Guild's Mass Effect 3 Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Guild McCommunist, Mar 10, 2012.

Mar 10, 2012
  1. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Very few times do you feel like you've played a game that completely sets you back. Something that did so much that your perspective on gaming changes completely. The original Mass Effect did this for story. And now, years later, that little kid known as Mass Effect has grown up. It went from the scrawny little BioWare HD entry game, filled with ugly graphics, slowdowns, texture pop-ins, and deadbrain AI, to this fully matured, sophisticated member of the gaming community. Simply put, Mass Effect 3 is the best RPG made. Period.
    The Best of Both Worlds
    Most every long term Mass Effect player will agree on two things. One: Mass Effect (the original) was one of the best stories ever told, from plot to characters to pacing, but was about as fun to play with as a rubber band ball filled with tacs. Two: the second game blew the first game out of the water in terms of gameplay, delivering something entirely fun, but lacked a good story or equally great cast to make it top the first game's story. This gave the third game an opportunity to marry both. And it did. Perfectly. It's a story that tops Mass Effect with gameplay that's better than Mass Effect 2. I thought this was worth noting to anyone worrying about a compromise, feeling that Mass Effect 2 set a precedent of good gameplay OR good story. This blows that out of the water.
    All Good Things...
    As I mentioned before, Mass Effect 3 is the strongest story out of the trilogy. Without going into too much detail, here's the story you should know from trailers. Shepard warned everyone of the Reapers but they wouldn't listen. So when the Reapers finally came, Earth is taken as the ground zero for the war. Shepard escapes narrowly and must unite the galactic races for an assault on the Reapers, to take Earth back, and end the cycle of extinction that the Reapers have performed every 50,000 years. But with all Mass Effect stories, they revolve around your decisions and crossovers from the other games, and Mass Effect 3 hits on everything. Even the most minute details will come back to you here. Your romance can either start anew or can continue from an older game. Every plot important decision (from whether you saved Wrex or not to how you handled the Thorian situation on Zhu's Hope) will come back to either assist you or even hurt you. Everything becomes an asset in the intergalactic war. Even your fish from Mass Effect 2 carries over (if he survived). The other thing I found remarkable is the characters. Generally I wasn't a huge fan of Mass Effect 2's cast. I genuinely liked Mordin and (of course) Garrus and Tali. I can give a pass to Thane and Grunt but the rest were just... there. But almost all the past cast shines in Mass Effect 3 (if you saved them). Every thread from the past two games comes to a tidy conclusion here. There's no plot holes or anything that keeps you hanging. It's a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant series.

    I have to make a note on set pieces. Commonly I hear that people really like Call of Duty campaigns. Not for the story, but for the action and set pieces. Very few games can deliver an adrenaline-pumping shootout in the gritty Asian slums or a stealthy sniper mission deep in enemy territory. While no one cares about your Soaps or Captain Prices, it's all about the action. Mass Effect 3 truly delivers some amazing set pieces. Considering RPGs are generally dull, slow affairs, it's a revolution. You'll be sprinting through battlefields with explosions going off, enemies rushing at you, and when you look up, you see a gigantic world, set ablaze by a Reaper invasion. It's awe-inspiring, almost constantly, and without fail.
    Not A Star Trek: The Next Generation Reference
    Also as I said before, the gameplay is better than Mass Effect 2, both from a third person shooter standpoint and a RPG standpoint. Pretty much all the elements in terms of shooting from Mass Effect 2 are the same, with new ones added. It's still a chest-high walls simulator, but now with some new added stuff. The most notable one is a small revamp to melee. Basically holding down the melee button will result in a "heavy attack", which deals a lot of damage but is, of course, slower. Each classes is usually a bit different. An Adept or Vanguard's heavy melee is weaker but can push an enemy backwards or knock them down. An Infiltrator's melee deals the most damage but is slow. There's also a "Grab" mechanic now, where you can grab an enemy from behind cover and instantly kill them. I rarely find myself using it though, I did it maybe once or twice through the entire campaign. The rest is your Mass Effect 2 TPS gameplay. You take cover behind objects and poke out from them to shoot baddies or throw powers.

