July 18, 2012

A Massive Amount of Content…if You’re Into That

Mass Effect 3 is the end of something great, and the beginning of something amazing.

I’ll keep this completely spoiler free (for the third game at least—for shame if you haven’t played the first two).

I’ll be honest—the ending of Mass Effect 3 didn’t really…well…affect me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great game, and I loved the time I spent with it (and the trilogy), but I think there’s a lot more to the game than just the last 30 minutes of gameplay that garnered so much negative attention over the past several months—an ending that had so much negative feedback that the developers added another ending to the game in order to appease their fans. I thought the ending was fine—you had some degree of choice, and your choices influenced the fate of the entire galaxy (and so did a few regulators, apparently). That’s what was advertised, and that’s what was delivered. You can’t really expect Bioware to create nearly limitless endings for every (relatively) small decision you make, such as saving the Rachni Queen in the first game or choosing between saving Ashley and…that forgettable guy in the first one (can you guess who I saved?). Honestly, did you really expect Bioware to make your romantic pursuit “significant” for the ending cinematics? I hope not.

What Bioware did do was reference every single choice you made over the trilogy. They remembered that you helped out some random Asari girl defeat a rogue Asari on some distant planet. They referred to the Salarian you fought who performed experiments on female Krogans, trying to “cure” the genophage. They reminded you that you helped a human doctor secure medical supplies from a bunch of thieves in order to better treat a suffering population. Bioware remembered the characters you came in contact with, if only in passing, and made each and every contribution that you made to the galaxy, positive and negative, significant in the overall fight against the Reapers. And they did it in style.

When you play Mass Effect 3, you can’t help but notice the top notch visuals—whether they are as large as the panoramic vistas, or as small as the facial expressions on each character. You will sit in front of your screen and stare at the sprawling cities and terrain on the various worlds you visit. You can feel the emotion emanating from Quarians, whose faces you can’t see under their space helmets. Even Elcor, Geth and Hannar, who neither speak in different pitches nor express their emotions physically, are easy to empathize with because of the compelling story elements and unique quirks of every race Bioware included over the past three games.

It’s not just the backdrops and characters that compel you to complete the main game. Bioware makes the story feel personal as you experience the struggle of fighting against the Reapers on multiple levels. You’ll feel the Reapers’ oppression smother you as you travel from galaxy to galaxy, fleeing their ships as they try to chase you down for indoctrination. You’ll feel the desperation of the galaxy as Captain Anderson fills you in on Earth’s situation while you’re out building your assault team to defeat the Reapers. You’ll feel the futility of fighting the Reapers in head to head combat as you battle their massive ships, sometimes armed with nothing more than an orbital laser gun.

In short, the game truly feels epic.

But the single players isn’t where the true fun lies—sure, it had plenty of great moments (that I’ll remember forever), but once I beat it, I wasn’t compelled to play through a second time. No, what’s kept the game stuck in my Xbox over the past five months is the multiplayer.

For those of you who don’t know what the multiplayer’s like, it’s your basic horde mode—you (and a few friends, should you desire) team up to shoot/grenade/use-magic-against computer controlled Cerberus (humans), Geth (robots) or Reapers (aliens) on some planet for…some purpose. The storyline elements in multiplayer are pretty much irrelevant, and the only real tie-in to the single player game is that you’re fighting some force that’s preventing the “good guys” from completing their overall mission—to stop the Reaper threat.

Luckily, the gameplay is insanely fun, and it makes you completely forget about the story elements of the game. Cooperating with a bunch of friends in order to defeat the AI enemy, and succeed, makes it feel like everyone wins—true cooperative gameplay. Every time you complete a mission, you get some amount of credits that can be used to improve weapons, gain access to new characters, or unlock new character models. And that’s where the addiction kicks in—the classic “Pokemon” effect on wanting to “catch ‘em all” and unlock every piece of content available.

Since Bioware keeps releasing new content (most recently two awesome soldiers that look like the villain from Iron-Man 2), (Insert pic comparison of iron man 2 villian and Cerberus character) those that suffer from the Pokemon effect will have plenty to do for a long time.

Believe me when I say Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is addictive—all this is coming from someone who has never liked a single variant on a horde mode before.

Should I buy Mass Effect 3?
100% yes—and it’s not even close. Anyone with a current gen system owes it to themselves to play this (and the first two games in the trilogy). The Mass Effect series is one of the greatest trilogies of the current gaming generation. 

Come to experience the end of Shepard’s epic journey; stay for the beginning of a great multiplayer experience.

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