Review: Mass Effect 3

It’s quiet now. Moments ago we were frantically emptying assault rifle clips into the horde of biotic, undead monstrosities whose only priority was to cease our existence. In the mere seconds we have to look back down from atop the evac vessel, we see in the midst of the warzone a small child. He looks at us helplessly before his gaze is blown away by the same horde we just escaped.

Welcome back to Mass Effect friends – and that’s only the first level.

Back for its third and final instalment, this time round Commander Shepherd really shows the Reapers why he (or she) won’t go down without a fight. With numerous side quests and a host of new characters packed into the equation, Mass Effect 3 promises to end the series on the mother of all highs.

In terms of gameplay, it rarely strays from the more shooter driven style of the previous instalment. This isn’t a bad thing; Mass Effect 2 was one of the real highlights of 2010. The few adjustments that have been made are more aesthetic than anything else. Weapon mods, which were previously only seen during battle sequences, can now be viewed when upgrades are being made. This might be a vain attempt at crowd pleasing, but it works. It’ll give you a taste of which scope you’re going to use to blow the chromosomes off almost anything running your way.

Indeed the level design is lazier still. The combat is at least recycled from original content, and although no two worlds are alike, the structure of each level is far too familiar. Playing across a field more reminiscent of Gears of War than of anything Mass Effect, Commander Shepard could just as easily be Marcus Fenix; perhaps then the counsel might actually listen.

However, as Mass Effect 3 is the first in the series to endorse Kinect, we could forgive the lack of development if the Kinect content was of any actual use. It isn’t.

Voice commands and dialogue choices are not only irrelevant, they’re also a little bit silly. Nobody in their right mind would be comfortable engaging in a conversation with their TV; especially as the controller already has a simple means of doing it for you.

Yet it’s important to remember that this is a BioWare game, so the above factors were never the real focus. As ever, the story is incredible. With breath-taking scenes of galactic annihilation, coupled with the moral decisions of life and death, Mass Effect 3 evokes the biggest emotive response in the series to date.

The abundance of subplot missions and the subtle inclusion of the ‘war room’ increase the longevity of the game, making it feel like an actual war; you really start to empathise with the victims.

Unfortunately, due to this heavy focus on the drama of war, the game plays more like a film; particularly in the opening stages, where the cut scene lengths verge on intolerable. As such, the game is less challenging, going as far as to include a ‘Narrative’ mode where the game play’s significantly easier.

This isn’t necessarily a problem though. Once again, the art team at BioWare have outdone themselves, meaning sitting back and stargazing is a joy to behold; it’s truly a work of art.

All in all, Mass Effect 3 isn’t a bad game; in fact, it’s a very good game. Yet compared to the epic strides made by its predecessor, it comes up a little short. Hollow attempts at progression have been made, such as the inclusion of multiplayer levels, but they’re nothing special.

Although it’s by no means the best in the series, as a conclusion to the story of Commander Sheppard, it’s more than adequate. BioWare have kept quiet so far on the future of the Mass Effect universe, but let’s hope it’s not the end.

Oh and by the way, keep an eye out for the ending; it’s a corker.

8/10

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