    From a RPG standpoint, it's a bit more like the original Mass Effect than anything else. Every level up grants you an amount of points to invest in skills of your choice. You have your choice of biotic powers (like Throw, Pull, Warp, Slam, etc), combat abilities (Carnage, Concussion Shot, Inferno Grenades, Lift Grenades, different ammos, etc) and passive abilities (like higher health, melee damage, biotic damage, etc). After a few levels, each skill eventually branches off, allowing you different options on how to develop that skill. You can choose between a higher damage or a higher recharge for a skill, for example. For equipment, you can find and buy new weapons and armor. Your five standard weapon classes (sniper, assault rifle, pistol, shotgun, and SMG) are all here. They're all upgradeable by purchasing better versions of them, and you can now purchase mods for them, such as scopes (for improved accuracy and to add a scope to the weapon), damage enhancers, stability mods, improved melee damage, the list goes on. A new aspect here is also weight, which becomes a rather large factor. While you can pack the best assault rifle and the best sniper, you'll have large amounts of weight. Weight helps determine your recharge speed on powers. A low weight will make them recharge faster while a high weight will make them recharge slower. It can make running only a pistol seem completely reasonable. All these aspects make the RPG part of the game highly customizable as well as in-depth and approachable.
    Wars With Friends
    One of the more shocking reveals about Mass Effect 3 was a multiplayer mode. It certainly ruffled a few feathers. On the optimistic hand, it seems like the perfect idea. Mass Effect has been about having a team, coordinating to taken down an enemy. You can't just dump clips of ammo into an enemy to win, you need a team that can have the most effective approach to dealing with its health. Except now instead of having AI you have to coordinate manually, you'll get a team of other people to coordinate with. On the other hand, how the hell would this work? Mass Effect kinda worked by having you pause the game and coordinate all this, something you can't do effectively in multiplayer. When it was announced, we also didn't know if it was versus or survival or whatever it could be. After playing the demo way too much (I got to lvl 96 out of 120 in about 3-4 days) and playing a bit of the full game, I can safely say this is a success. You and up to three other players are dumped on a map and have to survive 10 Waves of enemies and then a final stand off until you can be evacuated. The gameplay is essentially the same as the single player, but it's much more simplified to fit the real time multiplayer setting. You now have only 3 activated skills, all of which are mapped to RB, LB, or Y. All the classes from the single player are there, but now with different races. Each race has different skills to use and even different passive abilities, like their melee attacks to their evasion skills. During the ten rounds of gameplay, you'll be given three different non-survival objectives (at rounds 3, 6, and 10) that could involve assassinating key enemies, remaining in a certain area to transmit info, or activating 4 different beacons. There's also a variety of maps to choose from with different layouts and 3 different enemy classes to face (Cerberus, Reapers, or Geth).

    Multiplayer also factors into the single player. If sidequesting isn't your thing, the multiplayer essentially provides as a substitute. You can earn better "Galactic Readiness" (a higher rating means higher success in the final mission) by playing multiplayer instead of sidequests. Even the achievements allow the game to be either single or multiplayer focused. You can, for example, complete every map on Gold (the hardest) difficulty for multiplayer or do every mission in the single player on Insanity difficulty for the same success. So if you want to spend more time shooting than scanning planets, Mass Effect 3 still has you covered.

    Everything else on a technical end is fine. Matchmaking was easy for me. You can join a random match or start a new one, the game only starts when everyone's ready, and players can vote to kick anyone whose being a nuisance. I never had connection issues from the game itself, although host migration isn't exactly smooth. It's still easy to invite people to play or set up a lobby.

    I'd say as a whole, the multiplayer is a success. It combines what makes Mass Effect's combat work into an effective team based survival game. The real question is whether it'll stick or not. With incredible sales though and a popular multiplayer demo, I have a feeling it will though. Even after attaining full Galactic Readiness purely through single player, I'm still compelled to play the multiplayer again and again. It's also one of those few games that delivers a good single player and multiplayer with a compromise to either.
    The LittleBig Things
    There's a bunch of smaller things that should also be mentioned about the game.

    First, my only real complaint on the game: the credits.
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    Every Mass Effect player remembers this song. It was the perfect punctuation on the end of a fantastic story. You were delivered an incredible ending, blown away, and this song starts playing. That's what made the game's story hit as hard as it did. As much as I dislike Dragon Age 2, it still was able to deliver a decent end song to help make a sloppy story seem more memorable. Mass Effect 3, unfortunately, does not. Don't get me wrong, the game has fantastic music, but I wanted something to punctuate the game. The ending is brilliant. It's literally the best ending I've ever experienced in a video game. But the credits music kinda fell flat. I was still blown away by the experience as a whole, but this didn't bring me to tears (or close to tears) like good ol' M4 Part II did.

