Review Price £39.99
Mass Effect 3: A fitting end?
Available on: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PC, PS3 and Wii U (re-reviewed).
IntroductionThere’s nothing more disappointing than a story that starts off well, builds up steam in the second act then blows it in the third. Who didn’t feel let down by the final season of Lost? How about The Matrix: Revolutions, The Godfather part III, X-Men: The Last Stand or Spider-Man 3? This has always been the burden of Mass Effect 3. The first felt like a slightly unsuccessful merger of RPG and third-person shooter, somehow made enjoyable through Bioware’s sheer storytelling nous. The second married these disparate elements together, and the result was one of the most engrossing and exceptional games of this hardware generation; the kind of game you could get obsessed with for a good month or so. After all those hours of gameplay, all the battles, the choices, the big set-pieces and the weird friendships, the side stories and romances, Mass Effect 3 brings it all to a conclusion.
Mass Effect 3’s reputation has suffered since its launch early in the year. Many found the ending disappointing, and poor frame rates in the PS3 version still haven’t been entirely rectified. Yet, with the Wii U giving us a chance to go back to Bioware’s finale, we still find it a formidable game. It’s not perfect or infallible, and Mass Effect 2 looks set to go down as the pinnacle of the trilogy, but Mass Effect 3 still delivers great action, great drama and any number of great moments. It still holds up as one of the very best games released this year.
Of course, Wii U owners might be at a disadvantage in not having played the first two games, but Mass Effect 3 works around this with a motion comic summary of the story so far. If there’s any way you can play at least Mass Effect before playing Mass Effect 3 we would suggest you do so, but if you must start here, it won’t wreck your experience of the game.
Mass Effect 3 - GamePlayMass Effect 3 can be a more sombre experience than Mass Effect 2. In lots of ways the prequel had the feel of a sci-fi spy caper, as Shepard blazed a trail around the universe, gathering allies for his assault on the Collectors and bagging hot alien chicks (or beefcakes if you played the female version). Mass Effect 3 begins with the long-awaited arrival of the universe-ravaging Reapers, follows that with the near-destruction of humanity on planet Earth, and somehow goes more downbeat from there. As if the appearance of an almighty power that wants to scourge the universe of life wasn’t bad enough, man’s alien allies are divided by old enmities and grudges, while Mass Effect 2’s nemesis, The Illusive Man, is back with his Cerberus forces, trying to turn the situation to his own mysterious advantage.
Tonally, Mass Effect 3 can be a bit like Halo: Reach, but Bioware’s storytelling skill is reflected in the fact that, even at the most desparate moments of the game, there’s still room for humour, hope and friendship. Organic life might be on the back-foot against the Reapers’ mechanoid menace, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it lying down. And, anyway, how about those hot alien chicks/beefcakes?
As with Mass Effect 2, the scale of the game and the richness of the story can make it hard to pull out the tangible improvements to the gameplay. The biggest are in combat. Mass Effect 2 managed to turn gun-battles from a chore into something you could get your teeth into, and Mass Effect 3 goes further by making the action as gripping as the narrative. Shepard is a lot lighter on his feet, the cover system works better and both allied and enemy AI is improved to the extent that you rarely think about either, you’re just trying to kill what needs to be killed without having to micromanage your friends.
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