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Farewell Commander Shepard...

 

Mass Effect 3  

Nex-Gen-Reviews

 

Platforms:  

Xbox 360, PS3, PC  

Creator/Producer:  

Bioware  

ESRB rating:  

Mature  

Genre:  

Third Person Science Fiction RPG  

 

Well, that time has finally come. Its been months since I've beaten Mass Effect 2, and now, I have just finished Mass Effect 3 merely hours ago before starting this review. I went in a bit skeptical because of the surrounding controversy surrounding the ending of the game. I wanted this to be better then ME2, but Mass Effect 2, even though it is clearly mechanically inferior to ME3, its ending, the suicide mission, was just so great. Now in my review, I will venture into major spoiler territory about the ending, so if you have not played, either stop reading this review, or be carful what you read (if that is even possible). But then again, alot say the ending was fine, but I knew I couldn't be sure until I experienced it my self....  

 

Concept:  

Everything that introduced in the previous mass effect's (I still have not played the first), and evolved or emphasized in this sequel, both Science Fiction elements and story. The story around is more dramatic, it really inflicts this feeling of the galaxy ending, and features by far the greatest war developed in by a medium Never have I have experienced a fictional or movie based on a war greater then this one, and you really do feel like you're in charge. Importing my save from Mass Effect 2, I notice all my decisions in the previous game unfold in this one. You operate an alliance comprised of many species and war assets, and you have this feeling of progression as you accumulate all these war assets. There are many great battles that you engage in over the course of this massive game, many great new environments, even some of the new introduced characters in the game are enjoyable additions (Specialist Treynor for example). And the reapers, oh the reapers, are a much greater threat then the Collectors featured in the previous game. The sense of scale they add is truly gratifying. If played with a great sound system, the experience is indeed enhanced a great deal, so make sure you have one. These towering foes that we all prepared for in the final game are finally revealed, and they are even more threatening then I ever imagined, one of the greatest game enemies ever crafted since the Dragons in Skyrim and the Big Daddies in Bioshock.   


Ever encounter (not many, around four in all) with the reapers are truly epic. The feelings these destroyers of humanity evoke upon you are far some of the greatest you will have in a long time. Never has any fight, any boss in Mass Effect 2 even half way compared to the feeling of epic-ness and awe with these Reapers deliver in this game. Right from the beginning the game draws you in, you see these reapers right from the get-go and it's a perfect way to begin a game. But your first fight with a reaper gives you a sense of truly what these things are capable of. Later on in the game, you will see some truly amazing space battles among fleets of space ships, they are great to watch, even if they are rather short. These are also more holographic things in this game then there was in the last one, and that is cool because I like holographic things. So this game defiantly has its science fiction elements down.  

 

Score- 10  

 

Controls:  

As decent as they were in the last game, they have been evolved and vastly improved in this game in nearly every direction. Shepard has more maneuverability, allowing him to seamlessly transition from cover to cover without frustration. He can now rolls in every direction, a feature that made me wonder how I made it threw Mass Effect 2 without. Melee combat has been improved vastly, which opens for more opportunities in combat. It's also very satisfying to launch your Omni-blade right into an enemies face. Awesome, reminds me of Resident Evil 4's combat, which is a very good thing, and I would like to see it improve even more in future installments. The RPG elements have been evolved, while not exactly as best as they can be they still offer more choices then in ME2. Also, the level cap has been raised by 60, and by the end of the game, I have almost made it to the cap (I think it was 56 or somewhere around there). I feel though the RPG elements could have been better. I would have liked to have seen deep skill trees like those seen in Skyrim, or Far Cry 3, that would have been more fun, but I'm happy.  


Weapons are now upgraded easier, you can now just buy upgrades at will and upgrade your favorite weapons fully within seconds, rather then have to scavenge up enough materials to purchase these upgrades in the previous game (Which would take forever, almost until end-game). Weapons can also be suited with a number of attachments, which is a very welcome feature, allowing you to tailor different modifications to your style of playing. Take a pistol and equip it with an extended magazine and scope, or take that same pistol and apply a longer barrel for greater damage and an attachment that improves all-around accuracy. This applies with all the weapons!   


