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Mass Effect's epic conclusion

 

So, after completing Mass Effect 3 last night, I have only really have one thing to say. This game, this series, has moved me more than anything I've ever experience. Not just in books or film or anything like that. I mean media period. The characters are believable, loveable or even hateable. No matter what every single character makes you feel something. Every single plot point makes you feel something even. Anger, sadness, joy, you name it. I truly fell on love with this universe over the past four years. I have become so emotionally invested that on numerous occasions I shed tears, leaped in joy and shouted "YES". Needless to say Mass Effect as a whole has had a profound effect on me. Every plot line resolved itself in a very satisfying way that exceeded my expectations. Best part is that they can resolve in a different way depending on your choices. It's one of the best Scifi epics I've ever seen period. Unfortunately there is something that does bog this game down. The ending. It is perhaps the most disappointing thing about the game. That's not to say it's the worst ending ever. It's bitter sweet, tragic and there are some good ideas burred there, unfortunately a rushed and sloppy execution ruin it. It's not what I wanted, and it almost felt like everything I'd invested in the series didn't really amount to anything. It did, but that feeling wasn't there. Take Mass Effect 2's ending, perhaps one of the best finales in the history of gaming, it made me feel triumphant, great, like I had really accomplished something. Mass Effect 3's has no such effect. I guess from an emotional standpoint it fails where it should have succeeded. It was too complex when it needed to be simple. It was bold, but the payoff was not worth the Buildup. But, what I've spent the past day trying thinking about, and the conclusion I've come to is that it's not about the ending. The ending doesn't really matter to me. The Journey I took with these characters in this universe is what I am going to remember fondly. Mass Effect is perhaps my favorite series of games ever, and I'm glad I experienced it. If the ending falters so be it, at least I still have everything else to love.
With that out of the way, I feel I have to talk about something besides the story. The import system returns and works brilliantly to connect the three games together. You run into people you've previously met and just casual mentions remind you of what you'd done. You really should play the first two by the way. Starting at the second or third game would be a mistake despite what the marketing says. This series works so well because it's all connected, and missing out on any of it would cheapen the experience. The gameplay is vastly improved from Mass Effect 2. The combat is intense, Guns handle amazingly and none of them feel useless. You can mod them all as well. This means that chances are your weapons will be tailored to your liking no matter what. The new weight system, which determines how fast your powers cool down depending on how many guns you carry, coupled with the ability to carry any number/kind of guns you want helps make you feel even more in control. The powers are all improved as well. They can be upgraded in several different ways thanks to improved skill trees. This helps for stratigizing and customizing your character completely. It takes the best aspects of both Mass Effect 1 and 2 and combines them. The AI is considerably more intelligent. They are clever, resourceful and it makes for a great challenge. There are a wide variety of them as well. Mainly it's the Reaper ground forces, Cerberus and the Geth. All of them require a different tactic and each of them are distinct. The sound is brilliant as well, the guns sound realistic, the music is powerful and it really sets the tone from the story. The Voice acting is top notch, with every returning actor delivering their best performances. The Cut scenes are very well directed as well, though some occasional bugs can disrupt the immersion, but it's so minor that I don't even care. The Graphics are good, while not the best and starting to kind of show their age, Mass Effect is still a beautiful game. Textures could be better and some pop in rears its ugly head every here and there, but again, it's forgivable. This is especially made apparent by the massive scale of the set pieces. When you see Reapers descending towards Vancouver at the beginning of the game, you really see how big they are, nay, you feel how big they are. The newest and probably most innovative thing about the game is the war room galaxy readiness system. You have to search the galaxy for resources, war assets and support in order to have a chance of taking Earth back from the Reapers. There are so many ways to do this it felt a little overwhelming. I spent hours on the Citadel just doing side quests to gain support. Every little bit counts in this game and it really feels that way. With that I shall segue into what is perhaps the most controversial aspect of this game, the Multiplayer. I am happy to report that this component is both totally optional and a lot of fun. It's a 4 player class based co-op mode that requires you to survive wave after wave of Geth, Reapers or Cerberus. After a few rounds you have an objective that gets you money that you can use to buy more weapons, classes and equipment. You fight them as several classes from Vanguards to infiltrators. The characters you create are your own, you can customize them similar to Shepard, but to a smaller degree. This multiplayer helps you in the overall progress of the game but like I said, it's totally optional and I didn't need to play much to be completely ready to fight the Reapers.
So, Mass Effect 3 is, in a word, amazing. It has affected me in a more profound way than anything else due to Bioware's uncanny ability to get me so emotionally invested. The ending falters, but you should not let it ruin the series for you. This series is perhaps the best trilogy of this gaming generation. It improves on ME2 in every way and is a strong contender for Game of the Year. But above all that, it moved me emotionally in a way that I didn't think was possible.
10 out of 10

 

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