Reviews of Games I Haven’t Played: Mass Effect 3

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Ladies and gentlemen, readers of Analog Addiction, connoisseurs of the fine arts, and hand models used in lotion advertisements; welcome to a column I used to do on my previous blog that I like to call “Reviews of Games I Haven’t Played” (RGHP). I like to call it that because “Grossly Inaccurate Biased Ideas of What a Game is About Based Solely on Second-Hand Information” (GIBIWGABSSHI) was already taken.

RGHP was one of the few good things to come out of that blatantly asinine blog and I’m glad to be bringing it to Analog Addiction, thusly lowering their bars of quality for eons to come (Heh heh. I said ‘come’).

I don’t want to repost my older entries because, well, that’d be quite lazy. So, please allow me to inaugurate the first official Analog Addiction Reviews of Games I Haven’t Played with the distinct and controversial Mass Effect 3.

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Mass Effect 3
Developed by: Bioware Corp.

Published by: EA
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U
Release Date: March 6th, 2012 (North America), November 18th, 2012 (North America, Wii U)
ESRB: Mature

The first Mass Effect is one of my most cherished gems. Having beaten it exactly twenty-four times, I can definitely call myself a sad human being loving fan of the series. The living, breathing universe was so densely packed with details and fleshed out characters that I couldn’t help but be completely engrossed with the mythos and lore. Did you know that salarians have insanely long names and that only 10% of their population is female, not due to chance, but because they deliberately make it that way through intentional fertilization of certain eggs? I didn’t even have to check the mass effect wikia for that fact. I’m just an insane fan.

Then I played Mass Effect 2. While I did enjoy the characters a lot (even Zaeed, who proved that DLC characters aren’t crap), the game did leave a lot to be desired. Its level design made supposedly civilian environments feel like they were designed to be warzones from the get-go and the story rushed me to finish it if I wanted to have everyone survive, effectively disabling me from getting to know late-game characters like Legion and Thane, who were two of the coolest characters in the entire series. Plus, the whole inclusion of heat-sink ammo clips didn’t make any gameplay or lore sense. Why would an entire society agree that having weapons that could only be fired when a disposable heat-sink was clipped in was better than having weapons that could fire all 40,000 ‘bullets’ with slight delays for your weapon to cool down? Unless, of course, the gun manufacturers agreed to a monopoly in which their guns would lock out unless the consumer disposed of their old heat-sink and bought more and more clips to keep on firing and holy crap it all makes sense now.

When it comes to the third installment in the series, the cleverly titled Mass Effect 3, I just decided to not even pick up the game. Not because of any sense of mainstream-phobia or fanboy spite. I just lost interest in the whole, arcing story. But if you think that’ll stop me from making an arse of myself while I deconstruct the game I refused to play from the perspective of an outsider, then you’re wrong, you fool!

Mass Effect 3, also known as Sassafrass 3, is the conclusion to Commander Shepard’s struggle to unite the galaxy against the reapers, a bunch of squid-ship artificial intelligences hellbent on destroying sentient life in order to protect sentient life from building artificial intelligences that would eventually destroy sentient life unless the reapers, artificial intelligences, kill the sentient life before it makes the artificial intelligence that would kill the sentient life that made it. I think at some point different colored cupcakes were involved, but I haven’t played it, so I’m completely unsure.

Characters like Keith David Anderson and Jeff ‘Joker’ Moreau were promised as comeback characters, and by god should we not be disappointed. You get to not only watch Keith David’s voice shoot techno demons in the face, but you also get to watch Joker make awkward come-ons to EDI, who now inexplicably has a sexy robot body that I’m assuming (since this is, you know, from the writers who created asari) has fully functioning sex organs. Ashley or Kaiden, not both, are now once again crewmates. I’m not sure if it’s more fun having either a horrible, horrible racist or a whiny, magical chav on crew, but it’s not like you need to bring them along on missions. No, you can safely tuck them away into a corner of the ship while you bring better characters with you to obliterate calamari dreadnoughts.

