Mass Effect 3 Review (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 3 is the follow-up story to Mass Effect 1 and 2, developed by BioWare for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It is an action-role playing game.
I love stories that take place in space because the storyteller can start from scratch. No one knows what is out there and what will become of us when we do reach the “final frontier.” As such, we can conceive our own thoughts about alien races and futuristic technology. Along with that, I have a special place in my heart for role playing games. I get a rush out of the idea that I can choose my own fate within a universe. The Mass Effect trilogy satisfied both my of my desires. Anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi space story will fall in love with these games and I believe if you want to get the full experience of Mass Effect 3 that you should finish off ME1 and ME2.
Mass Effect 3 takes place in the year 2186, in a universe where the Mass Effect relay (a device that can catapult ships into far regions of space) has been discovered. You are Commander Shepard, who saved the universe from the Geth and the Collectors — alien races who were indoctrinated by the highly technologically superior Reapers — in the previous Mass Effect storylines. The game starts where Mass Effect 2 left off: While on Earth, Shepard is relieved of duty and, shortly afterwards, Reaper forces overwhelm the planet. In the midst of this, key-player Admiral Anderson decides to stay behind to assist troops on Earth, and tells Shepard that it is up to him (or her) to unite the galaxy’s forces to fight back. On top of that, Cerberus (who is known to be a universe-wide terrorist group) is fighting against Shepard as well. From here on, it is up to you to decide how to deal with Cerberus and the Reapers.
First off, there is so much customization available to ME3 players, from your gender, to how your character looks, to how the story plays out. Also, if you played ME2, you can import the character you already created, along with the decisions you made in the past. There are so many possibilities because of this (i.e. past decisions determine what characters are in the game and how others interact with you) and thus people can have a different experience every time they play through. And not only is the story dramatic, but it can also tug at your heart if you’ve really grown attached to these characters over the course of the Mass Effect Trilogy. BioWare does a fantastic job of getting you involved in these characters’ lives and feeling what they feel. Finally, the voice-acting was spot on for all characters, and that really contributed to the dramatic feel of the entire game.
The combat isn’t too difficult, as long as you don’t use the “Run-n-Gun” tactic. I played as an Adept. An adept is what some would consider a mage. They aren’t known to focus on using firearms, but are more likely to use abilities to take down their opponents. An aspect I really enjoyed that they added to the game was the ability to combine skills, turning the second skill you use into a deadlier one (as an adept, these were called “biotic detonations”). In previous ME games, it felt like you were just spamming skills without any real strategy. Now, with these detonations implemented, you have to think about what order you want to use the skills to get the correct detonation. For instance, I can pull someone up into the air, chuck a biotic ball of energy at them and I could choose to send them flying through the air like Nyan Cat. These combos aren’t only limited to your own abilities; your two chosen comrades can also detonate these combos with their own skills. There are also customizable weapons and armor for those who are more comfortable sticking to their trusty ammo munchers, rather than focusing on abilities. If you feel that the combat is too tricky for you, don’t be afraid to lower it in the settings. Same goes for anyone who thinks the combat is too easy.
The controls in combat are reliable and the Kinect mic picks up what I am saying easily. The skill wheel is easy to use, and it even pauses the game while you think about your next move. For the most part, there wasn’t any issues with the controls, until I needed to learn how to take cover. Unfortunately, moving from cover to cover is difficult for me to do without taking quite a few shots to the face.
As for the menus, the Journal and Map are my two issues. The Journal is where your previous and active quests are located. Some quests seem to glitch up: some say I have completed them when I haven’t, and vice versa. Additionally, sometimes the quests aren’t clear about which galaxy/planet you need to visit to finish the quest. As far as the map goes, it isn’t accurate when it shows the location of important people on the map. I noticed this especially on the Citadel. One person (Barla Von, the Volus) completely disappeared from his usual spot. Fortunately, with patience and some minor exploring, you can overlook these two problems.
The overall appearance of the game is awesome. However, if you’re looking for “green” environments, you’re not going to find them here. Ninety-five percent of the game is spent around tech, people, and aliens — which brings me to the topic of animation of the “organic life.” The humans and aliens of the game are presented well.. that is, until they move. When characters start moving their heads, their hands, or attempting some sort of emotion (e.g. crying), they start reaching that uncanny valley and begin to look just plain creepy. However, the animation was necessary, especially when the game is based off choices and how these choices affect other people. Taking that into consideration, I think they did a pretty good job showing emotion. The look of the Reapers is outstanding in the sense that it really makes you understand what kind of force your character is up against: These things can just decimate whatever they come across.
The game was in surround sound and high definition when I played it. The voices are clear and understandable. The sound effects are outstanding. The Reapers, explosions, and detonating biotic combos are really where the game shines. There is not much else to say: The overall sound of the game is flawless.
My first play through was about 34 hours long. Keep in mind, I tried to complete as many of the quests and explored as many planets as I could. That time could probably be cut down to 10 hours. It isn’t necessarily bad that it lasted that long, it was enjoyable. There are plenty of side missions, scanning, and chatting you can do. So don’t let the length of the game hold you back; you won’t regret the time even if you decide to do every little thing. All those hours are filled with great content. You can also save any time (except during combat) so you can always take a break. However, the longevity of the game does hinder its replay value. Yes, it would be fun to pick it up again because of the game-changing decisions you come across, but it’s epic-length story would be difficult to finish a second time. Maybe you could take a break for a few months, come back to it, and start anew.
The multiplayer felt like it was thrown on at the end. Just like in single player, you level up, get abilities and weapons, etc. However the abilities feel limited after you’ve played through the game with an arsenal of skills. How the multiplayer/matchmaking works is kind of like Firefight in Halo: ODST. There are four players. Enemies come in waves and your team has to survive. Some waves have objectives as well. The maps these take place on were places you visited in the Campaign. It was a little repetitive and boring to me, as I prefer multiplayer to have a story to it. It would also be interesting if they could throw in some player vs. player as well.
Mass Effect 3 is rated M for mature for a good reason. The game does become somewhat violent and there is some harsh language (lots of S.O.B.). There is also partial nudity and a suggestive sex scene. Parents, this isn’t a game you would pick up for a 10-year-old.
Overall, I give this game a 9 out of 10. I really enjoyed the story and had a lot of fun in the Campaign. I suggest picking up a copy of Mass Effect 3. And while you’re at it, pick up Mass Effect 1 and 2. It’ll make you appreciate ME3’s characters and story a lot more.