All in all, the controls are more streamlined and more enjoyable, combat is the best it has ever been.  

 

Score- 9.5  

 

Content:  

What this game does great, is it trims down are the annoying side garbage from Mass Effect 2, like the painful, time swallowing (but rewarding) planet scanning, and those dumb-ass bypass and hack mini-games which began to got on my nerves later in the last game. All that dumb crap in the previous game made alot of my play time. This game manage to take me five hours longer to complete without any of those annoyances, instead making exploring the galaxy easier and allowing me to focus on the story and combat situations without any distractions. Now, this game comes with a PLETHORA of content, a potential 40 hours worth. It took me about 25 hours just to do what I did, and I did not even complete half the side quests, which I will do in a replay.   


This game takes to minor step backs though. Within the galaxy map, the game populated almost every area with reapers, who at first, seem interesting. They will raid you while you scan planets, and you will have to make an escape. But this late becomes annoying in the final hours while trying to locate as many war assets as I possibly could. One other thing is that my favorite locations from the previous game, which are Illium and Omega, do not make a return, but there is still the Citadel, which has been expanded. In my review for ME2, I remember complaining about the lack of size and freedom these town markets offered, but the Citadel in this game, while still not a full fledged city as I wanted, has been expanded. There is easily double the space offered in this  one area then there was in the Citadel in the previous game, which is welcome, but not satisfying enough. While the Citadel offers amazing sights and geometry, I still would have liked to see a double-sized Illium or Omega like the Citadel (but really want I want is a full city I can fly cars through and explore multiple areas and locations, that would be truly awesome).  


The best addition though, is the War Asset feature. I completed many side missions and scanned many planets to raise my points to help contribute to the final battle, and I found this process to be very enjoyable. By the end, I still had MANY side missions left, almost an overwhelming amount. Now, the side missions are not as good as they were in Mass Effect 2. The loyalty missions offered more variety in gameplay and more character interaction then the ones in this game. The side missions in this game, while some are fun and enjoyable, most just seem like annoying shooting galleries, which discouraged me to do alot, but a few are fun though, like helping around the citadel. The main missions though, are much better then they were in Mass Effect 2, offering more engaging fights (which become ridiculous after a while) and more (also more intriguing) environmental designs. Across my adventure, I have been threw snow-capped mountains, elegant specie home worlds, treacherous  catacombs, war torn cities, there is more here then the dull bug infested environments, and the dark factories in Mass Effect 2 (but it also had its share of interesting locations also).  


And as with previous Mass Effect installments, the great and wonderful choice making mechanic is back and I'm damn glad it is. Thats really all I have to say. There is more content here then there was in Mass Effect 2, some superior, some inferior, but all in all, this game will keep you busy for a while.  

 

Score- 9.5  

 

Story:  

The story this time around is more dramatic and on a larger scale. Mass Effect 2 was about preparing for this inevitable threat, and Mass Effect 3 is about fighting it. Commander Shepard as a character is one of my favorite in gaming, and he is even more likable in this game then he was in the last one. Basically, this game is about saving the galaxy in a war against the greatest threat of the galaxy. Within the course of the game, I have experienced many great moments, some of those which developed in the previous game (Spoilers ahead). A few include Mordin curing the genophage, which was great, and Grunts stand off against those bug-things. But no moments compare to those with the reapers and the last. Every character in the previous games make a return in this one, while a few are just cameos, its still nice to see familiar faces. I just wish I could have seen more (Especially Miranda). The relationship with your loved one was weaker in this game (at least for me <3 Miranda) then it was last. I only seen my love interest four times, and briefly also, and only two of those times were they any enjoyable. I wish some of these characters could have been apart of your squad again, but there not, which reminds me, the squad in this game is only about half the size as it was in the previous game, which is a sad face for me, I enjoyed interacting with my squad in the previous game, but at least I get Garrus and Tali, oh and some gay dude and a lesbian chick.  


