15 June 2012

[SquareGo] Mass Effect 3


Mass Effect 3 is the latest and last installment in the Mass Effect series, and Commander Shepard – who has probably enjoyed the most “eventful” term of service in military history – must unite the races of the galaxy against primeval entities that have emerged from dark space after aeons of slumber to exterminate the races that have appeared since the last time they awoke. With the weight of the whole world – the whole galaxy – on their shoulders, the Commander’s task is by no means a small one: and Mass Effect 3 is no small game, either.

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Mass Effect 3 is the latest and last installment in the Mass Effect series, and Commander Shepard - who has probably enjoyed the most "eventful" term of service in military history - must unite the races of the galaxy against primeval entities that have emerged from dark space after aeons of slumber to exterminate the races that have appeared since the last time they awoke. With the weight of the whole world - the whole galaxy - on their shoulders, the Commander's task is by no means a small one: and Mass Effect 3 is no small game, either.

Right from the very start, the player gets to experience the dread of the Reapers as they attack the planet in hordes; and it gives them a chance to try out the game's improved movement system, such as leaping over gaps, vaulting over cover, climbing up ladders, and how this improved mobility allows combat to be a lot more dynamic and exciting. The introduction of Heavy Melee attacks adds new possibilities for players who prefer to get right into the action.

The story follows on from previous Mass Effect titles, but, as with the rest of the game, the narrative is so much bigger and more impactful than ever. Personal relationships with other characters are still very much part of the game, but all of Shepard's social ties are influenced by the galaxy-spanning war happening around them. Everything is at stake, and no-one goes unaffected.

All of Shepard's choices - your choices - affect the galaxy in monumental ways; that goes doubly for players with imported saved games from Mass Effect 2, where the decisions made in the previous games can greatly impact how events play out in Mass Effect 3, which leads to a very personalised story for each player.

There's also an interesting "Galaxy at War" system, which measures the player's overall "Galactic Readiness" - a higher readiness increases the odds of a satisfactory conclusion in the final stages of the war. The Galactic Readiness score can be increased in ways other than just playing through the single player Story Mode - downloading the "Mass Effect: Datapad" app for handheld devices, playing the Mass Effect: Infiltrator iOS game, and playing through multiplayer can contribute to the Galactic Readiness.

The multiplayer aspect of Mass Effect 3 is very satisfying. The player can create a character based on one of the Mass Effect universe's races (Quarians, Batarians, and Drell all make an appearance) and a class based on those from single player (Soldier, Vanguard, etc). The player then takes their place on a team on a particular map, fighting off waves of computer-controlled enemies and completing side-missions around the map. The player earns experience points (XP) and money for their battles, which they can spend on improving their character, and buying "packs", which contain a random selection of unlockables, such as weapon improvements, more character options, and the like.

Mass Effect 3 is (presumably) the end of Commander Shepard's service with the Alliance, but the game's legacy will endure. There's a lot of replayability due to the vast number of choices you can make (what if you play as a male Shepard instead of a female? What if you don't become friends with Person A, or begin a romance with person B?), and downloadable Content continues to be released, such as the "Resurgence Pack" for additional multiplayer options. But there's so much content, such impressive storytelling and engaging gameplay, that just begs you to come back and replay, to explore the universe again - to tell Shepard's story just one more time.

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