Title: Mass Effect 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Release Date: Out Now
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Mass Effect 3 is the final installment in Bioware’s epic sci-fi role-playing saga. You play as Commander Shepard, a veteran soldier tasked with travelling through the galaxy rallying other extraterrestrial races for assistance in saving the earth from the Reaper invasion, the Reapers being an alien race that wipe out all organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years; no pressure.
The game allows you to choose your experience, depending on how involved you want to be. You can pick the ‘traditional’ Mass Effect style and play through the game with the RPG elements intact, the more action orientated third person shooter option, or you can choose story mode, which allows you take a backseat to the action of the game and explore the story in depth.
The dense story coupled with customisable gameplay makes for an excellent combination. If you’re one who strives to complete every side quest and chase up every strand of storyline, the game will last you around thirty hours, otherwise expect to playing for around half of that.
However, the whole experience is far from perfect. The dialog has taken a dramatic step down from Mass Effect 2; exchanges between characters being often simply poorly written. The voice acting and lip syncing are pretty variable, and while vocal cast members such as Martin Sheen add a certain spark to the performances, overall it is quite inconsistent.
The gameplay is similarly varied. There are times when you are trying to make a particularly context sensitive movement and the game responds in a completely different way. Both enemy and ally AI is very patchy; you’ll often see both running in the completely wrong direction. The PS3 version also has some serious frame rate issues at times.
One serious problem that could be an issue for newcomers to the Mass Effect series is that the game rarely explains game elements particularly intuitively. You’ll collect ‘War Assets’ through random conversations without ever really knowing what they are, unless you want to trawl through in-game documentation. Obviously this is the final part of a trilogy, but the game makes little effort to explain the storyline in any meaningful way, which is a potentially serious frustration to new players.
All criticism aside, there is a very solid game in Mass Effect 3. Most of the in-game issues are fairly forgivable. When it comes to a game of this scale, glitches are nearly to be expected. Without spoiling anything, the ending has been exceptionally divisive online, to the point where there is a large scale petition to try and get the developers to change it. If you’re a Mass Effect fan, you’ll love the journey, regardless of the ending, however if you haven’t played its predecessors, perhaps it might be an idea to try your hand at one of them first.