"Mass Effect 3": Initial Impressions

We haven’t had a chance to get too deep into this game yet, just about four hours, but we can tell you right off the bat…this one is going to be controversial. No matter what you liked in the first two games, it’s probably been changed somehow.

Yes, we ran into the face importing bug, and ultimately decided to just not import our “Mass Effect” saves to see what the game was like fresh.

First of all, you pick who dies in the previous back story. Seriously. That’s the first clue this game isn’t screwing around.

Then there’s the choices. Finally, finally, the game puts you in a genuine moral corner on a regular basis. One of the biggest problems of the last two games was “Paragon” was short for “rational adult” and “Renegade” was short for “troll”. Yeah, yeah, sell the Krogans some souvenir fish, ha ha. The closest the game got to “nobody’s right, make your choice” were the moments when you could lose a crewmember’s loyalty…but then you could talk to them and get it back.

There wasn’t really a “choice”, per se, just different ways of doing the same thing. Now, you do have to make a choice, and being a nice guy can burn you and burn you hard. Or there isn’t a “nice” option. You just decide what species gets to die horribly.

The big problem we have, so far, is how dumbed-down this game is in some respects. Hacking minigames? Gone. Planetary mining? Gone. The mining mini-game could be slightly annoying, and it was definitely broken with respect to rewards, but it was fun to poke around and maybe stumble across a side mission, or trigger a quest chain. Now the game basically does that for you. The weapons system has been simplified somewhat, as well: no more hunting for some eezo.

The overall result feels like the RPG part of this “action RPG” has been left out in favor of appealing to…who, exactly? This is a heavily beloved franchise that moves millions of units.

We’re sure it’s welcome to new players, but we wonder how necessary it was to go this far in this direction. We’ll have a full review at the end of the week.