Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 is the third main installment in BioWare's Mass Effect series. It was initially released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, with a port for the Wii U soon following (making it the only game in the series to be released on a Nintendo platform).
After having their plans delayed in the previous two games, the monstrously powerful Reapers finally launch a full-scale invasion of the Milky Way galaxy, overwhelming and conquering Earth almost immediately. Commander Shepard barely escapes the planet and is reinstated into the Alliance Military, subsequently being given the task of gaining allies and resources to help construct the Crucible, a weapon with the potential to finally wipe out the Reapers once and for all.
Why It Rocks
- Further refinements to the gameplay from the second game, now including a strong melee attack. Health restoration is also tweaked to add a little more challenge, with it only being possible to automatically heal up to 20% of Shepard's health at a time.
- Shepard's weapon choice is no longer limited by class, and they can equip any weapon in the game. Instead, equipping more (or heavier) weapons increases the recharge times of Shepard's abilities, forcing the player to find a good balance between the two.
- The character and weapon levelling is a good balance of the first and second game's approaches, allowing weapons to be levelled up individually instead of having a huge inventory of them, and offering more tangible benefits for levelling up character attributes.
- Grenades, which were largely absent from the second game, make their return here and are implemented much better than they were in the first game.
- Very deep and emotional story, with the entire galaxy wreaked in havoc after the Reaper's invasion. Various choices made in the previous games heavily affect the choices made in this game and it also brings a satisfying conclusion to the previous games' story arcs (although this came with one very unfortunate exception on BQ #1).
- Excellent graphics, making it one of the best-looking games of its generation.
- The second game's poorly-received planet scanning mechanic is now replaced by a system scanning mechanic, which allows players to scan systems to find resources to build the Crucible (planets still have to be scanned as the final step, but it's far less annoying now).
- The hacking minigames from the first two games (which weren't really that bad, but could be a speedbump) are also gone, with hacking now just requiring you to stay near whatever object you're trying to hack without getting shot.
- All of your squadmates from the previous games return in some capacity, so long as they were still alive by the end of the second game - with Liara, Garrus, Tali'Zorah and either Ashley or Kaidan (depending on who survived Virmire in the first game) returning to your party.
- The new Prothean character, Javik, who is included in the From Ashes DLC, is one of the most entertaining party members in the whole series, and very useful in combat.
- The morality system moves from just measuring either your Paragon or Renegade scores to measuring the combined values of both, making it easier to play as a mixed-morality character.
- It's now possible to control powerful combat mechs, either by stealing empty ones, or killing the pilots and hijacking them.
- Improved AI over the first two games, making your squad members more likely to automatically carry out power combos with Shepard, and reducing the chances of them charging into squads of enemies and instantly getting slaughtered.
- Like with the previous game, it's possible to import save files, therefore carrying over the choices you made in the first and second games. The experience and cash benefits you get from doing this are also a lot more pronounced than in the last game.
- Online multiplayer is included, and quite fun to play, even with the presence of the dreaded microtransactions.
- Using the Xbox 360's Kinect feature, the player can send voice commands such as command an NPC to move, switch weapons and more.
- The original ending. Mass Effect 3's original ending was notorious for its poor execution, essentially consisting of the same few cutscenes that were tinted differently depending on Shepard's final choice, and depicting the Normandy crash-landing on an uncharted planet. The resulting fan outcry forced BioWare to release a free Extended Cut DLC, which fleshed out the endings a lot more. The release version also locked out the best ending to the game unless you put time into playing the online mode (which, by extension, forced Xbox users to have an active Xbox Live subscription), doubtless to encourage the use of microtransactions. Fortunately, this was changed when the Extended Cut DLC came out.
- Most of the single-player DLC packs aren't really bad per se (at worst, the Omega pack is rather forgettable), but they're stuff that should've really been in the main game, which is among the worst possible usage of DLC imaginable. The Leviathan and Citadel packs were both very well-received, however.
- Less mission variety than the first two games, and arguably even Andromeda, with a grand total of one mission in the game (prior to the DLC packs) that isn't focused near-exclusively around combat.
- Only two freely-explorable locations in the game, namely the Normandy and the Citadel. While this was mostly true of the first game as well, it's a huge step down from Mass Effect 2, which gave you a total of four other explorable locations alongside the Normandy.
- None of the squadmates introduced in the previous game are selectable, with some of them (Grunt and Jacob in particular) being barely even present in the storyline.
- It's no longer possible to find missions by exploring the galaxy; instead, they're just handed to you at certain points in the storyline.
- The earliest signs of the SJW agenda that would ruin nearly all of BioWare's subsequent games are visible here. For the most part, it's limited to a few stock messages about how bigotry and hatred are bad, but Kaidan is suddenly retconned as being bisexual, despite absolutely nothing in either previous game indicating that he was attracted to men, and your new yeoman, Samantha Traynor, is extremely in-your-face about being a lesbian, which hurts what's otherwise a far superior replacement for her Mass Effect 2 counterpart, Kelly Chambers.
Despite the controversy surrounding the game's original ending, Mass Effect 3's overall reception was still very positive, with the Xbox 360 version once again being considered the best version, and the PlayStation 3 release being criticized for framerate issues and longer loading times (though these were mostly fixed in subsequent patches). The Wii U version was criticized for having the worst performance and graphics out of all the game's releases, as well as missing all of the DLC apart from From Ashes and the Extended Cut.