on 2 April 2013
I love Mass Effect. It's sci-fi heaven with heaps of action, a deep plot and awesome cinemagrophy. However, as an overall product Mass Effect 3 has so far caused me more frustration and bitter disappointment than it has joy.
I'm totally mystified by Origins logic when they put this package together. I'll try to brief here. I'm leaving for work overseas the next day, so I go out and treat myself to Mass Effect 3 so I have something to play whilst away. It's the evening before my travels and I decide to get the game installed. In my experience most games install in about 10 minutes. But (and don't ask me why) Mass Effect 3 wants you to download the files! Yes, that's right, all ~10GB of them. You have this perfect, new-smelling DVD disc in the drive, but it's completely useless, because Origin thought we'd like that. My internet connection was used entirely by Origin's clever (?) install process for my remaining hours at home and to be honest there were other things I could've been doing.
Being wise to modern copy protection methods I had the savvy to run the game before leaving for work, knowing, chances are it'll ask me to activate. I ran the game, entered my serial code then, after getting to the main menu, exited and put Origin in offline mode. A few days later when outside the UK, I decided to play Mass Effect 3. Could I? No. For whatever reason, it was asking to be activated again. `Sign in with your Origin account to activate Mass Effect 3 on this computer'. But I already did that! It would be a week or so until I'd have a connection again. I activated it again when I next had the opportunity and it let me play for several days without a connection (Wow!). It wasn't to be the end of it though. After a short spell not playing, and again when I was internet-less, it decided to ask me for activation again. It's like watching a fantastic movie at the cinema, but then someone pauses it 20 minutes in and tells you to go home and wait a few days. All I want... is to play the game I bought.
From my experience, it seems Origin loses confidence in your initial activation after several days without a connection. I don't know why this is. But it's safe to say, those that acquire this game through less `honourable' methods, will probably have less bother. As a paying customer, I didn't even get the benefit of a disc install; I had to wait for the download, just like the software pirates. It's a shame that such a great title has been packaged by monkeys. I doubt I'll pay for anything with Origin's label on it again, Mass Effect or not.
on 8 May 2012
Mass Effect 3 contains some of the best written storytelling in videogame history. Unfortunately, the final moments of the game also contain some of the laziest and worst moments I can remember.
Up until the last half hour or so, the game is a breathtaking rollercoaster ride where the majority of the plot points from the previous two games are tied up skilfully in a satisfying way that connects well with whatever decisions you'd made in the previous games. If you'd saved this alien race, or that scientist's data, or sided with this faction over that faction, it was all remembered, recorded, reacted to, and made the universe seem unique to your own experiences.
The ending though makes little sense, features a badly written Deus Ex Machina ass-pull, and has events with repercussions that seem to render most of what you've achieved in this and previous games pointless. It left me feeling confused, annoyed, and gave me no sense of closure. The much trumpeted "TAKE BACK EARTH" slogan on all the advertising ultimately felt ignored, and the final message players are left with is to "Buy DLC" to continue the commander's adventures.
At that point I realised that though it was a rollercoaster ride, a lot of the previous games intricacies had been stripped away, railroading the player through what boiled down to be a big bunch of fetch quests. (31 quests (out of a total of 68) were fetch quests. Mass Effect 1 had more quests 73, and only 5 of them were fetch quests.)
A good story (until the end) but it doesn't really do justice to the series as a whole, and the all pervading sense of railroading only highlights what's been stripped out of this game.
Great and funny voice acting.
Brilliantly written endings to Geth / Quarian / Krogan storylines.
No Ship Upgrades
No Mako / Hammerhead Planet exploration.
An important squadmate is held to ransom as Day One DLC.
Terrible ending to the overarching Reaper / Humanity storyline.
Less quests than previous games, and nearly half the quests are fetch quests.
Previous Journalist characters are removed in favour of a Tie-In with IGN.com
No Planet Scanning / Resource Gathering / Hacking minigames. Feels like the game is *only* combat.
