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Review, within an essay, within a rant.,
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This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (PS3) (Video Game)
A bit of background I guess. I came into the Mass Effect series fairly late (I've never played ME, and only purchased ME2 about 6 months ago). I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it, but after about five minutes of playing time one thing struck me more so than anything else: I was playing 'Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic' except without the lightsabers. This set me off on a journey of two games that I've absolutely loved.
Mission's and Story -
Reapers. Reapers everywhere! Yeah, ME2 leaves you with the daunting image of thousands of Reapers, and guess what: They're here. Join Commander Sheppard on His/Her mission to save the galaxy from the cull from those pesky synthetics. The missions come in three forms: Priority missions, N7 missions, and Side missions. Priority missions are the core story, with N7 missions being given periodically throughout the game. Side missions are often discovered whilst wandering around The Citadel, but be careful when completing Priority missions as it may prevent you from completing some of the side missions. Ultimately this affects your ability to max out your character to lvl 60.
The most important addition to this game is the 'War Room', essentially acting as your only way of knowing the state of affairs across the Systems. Here you can keep tabs on your 'War Assets', a new system added to list your military capabilities, that come into play towards the end of the game. This is what I consider to be the best part of the story. Mass Effect is possibly the most 'player choice' driven franchise I've come across. Things you did in the previous games can affect the final battle in the third. The third instalment carries its tough decisions, some weighing the state of the galaxy against previous crew members, or even romantic interests.
This aspect is what really engrosses me the most. It's not just some run-and-gun shooter where the outcome of the game is decided before you even take it out of the box. The fate of the galaxy IS on your shoulders, and your shoulders alone. The actions you make throughout the game affect the final outcome. Actions can result in you losing one of your fleets...in my playthrough I actually lost two of the eight Races of fleets that count as War Assets through my own actions. They're fictional, bits of code on a disk, but being responsible for the genocide of an entire Race of sentient beings has a profound outlook on how you approach the game.
Fast, unyielding, and exciting, yet also highly infuriating at times on higher difficulty settings. The power and weapon wheels are great for combat, but it took a bit of time to get used to as some of the buttons from ME2 had been switched, so I often found myself firing a concussion round instead of switching to one of my ammo powers. The mechanics seem more thought out, especially when in cover. It's much easier to get into the cover you want to, to shoot either over, or around the cover, and to roll from one piece of cover to another. I often find myself using the Melee function much more in this game due to the frenzied nature that some enemies just swarm you. Overall it feels like a definite improvement over the previous game.
Weapons, Armour, and Powers -
New weapons and armour add-ons are dotted all over the landscapes of your missions...There's probably around 30 weapons to choose from, all with 10 levels of upgrades (though you can't actually upgrade to lvl 10 unless you play the game twice, or online), and multiple mods to improve accuracy, damage etc. Your loadout is now a massive part of your capabilities, giving importance to each weapons weight - if you equip heavier weapons you'll gain a speed penalty. Sadly there are no slots for heavy weapons, but you can often find them in levels that require them.
Armour is similar in that you have multiple sets to choose from, each with their own powers or bonuses. On ME2 you get the 'Blood Dragon Armour' as an alternative, on ME3 you can buy 'sets' with your credits, some of which look damn terrifying (and cool). The powers are much of the same, with some new biotics thrown in. For each level up you attain 2 or 3 new biotic slots to go towards unlocking the next level of powers. Each biotic power now has six unlockable levels.
Whereas Mass Effect 2 had a more open world/galaxy approach, 3 seems more linear. This doesn't necessarily detract anything from the game, you can still travel the various systems, but your path feels more set in stone. The only place on the Galactic Map you can actually visit off-mission is The Citadel. Some may consider it a good thing, but they did away with the 'Planetary scan' business to find raw materials, replacing it with a simplified - and much much faster - scanning for war assets. At times it feels like an improvement, but there was almost something therapeutic about scanning every planet in a system for raw materials in order to improve the Normandy. Be vary wary though, scanning occupied systems results in Reapers chasing you across the map.
Many of the planets you do travel to for missions seem bland. Even when going back to planets from previous games things seem the same everywhere you go - yet that is partially due to the state of the galaxy at the time. Also, because you no longer use a scanner on every planet, you no longer get the hidden missions which often ended up being the most glamorous on the previous game. Yet, having said all of this, the cinematic sequences often make up for the drawbacks of when you're actually exploring during combat.
Aside from the odd button issues or your freedom to roam, there are a few minor issues I came across.
1) It's impossible to collect all trophies on one playthrough - even with an Imported Character.
2) Some of the trophies glitched for me, notably the 'Overload Shields' and 'Hijack a Mech'. Can make things infuriating when trying to go for Platinum.
3) interactions are hard to come by. Aside from a handful of your crew members, and maybe 2-3 NPCs there aren't really anyone to converse with. Not really a problem, it just makes the game feel less interactive.
4) Galactic Readiness is a part of your War Assets. The level of readiness affects your Military Effectiveness when coming to the final battle. If it's not high enough, you can't achieve the best endings for your character. It's set to 50%, meaning you either have to play online or go to the N7HQ website to get it up to 100%.
5) Horrifying drops in frame rate in some sequences...notably every time you visit the Engineering deck on the Normandy. It can take a good thirty seconds for it to sort itself out. It reminds me of Skyrim when it was really messed up.
The game is a fantastic and gripping experience, with potential for multiple runs at it. There are numerous outcomes and how you play the game affects how many people - in the galaxy or even in your crew - survive. The issues noted above are minimal and don't really count towards lowering the rating. If you read through all of this, you can have a digital cookie.