Mass Effect 3
Bioware makes damn good games. I didn’t play the ME series until recently when I was looking for a single player game to fill in my Wow gaming gap. I played through the first two then patiently awaited the release of the third. It’s been an incredible journey.
One of the better things about the series is the ability to import your character from the last game, along with all their choices. It has a huge impact on the storyline and characters, and helps with the feel of continuity. The only other series I’ve played that did something similar was Quest for Glory (awesome series by the way, if you can deal with old graphics and gameplay I’d highly recommend it). I’m currently replaying the series from scratch and attempting to make completely different decision this time around. It’s tough, as I tend to be a good guy. I can play bad cop and rough people up, but I generally do what I feel is right and just. But hey, if I can play the dark side in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I can do it here.
Bioware has made improvements throughout the series. Inventory has become a lot less clunky and less of a mess. It was pretty damn annoying in the first one. In ME3 you don’t have to worry about selling equipment. There’s no “inventory” to speak of. You can pick up weapons and upgrades but it’s not as if they take up space. They are just there for your use.
All three games have planets that may or may not be central to the plot. In the first game you could explore planets by landing and driving around. It was a huge time sink and often annoying due to the realistic terrain. The second game had you scanning planets instead and launching probes to gather resources. This was also extremely time consuming and involved scanning an entire planet with your mouse for hot spots. Still, you didn’t have to do it and I thought it was better than driving around. Still, you had to pay for probes and gas to get to certain systems, so it could get expensive. The third game still has scanning, and it would have been much more fun if not for the Reapers. Planets have one hot spot, if any, for you to launch a probe at. Probes are free and infinite. Gas, however, is not. When you reach a system you basically have to scan the area to find hot spots. It’s simple, fast and easy. The problem is, every time you scan you increase the odds of Reapers arriving and chasing you out of the system. It’s irritating because they usually show up after 2-3 scans and you generally need 3-4 to find all the hotspots. You can return after a mission and scan again (wasting gas and time) but often you won’t remember where you scanned before. After all, there are a lot of systems.
One change I wasn’t thrilled about was the lack of detail in the quest journal. Previously, the journal would update as you progressed, outlining new objectives or simply saying “you completed this, please return to so and so at the Citadel for your reward.” ME3 doesn’t have this. Often I found myself trying to do sidequests I’d already completely unknowingly, or having to check the Wiki to find out where I needed to turn something in.
The plot, as usual, was superb. Cerberus is back to its old tricks and inhumane experiments. You get to see the Quarians and Geth have it out (make sure your reputation is HIGH before you do this by the way). You get to try to unite certain races that hate each other. You get to deal with the genophage. You get to see where your comrades from ME2, if they survived, end up. I laughed, cried, and felt touched by the raw emotional power of some scenes. It’s a shame that games don’t get the recognition that movies do, because the simple act of Shepard handing Tari a rock, or someone asking “Does this unit have a soul?” would certainly be Oscar-worthy.