+Tight third person shooter mechanics
+Addictive Co-Op multiplayer
+Lots of RPG aspects
-Does not bring a satisfying conclusion to the series
-Some dialog scenes do not make sense
Final score: 9 / 10
Controller support: No
CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
RAM – 1GB for XP / 2GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
Disc Drive – 1x speed
Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
Video – 256 MB (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support)
Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
RAM – 2GB for XP / 4GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
Disc Drive – 1x speed
Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB or greater, NVidia GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB or greater
Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
Little did BioWare know back in 2007 that its Mass Effect role playing shooter would spawn one of the most successful and popular sci-fi series in the history of interactive entertainment and even entertainment as a whole.
Now, Mass Effect 3 is finally here, promising to deliver an epic conclusion to the adventures of Commander Shepard.
With the same solid shooting we saw in the second game, as well as more RPG mechanics that were abundant in the original, not to mention the promise of an epic conclusion, Mass Effect 3 is looking set to be one of the greatest games of the year.
Does the game manage to deliver on its promises or should Commander Shepard just retire before his fight with the Reapers? Let's open up our Omni-Tools and find out.
Commander Shepard is back ...
... and ready to fight the Reapers
BioWare games have always delivered deep and complex stories where the choices of the player resulted in all sorts of outcomes, some expected and some completely unexpected.
Mass Effect 3 follows the same recipe, allowing those who already went through the first two games to import their save files and see all of their choices have an impact throughout the new story. If this is your first time, you'll get a set of choices that the studio has deemed canon but, for the greatest experience, it's probably for the best to go and play through the last two titles before going through this new one.
I won't go into lots of details, as this is definitely the kind of story where you need to avoid spoilers. The basic gist is that the Reapers, a race of sentient space ships, are finally invading the galaxy, starting with Earth, so it's time for Commander Shepard to go on one last tour of the universe and rally the different races against this single threat.
As you can imagine, this is easier said than done, as even in front of this looming threat, petty rivalries and old feuds are still making an impact on certain races, while choices made by Shepard are coming back in surprising ways.
For most of the game, the story flows in a good way, with ups and downs, sacrifices and joys. Sadly, the end is probably one of the most polarizing ones ever seen in video games and it's already causing some huge reactions in the community of fans.
Myself, like everybody else, wanted to see the conclusion of the adventures my own version of Shepard had. Unfortunately, the game's end basically throws away a lot of your hard work and offers some conclusions that don't feel satisfying at all and, what's worse, you don't even see the outcome of your actions.
For diehard fans, Mass Effect 3 will be a great experience only if you exit the game before the last 10 minutes. Unless some new DLC, add-on or expansion appears to deliver a more decent conclusion, it's probably for the best if you just think of your own end to Shepard's adventures.
While the story delivers some mixed feelings, Mass Effect 3's gameplay makes up for it in spades, as there's the same great third person shooter mechanics seen in the second title, while a few RPG aspects, as well as the ability to throw grenades, make a much needed comeback from the first game.
Shooting feels great and this time the weapon selection is more crucial as you also get to modify your guns with different attachments, from bigger ammo clips to scopes and other such things. You can also choose what and how many weapons you use, but the more you wield, the more you'll have to wait until your special attacks cool down.
Depending on your chosen class, you also have special powers, ranging from an Adrenaline mode for the Soldier, to a Tactical Cloak for the Infiltrator or the Biotic Charge for the Vanguard. As you level up, you get to invest more points into these abilities and customize them for different effects.
Besides configuring Commander Shepard's abilities, you also get to customize the powers wielded by your squad mates. Each have different attributes that can be deployed on the battlefield from the tactical pause menu and can easily help you create devastating combo attacks.
Customization also plays a heavy role when configuring on your armor, as you find different components on your missions that offer a variety of bonuses to attributes like health, shield power or shield regeneration, melee damage, and more.
Besides fighting you'll also do a lot of talking in Mass Effect 3, both with your squad mates as well as with other characters. You can once again decide Shepard's general attitude, between a Paragon that aims at pleasing everyone to a Renegade that gets the job done no matter what. The dialog wheel still feels great although some of the summaries displayed on it don't exactly reflect what Shepard will actually say.