    If I didn't mention this enough, the graphics are breathtaking. The demo is not accurate at all of the final product's graphics. My only minor complaint is facial animations. While everything like lip movement and stuff looks great, there's almost no expression on their faces. I don't expect LA Noire here but even Half Life 2 had facial animations, and that game is like what, 8 years old now? But the model animations are fluid, the scenery is gorgeous, the lighting is perfect, and the framerate is constantly high and smooth, regardless of the action happening.

    For Xbox 360 users, the game is on two discs. Early on in the game I was switching them a lot, but the latter half of it had me doing this very little. I think the first disc is most main story and multiplayer stuff while the second disc is sidequests.

    And yeah, day one on-disc DLC sucks, there's no way around that. Collector's Edition owners get it for free though.

    On a plot note, they also don't give us any bullshit "open ending" so they can pack it full of retarded sequels. That's not to say there won't be any "prequel" or "intermediate" games and BioWare said this isn't the last for Mass Effect (as well as to save your completed saves from this game), but no matter which way you put it, the game wraps up. No ifs, ands, or buts.
    Is it Massively Effective?
    In the end though, I say with no exaggeration that it's the best RPG game made and the best story in gaming.

    It's amazing to see how the series evolved, more than anything else. To believe that it went from the technical mess of Mass Effect that was rather bad but saved by a fantastic story to a game that hits every note perfectly is a wonderful thing to say. As far as sequels go, this sets a new standard. It evolves the series in a way games should be. It learns from its mistakes and fixes those. It added good gameplay to fix a bland third person shooter, it created an amazing story to help give a stronger narrative edge than Mass Effect 2, and on top of all that, it gave us a multiplayer experience that isn't a compromise at all. BioWare has been having a rough history lately, with Dragon Age 2 falling flat and The Old Republic (apparently) not being all its cracked up to be, but Mass Effect 3 proves that the magic is still there.

    Presentation: An amazing story, presented perfectly. Every thread from the previous two games wraps up, there's nothing left hanging. All the characters come back and make an impact, even Mass Effect 2 characters I wasn't particularly fond of make you like them. It's remarkably well written and is the acme of story telling. 10/10

    Graphics: What started as the texture pop-in ugly black sheep with slowdowns turned into one of the best looking games in recent memories. While facial animations are lacking, the scenery is mind blowing and the animations are still incredibly fluid and lifelike. There's also no slowdowns, no matter what's on the screen or what's happening. 10/10

    Audio: A grand, sweeping, orchestral soundtrack that fits every situation without flaws. Voice acting, as always, is some of the best in gaming history. No great finale song is a bit of a letdown but it doesn't stop this audio juggernaut. 10/10

    Gameplay: The best aspects of Mass Effect's RPG elements combine with the best aspects of Mass Effect 2's shooter elements, with some expansion and changes. Dialogue system is still as good as ever and everything runs smoothly. AI is also workable. Kinect voice commands are added now but I can't say I've tried them. 10/10

    Lasting Appeal: The main story with all the sidequests took me 25 hours. Multiple playthroughs are almost a must eventually, and that goes for replaying the previous two games as well. Multiplayer adds on possibly hundreds of hours as well. Definitely something to keep nearby. 10/10

    Overall: 10/10

    The game's spot on, people. If you haven't played Mass Effect as a series, now's your time to buy all three games and experience the pinnacle of western RPGs. I stll feel like my review is missing things but there's so much to talk about that it's better to discover for yourself.
     
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  2. Gundam Eclipse

    Member Gundam Eclipse True Demon Route

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    Been playing nothing but this since I got it yesterday. Its bloody amazing, the gameplay, the music and the graphics(I spent a full half hour just looking around in the beginning instead of following Anderson lol).

    Also, I may have just missed it, but you kinda didn't touch on the replayability value, seeing as there's just so many variables and the various classes in the entire series, you can play it multiple times and not get bored :3 Also to see the different romances, including the opposite genders romance options.