Joker returns, and I am glad for that, I just like Joker alot as a character. Another this that impressed me was the inclusion of EDI's body. Not only did it allow for EDI to become a more evolved character, it also allowed for a deep story for her self. We see this synthetic life form develop organic qualities, and I liked that part of her. I enjoyed seeing her transformation of a more human-like character, Its one of the most interesting parts of the game. And her relationship with Joker is really funny also.  


However, I miss the more gritty, darker moments from Mass Effect 2, like Thane's assassination mission, that mission offered a very tense sequence assisted by a very appropriate score. Its kind of like Jokers moments in the film "The Dark Knight." Now lets talk about the final moments of the game (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD). We all know the game was going to end with a battle on Earth, now the question of if this finale stacks up to the suicide mission in ME2 I will later answer, I will now talk about the actual ending, the last five minutes when the Shepard encounters the crucible. Many gamers are all enraged over the lack of decision with this final sequence. Either blow up the galaxy in Blue, Red or Green. My color was Red. But I honestly dont see what was so bad about the ending, I actually felt it was rather good, NOT the best way the game could have ended, but it wasnt bad at all. My choice was destroying the reapers, but many say the ending sucked because Shepard sacrificed himself just to save the reapers, well thats one ending, which I agree is poor, but if you get the Red ending, I feel it was decent. Shepard sacrificed himself to blow up the galaxy, destroying the reapers in the process, but yet preventing further possible wars like this. It's not entirely horrible, nor is it great, but its just fine in my opinion. I also have yet to see the extended cut ending, but all in all, I was fine with the (my) ending. It's also nice to know that Shepard continues to live as a legend.  


Now back to the finale. It didnt stack up as well as I expected it to, and it may not be as good as the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2, I still enjoyed it though. It's a good finale, just short of great, but I just felt like it needed more variety then just shooting up countless frustrating waves of hard-core enemies, which almost ruined the experience. I would have loved to have fought the battle with everyone of my old squad mates from the previous game, especially after the suicide mission, it would have been amazing to fight along side my favorite characters for one last time, in the greatest battle ever. I can only imagine how great this would have been, seeing all the heroic and final scenes of these characters, bringing hope up in one another at the brink of the most helpless situations. The suicide mission would never be able to stack up to that, NEVER. But Bioware (or perhaps EA) did not choose to do it this way, if they were smart they would have. This was a little bit of a disappointment to me.  


I did enjoy saying my farewells to my favorite characters, it really did bring a wave of emotion over me, of how they all talked about their future and how they would spend it together, and then by end-game, all that was wiped away by an impactful decision. The last 20 something minutes though, right where you race to the reaper and get beamed to the Citadel, and have your final run in with the Illusive Man, all that was handled well and offered a memorial final sequence. I just wanna say again though, the ending isnt as bad as many people make it out to be, it's actually (If you make the right choice) a decent end to one of the greatest game franchises of all time.  


There is one other thing I might add, Mass Effect 3 has some great antagonists. The illusive man deserves an award for being a good ally (but suspicious) in Mass Effect 2, and a worthy villain in this game, which is rare that you see such a thing. Kai Lang (Though he seems like a rip off of Raiden from Metal Gear Rising) is a very awesome antagonist also, offering some of the best boss fights in the franchise, and his end is great also.  


All in all, Mass Effect 3 concludes an amazing trilogy when a story that envelopes you and swarms you with emotion. An unforgettable and definitely Game Of The Decade worthy.  

 

Score- 9.75  

 

High Lights:  

Easily put, the Reapers. The reapers dominate awesome, and offer greater fights ever seen in the franchise. They will most definitely earn my enemy of the year award (not villain).  