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Now that I’ve pithily described every single facet of the story and characters, it’s a damned good time to mention gameplay. If this is anything like Bass Fish 2, Bioware have aimed for the stars with their gunplay. And by the stars, I mean Gears of War. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. GoW is a fantastic game with some of the best cover-based shooting around (besides the Terminator: Salvation game. It’s shooting sucked, but I have yet to play a game that tops its cover mechanics). Like I mentioned above, I wasn’t the biggest supporter of the addition of “ammo clips” into the game due to its gameplay and lore disadvantages over ME1‘s infinite-clip-but-with-a-cool-down-period guns. I just think that for a game that was built around telling a story and making choices over AAA gun toting, having ME1‘s gun system was preferable. It’s the decision to have different mechanics supporting different core values that really bugs me. What’s wrong with a game that has a single, elemental core idea in which every mechanic strives to serve? Having the infinite clip made it easier to focus on the story. I’m not nitpicking because I’m 100% right and you should all feel ashamed for not agreeing with me.

The original selling point of Mass Effect was it’s dialogue wheel and use of choices that really affected the story. It’s certainly not the best choice system I’ve ever seen; in fact, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has yet to be surpassed in terms of dynamic player choice. But the original Mass Effect was definitely a pioneer of its time, what with the innovative dialogue wheel that displayed shortened versions of what your character would say, instead of lengthy dialogue trees. Does Marxist Intent 3 live up to this ideal of player choice?

Let me demonstrate with this chart:

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As you can see, choices in Mass Effect 3 were based on the three starter pokémon from the hit game series, Pokémon. Each one brilliantly conflicts the other, making each choice a gamble of risk, regret, and reward. Does Shepard abstain from the green choice, fully knowing that the red choice has the clear advantage over him? Or does he accept that little niggling worry, because he now has advantages over the blue choice? It’s a completely ingenious system in which each and every conversation you take part in is a chinese chess game, mixing and matching colored choices to see if you can come up victorious. That is, until they release Mass Effect: Yellow Version; Pikachu Edition. Oh, and when you’re arguing with Gary, don’t choose green or red. They’re both too easily defeated by their weaknesses, and Gary just seems to always press the attack too hard. Just stop being stupid and choose squirtle. Besides, the first gym leader is rock-type.

The ending, I heard, stays true to this color-coded decision system, as well as throwing in some psychic-type choices to really mess with your mind. From dream sequences to exploding cupcakes and holographic chubby british kids, it is more than obvious that Bioware crafted a closely knit, easily understood story. In fact, people loved the ending so hard that they demanded an extra ending.

Well, here’s five more endings [warning; coarse language]:

When it comes to role-playing games, Bioware is a craft master. Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, The Elder Scrolls, Halo, Pac-Man, and Dragon Age  (gee whiz, I’m so funny. I don’t deserve the air I breathe) make up a very impressive pedigree for Bioware. The mechanics built into Mass Effect 3 do revolve around standard RPGs, such as class choices and LEVEL UP, BRO.

Classes like the Soldier are back for players who enjoy being the most hated person at the party, providing ample amounts of guns with no cool superpowers to speak of. Speaking of guns, which I’m sure I haven’t done once in this article, class restrictions on guns have been completely removed, instead opting for the more biotic/tech-focused players to choose any weapon they like, but only one or two of them. This is because removing the differences between classes ensures we don’t have to worry about having different play styles at all. That would be terrible.

The classes that mix with the Soldier are allowed more weapon slots, and the Soldier’s kneecaps snap under the weight of her arsenal. Playing as a biotic is probably still as fun as the last game; being able to yank an enemy into the air for some well placed shots was fantastic in the preceding game. Going for a tech based experience was overhauled in Mass Effect 2, making the Engineer a class that was actually fun to play after disabling enemies’ defenses became a more pressing matter in combat. Is it still good in ME3? Why are you still asking me these questions, you forgetful idiot?!

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In the end, as with most conclusions to trilogies, Mass Effect 3 seemed to disappoint most of its fans rather than hold them down and kiss them sensually, as we have come to expect. Maybe it was Bioware’s acquisition by EA, a publisher known for overworking their collected developers and forcing games out the door as soon as possible, all while removing most of a game’s uniqueness to make it a more sellable product, that made ME3 more bemoaned than anything.

Or maybe it’s because fans are whiny babies who will cry about everything they can.

I’m looking at you, Adrian.

Frank Margarella has his own crappy personal blogs here and here. You can follow him on twitter @Fuhjem.

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4 thoughts on “Reviews of Games I Haven’t Played: Mass Effect 3

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  3. Pretty accurate on most of it Frank although I think I would have to say the game play was good up until the end. There could have been more options for the ending and it could have had more of a basis on what you did in game like the previous two. Rather they decided to make multiplayer count towards the end story which I didn’t like as this was a game I preferred to play alone rather than with friends. Also Bethesda did Elder Scrolls not BioWare.

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