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Mass Effect 3 review

Last week I finished up Mass Effect 3, and I thought I would post my thoughts on the game here. I’m not going to score the game in a traditional way, but rather give my thoughts in ugly, bad and good point form. ME3 is a highly subjective game, and depending on how you played the previous games, most of the outcomes will differ from player to player.

The Ugly:

  • The character importer is severely broken. If you customised the face of your Commander Shepard in the previous games, there is a very high chance that when you import him/her into ME3 your face will either look very different or will fail to appear at all. I can understand that BioWare worked on improving the graphics in ME3, but to have your custom Shep face not available immediately breaks immersion. Very poor form BioWare, and the 1.02 patch does not resolve the problem!
  • The endings ruin everything that was built up over 5 years. It’s too short, too full of holes and feels incredibly rushed. It poses far too many questions that deserve answers, being the end of the trilogy.

The Bad:

  • If you play on a PC, EA’s Origin service is required. Depending on how you view it, this could be a non issue or a massive pain. Origin is a lot like Steam, though I find it to start up faster and be more responsive. Still, it’s a bit intrusive to have the service forced on you.
  • Multiplayer can be buggy. MP is a lot of fun with the right team, but sometimes it glitches really badly. Apparently the MP section is peer to peer hosted, so if your hosting player is on a slow connection, strange things can and do happen. It’s also frustrating when you get disconnected right near the end of great match.
  • Enemies are repetitive! There are only 3 types in the entire game, and they get boring after a while. The previous 2 ME games had a lot more variety.

The Good:

  • There are some truly epic moments in the game. Some characters get a wonderful ending that leaves you emotionally wrecked. These missions are truly the BioWare standard of old!
  • Graphics seem to have been spruced up again. ME3 is no Crysis, but it’s come a long way since the first game. Also, crying seems a lot more natural now and not like the oil slick effect from ME2.
  • Ashley is back. She’s my favourite character and love interest, so it’s great to have her back.
  • Great squad dynamics. The smaller squad makes the game feel a bit more like ME1, where you could get to know your team mates quite well, unlike ME2 where there were up to 12 members. Banter is great, and the team mates generally work together very well.

Overall, Mass Effect 3 is a very good game with many fantastic moments, but it is also rough around the edges in many places. There was a massive leak of the game’s contents in November last year which forced BioWare to make a lot of last minute changes. I’m sure that impacted quite a bit on the game as well, and could go a way to explaining the nature of the endings.

BioWare have announced an Extended Cut that will come as free DLC in “Summer 2012.” They won’t change the endings, but they intend the EC to flesh out the choice you make, as well as provide closure. If BioWare pull this off, then at least it will go some way to helping us accept our Shepard’s fate in the end.

Until then, I will leave it at this: Mass Effect 3 is a fine game in most of its areas, but as a complete package, it falls short of Mass Effect 2. I hope that further DLC as well as the Extended Cut will flesh out the game to the level of ME2.

Is this the last we’ll see of Commander Shepard? Probably and sadly so. I just can’t see how Shep will feature in future games after the Reapers. Will it be the last Mass Effect game? Unlikely – Electronic Arts knows when they have a gold franchise, and I am sure that they will push for more games to be made in the universe in the future.

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