Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect series is probably my favourite franchise ever. Right from the first game I’ve been totally absorbed by the world (or rather, galaxy) and it’s interesting mix of alien races, cultures and planets.
The story has had me on the edge of my seat too, and I’ve wondered how it all might resolve. All of this has been backed up by solid gameplay, even if the RPG mechanics have been pruned over the years in favour of more typical Gears Of War style action.
One of the real positives of the series has been how decisions cascade from game to game. Choices you make in Mass Effect 1 will have an effect on the story in Mass Effect 3, which is quite and achievement.
It’s safe to sat that Mass Effect 3 is one of the most anticipated games in a long time. Does it live up to the hype? Does it make good on 60+ hours of build-up.
I don’t enjoy saying it, but the short answer is no. Mass Effect 3 is a strange game in many ways. It’s still great – the graphics are good, the gameplay is fun and the story is gripping. But so many strange design decision have been made along the way that ultimately, Mass Effect 2 will be remembered as the better game.
Parts of Mass Effect 3 seem dumbed down. The new squadmate, James Vega, is a dumb marine straight out of Gears of War. Most of the female characters are heavily sexualised compared to the first game in the series, most noticeably seen in the entirely unnecessary Diana Allers.
The way that side missions are handled is a huge step back as well. You pick them up by simply overhearing conversations, and most of the consist of travelling to a solar system, scanning a planet and bringing whatever you find back to the person who needs it. The journal makes tracking your progress on these quests impossible, so all in all it feels like a pointless grind.
But the biggest problem with the game is it’s controversial ending. The ending feels wrong because it’s so out of character with the rest of the series. The choices you get are arbitrary and they make you feel powerless… like the decisions you’ve made and the things you’ve done don’t actually count for anything. I can’t remember ever being as disappointed by a game’s ending as with this game. With the previous games in this series, I wanted to replay them as soon as I finished. I don’t get that feeling with this one.
Having said all of that, this is still a Mass Effect game, and it’s still great, in many places. The worlds you visit are interesting (though I think they fall short of Mass Effect 2’s more atmospheric, Blade Runner-like areas), and the story is intense. The feelings of hopelessness in the face of the Reapers, and the impact war are conveyed really well.
I enjoyed my time with Mass Effect 3, but the steps back it took in it’s design, and in particular the ending, left a bad taste in my mouth that I really wasn’t expecting. It was a disappointing end to a phenomenal series, but one which I still feel is worth experiencing.