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The Real Beauty of Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3. Those words bring a lot of excitement to a lot of people these days. One of the most universally loved, and acclaimed series is about to end in less than 2 weeks. To be precise, 10 days.

Millions of fans are awaiting March 6th. Almost everyone I know on the Internet and some of the people I know in real life are getting it day one. It's clear Mass Effect 3 is a huge phenomenon, after all, it's one of the most respected titles out there right now in the industry. I wouldn't need to elaborate on that. Because the fan base is the exact type of gamers that would fully appreciate a game of this caliber and with such a big detail.

But, what about me? What does Mass Effect 3 means for me, how is exactly the way I see this series? I am surely pumped and excited about the third game so close to releasing I can already smell my copy on its way to Mexico. You should know I am not the biggest fan of the universe and its lore. I like it, and a lot, but I'm not really interested in it most of the times. Or at least not the same way most of the people around me does.

Just as some enjoy and love Mass Effect for its universe and lore, there are others, who love it for its characters, and others who love it for the gameplay, and others who love it for the dialogue.

But, personally, what I most like and what keeps me buying each new game and DLC, is the narrative.

That isn't exactly an unique reason to why someone should like the series so much. But it's the truth. What I most like about Mass Effect is not the universe or its lore, or its RPG elements or its gameplay. It is the very soul of the rest of the entertainment medium. The narrative, the story.

And since the last time I played Mass Effect 3's demo I got a really shocking sign that the conclusion of the series is, quite possibly, going to have its strongest point on the narrative side.

But not only that. I spotted this moment in the ME3 demo that I will talk about later on. This one moment that, because of how much it impacted me and motivated me, gave place and green light to this very blog.

We all know Mass Effect 3 is going to a memorable, epic finale. But maybe you haven't realized everything it has to offer.

What it makes it truly different and sets it apart from everything else.

From any kind of medium.

As it stands,

Mass Effect 3 is unique.

Before I go even further I have to warn you my knowledge in the series is not as strong as yours probably, like I said, I don't really ever focus much on the details of the ME universe, but I do pay attention to the story and its characters. Like, a lot.

I figured a good way of starting this, for real this time, would be a discussion I found out a few days ago on a site I won't be naming here for the sake of its reputation. IGN.

More exactly, its YouTube channel. So there were these guys and this one game, Mass Effect 3. They were fighting and crying over how the gameplay had "basically" (quoted from them) became Gears of War. While I do agree with this, I do not agree with them saying it is for the worst and will make the series less respectable. Hell no. I have to say ME3's gameplay is now a lot like Gears' gameplay. Ok, it's a TPS just as Gears, that we already knew. But when I tried out the demo and realized this option for performing a barrel roll in the basic Cardinal directions. The moment I did it my mind instantly related it and thought: "Gears of War."

Before I go unnecessarily in-depth into this I just want to say this is for the better and worse. For the better because it adds more intensity to the action side, not only the barrel-rolls but the new and improved gun shots and the feel from them. They feel much more military grade. Like you are holding the very best of the humans against the Reapers. The new running animation is kind of weird, I have to say that. But it's not bad, nor horrible by any means.

The game is a war now. Bioware had to improve and put more effort into it because it's now a full on battle against the enemies that have been referenced throughout the whole series and all these years. Mass Effect 1 and 2 had combat and it was a large part of the game. But the circumstances surrounding it are not even close to those in Mass Effect 3. Whereas ME1 and ME2 had mostly corridor shoot-outs and small encounters with enemies, Mass Effect 3 is taking it bit more open-wide, like I said before, it is now a war. To successfully tackle that feeling in a game a big and important part is the gameplay, but not only that, the narrative, characters and the way things go happening around you help to that feeling too. So with that said, and in my own view, the gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is justified for me. I like it, and it makes sense. Period.

One of the things I most love from the Mass Effect franchise is the decision passing from game to game. It is a HUGE part of it. So big and important to players that they would even start multiple playthroughs because of how different things could and end up being in one playthrough. But from my view this adds a lot to the overall "journey" feeling. You get this sense of having actually been there, both physically and emotionally. I love that. You get this whole journey feeling both in the game and outside of it. For example, let's say there's one moment in Mass Effect 3 during a conversation when there happens to be a shout-out to a past event. For whatever reason, let's say the Rachni Queen deal in Mass Effect. I would remember that important decision from almost 4 years ago and go "Oh yeah." But not only me, the characters would and should do so. And this all adds to this feeling and immersion of a journey through the games. Mass effects are sure as hell not small or short games. You get to visit a lot of planets, a lot of characters, all of which you end up liking or disliking them, remembering or forgetting them. And when a future game references them, and if they do it appropriately, you get one of my favorite things of Mass Effect. That journey feeling.

This should prepare some very interesting moments in Mass Effect 3. Or at least I hope so.

What is another thing I like besides the narrative in Mass Effect? The characters for sure.  Mass Effect details characters so well that, like many have said in the past, they feel like true and believable people right on your screen. The game's dialogues being personal not only makes this feel much more realized but the way you interact with them across this whole journey is what mostly makes up this feeling.

Mass Effect succeeds at presenting conflict through action. We're talking about a TPS, so in this genre it's not exactly unique or difficult to perform this. I'd say it's more of a task to do so in a First Person Shooter game, but that's a debate for another day.

What makes Mass Effect so memorable is the way the narrative is presented throughout the game. In making you feel part of this squad of people that not just are the very best soldiers and minds on the galaxy, but one of the most human and characterized individuals you could ever possibly meet. In a game, that is. Not sure on a whole galaxy cluster.

