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An epic conclusion to a magnificent trilogy let down only by pure laziness,
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This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)As much as I love Mass Effect I've always been slightly more in favour of the Dragon Age series. It just had an ever so slightly more gripping feel to it. So after the colossal misstep that was Dragon Age 2 came out I was quite nervous about what to expect from Mass Effect 3.
Thankfully I can report that Mass Effect 3 is a great game and a truely deserving finish for what is a brilliant sci-fi trilogy...for the most part.
Once again you are Commander Shepherd, brought to Earth to face trial for your involvement with the terrorist organisation Cerberus in the last game. But no sooner are you back in Shepherd's shoes again when the planet comes under attack from the dreaded Reapers: the evil life-consuming machines that have plagued you throughout the saga. After narrowly escaping the invasion it becomes your job to rally the aid of the rest of the forces in the galaxy and lead the fight back to reclaim Earth.
First of all, you should be warned that ME3 is the most action focused of the trilogy (boo Electronic Arts). Shepherd no longer has the ability to put his gun away and gone are the days when missions were comprised of a mixture of free-roaming exploration and action. Every single mission in the game is essentially a third-person shooter level with the usual interactive cutscenes and dialogue options popping up within. Despite this, I found this did not take away from the fun of the gameplay as Shepherd now has some new techniques he can use that, along with some spectacular set pieces, help to keep the missions exciting to play.
One of Mass Effect's biggest strengths has always been its plot and in this department the third game does not disappoint. If you haven't played the previous 2 games I would highly recommend doing so before picking up ME3, not only because they are great games in themselves but boy does this game reward you for having played out the Mass Effect story in its entirety. I paid attention closely for the near 50 hour runtime of the game and I could not fault the continuity of any of the decisions I made previously. The scope of which the game shapes itself around the history of your own unique shepherd is very impressive.
Speaking with your crew on your ship, the Normandy, is still as fun as ever, albeit the game only lets you have interactive conversations with them when it wants you to this time, but nevertheless there is still plenty of interaction to be had that brings you into the history of each of your team-mates and helps you bond with them to the point that you actually care about them as characters. Wisely Bioware have also done away with the dull planet mineral mining sections that constitued much of your time in Mass Effect 2. Solar system exploration is still prominent but this time around the Reapers have been added to make space exploration more dangerous, forcing you to evade enemy ships whenever they detect your presence. The graphics have been upgraded from before, and there are plenty of well written plot pieces in the game that will be sure to tug on your emotional cords making the whole thing an all the more engrossing experience. The only downside about the characters is a homosexual sub-plot that blatantly feels like it was added only to appease the equality chanters, and personally I think this should have no place in video games.
So what's the problem then? Well, if, like me, you've been a fan of Mass Effect since day one then Mass Effect 3 should have been the greatest role-playing sci-fi game of all time. What's frustrating is that it could have gotten close to this were it not for nothing other than some lazy design issues.
The game automatically deserves one star less for forcing people to purchase the 'From Ashes' DLC. This was obviously meant to be included in the full game and is nothing other than a cheap money-maker that frankly I think is criminal.
Then there's the technical issues. I knew the game hadn't been completely polished when I tried to import my saved Shepherd from ME2 only to be told the import tool didn't work, but man is the game littered with bugs. Animations are choppy, and certain side quests encounter technical errors that make them impossible to complete, requiring you to give an item to a character who has since disappeared from the game for example.
While the graphics are decent enough, the sound sure could have used work. While some of the music is recycled from Mass Effect 2 this isn't necessarily a bad thing, however I think it's about time that Bioware shook up their voice actors a little. Many of them are becoming far too recognisable from other Bioware games, and even one of the main villains in the game is obviously the same voice actor as the male Shepherd!
And finally the ending. I won't give anything away but it does disappoint. It's not that it's a bad ending, it's just that it belongs at the end of a totally different sci-fi movie and makes no sense as the conclusion to the Mass Effect series.
Yes you should buy Mass Effect 3 if you enjoyed the previous game(s). Many fans of the original Mass Effect might be put off by how streamlined the series has become, however it is still an exhilirating ride and deserves to be played if you're a fan of the series. The game does help cap the whole trilogy as a rewarding and immersive experience, but surely Casey Hudson (Mass Effect mastermind), or a good chunk of his staff, couldn't have been entirely satisfied with how this entry into the series turned out. Unfortunately this all leads you to suspect whether any future Bioware projects will be worthy of your purchase.