It’s here! Oh, it’s finally here! After months of waiting and incessant nail biting, the game we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. ‘Mass Effect 3’ has finally hit the shelves! And frankly, after all this hype, the game had better live up to its god-like expectations. But for some reason I don’t doubt that a lot; partially because I’ve already played quite a bit of the game, and mostly because BioWare is known to deliver. Or was it the other way around? Oh, never mind.
The point is BioWare has always been looking to hit that perfect balance between an action shooter and a role-playing game, and it seems that with Mass Effect they accomplished just that. Mass Effect is a game that attracts the fans of both genres, giving the gamer a taste of the other world, inadvertently introducing them to a new genre of gaming. I know a lot of people; friends, colleagues and clients, who’ve told me that Mass Effect was the game that introduced them to a new genre. Be it hardcore shooter fans to the intricacy and complexity of an RPG, or hardcore RPG fans to the fast-paced, cap-busting action of a shooter.
Coming back to our main topic of discussion here, we have Mass Effect 3, which is the epic finale to a grand inter-galactic saga involving the exploits of one Commander Shepard. Most of us have come a long way with Shepard, and been by his side through every fight since his first in Mass Effect. It would be a shame not to see this through (and you don’t want an angry Krogan hunting you down)! And I’m pretty sure I’m not going out on a limb by saying that there is just one thing going through the mind of every bloke who is holding on to a copy of Mass Effect 3: “Them reapers gotta die!”
And, oh, believe me they will.
Now let’s go a little deeper into the game and see what it has in store for its fans; a $10 exclusive content DLC pack (haw haw). Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see how and why Mass Effect 3 managed to knock my socks off within just two hours of playing the game.
When I started playing the game, it’s needless to say I was already impressed by it. I just couldn’t seem to find faults in the game! That’s not because there aren’t any, but just because the hype meter in my brain is so high up in the red zone, that every time I try to be fair, the reviewer part of my mind gives me the finger! This probably means I won’t be writing a fair review anytime soon, well at least not until the dust settles down and I stop being such a fan-boy! Till then I think this should suffice.
Well, that said, let’s take a look at what you can expect from Mass Effect 3 once you get it. What? You’re not getting it? Yeah… right.
Mass Effect 3 begins with the Reaper invasion of the earth but will also be the end of the Reaper invasion storyline (hooray!). But it seems to me, however, that the choices you make in the game could largely affect how this war could end. Yes, it’s true, your wayward choices could be the sole reason the universe gets overrun by reapers and humans are now objects of inter-galactic slave trade. Yes, that’s all on you. But there’s absolutely no need to beat yourself up about it! You can always delete your save files and no one will ever know (winks). That said it would also be a good time to point out that while ME3 marks the end of a saga, it’s definitely not the end of the franchise. BioWare has promised another installation to the Mass Effect series sometime in the future.
Some of the noticeable changes in Mass Effect 3 include a much clearer villain (yeah, this time you’ll know who you’re actually up against… well, at some point of time), and the way you put together a squad isn’t the same as it was in Mass Effect 2. If I should say anything about it that won’t count as a spoiler, I would say I fancy this method a lot more. Another noticeable change (to most of us) is the female Shepard who no longer has a face that’s generated by the character creator, but a face that can be individually crafted. So if you engage your brains for a little more than 10 minutes, you can make her look hot enough to remove the need of a real-life female companion!
Now I hope you guys have your previous save files because all the decisions you have made in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 carry over to Mass Effect 3. In fact, some of the decisions in Mass Effect which didn’t have any consequences in Mass Effect 2 have consequences in Mass Effect 3. I know that some of your decisions may have led to the death of your near and dear squad mates, but you don’t have to beat yourself up about it because they are not coming back… And depending on which of your most loyal comrades you chose to “let go”, there are quests in Mass Effect 3 that you will never get to see. Coming back to beating yourself up, I think now is a good time to. But to make you feel a little better, Mass Effect 3 has mutually exclusive quests that don’t depend on the decisions you have made previously.