The way you would interact with the characters and people you meet in the game makes the game more personal. You are taking this personality part from you and using it on whatever decisions you'd need to take. There's a little you in every Mass Effect decision. It lets you have this phenomenon of making the playthrough feel truly "yours", you are deciding and traveling at your own terms and the way you want and decide. This could lead to yourself showing proud in your own Mass Effect playthrough. Who did you romance? They might ask. Whoever you responded, you want to respond it with proud. Because you are showing a part of you, of your own personality being shown through one of the game's decisions. That is a really well done aspect of Mass Effect that feels unique to the saga.

During the Mass Effect 3 demo one could realize there was something unsual going on our home. Earth is at war now. As cliché as that may sound it is only a setup. I repeat, it is only a setup. And here comes another truly unique aspect of the threequel and the series. The moment that has been pointed to and warned to you throughout the first 2 games, throughout all those hours of talking, investigating, and taking decisions over, is now here. It's the feeling of entering a full scale war. And the way Mass Effect does it is a way no one has ever done it in a medium. Ever.

After all those hours exploring and forming your squad, reuniting old friends, civilizations, all these moments that feel as a journey, are now taken over by a full-scale war in Mass Effect 3. ME3 gives you this feeling of how a war might have begun. The moment you hear in the demo: "It's the Reapers, they're here." Those words carry way too many moments and memories from the past games. The one moment that has been said to you over and over and over again that would happen in a future point is now here. And the journey feeling that I've been talking about makes this feeling much more genuine.

That's what makes me so excited for Mass Effect 3. I know there'll be epic fights, emotional moments with your squad, there will be death and you know it. Even Shepard says it in the demo. You just can't save 'em all. It's war, it's a brutal and violent event where absolutely no one is guaranteed to survive. There'll be decisions that will probably mess up your mind the moment you're presented to them, but there is one thing that is the most I've been waiting for. The feeling of after all those days spent investigating and reuniting information, facts of the arrival of the space destroyers and realizing that they are finally here and after all that time you know there is absolutely nothing to go back, is what I'm most excited for. A setup that might seem cliché at first, but once it develops it's like nothing ever seen.

There's this moment in the Mass Effect 3 demo that like I said in the beginning was the sole reason I ever decided to create this blog. After you have returned to your ship and Anderson decides to stay behind to support Earth's defenses, one of the best thought and executed sequences took place right after that.

You see, after finally getting the realization that the Reapers have arrived to Earth and the realization that you're now at war, all of this being so overwhelming and then added up the wonderful sequences of music and destroyed views right when you are leaving Earth. It is all too amazing and shocking. When the music kicks in I couldn't help but maybe make of this moment a bit too much than it initially was. You get this melancholic music, together with the realization that the event you were expecting after so many years has finally arrived, then the next thing you're seeing is Mass Effect's addition of the first child ever in the series, just to get violently blown by a Reaper ship seconds of you taking off. And over all of this, the depressing feeling that I got after seeing Earth getting shattered by the Reapers' Arrival. After so many planet-exploring, so many environments, ecosystems scouted, beautiful views all found through-out the galaxy,  there is nothing compared to everyone's home, to your Shepard's home. Earth. And seeing It getting abused by all of the Reaper ships and you having to leave to rally up the civilizations of the galaxy to help you stop the destruction of your own home, was all just too much of a great moment for me.

Mass Effect 3 will be without a doubt a memorable experience. There just can't be failure from Bioware on the outing of the series. They can't and they won't let it happen.

We're talking about one of the games that successfully made you relate between a virtual character and yourself, to actually make you think about what you were to do next, to make you care about all these people around. The conclusion to one of the most celebrated videogames in history. Mass Effect is universally loved and critically acclaimed; there is absolutely no doubt about that.

-The starting screen. I can't stress enough how much I love it.

March 6th will definitely be an event here in the gaming world. For what others would seem like a normal, boring day for us it's the day we can finally get to see what will happen at the very end of the Mass Effect trilogy. Will you succeed, or will you fail? Will you let people die, or will your whole squad make it out alive of not just a battle, but a war? In a war, things get trickier than you would want to. You can never be sure of what is going to happen next. You can't.

All of those conversations with Garrus, all of that chatting with Joker, all of that intimacy with Tali, Miranda, Jack, etc. All of those personal moments with the characters will add up to an amazing climax and finale that might be just too emotional and epic. That is if Bioware is able to handle the gigantic expectations from the entire world. In my opinion, they are going to nail  it.

March 6th will be a glorious day, I can already feel it. And, you know? I have this funny and weird feeling right now. I am scared. That's right, I have terror. To this date I still remember 2010's suicide mission and man, after spending so many emotions on the characters my personal resolution of my playthrough was kind of heart-breaking and depressing. A lot of the members from my team died in action. I took some right decisions, but I took a lot others wrong.

Imagine that ending triplicated on Mass Effect 3. There'll be some really messed up moments on the game, I can sense it. After all, I don't want to lose absolutely all of these characters I've met throughout the years in the conclusion of the game. It would kill me.

I expect I will be able to take some right decisions this time. I'm gonna have to reflect on every little thing I am going to do because, after so many decisions passed on over from the last 2 games plus to the ones found in the third. You have something really complex going on here.

All of those conversations with Garrus, with Tali, with Ashley, with Joker, with the rest of my squad. I don't want those memories to get eviscerated by some Reaper confrontation at the end of the game. I really don't want to. But it's war.

No matter what I try to do I know something bad will happen in the end. Sad stuff is on the way. I know Bioware will pull famous war sequences like some final sacrifice or redemption moment to one of the characters. I just know it.

Because no matter how hard I think about it, no matter how much I strategize about it, there is always something bad going to happen in these kind of situations.

It's war. Ugly things happen and you can't stop them. You can't predict them.

War is the very contradiction of our humanity. It's like hell. The impossibility of reason.

You can't blame yourself over it.

And above all of this,

 You just can't save them all.