Product Type: Electronic Arts PS3 games
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A MASSive Success
Mass Effect 3 (PS3)
Member Name: CheesySpam
Mass Effect 3 (PS3)
Advantages: Fabulous story; great gameplay; graphics; superb music; will last you plenty of time.
Disadvantages: Disappointing endings; twitchy cutscenes; some frustrating glitches.
Mass Effect 2 turned from the original slightly and focused on the enemy Collectors, but like the first game in the series Mass Effect 3 has a much larger emphasis on the Reaper threat. Your aim, as Commander Shepard, is to destroy the powerful Reapers, a force which appears every 50,000 years. Beginning your adventure in Vancouver, you leave and travel around the galaxy, preparing for the final battle back on Earth, or more specifically London. Plain gunfire isn't enough to put an end to the Reapers. As if this isn't enough to contend with, you have to fight a pro-human organisation known as Cerberus, who you allied with in Mass Effect 2. There is no definite ending; depending on your level of success in the game, you can choose from various endings.
The plot may not sound that interesting to you, but where the story really succeeds is in the characters and how you care for them. Over the course of the game you assemble a crew (which is notably quite a bit smaller than it is in ME2) and you get to chat with them in the game's two hubs: your ship, the Normandy and the Citadel. From the blue-skinned alien Liara to the arrogant but likeable James, there is a very diverse cast here. As you learn more about their history and develop your relationship with them, you really begin to care for them and are determined to make it through the story alive. Developing a bond with the other characters feels as integral to Mass Effect 3 as the gameplay itself. As this is a Mass Effect game, there are many important decisions you have to make throughout the game which can affect how the rest of the title plays out. Most of these scenarios involve one choice that benefit your war assets (I'll explain after) and another, much more personal and moral decision which, if not chosen, could result in the death of one of your teammates. These are genuinely tough to make and at several points I even paused to think.
At first glance, Mass Effect 3 seems like your run-of-the-mill third-person shooter and I can't say 'that couldn't be further from the truth', but being a role-playing game there are a number of features that make it stand out from the crowd, as described below.
The core gameplay is made up of gunplay and using powers. The combat has been compared with Gears of War, though I wouldn't know as I don't own an Xbox 360. Diving into cover using the X button is integral, as standing out in the open will result in a pretty fast death. Simply use L1 to aim and R1 to shoot. The health system mixes the contemporary regenerating health with...well, non-regenerating health. Your shields quickly deplete as you are shot at and then your armour, which is split into five segments, goes down. After a few seconds, the armour increases to the highest part of the segment it is currently on and your shields regenerate. You can only maximise your health again using medi-gel. Powers are also important. Holding the R2 button down activates the 'power wheel' in which you have access to yours and your teammates' powers, all of which have different effects on your enemy or yourself. Overall, the combat system is excellent and Bioware have done a great job, considering combat in more than a few RPGs is weak.
Bioware have clearly taken fans' requests into account. While Mass Effect was a true RPG experience, the sequel was slightly more action-orientated and had less role-playing elements. Here, you can choose from three different modes of gameplay. 'Action' is self-explanatory - there is a much bigger focus on the action and less on levelling up your character or dialogue choices - while 'Story' is for people who care most about the - guess what - story and less about the combat, which is much easier in this mode. I chose RPG mode, which caters towards fans of the series. This allows you to pick dialogue choices (which are a rather rare occurrence in comparison with the previous two games) as well as upgrading your character. You slowly level up as you progress through the game, earning you points which you can spend on powers and general boosts for melee abilities and more.
To add to the role-playing side of things, you can customise your armour and upgrade your weapons. There are various parts of your armour you can change such as the helmet, shoulders and chest. Each piece provides a boost to your stats. Want to improve your shields? Wear the chestplate that provides a shield bonus. You have to find different armour parts throughout your adventures. Otherwise, you can just choose whatever looks best. In addition, there are 'casual' outfits which you wear while on the Normandy and Citadel. They differ for the male and female Shepard. Upgrading your weapons is simple; it levels up when you spend a specified amount of credits on it, boosting its power and ammo capacity. It's very simple and disappointingly you can't select ammo types and the like, unlike in the original Mass Effect but it works.