Very small number of squadmates (Only 2 if you didn't save everyone in previous games and you don't buy the DLC character)
on 16 April 2012
Mass Effect 3 is very difficult to review because it hits boths glorious highs and abyssal lows.
1. Gameplay is an extremely polished version of ME2s and is extremely fun with a wider variety of enemies and far more tactical scenarios available.
2. RPG elements are back with a far wider ability to customise armour and weapons and the options to trade power cooldowns for more or better guns.
3. Some of the mission sequences are truely awesome (and utterly heartbreaking)
4. Your squads intereacts with each other are funny/touching/heartbreaking and you always want more.
1. Origin is not the world's best system so be prepared to have to various sessions of restarting Origin and/or the machine in order to force the installation to complete. Once in the game I had no problems though so it is irritating rather than critical.
2. There is a bug with importing character faces so if you really attached to your character's face caution is advised.
3. The cutscenes are long, unpausable and unskippable so if (like me) your character's face glitches half way through it can wreck the whole scene.
1. The endings are every single bit as bad as everyone says being not just bleak but also illogical and frankly incomprensible. Any attempt to explain them ends up with a wizard did it.
2. I hope you like fighting Cerberus because you will spend most of the game fighting them rather than the Reapers.
3. The 'best' ending is not acheivable in single player so you would either need to play MP or do the iOS app - alternatively just look it up on youtube.
4. The squad is very small so if you don't like a character or like Liara they have very little to say don't expect much interaction with your crew.
5. The autodialogue - choices on conversations is severely reduced in this game which can produce extremely odd effects like my Shepard flirting with one of the new squad despite being the next thing to married.
As the game currently stands play it, enjoy and switch it off and the end of the final mission because what follows is a series of semi interactive cutscenes that destroy anything you ever cared about in the game franchise.
Alternatively wait for the extended cut DLC coming sometime this summer and see if that solves the problems.
on 19 March 2012
I'm sorry that I can't actually review the game. Unfortunately I am unable to play it, as such I will be talking about this product as purchased software. This review may seem a little wordy, so please feel free to skip to the second from last paragraph for the gist. Please also keep in mind that I am unsure as to the actual legalities of that written below and as such these are my opinions and interpretations of my rights.
I was given a physical copy of the game as a gift. I inserted the disc and started installing. I was then told that in order to install and use Mass Effect 3 I would have to sign up for EA's Origin service (which involves agreeing to Origin's End User License Agreement).
In order to use origin (and in turn play the game) I must forgo the rights given to me under the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. I do not want to give any personal information about myself to EA, and the fact that I would have to give them this information to play an already purchased piece of software is highly distressing. It seems I cannot install Origin without consenting to them processing my data in such a way, and as such I cannot play the Game which has been bought for me.
Secondly, the type of data EA will collect, and pass on, may not be limited to the personal information we would voluntarily hand over (such as name, address, phone number, birth date etc etc). There have been concerns that the Origin software scans an individuals hard drive, and the End User License Agreement actually states that we the user would allow for Origin to take note of our stored media (amongst other things). Without knowing exactly what this entails I would not feel secure using this software.
This leads onto the bigger problem; I own the disc and I believe legally, in the UK at least, I have the rights to use the content on the disc in anyway I see fit. EA as company have denied me this; I cannot use my purchased software without first installing Origin.
To put it simply, being unable to play Mass Effect 3 without using EA's Origin service is like having had a dvd bought for me; Unfortunately the company who made the DVD have made it impossible for me to play the DVD unless I phone them up, give them personal information I do not want to share, and then allow them to take inventory of all the objects in my home and agree to them storing and using this information for their own purposes. They have added this stipulation after the DVD has been paid for, after money has changed hands.
