It has been almost a month since Mass Effect 3 launched on the PC, and we haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from it since. For those of you who are new to the story, or for those who need a catch up, the Mass Effect storyline is ‘fairly’ simple. You play Commander Shepard (male or female) and it is your sole purpose to destroy a very old and deadly race called ‘the reapers,’ thus saving earth (and other galaxies) from total annihilation.
Sounds simple enough right? The great thing about this latest installment, is that even if you have never played the previous games, you are still able to jump right in and know what is going on. Of course those that have played the previous games can once again import their character and choices they made from the previous installments.
The game opens with earth being attacked by the reapers and you, as Shepard, having to escape so that he/she can try and bring together the rest of the galaxy to fight off the reaper invasion on earth. The game itself runs as the previous two did. Go around the galaxy, recruit squad mates, and complete tasks along the way. I found this game to have a LOT more talking than the last two. Which seemed great at first, but I soon found it wearing thin. I mean, do I really need Admiral Hacket recapping every mission I partake in?!
Game play wise I found Mass Effect 3 to be a lot harder than the first two. The enemies have gotten smarter, rolling out of the way of your attacks and even sneaking up behind you. This is wonderfully refreshing, but these ‘action’ sequences are too short for my liking, before you know it you are back in the comms room talking to Admiral Hacket! Weapon choices have expanded from the previous games too. This time you have the ability to modify weapons, adding for example extra capacity, better accuracy etc, but this also comes at a price, as weapons now have weights which impact your movements. I must admit that I haven’t used this feature a lot, but it is nice knowing that it is available.
Previous players will be happy to see faces of previous squad mates and to be introduced to some new ones. The game plays out fairly much the same as the first two. Control wise, one thing that drove me CRAZY was the spacebar!!! The space bar is your run key, your take cover key, your roll key and your uncover key; thus you are relying greatly on the game to know which function you intended, and more times than not you will be wanting to throw the keyboard across the room as Shepard rolls into battle when you intended for him/her to take cover.
While collecting allies for your fight against the reapers this game has introduced a new feature of a war meter. This is where your assets are tallied, and the more assets you have, the greater your chance of winning against the reapers. You can fill your meter two ways, one by finishing all of the side and main missions and scanning planets for hidden goodies, or the second way is to partake in the newly added multiplayer feature of the game. The multiplayer component feels like a bit of hit and miss. Players will either love running around in a team of four killing waves of enemies over and over again to achieve greater points, or they will soon grow bored of the same scenario. Playing the multiplayer will allow for a player to not have to worry so much about doing all of the side missions to get a good score (your meter will rise quicker through multiplayer). BioWare mentions that you can easily get a great score without having to resort to the multiplayer, but I don’t know where I went wrong because I was unable to get over 4000 effective military strength points without partaking in multiplayer.
Finishing this game is no quick task either. Completing all side and main missions of this RPG had me coming in at around the 25 hour mark, but honestly I would sit and play this game for 100+hours if it called for it. The story, the characters, the choices you have to make are just so engrossing, that you really believe these situations could be and are happening.
The voice acting is amazing as usual. I could sit and listen to Jennifer Hale (who voices female Shepard) reading out of the phone book. The relationships in the game are as touching as ever. This Mass Effect game has a lot more emotion than the previous two. The game is so very touching as it revolves around sacrifice and the hard choices you have to make in order to win a war. I did shed a tear or two throughout this game, especially having played the first two and having grown so close to my squad mates. I must also make special mention of the music in the game, which is spot on every time; giving me chills. Some nights I would just sit and listen to the soundtrack over and over, especially the track “An end once and for all,” it gets to me every time (the sound track comes as a bonus with the deluxe edition of the game.)
Overall, Mass Effect 3 will surely satisfy previous players (not taking into account the uproar surrounding the ending) and will astound new comers with the quality and depth of this story and game play. I had my friend who has never played a Mass Effect game before watch the opening scene and watch me play the first five minutes. He was in such awe at the quality and storyline that he went off to buy it immediately…. and I think that says it all. Mass Effect 3 for PC retails for $59.99 on Amazon and is also available for Xbox 360 and PS3.