 

Score- 9.5  

 

Realism:  

Its science fiction, however, like in Mass Effect 2, the characters all feel real and the improved graphics and enemy AI do enhance the experience even more. The AI has been vastly improved, and they will obliterate you on the battlefield.   

 

Score- 9  

 

Overall Experience:  

Mass Effect 3 is one of the greatest games I have ever played, and will most likely win my Game Of The Year award. After completion, I debated over my final verdict for the game. While it may have a few minor annoyances and flaws, and it didnt have the greatest ending ever, I still think it pulls through and meets my expectations, not surpassing them, but meeting them. It almost reaches that 10/10, but not quite. It would have If it did the ending slightly better, and let you experience the final battle on Earth with all the old squad mates from ME2, these would have been great opportunity to maximize emotion and definitely pull that 10/10, but the final battle was decent enough. Saying farewell to these characters is like saying farewell to a family, a beloved family that we all explored over three games (for me two). But the epilogue gives me some hope. Bioware has confirmed a Mass Effect 4, and while it may not have Commander Shepard in it, I will damn-sure be looking forward to it and hope to see a few familiar faces. Mass Effect is not only the greatest science fiction trilogies ever made in a medium history, its one of the greatest trilogies in general. I salute you Bioware. And I cannot wait for future entries, my brain is at the brink of exploding in anticipation. Farewell Commander Shepard, Farewell...  

 

 

Overall Rating:  

9.75/10  

Platinum Award Received  

 

 

The Good Stuff:   

Nearly Every Category In ME2 Improved ++  

Amazing Story ++  

The Greatest War Depicted In  a Medium ++   

Wealthy In Content ++  

Best Science Fiction Experience To Date +++   

Satisfying Conclusion +   

 

The Bad Stuff:  

Ending Could Have Been Better (But It Wasnt Bad)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Indoctrination Theory Discussion:  

Its been about a week since I finished this review, and over that week time a been doing research on this "Indoctrination Theory" thing that I've been hearing way before I played the game myself. And I must say, its very quite interesting. I read about five detailed anylizations of the ending with the Indoctrination Theory, and I watched two very detailed and well put together documentaries and video analyzes also about the ending with the Indoctrination Theory. For about 3 days, I was addicted and fascinated about this idea, but a few things discouraged me as well. A few people say that the Indoctrination Theory is not true, no matter how much we want to believe it is, but they didnt do enough to convince me otherwise. The Extended Cut DLC is what worries me, because if its cannon then it would refute the Indoctrination Theory. I really would not like that, I find the Indoctrination Theory one of the most fascinating things ever in gaming history, and I hope its true.  

  

A few say that the Extended Cut DLC may just be an attempt to "Indoctrinate" us gamers to believing that the ending we saw really happened, but in ME4 everything will be truly revealed. I would almost dismiss the Indoctrination Theory myself, but there is just too much evidence, that I cannot bring myself to doing so. If you watch the video's you will understand, even if most of the evidence can be debunked, there are still a few things that you cannot debunk no matter how hard you try, like Shepard's eyes for instance when he chooses the blue or green endings. You can clearly see that they are the eyes of an indoctrinated person, the same excact eyes we have seen on the Illusive Man and Sovereign in ME1. This is one thing that I dont think can be dismissed. Another thing is the trees around the beam area at the end of the game right before the final part with the citadel, the part where Shepard is on the verge of death. There are trees that weren't there before until Shepard was hit by the beam from Harbinger. And the even more erie part is that the trees are the same ones from Shepard's dreams.  

  

ALL the evidence is very hard to deny, but those two things I pointed I think are impossible to deny, especially the eyes. Me, I believe in the Indoctrination Theory, and even if it isnt true, ima be ignorant and believe it anyway, because its one of the greatest ideas I ever heard, and if it is true, I shall award Bioware of accomplishing the greatest mind f*** in Gaming history. I am very, EXTREMELY, even more then I was before the theory, excited for ME4, to find out the real truth. This was just a little thing I wanted to share, because it really fascinates me and gives me hope. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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