In the war assets system, you can increase your military strength by collecting from planets or getting help from others, including someone series veterans will recognise. The system has been controversial, mainly because multiplayer is heavily involved in increasing your readiness rating. Not that playing online is bad, but a lot of people prefer Mass Effect as a single-player experience, and that's what it was meant to be. This is the first game in the series featuring it, after all. Depending on how high your military strength is, new endings are available to you.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Mass Effect 3 certainly looks impressive, with lots of excellent set-pieces and plenty of detail. Characters look fairly realistic (even if some are aliens) and there are a lot of small details on their faces. The environments also look amazing, whether you're aboard a giant space station or standing on a rocky planet. You'll certainly be impressed. One negative, however, is that some cutscenes could be quite jerky, even ones in which not much is going on. Whether this is a problem across all platforms or the result of a lazy port, I am unsure of. The audio is just as good. The voice acting is, as expected, top-notch. Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale do a great job as male and female Shepard respectively. Also, as was with Mass Effect 2, Martin Sheen puts on a splendid job as the Illusive Man. Some parts of the writing aren't up to scratch but for the most parts it is good, and each of the voice actors portray their lines well. The music is fabulous, too. From the loud, fast-paced music which accompany the intense battles, to the slower piano-based tracks that amplify the drama of the game.
There are only a small number of problems in Mass Effect 3, and the majority of these are only minor. The main one is the ending. I won't spoil it, but considering one of the main staples of the series is choice, the fact that you must choose out of a rather limited number of decisions is disappointing. More questions are left than answers, though various theories have circled around the internet which are very interesting and mean it makes more sense. Some may also be disappointed by the toned down RPG elements in comparison with the first Mass Effect, even though there are more here than in the series' second title. Other flaws include some rather jerky cutscenes and, though I haven't experienced these, some people have complained of squad members disappearing during missions. A major issue which I came across was that a glitch meant I couldn't complete one fairly important side mission. A recent patch fixed various problems, however. Some of these things may annoy you, but the game doesn't nearly deserve the heavy criticism that many users have given it.
Mass Effect 3 is a superb end to possibly the best game series during the PS3's life. The story is very personal and has emotional depth. There are plenty of great characters that are integral to the plot and learning about their history really is intriguing. Mass Effect is a universe with a lot of history and you can learn all about it in the in-game Codex. This is basically an encyclopaedia which tells you all about previous events, species and much more. It's brilliant, as learning all about a game's story requires you to look at an online wiki. The gameplay, as ever, breaks away from the often poor combat of RPGs. Whether you go for the shooter approach or are more interested in using powers, the combat is fantastic. The graphics are also very impressive with lots of detail on both the characters and environments. To support the excellent story is some superb voice acting - every actor does a great job - and the music mixes slow piano-based tracks with faster and tenser music during battles. The multiplayer is also good, though I haven't hour upon hour into it (I will deliver a more detailed section here soon) but the single-player really is the way to go. Also, you won't be disappointed with length. I invested around 40 hours into the game, so you get plenty of value for money. This is an essential experience and shouldn't be missed.
TO SUM UP...
-Ending is disappointing with only small differences between each one
-Certain cutscenes can be quite jerky
-RPG elements still aren't quite up there with the original
-Some glitches may frustrate
- A breathtaking story with lots of interesting characters
- The combat is excellent whichever way you play
- There's lots of detail wherever you go
- A brilliant soundtrack
- Great voice acting
-Offers great longevity
-Most complained about elements of ME1 & 2 have been removed
-Multiplayer shows promise
Thanks for reading! This review is also posted on Ciao under my name YoshiCheesePuff.
Summary: Mass Effect 3 is a spectacular conclusion to the series, and impresses in nearly all areas.
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