Mass Effect 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), even before its release, was highly anticipated as the finale to the exceptional franchise. Five years ago we were given the first Mass Effect: a masterpiece in gaming lauded for its deep storytelling. Part 2 gained praised for its enhanced gameplay, graphics and continuance of the compelling story arch. Stellar runs have to come to an end at some point though, right? Well, in the case of ME 3, the series pulled off a three-peat.
Continuing where the first two games left off, Mass Effect 3 follows commander John Shepard in his final chapter in his battle against the Reapers. The Reapers are massive machines that destroy life in the galaxy every 50,000 years to restore order. The game begins with the Reapers starting their annihilation on Earth as you control Shepard to gather assistance from other factions and planets. Selecting moral choices are the backbone of this games once again as they determine Shepard’s fate. They also determine who will assist Earth in that final push against the Reapers and play a role in how your roster develops in your quest for more support.
Mass Effect 3 retains its action/RPG meets third person shooter marriage. Along with Shepard’s arsenal, you can still control your crews powers, attacks and positions: making your team more dominant. Shepard could to do this in previous games but the positioning points and NPC shots are more accurate in ME 3. This is necessary, since ME 3’s AI has considerably stepped up. The upgraded cover scheme helps with switching between cover and dodging projectiles. Enemies range from 12 inches to 12 stories so the improved evasive maneuvers come in handy. The revamped contols allow for more agile attacking and better breaching tactics which were sore spots in previous ME games. Weapons mods, armor and power upgrades are simplified: welcome changes from previous outings. Predecessors forced the player to get different guns to upgrade and he/she had to choose which mods applied to which weapon. In ME3, your arsenal is much larger in each class and you pay for (or loot) upgrades to the weapons and mods.
Outside of the action, there are still gobs of conversations and cuts scenes. The story is always a compelling piece in Mass Effect titles and the latest is no different. Therefore, long conversations aren’t an issue. You click your way through conversations, choosing Shepard’s response, and bear the good, bad and unforeseen consequences. Most of these consequences directly affect future possibilities in the game, so choosing wisely is vital. The stories revolve around the desperate and dire times in the galaxy. You must do missions to gather resources and war allies to join in the final battle. These missions vary, and keep the game interesting outside of the main story. Characters from previous games make reappearances, and help you along the way. Most of these appearances and other plot points are determined on actions you made in the first two games: a rewarding treat to fans of the franchise.
The game surprisingly includes a cooperative multiplayer mode. Your custom character and 3 other online players as you fight 10-15 waves of enemies. All the classes from the campaign are present with level upgrades. Also different unlockable characters such as Turians and Asari come with their own abilities worth checking out. It’s got more replay value than meets the eye with a good group of friends. However don’t expect it to hold you as the next great online shooter. The campaign still holds the meet of the game by a wide margin. Besides, playing multiplayer is not required to enjoy the single player gamebut it helps you experience alternate endings. Oh and the endings? Yeah, let’s not touch that can of worms.
Mass Effect 3 holds up to it predecessors and it’s easy to pick up if it’s your first Mass Effect title. The game’s a great, memorable experience you’d expect from a progressive developer like Bioware. The epic story on top of solid gameplay and refreshing combat makes this one of the best games of 2012.