Seeing as how you're racing through the universe to unite aliens against the Reapers, you'll also be doing a lot of space exploration with your ship, the Normandy, through your handy galaxy map. This is similar to the system used in the second game, although the much-debated probing mini-game has been replaced with a simple scanning one that sees you track down things that can help you in the conflict.
Speaking of conflict, one of the core mechanics in Mass Effect 3 is the War Asset one. Basically, in order to stand up to the Reapers, Shepard needs to accumulate as many War Assets as possible. From actual soldiers and fleets to journalists that report on the army's morale, everything counts this time around, especially in terms of the ending.
Mass Effect 3 delivers an almost flawless gameplay experience, as you're presented with all sorts of missions, whether they're related to the story or just secondary in terms of importance, and the action is neatly structured so that you don't get the feeling you're overwhelmed by all sorts of things.
What's more, in order to help even more people get into the game, you can choose at the beginning what type of experience you want. You can go for a classic Role Playing one, as in previous titles, or choose Action if you just want to shoot things and not worry about the dialog. Those who just want to experience the plot can pick the Story mode and have a much easier time during firefights. Those who import characters from previous games, however, are locked into the Role Playing one.
Forge new friendships ...
... and rekindle old ones
Probably one of the most polarizing aspects of Mass Effect 3 before its release was the presence of the cooperative multiplayer mode called Galaxy at War. Many longtime fans believed this was going to dilute the series just to attract Call of Duty or Battlefield players.
Fortunately, the multiplayer is top notch, as everyone, no matter if they're used to online shooting or not, will have a great time.
Throughout the mode you get to create characters from classes that are already present in the single-player. At first you only get to make human ones but, as you earn credits by completing matches, you get to spend them on equipment packs that include weapons, add-ons for them, bonuses, and new character classes.
As such, you may start off with a Human Infiltrator, but you will soon be able to unlock, depending on your luck, characters like the Drell Vanguard, Asari Adept, Salarian Infiltrator, Quarian Engineer, Turian Sentinel, or the extremely fun Krogan Soldier.
In terms of actual gameplay, each match takes place on one of six maps, where you and up to three other people need to survive 11 waves of enemy attacks, which can be represented by Cerberus troops, Geth robots, or Reaper monsters. Two of these waves see you and your team try to complete objectives like hacking terminals, uploading data, or eliminating priority targets. Difficulty can be selected from the three challenge modes, starting with Bronze, going through Silver and ending with Gold.
As you complete matches you earn XP points that improve your character's abilities until a maximum of level 20. At that point, you can choose to promote him or her into the single-player game in the form of a special War Asset. His abilities will be reset back to 0, but your performance in the Galaxy at War mode will still improve your Galactic Readiness level in the story.
Graphics and Sound Mass Effect games have gotten us used to some impressive environments and the new game goes above and beyond what we saw in previous ones. Levels are extremely varied and they always reflect that respective world, from the lush green plains of Eden Prime, to the rusty look of Tuchanka, or the futuristic vibe of the Citadel.
Characters also look good, although some armors aren't exactly up to the quality of the rest of the game. Faces look decent, but there are quite a few occasions where you'll notice some awkward moments or expressions.
In terms of sound, the game retains its impressive feel, especially in some of the more touching moments throughout its story. Most of the times, however, you'll barely observe the music as you'll be a bit busy saving the universe one firefight at a time.
Voice acting is much better, especially Jennifer Hale as the female Commander Shepard, as well as Lance Henriksen as Admiral Hackett. Your squad also has some great dialog and the witty banter between your pilot, Joker, and the Normandy's artificial intelligence, EDI, is great.
Unlock new classes in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer ...
... and promote them into your single-player campaign
Mass Effect 3 definitely has a lot to live up to, as the previous games set new benchmarks in terms of story, gameplay, graphics and more.
The new game manages to reach almost all of them, with great gameplay mechanics, impressive visuals and a surprisingly addictive multiplayer. Sadly, its story disappoints right at the end and the closure delivered isn't enough for fans who've already gone through previous titles. You'll feel great throughout the game's journey, but the destination isn't exactly what you'd expect.