Format reviewed: PS3
Other formats available: Xbox360, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Like the British Summer time, all things must end, and Mass Effect is no exception. Starting out as an Xbox exclusive back in 2007, Mass Effect can now be found on PS3 and PC in 2012, and rightly so.
A third person, epic adventure in outer space, part conversation-em-up and part team based shooter, Mass Effect 3 has more of an emphasis on the latter, as opposed to the 50:50 ratio of Mass effect 2 and the 70:30 of the original, where the action sections were, quite frankly, poorly orchestrated, frustrating events.
Mass Effect is like one of those books that you wish would never end. Like all great stories, the joy is not in the arrival at the conclusion, rather what you got up to on the way. It’s not so much about the getting there, and more about the getting there, if you catch our drift.
While perhaps giving the impression of being an open ended adventure, now that we’ve seen the trilogy wrapped up, the Mass Effect story is indeed more like a book than it may at first have seemed. In short; no matter how much you’re enjoying a book, and no matter in what way you’d like it to end, that last page was printed a long time ago, is set in stone paper, and it ain’t changing.
Where the original started at a defined point and branched out, based on in game decisions made (mainly through conversation choices), and the sequel gave an even stronger impression that this story was your own, we’re sad to report that Mass Effect 3 takes all of those flailing story threads and brings them, quite awkwardly in some cases, to a pre-determined, inevitable conclusion that is baked in on the disc, with the exception of one or two incidental details.
To summarise, where the story gave the impression of being ever more branching as the tale progressed, much like a story tree; the reality is more shaped like a rugby ball.
Defined start point at the beginning; perceived ‘own journey’ dictated by a succession of personal choices and consequences in the middle; and yet a very defined end, which seemingly disregards all of those seeds you planted at stage two, in order to bring you into line with Bioware’s vision of how the Mass Effect story concludes.
So, with the above said, time to see how Mass Effect 3 plays. We’re pleased to say that we’ve enjoyed this one quite a lot. It’s fair to say that we think Mass Effect 2 had a perfect balance of talking and action, and this third in the trilogy tends more toward the latter.
But the with refined loadout system and the resultant stat effects of Shepard and his team being more organic than digital this time around, Mass Effect 3 lends itself to a wider range of gaming styles, and rewards each equally, which is never a bad thing.
You can play as the renegade you always did or take a more complex approach, such as threatening every second person you speak to (it’s fun, try it).
Weapon upgrade and modification is also a more organic experience, with a lot of the restrictions of old removed, and weapon stores dotted around the place, allowing the player much greater scope when it comes to customising any loadout.
Graphics, sound effects and music are as impressive as ever, and by that we mean very. As big fans of 80s sci-fi synth (think original Terminator soundtrack as a prime example) ME3 again delivers an audio backdrop which sets a perfect tone.
It’s hard to judge ME3 against its predecessors. While the gameplay has certainly become more accessible, we can’t help but feel this has been implemented at the expense of a truly personal resolution to our own stories.
Bioware has recently promised more ‘closure’ in future DLC but has made it very clear that further, chargeable, content will be filling in gaps in the ME3 story, rather than changing the damp squib that is the series’ conclusion.
Review by Marketzero for BCS