Mass Effect 3 is the penultimate game in one of Bioware's best selling franchises. Starting way back November 20, 2007 with the release of the original Mass Effect, all 3 games have received critical acclaim and industry veterans have said that it is the defining franchise of this generation. Following a player-created hero, Commander Shepard, the game features an expansive story in a uniquely created universe, with consequences echoing through all 3 games. Although the game features dozens of sub-plots, the main story falls down to the typical hero saving the universe approach. The heroic storyline is nothing new to the RPG genre but the Mass Effect franchise delivers on areas other games have never touched. The amount of choices a player can make throughout all 3 games tallies in the hundreds and even the minor ones can have a drastic impact on the story in the following games. Planned as a trilogy at the start of development, Mass Effect 3 represents the end of an era, and with such acclaimed games released previously, does it manage to deliver the final experience the franchise deserves?
The game takes most aspects from the previous 2 games and expands on them. The combat, arguably one of the best features of the game, is just as fun as Mass Effect 2, but with a bit more variety. Each of your companions learn their own abilities, alongside Shepard's, allowing for you to choose a squad with abilities that best compliment your play style. As with previous titles, you're able to learn certain abilities from your companions if you gain enough trust and friendship with them. Some aspects from Mass Effect 2 have been removed, such as the painfully boring mining system that forced players to explore the entire galaxy scanning dozens of planets with the hopes of finding rare materials. The new system allows players to scan while in the galaxy view point, instead of having to check each and every planet individually, they've also removed the ore and mineral system and replaced it with other items you can find.
The only real negative I can find is the lack of boss fights in the game, although there are a few combat scenarios that are more difficult in others, the game seems to avoid giving you what is generally considered a boss fight. When you enter a large cave and you're face to face with a genetically mutated, Reaper enhanced monster thing, you kinda expect a huge fight to follow. Instead the giant monster thing begins a conversation with you leading up conversational decision, although they're among my favorite aspects of the Mass Effect 3 games, it doesn't have to be the answer to everything.
Story At Its Finest
As well as the main story arch itself, there are dozens of side-quests available, all of which provide more information on the Mass Effect 3 universe. One of my personal favorite aspects of the game is the story that you can miss, the story of the people around you. Many parts of the galaxy are under direct attack from the Reapers, with worlds being destroyed and the lives of families being torn apart. During your travels around the Milky Way Galaxy, you encounter a large number of civilians and NPC characters, and if you hang around long enough, you can get some information on their story. On the Citadel, there's a young couple that talk about one of them having relationship issues while their partner is away in the war, as you visit the Citadel again at a later time more information unfolds until you eventually find out that the couple talking are actually having an affair, that would be considered a lesbian affair if the Asari weren't hermaphrodites. Another story you can follow is the tragic tale of a young girl that arrives at the refugee dock, ahead of her parents who were meant to board a later shuttle. As you return to the dock during the duration of the main quest, you find out that her parents never made it and that a dock worker attempts to look after her. None of this is game making stuff, but it really gives a feel that the world around you is alive and evolving alongside the main plot. It's these little bits that Bioware have become famous for adding into their games, creating a truly unique story driven experience.
Happily Ever After...
As is traditional with Mass Effect games, Mass Effect 3 features a number of endings to the game. Some of which are negative, while others are positive, the exact changes detailed in each ending scene varies greatly and depends on a few factors. As you explore the galaxy you can acquire a new type collectible, War Assets. War Assets come in many shapes and sizes, some are gathered while scanning planets for valuables, others can be earned through side-quests, some are rewarded during the main story and a few can also be earned by communicating with your companions. There is also a small bonus to War Assets if you have a previous save file from Mass Effect 2. The War Asset items stack towards a Total Military Strength bar, this bar represents the strength of the army you've gathered to attack the Reapers. Each asset is worth a different amount of bonus points and there are far more assets in the game than you need to get the perfect ending. You are able to achieve a perfect ending without playing online, as long as you can achieve the required 5000+ military strength, you can live happily ever after. I don't want to throw around spoilers, but even the bad ending is amazing and really hits home. After spending hundreds of hours across the games, reading the books and exploring the comics, people have become so attached to the characters and the endings of Mass Effect 3 exploit that fact perfectly. I would advise anyone that plays it to watch multiple different endings, although the perfect one is obviously the most enjoyable, each of the others provoke an emotional response.
I've always considered myself an RPG fan, of all the genres I feel it delivers the best experience. A great story, deep mechanics, plenty of options and customization, and let's not forget, dozens of hours of game play. So how does Mass Effect 3 stack up compared to the other great RPG's of our era? Quite frankly, it's the best RPG released in the past 10 years. The story, across all games, is nothing short of epic, personally I find it as rich and appealing as other famous works of fiction such as Lord of the Rings. However, we are playing a game and not reading a book, which is where many RPG games fail today, attempting to provide so much story that they fail to deliver on the game play mechanics themselves. But yet again, Mass Effect 3 rises above competitors with a great combat system, highly detailed environments, and some of the best video-game personalities ever created. Overall, PS4 Expert's gives Mass Effect 3 9/10, the only reason I cannot give it a 10 is because it's the last in the franchise and I just don't feel I've had my fill.
Article by - Blaine Smith