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Mass Effect 3 Review by Richard Green
My Impressions of Mass Effect 3 and Why the Ending Isn't Bad
Having played Mass Effect 1&2 I can tell you the third installment exceeds expectations except maybe the ending which some gamers are having issues with. I'll also explain why the ending isn't bad. It's mostly bad hype. You do get choices on how you end the game and a FREE DLC which improves the end game cinematic is available as a DLC. I personally had no problem with the ending and enjoyed the ride.
The addition of Multiplayer provides additional seriously addictive game play which has been expanded upon with great DLCs.
This War Will End Today
In Mass Effect 3 the Reapers have arrived and have taken Earth. You are reinstated and back as Commander Shepard of the Normandy 2, which is now an Alliance Vessel, and you are tasked with building an alliance to retake Earth along with finding everything you need to construct an ancient weapon designed to defeat the Reapers. Your journey also closes story arcs developed in Mass Effect 1 & 2.
The Illusive man, voiced by Martin Sheen, is back and his plans are revealed. Be warned...he sends a bad-ass assassin after Shepard and crew.
Building an alliance also means building war assets. You can also add to your war assets by playing Multiplayer in conjunction with your single player campaign. It's not required but I would highly recommend it. You'll need at least 5000 war asset value to get the best ending.
I've been a gamer as well as a graphic designer for several decades. I've also dabbled in game design and development. I've played a lot of games and I find Bioware's Dragon Age and Mass Effect series to be the some of the best I've played. By now no one familiar with these titles should doubt that these are great games. That said not every game is for everyone.
I'm blown away by how cinematic and fun Mass Effect is as a series. I love the fact that you can develop relationships with characters and make decisions that impact the story. The combat is fun because you have a lot of freedom in how you can fight and battles have a lot of variety. In Mass Effect 3 you have a lot of customizable gear to choose from as well as customizable powers based on what type of character you choose to create at the onset. You can purchase an additional power or two from Normandy's medical bay as well. It's fun to freeze your enemies then watch them shatter after a few more shots.
There's absolutely no question that this game is a blast and one of the most cinematic experiences you can have. Very few games of this sort are made. It takes a lot of production to create these titles and Bioware should be commended for their success.
Game play is improved from Mass Effect 2 with a more flexible feeling combat system and simpler UI.
My only issue with Game play at all is that I would often end up ducking into cover when I didn't really want to. It's too easy to end up going into cover mode while moving about. I experienced this on the PC so I don't know how it is on other platforms. It's not bad and I really have this issue more in Multiplayer than in the single player campaign.
There's not really as much choice making in this 3rd installment, but there's a lot of consequences for choices you made in the previous two games. Many times there's only the illusion of choice but not enough to detract from the experience.
There's a lot to customize from weapons to technology that effects your gameplay. I would recommend using the multioplayer to experiment with some of this before playing the single player campaign so you can have a better idea of what you want to focus on.
War Assets Explained
You'll need to gather your strength in the form of War Assets which include people, weapons, armies and fleets. War Assets are assigned a point value, indicating Total Military Strength, which is then multiplied by a Readiness Rating to produce the galaxy's Effective Military Strength, which determines success in the final battle against the Reapers.
You'll need a total War Asset value of 5,000 to get the best ending. This does not mean that you will need to find every asset or promote every Multiplayer character into the game to win. It's fairly easy to get the rating you need but it is nice to boast.
In Multiplayer, completing matches adds to the player's overall readiness rating which will effect your over all war asset score. One can however still achieve the best ending without it, but I would not recommend it. Multiplayer is as addictive as the game itself and you'll likely find yourself still playing Multiplayer long after you complete the single player campaign.
War Assets can also be gained by scanning planets and finding ships, equipment, artifacts, or technology and some of those items are required for side missions given to you at the Citadel. You'll be spending a lot of time going back and forth there.
The gathering of War assets was a fun concept. I really enjoyed watching my score rise as I completed tasks and gained fleets.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics in Mass Effect 3 have an artistic realism that reminds me of a lot of famous Sci Fi artwork. Visiting key alien worlds and side trips to minor locations are all provide environments that are amazing to look at. Mars with a massive approaching sand storm looks great and feels threatening. Metals are rendered quite nicely as well. I especially noticed this on Ashley's blue armor.
The character animations and textures however do not seem quite up to par. Some animations, like the running outside of the building on Earth seem rather unrealistic and awkward. Facial textures on humans seem a bit over detailed and a little odd. Definitely not up to today's standards but they are not bad enough to detract from your experience.
Particle and explosion effects are quite good and Direct X 10/11 lighting effects are very nice.
The music is fantastic and really puts you into a cinematic mood. Sound effects and voice acting are all top notch.
An Urgent Visit to Mars
What a treat! The addition of multiplayer allows the player to experience other builds so no matter what build you choose for Shepard, you can experience the rest of the builds in Multiplayer and you can even use Multiplayer to help you decide what build you want for Shepard.
I got addicted to multiplayer very quickly. Part of this addiction comes from the fact that you get new weapons, equipment and unlock-able characters by spending earned credits on packs which contain random items. Packs include Recruit, Veteran, Spector and premium versions of each pack when available.
Why the Ending Doesn't Suck
By now we are all hearing that Mass Effect 3 is awesome but the ending sucks. Does this have you worried about buying the game? It shouldn't because it doesn't suck and we have an update in the form of a DLC to improve the execution of the ending and leave us a bit less confused and more satisfied.
It's not that the ending sucks really. It's more about how the ending is executed. Even then more of it is just "I hate the ending" hype. I think most of us really wanted to see more cut scenes at the end as well. You actually have 3 options at the end and some aspects are open ended and left to the imagination. I think a major complaint is that the option to destroy the Reapers means destroying all Artificial Life and players want the option to destroy the Reapers in the same way but not destroy all Artificial Life. Every end option has it's pros and cons but you get your choice.
The end game DLC provides a better execution of the ending and show us more aftermath.
I also think that just prior to the ending when you are wounded and can barely move is just not fun to play and also hurts the end game experience but all in all the ending doesn't suck and should not discourage anyone from purchasing the game. You do get closure on a lot of characters and story lines prior to the Act 3. This closure can be good or bad depending on your decisions. If you import your data from Game 1 & 2 those decisions you made play a major role in Game 3.
The only thing that truly sucks about the ending is the fact that the experience is over and you will want more and maybe it's not what everyone is expecting.
There's absolutely no question that this game is a blast and one of the most cinematic experiences you'll ever have!
I rate Mass Effect 3 a 95/100