Mass Effect 3 Review Week: Keller’s Review
With regards to giving critique and other sorts of feedback, there is something I like called the sandwich technique. You give the praise first, add the criticism in the middle, and then follow it up with more praise. Despite the ending that left me feeling quite melancholy after completing the game, Mass Effect 3 had many wonderful story and gameplay aspects that make it one of the best games I’ve ever played.
The soundtrack is a must-have to own (I can download it for free because I preordered the Collector’s Edition!), and the graphics are beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. Hackett is featured lots in the game, and some of my previous favourite characters, such as Kaidan and Mordin, make a long-awaited comeback.
The power wheel is improved, and biotic humans (which are weapons in themselves) can actually use their talents, rather than having to rely on guns for the majority of combat. Combat has you thinking fast on strategies, and you need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your own combat abilities and which squad mates will complement you best. I played on the Narrative setting first, which was insanely easy, and then I’ve upped the intensity in my current second playthrough. So, combat is suitable for both casual and more hardcore gamers.
The character creator and import of previous Shepards is hit and miss. Some of the colour changes aren’t for the better; while there are more choices than in the previous games that can screw up the face code or import, you might need to do some tweaking, but some of my Shepards came out beautiful, absolutely beautiful. One, however, will never look like his old self, and I lament over that; that particular Shepard’s ruddy goatee turned brown, so I turned it into stubble instead. There were other issues with his look too, but oh well, he still looked good. Another face corrupted altogether and simply wouldn’t import, so I had to re-create it. However, the latter problem only happened to one Shepard, so take heart.
I’m unhappy with the ending, which likely isn’t a surprise; after you’ve invested approximately fifty or sixty hours into several characters, ending a trilogy with a colour choice and rendering the previous three games pretty much irrelevant isn’t what I was hoping for. But many people have stated that, across many sites and reviews, so I won’t say anymore on that matter, except this: friends should be congratulating you for completing a game, not consoling you.
What I lament the most about Mass Effect 3, however, is not the endings, but my inability to shape my Shepard’s personalities to how I want them. In the previous Mass Effect games, I always had at least three different dialogue choices at my disposal, five if I had high enough paragon/renegade scores. Of that, it was easier to obtain in the first Mass Effect than its sequel, but even then, the persuasion options were still available, assuming I had a high enough paragon/renegade rating. Now I only have two choices at my disposal. The neutral option is out altogether. I only encountered two, maybe three persuasion options at the most throughout my game. Despite those two choices, Shepard’s dialogue is automatic 75% of the time. You pick one choice, and it sends you down an automatic conversation that is ultimately the same regardless if you choose paragon or renegade. I really have to wonder how BioWare took such a step down in terms of the PC role-playing development.
Glitches occur in games, but I wasn’t expecting so many in Mass Effect 3, especially after the original November release date was delayed. Let’s just say a demonically possessed Dr. Chakwas on my ship was quite a scare, as was having odd camera angles and invisible faces during cutscenes. I would be talking to a character, and it would focus on a piece of equipment. It was odd.
The mission map is also atrocious. It just gives you a mission summary, and it doesn’t record your development like it did in ME1 or ME2. You finish the mission, and it still retains the same information as when you first receive the mission.
That said, the development of other characters is excellent, and it isn’t restricted to conversations with Shepard. The banter is phenomenal. It blows the previous Mass Effect games out of the water. Hell, it blows the Dragon Age series out of the water. Squad mates visit each other on the ship and make jokes, or if you visit one squad mate they might be talking to another person via intercom. If you click on the characters, they will quip up about several things: family, the previous mission, their feelings, which Shepard will sometimes comment on (automatic dialogue, however), or not. I could really feel the camaraderie between the crewmembers. Shepard and squad actually talk to each other and communicate strategies between them when they’re fighting Reaper scum. Two of the newbies in this game, James Vega and Steve Cortez, ended up being added to my favourite characters list because of their development. The supporting characters in this game really shine through, and were definitely a highlight.
Ultimately, my feelings on Mass Effect 3 are mixed. The trilogy has ended. The music is excellent, and some Shepards will see closure. I am glad I purchased the game, despite my disappointments. I am playing it again, so obviously I am able to focus on other positive aspects of the game. But I have a sour taste in my mouth at the fact that I cannot see the outcome of my actions, and at the lack of closure that I have at receiving only three endings instead of the multitude based on my choices. Perhaps I am being too hard, but I feel let down on the promise and premise of the series; that is a shame.