I feel that this is an intrusion of my privacy and rights as a consumer. Until I can find a way of playing this game without using Origin I will not play it. I am very upset about this and therefore will be writing letters to both the UK Information Commissioner's Office and The Office of Fair Trading in pursuit of information regarding the legality of having to use Origin and the functions of the Origin Software. If you want to play this game without your rights as a Citizen of the United Kingdom potentially becoming compromised I urge you to do the same (in other words, do your own research too!). As consumers it is our right and our responsibility to be informed about our choices. Be well and good gaming!
on 16 March 2012
Mass Effect 3 is a third person action shooter role playing game which, as you all know, follows on from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and promises to finish the story of Commander Shepherd. The plot itself is standard RPG stuff, you gather your allies, have a few setbacks, and then fight the bad guys. Two things: It requires Origin, EA's own marginally less irritating version of Steam, so you need to install Origin, connect to the internet and register online, and it does not come with a manual which I really hate - you instead get an ingame manual option (identical to Kingdoms of Amalur) which contains a far from comprehensive explanation of things.
- The strength of Mass Effect has always been the story, and that just about remains the case in Mass Effect 3. The story is well written but the depth in which things are gone into is wildly inconsistent, some things are explained and resolved properly while others are touched on briefly in a very unsatisfactory way. Characterisation remains good, but quite a lot of things happen without any real build-up or explanation, and the way you interact with characters has changed, they have far less to say and you can only have a full conversation with them at specific points. I found this element to be very unsatisfactory and disappointing when you are dealing with characters which in the past have been rather better written. Basically, what there is of the story is as superb as you would expect, but there is a hell of a lot that simply is not there, which you would not expect.
- The element of 'choice' is rather too cosmetic. For a start the world you are in is the world from the books, so it is quite possible that you the world you played in Mass Effect 2 will bear no relation to the world you end up playing in Mass Effect 3. Choices in-game hint at being important and galaxy defining but they turn out to be totally irrelevant, the only choice that matters is at the end, and the choices you are given there are so weird and out of touch with previous games as to be, frankly, bizarre.
If you want a comparison for the story, it feels like an episode of Sliders. Shepherd has slid into an alternate universe which is the same in some respects to the one you have played in before but also very different.
- In terms of gameplay I kept feeling like I had played this game before. Mass Effect 3 from the start felt to me achingly similar to Dead Space and Dead Space 2 and also has the cover system (and one or two other things) from Deus Ex: Human Revolution thrown in for good measure. It is reasonably competent gameplay but as I say, I could never quite shake the feeling that I had done it all before in other games.
- The core action gameplay is a little patchy. There are moments where it is superb, when you are charging across no-man's land under heavy fire from multiple enemies with mortars exploding all around you, or you are in the dark with only the light from your gun-light to find your way around, you think, "fantastic, more of this please", but you don't get much more of it. Instead you spend far too much time in an enclosed environment moving from cover to cover, you know, like you did in the original game, although Mass Effect 1 did it better. There is some wonderful stuff there, but rather it isn't really there often enough.
- Level design in general is a little disappointing. Because they have added a multiplayer option they have made quite a few of the levels (all of the non-central storyline ones) double-up. So you frequently end up in a (very short) level which is effectively a circle of winding corridors with plenty of cover to pop into and out of while waves of enemies come at you. On far too many occasions your objective is 'Survive'.
- Character,and particularly companion, AI is awful. I spent quite a lot of time having to fight on my own because my companions were nowhere to be found and even if I directed them it took an age for them to actually go where they were supposed to. There appears to be a few bugs in there as well, as some companions do not use powers while others rarely even fire their guns. Enemy AI is also poor with everything effectively relying on either hiding in cover (badly enough for you to still be able to shoot them) or all charging you at the same time.
- The 'Galaxy at War' feature is largely unnecessary. Basically you go around collecting military assets, through main missions, side-missions and scanning planets (something they've managed to make a hundred times worse than in Mass Effect 2), these get a numerical value which is divided by your 'Galactic Readiness' score, this defaults at 50% and can be increased by playing the rather bad multiplayer co-operative part of the game. In multiplayer you and three others are in one of the small fairly circular levels from the game having waves of enemies coming at you. You do not need a Galactic Readiness score of more than 50% if you get all of the resources in-game (i.e. do all of the missions and explore everywhere, which most people are surely going to do anyway). If people want to play multiplayer they will, it is not a feature that has to be shoe-horned into the single player part of the game in the way it is here.