Characters from previous games making a return to Mass Effect 3 include Ashley, Kaiden, Liara, Wrex, Tali, Joker, Conrad Verner, Captain Kirrahe, Udina and Anderson, The Illusive Man, Jacob and Miranda, Grunt, Kelly Chambers, Legion, Mordin, Zaeed, and Thane. Unless of course you managed to let a few of them die owing to your exceptional decision making skills.
The first thing you’ll notice before you actually get into the game is the three new game modes that Mass Effect 3 boasts. These aren’t essentially difficulty levels, but rather just variables that alter various aspects of the gameplay making it more suited to your gaming style. In a way you can say that Mass Effect 3 has taking a step up in making the game feel more personal. The ‘Story’ mode focuses on the storyline, focusing on the choices and customization while taking the focus off combat and greatly reducing the combat difficulty. I mean you can still die… but you’d have to be, well, you know. The ‘Action’ mode focuses mainly on combat and the decision making and customization aspects of the game are dialed down. The ‘RPG’ mode is what you’re looking for if you want to enjoy Mass Effect 3 for all its glory. It focuses on all aspects of the game, be it combat, the choices you make or the customization. If the previous Mass Effects had to have a game mode, this would probably be it.
Coming to the weaponry, BioWare has made quite a few changes that may affect your combat. Whether it’s for the better or worse that’s for you to find out. Personally, I found that thought I can no longer overpower my Shepard; it is a welcome change considering the fact that now the game is quite a bit of a challenge. I found the last two games (at the hardest difficulty) easier than by best friends ex, and that’s saying something!
Good news is now Shepard can carry any class weapon, and the bad news is that each class has a different weight carrying capability which greatly affects your potential weapon load out. But in spite of that the combat gameplay is very well balanced. For instance, if your Shepard has a heavy weight carrying capability, your special abilities will be toned down and it goes the other way around as well. However, you can increase your weight carrying capacity as you level up.
Each class now has specialized grenades, each with their own effect and don’t need to be remotely detonated, that is, they will explode normally as they do in most other games. Different classes will also have their own unique melee attacks. There are also several new abilities introduced in Mass Effect 3 in addition to the powers that have carried over from previous games (some of which have been altered while others remain untouched). Mass Effect 3 will have 57 powers which you can buy and upgrade with 128 points over 60 levels. That’s a lot more than Mass Effect 2.
One of the most important changes to the combat gameplay is the new ability of Shepard to roll through cover and perform other moves that have always been a part of tactical shooters like Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Deus Ex. You will also have the ability to pick up weapons from enemies you have slain. Well, at least this time you know it’s going to be very hard to run out of ammo! (Unless you’re very choosy about your weapons, in which case, I wish you good luck). Mass Effect 3 also seems to have taken a page out of the book of Dead Space 2 when it comes to weapon customization. The newly added workbench allows you to modify your weapons in terms of looks and functionality by adding a number of attachments (that make enemy go boom!).
The world in Mass Effect 3 seems to be a lot bigger than both previous games. Apart from frequent visits to Tuchanka, Illium, Earth, Novaria and the Citadel (which is a lot bigger than in Mass Effect 2), you will also finally get to see the turian, slarian, quarian and asari home worlds. I also believe that there might be a short visit to Mars sometime in the game.
Coming to the multiplayer aspect of the game, you and three of your friends can join forces and take back earth together in the new co-op mode. You will be able to choose from several Mass Effect races, with each race having a class associated to that particular race. There is a feature called ‘Galactic Readiness’ that syncs with the main game and tracks your Reaper fighting abilities. It is possible to achieve the best ending in Mass Effect 3 even if you don’t play co-op, but playing it will certainly make it a lot easier.
As of right now, I’m already about 12 hours into the game, and I promise you the game just keeps getting better. Obviously I won’t be revealing any more about the game than I already have because trust me when I say, fan or not, this game is definitely worth playing right up to the very end. If what I have said throughout this entire article doesn’t get you excited about the game or doesn’t make you feel like this game is truly something special, then you sir are not a gamer (or maybe English is not your preferred language of verbal communication). Whatever be the case, after playing this game for a while you will realize that the hype behind the game is more than justified, and that BioWare has successfully delivered to its fans more than it had initially promised.