By Roberto Campos
Few games come out now-a-days that really change the landscape of what video games can accomplish, but BioWare’s Mass Effect series finds itself among those games. Mass Effect set out to be a trilogy that enabled players to make decisions that would affect the subsequent games in the series, thus making each story unique to its player. In 2007 BioWare launched the first game in the trilogy and hasn’t looked back since, creating a universe that forced players to make choices based on morality, containing captivating lore and engaging gameplay that puts most sci-fi shooters to shame.
Embarking on the final chapter of Commander Shepard’s arduous journey, players find themselves on Earth in the beginning of Mass Effect 3. Naturally, the Reapers, a race of ancient machines that eradicate all organic life in the galaxy when they reach a level of intelligence, launch their assault on the galaxy and Earth finds itself as one of the first targets. Shepard is then forced to leave Earth in hopes of successfully reaching out for help to the other organic civilizations that span across the galaxy. This provides the underlying tone for the rest of the game - stand together or die.
This tone is revisited consistently throughout the game. BioWare constantly reminds players of the threat which looms over all organic life if necessary forces are not obtained to defeat the Reapers. It does this in ways of beautiful cinematic scenes which depict the overwhelming power of the Reapers, and through Shepard’s conscience. But most importantly through teammates.
Teammates, both past and present, will be making appearances as squad mates throughout the game, which ones are dependent on the decisions players have made in previous installments. The dialogue players will experience with squad mates will give insight to how their races are surviving and to their own thoughts on the task of defeating the Reapers. Mass Effect 3 has a vast amount of loose ends to tie up, Shepard’s only defeated two Reapers in the franchise up to this point, and by having these conversations and storylines with your teammates it brings stories full circle. It also provides Shepard, and the player as well, with prospective on everything the galaxy is going through and the vast thoughts on what should be done to survive.
The storylines that Shepard undertakes to gather support for his cause will have players revisiting past relationships with characters like Tali and Wrex, unless you killed him like me, and will provide you deep insight to the cultures and customs of each of their people. Each mission will give players a deeper understanding of how the races feel and the problems they’ve faced long before humans joined the rest of the galaxy. Players will be forced to fix many of the problems that races have with each other, like the Salarians and Krogan, and make difficult decisions that will influence the galaxy if they survive. This makes Shepard like an errand boy as he fixes the galaxies problems in hopes of its support to help retake Earth in return.
Running all of these errands will provide for about 30 to 40 hours of gameplay, depending on how much of the side quests you perform, when it is all said and done. In a remarkably short 40 hours BioWare manages to accomplish a successful and engaging story that will having players fighting until the very end to see what lies at the conclusion.
When it comes to gameplay, Mass Effect has evolved in each installment. Similar to Mass Effect 2, the last entry allows players to upgrade weapons and select different pieces of armor to fit their play style. In addition players can also make modifications to their weapons to increase damage or decrease the weight to their weapons. The addition of melee combat fits perfectly into combat and let’s players get up and personally if they choose. The Omni-Blade is a personal favorite. Mass Effect 3 provides similar upgrading system to their powers and power wheel that the series has become known for which isn’t a bad thing, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. But there is one thing BioWare changed this time around and that was the addition of multiplayer.
When some RPG (Role-Playing Game) fans hear multiplayer they cringe, Bethesda (the creators of The Elder Scrolls games) can attest to that. Multiplayer makes it mark as a fun distraction from the story mode, if you really need to be distracted… you kind of have a galaxy to save. Similar to Gears of Wars Horde Mode, players can choose class types, like Vanguard or Infiltrator, and fight waves of enemies and accomplish objectives assigned to them in real time. Defeating enemies will provide experience used to level up, which allows players to enhance powers. Credits are also obtained throughout each mission and can be used to purchase baseball card-like packs that give players weapons, Medi-gel and weapons mods.
Mass Effect 3 finishes the series strong and does justice to a franchise that was ambitious, revolutionary and captivating. It engages players in a world and in many situations that seems plausible. Creating an encapsulating inexperience, Mass Effect 3 is a game that is a must play for anyone who is a fan of video games. Despite the minimal glitches that the game suffers, like textures not loading properly and objects not being in cut-scenes, this game is borderline perfection. In 40 hours it provides an experience a game like Skyrim (which is 100+ hours) can only dream of accomplishing that short time. The Mass Effect trilogy ends with Mass Effect 3 and its finale tackles what’s at the core of RPGs, the power to choose your own fate.