    Also, could be just me being very easy to please and stuff, but ME2' story was pretty awesome :V That final mission(Not Arrival) had me pumped up as hell~

    And I am never skipping any game credits ever again D: Good god I feel bad skipping the credits for ME1, that song is fucking amazing D:
     
  3. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    In all honesty you can skip the ME3 credits. It shows you the epilogue cutscene regardless of if you watch the credits in full.
     
  4. DS1

    Member DS1 伝説の雀士

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    I loved the first game, but couldn't get into the second one because I kept dying at the very beginning. It's like they made the game more action-oriented and FPS-like, and I'm terrible at FPS games. The beauty of the first one is that I could hide behind stuff whenever action scenes popped up, and send my teammates out to kill things, or at least be the front line while I just shot randomly from behind. Would this game give me the same problems, or is it easy on people who suck at aiming and shooting?

    PS: I like being able to grab enemies, that sounds like an awesome addition
     
  5. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    It's a lot more shooter oriented but I can't really see it as an issue. Even if you're not the best shooter player you can still play Adept and spam powers (since they all have homing capabilities) and you don't always need precision.

    The grab isn't used that much though. I'm assuming it's there to allow you to play Infiltrator and stealth kill people more than anything else. It looks cool and it's effective but it's incredibly hard to trigger.
     
  6. Arras

    Member Arras ★02

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    At the start of the game, you can choose between Action, Story or RPG. Action decides the plot questions for you, Story makes battles much easier and RPG has normal battles and decisions. You should be fine if you choose Story... I think.
     
  7. DS1

    Member DS1 伝説の雀士

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    That's the first I've heard of this! That sounds pretty good, because it's not like I hate gameplay, I just don't want it to be overly difficult or frustrating. Like I still enjoy collecting weapons and modding the gun and ammo and all that, but I don't want to get slaughtered in a few hits just because I can't aim the damn thing or shoot fast enough.

    edit: by "the gun" I mean of course, the pistol, hahah
     
  8. Arras

    Member Arras ★02

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    You can try the demo, I think it has that feature as well.
     
  9. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    I noticed this in the demo but I didn't in the main game. It's probably since I imported my save and it was set to RPG Mode.

    The demo's quite good though. The first part gives you a peak of the story. The second part gives you a peak at the gameplay and leveling aspects. The multiplayer is also great, since it's unrestricted outside of two maps and one enemy. Unfortunately it doesn't carry over to the main game though.
     
  10. FireGrey

    Member FireGrey Undercover Admin

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    Guild gave it a 10/10, well i need to remember to stay away from it :creep:
    Haha jk, good review!
     
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  11. DS1

    Member DS1 伝説の雀士

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    Oh no, I won't be able to play this for a while probably, hahaah. I don't have any current gen systems, but I was thinking in a few months I might be able to get a 360 or PS3 and play through ME1-3 to carry my main character through. The first game worked on my laptop (which ran it at minimal spec), and the second I played on my friend's computer (which ran at full spec). Again, I only played about 4 hours on the second one before I gave up in frustration.
     
  12. Gundam Eclipse

    Member Gundam Eclipse True Demon Route

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    I am not completely sure, but IIRC ME1 is only on the Xbox and PC, its the entire reason why the Genesis comic was made, so that ME2 PS3 players wouldn't feel completely lost and would get the important story details :V
    Thought I would point that out in case you don't know V:
     
  13. brandonspikes

    Member brandonspikes King Erazer

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    Hey look, Guild is into good games after all....

    Is it bad I'm scared to beat the game because I don't want to miss any side-quests?
     
  14. DS1

    Member DS1 伝説の雀士

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    This is also news to me... no wonder my friend got them for PC and not PS3...
     
  15. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    When you beat the game it resets to before the "point of no return" so you can do DLC/sidequests.
     
  16. brandonspikes

    Member brandonspikes King Erazer

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    I know, but if you advance the main missions you cant do certain side quests. Im 13 hours in, and not even close to 50% of the main story.
     
  17. ShawnTRods

    Member ShawnTRods GBAtemp Psycho!

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    This sounds like something I should definately get :D
    I am more of a Melee combat system person, but I for sure like the Mass Effect Series. Watched a lot of "lets play" videos and I think I am gonna start with 1 lol.
    SO many things plied up -.-
     
  18. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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  19. Jaems

    Member Jaems GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    While I disagree with almost everything you said, this little bit got to me and I feel I have to point this out because it seems no one else here has actually played through the game yet (I think).

