my very, very long-winded way of saying “It’s amazing.”
Gameplay-wise, things have only got better. The cover system has been tweaked and is much more fluid and easier to control. I can’t count the number of times I accidentally popped out of cover or got decimated by a rocket after I tried to roll from cover to cover in ME2 and realised that I couldn’t do that. Luckily, that’s changed here. You can also do some pretty nifty close-combat kills from cover, which almost equate to stealth, although who would stealth through this game? I sure didn’t, and I had a blast. The weapon system has been improved too, and with the new modification system you can really have an arsenal tailored to your specific play style. The fact the number of weapons you equip changes the power cooldown time shows that more effort has been put in to give players a tailored game experience, which I quite enjoy.
They have removed the planet-scanning element, at least to a large degree. That’s right kiddies. Sick and tired of that goddamn-awful beeping and music that accompanied the monotony of scanning planet after planet? Well, weep no more! Because they’ve replaced the planet scanning with a new method of scanning: you fly through systems and scan a wide area, allowing you to pick up specific rewards and items on planets, but rather than it just being remarkably risk-free any Reapers in the system will cause a “Reaper Alertness” reading, which if it fills up will cause the Reaper to come after you. The Benny-Hill style chases are actually quite fun, and it’s mischievously fun to grab some rewards and do a bit more scanning even as you run from the big crab-like Reapers – though I must admit I got a little too big for my boots a few times and promptly died.
Speaking of Reapers, this is indeed the conclusion to the Shepard story, with the Reapers invading and a galactic war springing up at remarkable speed. The story revolves around you escaping a rapidly falling Earth as you try to gather resources and build alliances with the various races of the galaxy in order that you might build a fleet large enough to defeat the Reapers and save humanity. The plot is suitably epic, with some really cool moments – a few of which belong solely to Kai Leng, the Cerberus cyborg assassin fellow who it seems was put there by Drew Karpyshn solely for the purposes of awesome set-pieces – and good conclusions to most of the character arcs. I’ve only completed the Liara romance plot so far, but that was done quite well (yeah, apparently I like the blue boobies; you can judge me later for my lack of interest in Ashley you fan-boys), and the characters that sprang up during ME2 were given good opportunities to show off their abilities. My favourite was Grunt’s, who proves once and for all that scaly frog-people are always going to be the most badass of badass aliens. However, I am surprised that none of them become your squad members. I wanted the old band back together, but they all seemed more interested in doing their own thing than helping me save the galaxy. Seriously. It seemed as if most of the people had a rather indifferent attitude to the whole “end of life itself” thing going down. I got sick of people saying things like: “Oh yes, we’ll help you with some of our ships, but first, go do this really trivial thing for us before we can lend you them.” However the whole story does come together brilliantly, and sets up the fight for Earth with a suitably epic backdrop that leads to, well, the ending.
I trust most of you have heard about the polemic opinions of the ending. Admittedly, it is a little Deus Ex Machina / Mary Sue (don’t know what that is? Look it up, you uneducated cretin) and I don’t like the fact that while we were promised dozens of different endings we were essentially given three, but here’s the thing: it’s not that bad. The way the internet community seems to talk, you’d think the end of the game just showed Shepard being anally violated with a metal shard wrapped in razor-wire, but it’s better than that. Sure, it’s not that good either, and I hope they do something with it for DLC packs, although the idea of that infuriates me because we all know the soul-sucking EA is behind it (and the expensive launch-day DLC, you bastards). Nevertheless, the fact is that it offers a conclusion to the story that gives a definite close to the story of Shepard. True, there are some elements of the final scene that don’t make sense – why the Normandy was randomly flying away from the battle, or how the people who had been on Earth with me magically appeared for the ending – but it’s not horrible.
What the ending could use is some explanation. People wouldn’t be complaining so much if the whole Catalyst element had actually been explained, which could have been done with, say, a short conversation with the Catalyst itself before you finally make a decision. Or maybe a final battle with Harbinger, with whom I was disappointed for his no-show. I just think if BioWare added a few more explanatory elements about the Catalyst and Reapers then people would stop complaining and whining. Seriously, people. Your opinions don’t matter. I realise the hypocrisy of that statement, but really, do you think because you’ve gone on the internet, spoiled it for others and posted about how you sold the game straight after finishing it you’re going to convince the company to spend millions on a whole new ending? You aren’t. Crawl back into your mother’s basement, you sad, sad creature, and go back to trolling on the internet.
Honestly, I hate people like that.
The multiplayer section of the game is good, though I’m a little annoyed at a certain Mr Hudson who promised that you could get the best ending without actually playing any of the multiplayer. Lies. Vicious, horrid lies. I had to play the multiplayer to get my galactic readiness (which helps increase your effective military strength and improve the ending) to any sort of decent level. But I like it, really. It is a derivative of Horde Mode from Gears, yes, but the addition of random objectives gives it flavour and a little variation from game to game, and the weapon customisation means you can have four different players with the same class but a very different play style. It’s nothing I’m going to play religiously (well, of course I will, but that’s just because it’s Mass Effect) but it’s fun and offers some little variation in gameplay. Also, I love being four levels lower than anyone else on the game and still getting a score that’s 10,000 points higher than anyone else. Yes, it’s a team game – one of my friends keeps reminding me that the aim in team games is not to personally win – but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to enjoy winning. Plus, if I hear anyone insult me down a headset because I haven’t revived them, despite the fact they charged into an enemy group without backup and got themselves killed, I enjoy just letting them die and then muting them. Seriously: don’t demand I “do my job” when it’s clear you can’t play the game. It won’t help you to get me to help. If I could shoot them myself, I would, because I hate them just that much. However, I am aware that it is a “team” game, so I let them live just a little bit longer.
Add all of the above elements with an awesome musical score, a cast of characters that is rich and interesting, and a galaxy worth of vividly imagined new settings, and you have a game that is simply brilliant. I don’t approve of everything that this game has done (multiplayer and launch-day DLC, I am looking at you skulking in the back behind EA. He can’t save you from the beating you’ll be getting). However, don’t listen to the internet chatter: the game is worth your time, and anyone who doesn’t want to buy it needs to be confined to some kind of insane asylum. Now, I’m out of here. I have a second play-through to complete!