Mass Ineffect

1/02/2013 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


So, I finally finished Mass Effect 3.  I know I'm a little behind the rest of the world on this one, but when has that ever stopped me?  Overall, I'm definitely a fan.  I'm not positive I would recommend ME3 as a standalone game, but the trilogy as a whole is definitely the best RPG experience I have ever had.  I loved a lot of it and, while I didn't necessarily hate anything, I was underwhelmed with a few elements.


First of all, the story was phenomenal.  I've been excited about the prospect of a Mass Effect movie for years ever since I played the first Mass Effect.  This game definitely made me excited for the possibility of a movie trilogy.  They have constructed a galaxy and mythos that is arguably as complete and complex as Star Wars.  There are a lot of side characters and minor story arcs that are artfully woven into the final story, some that have been in the works for both prior titles, or some that had been waiting silently in the wings since their initial introduction in the first or second game.  I think as far as story telling goes, it is hard to find any comparative game to match the quality of the Mass Effect story writing.  At least with the narrative options I chose.  Maybe I just happened to choose an epic narrative with my diving paragon conversation options.  Although I was definitely far more renegade as I went through each game.  I definitely clocked that reporter chick every chance I got.

Second, gameplay was alright.  I really enjoy the combat style and the renegade/paragon/respect point system, but I feel like this was more of an extension of ME2 than it was a third game.  There was really nothing new to offer here.  The conversation system hasn't changed at all since ME1 other than the inclusion of the instant paragon/renegade options.  Of course you always choose the instant paragon option, but who doesn't want to know what the instant renegade option is?  It resulted me shooting many a person in the face ala Pulp Fiction.  Anyway, pretty standard in that department.  I didn't feel like the respect had any applicable impact on conversations, but I've collected so many paragon points through the course of the trilogy that maybe I was never blocked from selecting specific options.  I never had any issue with Renegade options either, but as I already mentioned.... Impulsive shots to the face.

Third, and this is where I wasn't really passionate either way, the decision trees.  I think the character import options is awesome.  I think it's awesome that they can be prepared for so many diverse options for plot details.  There are entire characters that were prepared and woven into story threads in 2 and 3 that could have died (or never been allied with at all) in the original game.  There are side quests that you think are irrelevant and could have been ignored in the first game, but turn out to be a big plot element in the second or third game.  The entire trilogy is full of moments where I would pause the game to google a plot element "what if" that I came across.  It's brilliant for the storyline, but unfortunately I felt like it turned into a cop out by ME3.  I'm not saying there was necessarily a better way to do it, but many of the decisions that make in the first two games apply themselves to ME3 as "War Assets," which, while useful, basically translate into "Bonus Points."  For someone like me, who is a side quest fiend (I find myself talking with every relevant character and double checking most areas between every single major or minor mission... Wow, that looks a lot more lame when I write it down...), it turns hours of extra game play into basically a pat on the back.  You better believe I had war assets though.  That's where my main disappointment comes in.  You have what probably amounts to hundreds of different variable combinations between all the choices you make in the trilogy.  Who's alive still, what species are strong (or in existence), what technology is available, who is your friend (or enemy), and etc.  I feel like throughout the course of the game they negate all those variables as they close in on the end of the story, so while you spend the game ever expanding your story through various choices, by the end of ME3, no matter how you any of the games in the series, everyone will have a nearly identical choice of 3 different endings.  Don't get me wrong, it was fun getting there, but you definitely feel like you got trolled by Bioware during the last 5 minutes of the (possibly) couple hundred hours you but into the franchise.

I'm not discouraging the game.  It's still the number one trilogy on my list.  Play it, but only if you play the trilogy.  Just don't get disenfranchised when Bioware tries to tell you that none of your choices matter.  Your Shepard (or FemShep) is a beautiful and unique snowflake and you shouldn't let anyone put you down.

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