- A lot has been written about the ending, and I have to agree that it is badly done. For a start the 'take back Earth' segment, which is supposed to be what the game is about, at the end is incredibly short and takes place in a very generic uninspired environment. The actual ending is equally short leaving many questions unanswered about the central plot - the (rather odd) reason why the Reapers periodically turn up and destroy advanced organic life is given, but that is about it - and quite a few questions about what has actual happened outside of the central plot are left hanging. There is then a very short cut scene that leaves even more questions unanswered, the credits roll and then there is a very cynical attempt to make way for DLC. Mass Effect 3 feels like a game about the journey and that is not what it is supposed to be, it was supposed to be about the destination.
In conclusion then Mass Effect 3 suffers from quite a few problems but is still just about worth playing - the core gameplay and the story are just about good enough to paper over the many holes you will find. Do not however expect some brilliant well-reasoned ending to the story of Commander Shepherd, and do not expect a game that is as good as either of the other two entries in the series, because you will not get either.
on 15 March 2012
A bonus that turned sour. The multiplayer did have an impact on the single player campaign after all as we, "the critics", predicted all along. ME3 is probably the shortest game in the series. I did all the side quests and still clocked just over 32 hours. And another noticeable change is a lack of interaction with NPCs. Everything is streamlined to extreme. You select one of the TWO available options in conversation and Shepard breaks into a lengthy exchange with another character with no input from the player whatsoever. Yet even those occasions are rear as for most of the game you interact with NPCs a "Kasumi-Zaeed" style - click on them and they may have a line or two to say. But again without any input from the player. That was somewhat compensated by the quality of dialogues. But still, this is supposed to be an RPG, right? Where is my neutral Shepard? Apparently, his personally has been altered. Now he perceives the world through a black and white frame of rigid beliefs. I can live with that though.
The main quest line is well done with some parts so emotionally charged and thoughtful that one should play the game for those special treats alone. I also liked how the developers managed to create a less static atmosphere on the Normandy and the Citadel. Now NPCs move around the ship, visit the Citadel or just chat in the mess hall. You can find your companions on different decks bragging about their adventures, gossipping, discussing past missions or giving "expert" advice. Some of the conversations were quite hilarious. That was a nice touch.
However all the negative aspects of the game put together are nothing compared to the final part of the ME series. Well, it was undoubtedly rushed with ugly seams of unfinished content sticking out here and there. That was expected with all the resources diverted to the multiplayer development. But my main problem with the game finale is that suddenly my Shepard got magically transported into a distopian world of Deus Ex. It was not my Shepard anymore but a copycat of Adam Jensen. Further more the conclusion was marred with inconsistencies which I cannot describe without giving away the plot. But one thing is certain that whoever came up with that "masterpiece" never bothered to research the ME lore beyond PR pamphlets. I don't mind tragic endings and I am certainly not clamouring for a sugar-sweet ending either but the ending I got was so out of character I was simply stunned.
Well, there are three possible endings one can have... coloured red, blue or green for diversity sake. But let us be honest, in truth there is only one. They didn't even bother to tweak cinematic a little - all final movies are identical. This is unforgivable. What is more, the last twenty minutes of the game had ruined the first two ME titles for me. Having seen the ending I just could not bring myself to replay any of the ME games anymore. What is the point? It will be streamlined to the same sorry conclusion without any regard to what choices your character made in the previous two games. The whole series lost its replayability value because of that lazy, poorly written ending. What a shame. Mass Effect WAS probably one of my favourite games but somehow an eight minutes long cut scene managed to suck all the joy out of the series.
A word of advice for gamers who have not finished the game yet. ME3 is a rare and wonderful game. I certainly enjoyed the story, the drama and the action very much. But if you want to keep the magic of ME alive, stop playing right after saying goodbyes to your crew mates on Earth at London base and just imagine the rest yourselves.
on 19 March 2012
This game is marketed as the epic finale of a trilogy. As having wildly different endings. If you are expecting an end along the lines of ME2 or DA:O, you will be bitterly dissapointed. If you are expecting to be able to choose the fate of your hero and shape his/her story to the end, you will be bitterly dissapointed.If you are expecting an ending similar to other Bioware games, with enough divergence to warrant replayability and the creation of various stories with various Shepards, you will be dissapointed.