    By now, everyone must have heard about all this ending controversy. Either you have the opinion that the people who dislike it are whiny and entitled, or you completely understand where the fans are coming from. I'm not going to go into detail obviously, but to put it bluntly, Mass Effect 3 commits story-telling suicide within the last ten minutes. This isn't even an opinion. As someone who has invested hundreds of hours into this series, the problems with Mass Effect 3's finale are so blatantly obvious that I fail to see how Bioware could've released the game. It is full of plot holes, it does keep you hanging, and it is not a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant series, it's a goddamn mess, and plainly just poor writing. There are not sixteen different endings either, unless you classify a 5% difference as "different," all of the endings are virtually the same shit.

    The worst part about it is that the rest of the game is great (not perfect, and definitely not the best in the series by a long shot). And although it's evident within the final hour or so that Bioware may have been rushed on this (perhaps in a similar manner as Dragon Age 2), the build-up is still fantastic. But then it's all ruined with a resolution that's steep as hell, Bioware shoehorning and abandoning themes, and Shepard acting completely out of character. Also, plotholes you'd expect to see in a prequel trilogy Star Wars film.

    If you don't care much about story, you'll have a great time. If you've been playing these games since the first one and absorbed everything there is to love about the narrative and characters, this game will break your heart and may even lead you to hurt yourself.
     
  20. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Okay, stating "it isn't even opinion" is just dumb. Strike one.

    I think the complaint about the ending is that it's "too open" because everyone thinks Mass Effect as a franchise has just packed its bags and went to the same farm as Jade Empire so they can play Scrabble together. It's not. There will most likely be a game that follows up on this. Not a Mass Effect 4, but certainly something. If you didn't know that Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2 was getting a sequel, everyone would rabble over how bad the endings are. I thought the endings were good because they were all valid options. Nothing stupidly evil. They were all reasonable conclusions but they all had pros and cons. And it was your choice of which one had the pros that outweighed the cons. If the risk was worth the reward (or as Jacob would say, THE PRIZE).

    How else would you want the endings to end? Warning: Spoilers. Would you want Shepard to just go "Nope" and sit there and let the Reapers just win for no reason? Would you have him sign a treaty with the Reapers and they all hit up the bar scene together after their new found friendship? Would want Shepard to turn them into ice cream and become Space Commander Supreme while the Krogans bake him a birthday cake? In the end any ending would be "the same old shit" for a series finisher, but these may all have drastic consequences on another Mass Effect game. Bioware also designed the ending to have some elements similar between each ending so that they can develop a new game around them.

    Um, how is it not the best in the series for the rest of the game? Storytelling is great. Everything from your previous games does come out, even if it does "flop" in the end. The mechanics are the best in the series. The environments and set pieces are breathtaking. Pretty much every fan can agree that everything from starting on Earth to SPOILER ALERT facing the Illusive Man is absolutely great.

    And Bioware has had this planned out for a long time. Don't even compare it to Dragon Age 2. Dragon Age 2's issue wasn't that it was "rushed", it was just bad. Recycled environment, uninteresting characters, and a truly terrible ending. You thought Mass Effect 3's ending was bad because the choices were samey? Dragon Age 2 had the SAME ENDING regardless. You fight the Knight Captain no matter what. The series went from an epic in Dragon Age Origins to trying to be more "confined" in Dragon Age 2. But in genre based on expansive adventures and the like, Dragon Age 2 didn't work. People play a fantasy game like Dragon Age or Elder Scrolls for its expansiveness. To embark on a great quest to save the world and all that cliche shit. Yeah, cliche, but it's used time and time again because it works. Why care about what happens in a little city when you were off saving the world from Darkspawn and Archdemons in the last game? That's like having a GTA game focused on four city blocks compared to a GTA game focused on an entire not-New York City-but-definitely-New York City.

    That's a bit of an exaggeration. I liked the endings because they were realistic. There were no happy endings, you were making it by the skin of your teeth, and this whole war culminates to making a tough decision. The ending doesn't come down to facing Were-Saren or a Terminator, it came down to making a choice, all of which had shit consequences but all of which beat the shit out of getting spanked by the Reapers.

    And yeah, I bet everyone will love the ending when Mass Shift or whatever it'll be called comes out and brings all this back.
     

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