Mass Effect 3 was released today (Of course I wrote this yesterday, as I’m currently playing the hell out of it), and is by far the biggest release this February rush (I love you, FFXIII-2, but you can’t win this one). Mass Effect is a game trilogy made by Bioware, the company responsible for such hits as Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights. Despite Bioware’s illustrious history, the Mass Effect series is by far their most ambitious and successful series, and now the trilogy is coming to an end. Mass Effect is a space opera and is the gaming equivalent to Star Wars. There are a multitude of reasons why Mass Effect 3 deserves your attention and, today, I intend to go through as much as I can.
|If you are reading this, you are not playing the game. Shame on you.|
The biggest reason you should be interested in Mass Effect 3, or the Mass Effect series in general, is that it is a real trilogy. Many game series have cloaked their sequels as a trilogy in a transparently fake way. For example, God of War and Halo. Both original games had fully self contained stories and, through their sheer popularity, spawned two extremely successful series. But let’s be honest, these games were never intended to be a trilogy. Sure they left a ton of loose ends in the second game of the series, but there was no indication that they would be a trilogy. Mass Effect, conversely, was built as a trilogy at the outset. Everything was leading to the final game from the very beginning. This is an important distinction. While most video game trilogies simply trump up a bad ending in the second game in order to build tension for the third, Mass Effect’s plot progression was far less haphazardly planned out. The reason for this leads me to my second point.
|Three games doesn’t necessarily make you a trilogy.|
Consequence, consequence has been the tagline for many, many games and very few, if any, have actually gotten it right. Sure many games offer different endings or moral choices throughout, but very few actually successfully tie the player’s actions with any kind of real consequence. Bioware has been promising that the player’s actions throughout the entire trilogy will have consequences in this game. Personally, I think that Bioware has been a little too ambitious with this aspect of the game. I mean, how influential can a character be in the plot if it’s possible that they’re dead. Despite my hesitation, it looks like Bioware will succeed where many have failed. This is largely due to the fact that they have had three games to work on it instead of just one.
|I could live with never seeing Thane again, however.|
The next biggest reason to be excited may come as a shock to Mass Effect 1 adherents, who jumped ship after Mass Effect 2 took the series away from purely RPG territory: the additional RPG elements. Now your character will be able to upgrade weapons in various different ways. This is significant as every class now has access to every kind of weapon, meaning it will be more than the Soldiers who will be excited from finding a weapon upgrade. On top of this, there are the multiple branching paths for skill selection. I know that you can’t collect endless arrays of identical weapons and armour like in Mass Effect 1, but this addition makes Mass Effect 3 more of an RPG than Mass Effect 1 could ever be with its awful leveling system. The sheer amount of permanent choice makes Mass Effect 3 a game with almost endless gameplay variation for a shooter.
|Mass Effect 1: Where the leveling bonuses are so small that you might as well not bother|
The next reason for needing to buy this game is the multiplayer and by that I mean that the multiplayer isn’t getting in the way of the far more important singleplayer game. It isn’t completely tacked on (It is, at least a little bit). The biggest risk for a singleplayer game including multiplayer is that developers will put too much time and resources into developing it and leave their singleplayer in a distressed shape. This can be seen in the first-person shooter market as singleplayer experiences are nothing more than an afterthought at this point. However, there was a time that singleplayer was the focus and multiplayer was just the add-on. Fortunately, while the multiplayer exists, and, from the demo, isn’t bad, Bioware has maintained a focus on the epic singleplayer mission, which is a major relief.
|Imagine how tacked on multiplayer would feel in Bioshock. Oh wait, Bioshock 2 happened and showed us all!|
Finally, the last reason that you should not be reading this over going out and to buy Mass Effect 3 right now is that they aren’t screwing around with the gameplay established in Mass Effect 2. There is a reason that Mass Effect 2 pretty much swept every game of the year when it was released. It is one of the most well refined cover-based shooting experiences you can find. Harder modes giving enemies barriers, shields, or armour forcing the player to choose team-mates, powers, and weapons strategically, made the game far more than a simple good story. Mass Effect 3 is speeding up the game and throwing out some new stuff like improved AI and melee, but for the most part they aren’t touching the gameplay, and we should all be very, very thankful for this. Some games don’t age well and gameplay needs an update in sequels (I’m looking at you Resident Evil 5), but Mass Effect 2 isn’t one of these games, and it’s good to see that this will be a refinement instead of the overhaul which we saw between Mass Effect 1 and 2.
|This is the closest thing I can find to what my Shepard looks like (Too much make-up), and I refuse to acknowledge any others. That is what makes this game special.|