For a trilogy finale, it offers little closure, catharsis, or even sense.
To be fair, apart from that, the game is excellent and emotionaly engaging, apart some issues with the questlog.That only serves to make the jarring,disconected end much worse though.
If the ending,yes ending,singular, was more on par with ME2 or DA:O, I would definitely give this game a 5 star. As is, it leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth, it feels like such a slap on the face, that it sours the whole expirience.
on 19 March 2012
This is my single most anticipated game of all time. No beating around the bush. I bought it as soon as it was out on pre release. I avoided every spoiler, even to the extent of asking myself twice about watching a trailer, in case I came across a bit of info which spoiled even a minor plot point. I'd invested hundreds of hours into the first two games.
It is amazing. Fun, fluid gameplay, well written and acted by a great cast. For two straight days I was more or less glued to the screen.
But it is ruined by the ending. No closure, no answers, nothing which really makes sense.
My honest recommendation is that until the whole "change the ending" movement has played out, don't touch this game. It's not worth it for the bitter dissapointment of its conclusion, which adds a sour note to the entire series.
on 25 April 2012
As many others have already pointed out Mass Effect 3 is a game of two halves, well not exactly halves. There's the first 30-odd hours or so of gameplay which are for the most part good and then there's the last ten minutes which are not in the least bit good but (quite literally) shockingly bad.
The first 'half' of the game is well made with solid gameplay and some great story-driven missions and emotionally charged decisions - exactly what we've come to expect from the Mass Effect series and from Bioware in general. Another plus is the weapon and skill customization, which finally manages to hit a good balance between the overly fiddly ME1 system and the overly 'streamlined' ME2 system. On the downside, the game still requires you to spend a lot of time scanning planets (now made not only tedious but irritating by constant Reaper interruptions, and then there are all those 'run and fetch' quests where your journal doesn't update when you've found the item you're looking form, and then .... However irritating these minor niggles are, they don't really significantly detract from the game. Even allowing for the fact that the game only runs under EA's Origin client, and that you have to play in multiplayer mode in order to achieve the 'best' ending I would still have been prepared to give this game 4 stars, ... if it weren't for those last 10 minutes ...
The Internet is full of articles and videos of fans raging about the last 10 minutes of Mass Effect 3. The sad fact is that they're all right. The end of Mass Effect 3 is the worst shoddy mishmash of an ending I've ever seen in a computer game (and let me tell you, I've seen a few shoddy games in my time ;-)). It fails on the level of story (the narrative just falls apart) and it fails on the level of game mechanics (all that tedious scanning for war assets? - forget it, in the end it makes next to no difference). However, what is most shocking about the ending is the drop in quality compared to the rest of the game. What happened? I can only guess they had a deadline to meet and it was hastily cobbled togehter at the last minute. Whatever. Bioware have announced that they will release an 'Extended Cut' DLC in the summer to add 'additional clarity and closure' - it's desperately needed. As things stand at the moment, 2 stars are generous.
on 17 March 2012
I'm sure others have expounded widely on this point already, but for me the ending really damaged the game. After three incredibly emotionally involving chapters of one of the best game series ever made, we are presented with a conclusion which is unfulfilling, nonsensical and doesn't offer players the crucial CHOICE which is so important to the series. It's not that the endings aren't all happy, rainbow-laden and cheery, it's just that they don't offer any real variation or catharsis. And for me, that has really dented the gameplay experience, because Mass Effect was always about roleplaying, choice and emotion, which we don't get; as a result, the ending rather overshadows the rest of the game.
I'm off to play Mass Effect 1 and 2 again. Unless something's done about the ending (which I very much doubt) I'm not sure I can bring myself to play this again. Certainly I won't be buying any DLC.
Just my two cents.