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Episode 422

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Episode 421

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Episode 420

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Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3
Game Name: Mass Effect 3
Platforms: Playstation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): BioWare
Genre(s): Action role-playing
Release Date: March 6, 2012
ESRB Rating: M
Big Ups: Intricate and emotional story, great characters, detail visuals, variety of settings, appropriate controls
Big Downs: Minor bugs, some terrible fans

Thank you Star Wars. Thank you Battlestar Galactica. Thank you Star Trek. Thank you H.P. Lovecraft. Thank you every science fiction writer for laying the way for Bioware to create and wonderfully conclude this epic that is Mass Effect. Coming into Mass Effect 3 after enjoying its amazing previous title, I was worried that it could not possibly formulate a sound conclusion for such a complicated tale. I assumed there would be Mass Effect 3: Red and Blue editions yet somehow Bioware manages to create a single game that includes the multitude of possiblities accumulated through the past two games and DLC.

Regardless of your choices, at the core of the story are many different themes ripe for analysis. Numerous times I found that sidequests were confronting major current issues from gay rights to religions as a device for oppression. For a game, this is a staggering achievement; no longer are they simple tools for low brow pleasure.  Mass Effect 3 shows they are a capable medium of deep expression. Despite the deep thematic concepts, I use the term sidequest loosely as the game manages to elevate each endeavor to a level so that no one mission is eclipsed by another.  Though optional, these quests assist in increasing the odds of success in the main goal of the game: preventing the complete annihilation of the Milky Way at the hands, or should I say tentacles, of the mysterious Reapers. Hearing endlessly about this seemingly unstoppable event throughout the first two games, I had no idea how it would be portrayed. But Bioware must have read my mind and managed to deliver a convincingly desperate but plausible situation. As you scan over the galaxy map from within yet another renovated Normandy, giant Reaper icons loom over various star clusters indicating that they are currently being assaulted by these terrible monsters from the void.  When visiting Reaper-occupied space, you can scan for nearby points of interest, as with any other cluser, but when you do, you run the risk of being detected and killed. Considering the extent of their presence, it maintains the sensation of constantly being on the run from the grand, ever-existing threat yet emphasizes the fact that Shepard and crew are fully capable of outsmarting and outmanuevering  the Reapers.

From the very beginning of Mass Effect 3, the diverse set pieces immerse the player within the universe. Unlike the first game, each locale has distinct characteristics that construct a convincing and unique alien world. Where before felt Mass Effect to be contrived, Mass Effect 3 does well in showing how the Milky Way teems with interconnected life. So much so, that even each character has a very “human” element. From the moral dualities of the individual to the infighting within races who were previously show to have near perfect cohesion, no longer does the series feel like just another good versus evil tale. By the end of the game, when presented with the ultimately final decision, so many factors must be considered which makes each choice have its benefits and negatives. Currently, the debate still wages over if Bioware gave the series a proper ending. I stand by my statement that it is more than fitting, it is one of the best series endings to a game I have ever seen.

I think that Bioware tried its hardest to ensure that Mass Effect 3 was better than another sequel by adding many new additions. Not only do the story, visuals, and sound meet their standards, the gameplay is a major leap from its predecessors. Finally, it is as if the series realizes what it is, a third-person action RPG. I found myself overly please as I shot and melee’d countless Cerberus and Reaper troops. However, even on harder difficulties, with methodical approaches or properly exploiting environments, the game’s difficulty diminishes.

One of the more interesting additions is the multiplayer. It is yet another arguably good or bad point about the game. Considering the “Horde” craze of Gears of War and Call of Duty: World at War, however, it’s a welcome addition. Utilizing its fantastic, new control schemes, the multiplayer makes for one hell of a squad-based defend-your-fort game. You are faceless soldier place into a squad of three other people. Each player can select their class, that is also in the singleplayer game, and customize them to match their desired playstyle as you level up. Not only that, all of your playtime ties into the singleplayer campaign in a convincingly applaudable way. You are a  special operatives team tasked with striking vital enemy encampments to give the galaxy even more of a fighting chance against the Reapers than what Shepard could do alone. Each mission you successfully complete, the galaxy map, shown on the menu select screen, has percentages that go up. Here is where the multiplayer-is-arguably-good-or-bad point ties in: winning in multiplayer increase galactic readiness in the singleplayer campaign allowing for different endings. For people who dislike multiplayer, this sucks but Bioware merges the too so well that it is hard to be upset.  The choices in Mass Effect 3 embody the series in such a way that the gravity of the entire series resonates in each one. Though choices are not a new feature, the weight of a majority of the choices exemplify the fact that everyone is royally screwed if Shepard fails to act accordingly. Sometimes it feels that Bioware is striving for an emotional pull from a few too many scenes but never does it get out of hand considering the context of the story.

In the end, Mass Effect 3 succeeds in stomping out all of my doubts. Well played, Bioware. When considering AAA titles with huge fanbases such as this, it makes sense that a lot of people would be upset with not receiving the Hollywood ending they always hoped for, but I feel as a sci-fi game the endings are appropriate. You must step back and acknowledge all of the story factors and reasonably assemble how a good writer achieves that ending. There was no other way it could resolve. Also, with the promised DLC, unimportant “loose ends” which are hard to avoid because all life goes on, will be tied. Mass Effect 3 achieves something even many authors and directors can only begin to dream of. Its time even those who have not played the first two games to indulge the series. This is a crowning moment in game history.

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