You’ve fought and defeated the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius and his Geth army. You swallowed your pride and formed an alliance with Cerberus in a fight against the human-kidnapping Collectors. You are Commander Shepard, the valiant warrior who risks everything to keep the galactic peace from turning into a distant memory. However, the worst is yet to come. So are you ready for the 3rd installment of what is known to be one of the best games ever?
The fabled mechanical race of Reapers has awoken from their deep space slumber. The sentient synthetic/organic starships are out to complete their mission – to purge the galaxy of all life. Earth falls as Commander Shepard makes his escape aboard the Normandy, but not before witnessing a little boy being vaporized by a Reaper, a vision that haunts him throughout the game.The battle has commenced and once again, you are directly in the path of sacrifice, death, valor and life altering decisions. The fate of the galaxy (and trilogy) is in your hands… but then, fate has always had an air of inevitability around itself.
There is much fun to be had with character setup – unless of course you choose to import your character from Mass Effect 2. We spent an entire 30 minutes setting up our character. The initial choice is between selecting a buff, built-like-a-tank male Shepard or a petite-yet-powerful- female Shepard. Not a difficult choice to make here as we proceed with beef over beauty.
The next part of the character setup allows you to tweak physical features of your character to the minutest detail. “Sculpting” our character into something that would shame the best of the Greek Gods, we moved on to selecting the class our character would play as. We chose to go ahead as a Soldier to justify all the muscles on our character.Mass Effect 3 introduces the “weight” concept to weapons. Each arm comes with its own weight and there is a limit on how much weight Shepard can carry at a time. Going over the limit effects the recharge time of powers, slowing it down in direct relation to how much over the weight limit your weapons are. On the other hand, being under the weight limit boosts the recharge time of your powers , at the obvious cost of less weaponry in your arsenal.
Once our Shepard was ready and armed, it was time to save the galaxy. BioWare’s assertion that “every choice counts” could not hold more ground. The entire game is based on choosing various missions, each one littered with choices that range from tactical to moral. In one of the missions, our character faced the choice to either cement an alliance between the Turians and Krogans or not. If an alliance were formed, the Krogans would be cured of the Genophage virus, allowing the battle hungry race to increase its numbers and run rampant through the galaxy. If an alliance is not formed, the fight against the Reapers will be a lost cause. Well we chose to be the good guys and allow the Genophage cure to be dispersed. Mordin, a dear friend of Shepard’s, takes the elevator to the top of the Shroud to by-pass the malfunction preventing the cure from being spread.The game switches to movie mode and we watch in sheer horror as Mordin enters a room engulfed in flames. He finishes entering the codes and as he smiles, rejoicing at the fact that the Krogans will once again have a chance at life, an explosion destroys the entire tower, but not before the cure has been dispersed. A moment of silence later, we couldn’t help but think whether having made a different choice would have saved Mordin’s life. Once again let us remind you that fate is inevitable.
Mass Effect 3 is all out war. It is the last stand the galaxy makes against the vicious Reapers and everyone stands together at the battle front. Sacrifice seems to be the dominating theme of the game, along with gritting your teeth and doing whatever it takes to survive, to win. The conclusion of the game will by far be the most difficult choice ever faced by Shepard, by you. Even though what disappointed us was that no matter what you chose to be, the result is pre-decided. So do play the game a second time with a little bit of evil streak. It’s fun to be mean in the virtual world.Mass Effect 3 also asserts the idea of working in teams, as each mission required us to select two squad mates. The choice of characters would depend on who you have recruited to be part of the Normandy crew. Squad selection is not about randomly selecting two characters, but requires careful thought. The idea is to balance out the weaknesses of each character with the strengths of the others. This is essential to ensure survival in a mission.
The visual elements of Mass Effect 3 are, in short, absolutely stunning. The level of detail with which the game renders terrain is just mind-numbing. The Mars mission is the perfect example for this. The mission involves collecting data about a Prothean weapon, data which resides on Mars. The terrain is a beautiful shade of rust, with textures that depict some level of degradation. There is a massive dust storm approaching in the distance, the effects of which can be seen in the wind trails that often go over the screen. Everything about the scene screamed “Mars!” to us (not that we’ve been there, mind!). The particle generation system of the game is superb in every respect, be it the ability to simulate dust particles or the destruction of a firebomb. Headshots look gorgeous when seen through the scope of the sniper rifle through which the fatal shot was fired.
The Galaxy Map, is an essential component through which you select missions. It lends a rich visual experience to the game. The level of detail that pervades every aspect of this feature, from the “Bird’s-eye-view” of the galaxy to the detail in galactic orbits, complete with asteroid fields and nebulae, left us absolutely speechless.
We have a hard time deciding how to word our opinion on the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack. There is no doubt that the score is fabulous. It blends seamlessly into the game’s environment, and not a single note felt out of place.
With that said, it should also be said that the soundtrack for Mass Effect 3 is only amazing as long as it has the gameplay to supplement it. If the gameplay is taken out of the picture, the score by itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but then again, video game music isn’t really created for standalone listening.
There is no denying that Mass Effect 3 deserves every ounce of hype that has surrounded the game ever since its announcement. The storyline, though simple, has a degree of depth we are yet to see in any popular franchise game and the gameplay is very engaging. Mass Effect really drills the concept of “cause-and-effect” into the player, with both good and bad outcomes. There is nothing mild or middle-of-the-road about this game.
It’s a pleasant change to be immersed in a game world where the evolution of the story and the growth of the character are so deeply intertwined. It would be nice to see more game developers take on this approach as it’s not only far more engaging, but also something one doesn’t see in games today; an evolving storyline. Most games today feel very linear in their “go-from-point A-to-point B,” but Mass Effect 3 throws curveballs at pretty much every point in the game.
Many would consider the ending of the game to be disappointing, as it is pre-scripted and regardless of what choice was made through the game. While we understand the sentiment, the ending did not take anything away from the vast expanse of alternatives the game provides us. If one was to look at it philosophically, we would definitely say that “it is not so much the goal that is important, but the adventures had along the way.”
Another let-down of sorts was that more or less every character from the last two games had a reason not to join you. But then again you alone have enough fire power to save the world, thanks to the Protheans.
Value for money: 4