Mass Effect was one of the first RPGs that really sucked me in on the Xbox 360. At the time, I hadn’t really played a space themed RPG before (not including KOTOR 1 and 2), so it was a tad out of my comfort zone for RPGs… I tend to stick to swords and shields rather than phasers and lazers. Still, I absolutely loved Mass Effect. For me, it was a breath of fresh air with its space exploration style gameplay and its open ended universe. Plus, the story was incredibly engaging. Mass Effect 2 was equally as fun, but not necessarily as good. It wasn’t as open and felt far more linear, BioWare and EA had switched up the winning formula from Mass Effect and created a game that was just as enjoyable, but not necessarily what I had grown to love. For some reason, I never picked up Mass Effect 3 and, by the time I came around to considering getting it, I had heard so much rubbish about the game’s ending that I eventually decided that I didn’t want to ruin the series by playing it. But, here I am today a few years later, playing Mass Effect 3 and loving every second of it. I guess it just goes to show that you should try things for yourself!
Mass Effect 3 is very much like Mass Effect 2. For me, it feels like a continuation of the series’ evolution, rather than a hark back to the original Mass Effect title. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. The original Mass Effect was something very special, but I can see why the evolution of the series into a more cinematic game was important. Mass Effect 3 is a AAA title, Mass Effect wasn’t. My favourite thing about the series is the story, and how it follows through all three games (especially if you started playing it from the beginning). The game remembers your choices from previous titles and levels and you’ll be seeing a lot of the old characters from Mass Effect 1 and 2 popping up in number 3. I think this brings a great element to the game as it encourages you to think back to your original play through and remember how you interacted with these characters before.
I’m not going to bother going on about the graphics, or the soundtrack. It’s a very good looking game, especially considering its age, and I wouldn’t say that it looks ‘old’. But, for games like Mass Effect 3, the graphics aren’t the be all and end all. As long as it doesn’t give you a migraine then it’s fine in my books. I’m all about the story. The story for ME3 is pretty solid. It follows on from the second game, but you’ll be facing a new enemy as well as some of your old favourites (like the Geth). ME3 really feels like the ‘end game’. It’s make or break for Earth and the Galaxy as a whole, and poor old Shepard is slap bang in the centre of it. Following his dishonourable discharge (kind of) after the events of the second game, Shepard is left outcast from the Citadel and the Alliance. But, surprise surprise, a new enemy comes along, one much bigger and badder than before, and guess who everyone comes running too? That’s right, trusty old Shepard. ME3 is full of twists and turns and it’s on a much bigger scale than before, this is Shepard 2.0… or maybe 3.0, considering that he has been reconstructed once before. You get a real sense of the impending doom that Shepard and the Alliance are faced with; it’s not just the fate of Earth that’s a steak, it’s the entire Galaxy and all of the various aliens that exist within it.
Everyone looks to Shepard for guidance, and at times you’re faced with some really tough choices. Quite a few of them are relatively political and you often have to choose between the ‘political’ choice or the gut decision. You’ll be facing up against conflicts that have spanned centuries in an attempt to build bridges and gain support for the rescue of earth and the defeat of the Reapers. That’s no easy feat, but BioWare do an amazing job of keeping the story full of depth but simplifying the decisions enough to make what’s going on relatively clear. It would have been quite easy for the story to get so deep and convoluted that it would be almost impossible to follow; so I’m glad that BioWare took the time to make sure to keep the player engaged and on track.
I haven’t got to the end of the game yet, the bit that got people all riled up over two years ago. I’m hoping that it isn’t that devastating; I’ve really grown to love this game somewhat. I wonder if that’s why people were so pissed of. Maybe the ending really doesn’t reflect the superb game that builds up before it. I guess I’ll have to wait and see!