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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Electronic Arts
Developed By: BioWare
Genre: Action RPG
Players: 1 (4-Player Co-op)
Rated: M for Mature (Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence)
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Marcus Prunty

March 12, 2012 - Never has a game been so hyped, built up, and anticipated as BioWare’s Mass Effect 3. All of the past Call of Duty releases have nothing on this title. We have all been waiting to take control of Commander Shepard once again and defeat the Reapers who are threatening the galaxy and trying to end life as we know it. The threat has now been proven real; can we rally the galaxy and stop them finally?

If you’re new to this franchise and do not understand the story or know what is going on, there is a race of Machines none as the Reapers that are trying to destroy all organic life forms in the galaxy. Think the Borg from Star Trek but without any pesky talk of assimilation; they just want us gone. Commander Shepard has been warning the Council about this kind of an invasion since the original Mass Effect; which of course fell on death ears. The opening sequence within Mass Effect 3 finally proves to the entire galaxy that Shepard was right and the Reapers are here for total annihilation. And now Shephard is the universe’s only hope to stave off this epic catastrophe.

I have always considered Mass Effect to be more of an RPG than an action adventure title like the Uncharted series and a pure shooter like Call of Duty. Bioware decides to change things up and give players the option to choose what kind of experience they want to have while playing Mass Effect 3. You get three choices when you first start a new game - Action, Role Playing, and Story – all creating a unique experience for the player. The action option allows you to jump into the game as Commander Shephard and play the game and adjust the difficulty of the combat and all the conversations play out as cutscenes. The story option allows you to customize your character and the combat difficulty is a lot easier than in the other two options. In the Role Playing version, this is the true Mass Effect experience where you can customize the character, choose all the dialog responses for when you are talking to people and combat difficulty can be adjusted. Another option that is given when you are deciding if you want a male or female Commander Sheppard is the ability to load your character from your saved game data of Mass Effect 2 and have your character loaded up the way you made them if you played Mass Effect 2. If you use your Mass Effect 2, data your gameplay experience will be different as in the people who were left alive at the end of the game will play a role in your Mass Effect 3. If you do not use the Mass Effect 2 data, the game will automatically assume people died and will give you a fresh gameplay without your Mass Effect 2 baggage. So as usual, Bioware provides a lot of customization in that aspect as to tailoring the game the way you want to play it as well as your character look. Playing on the Xbox 360, we experienced issues with loading saved character files from characters that were created from the original Mass Effect title. Temporary fixes are in place to alleviate this problem, though it’s certainly something that will prove problematic for some.

Once you have made your choices, you’re immediately thrusted into the forefront of the looming battle. The introduction to Mass Effect 3 showcases Shepard addressing his superiors about an oncoming threat, which we all know to be the Reapers. Still in denial, the Reapers make their presence on earth felt with an all out attack on the population. It is here that Earth; alongside the rest of the galaxy, realize that Shepard was indeed right and that the Reapers are out for blood. They are smarter, stronger, and have an incessant need to kill without hesitation, which makes many question how can we stop a force like this. After escaping almost certain death on earth, Shepherd must travel all over the galaxy recruiting different species to help stop the Reapers. You usually do a mission to prove to a group that you want their help, thus persuading them to join your team; the fight. Everyone who doesn’t side with your cause to save all life within the galaxy must and will be dealt with. Between persuading people to join your cause, you will constantly be beating back the Reapers and Cerberus (Privateers who want humans to be more important in the galaxy and have more power).

As you help more and more species and persuade them to join the fight, you acquire War Assets which go toward your overall Galactic Readiness; which lets you know when you’re ready to finally end the Reaper invasion. It is a hell of a fight and you are going to go on some amazing ride. At the heart of the game are also moral choices when talking with most people. Like previous Mass Effect titles, you has two ways you can talk to them - Paragon (Good) and Renegade (Evil) – which have affect how the story plays out. What separates Mass Effect 3 from previous installments is that your choices; whether good or bad, carry lots of weight and can really turn the tide in the epic battle ahead of you. With the decision mechanic so integral to the story, you will find yourself playing through the game at least three times – Paragon, Renegade and somewhere in between) to make sure you have the total experience.

There are gameplay aspects that they changed which I; like many, were thankful for. One of them was the planet mining which had you visiting various planets, scanning them with your scanner on the Normandy and extracting all the valuable minerals that helped you in weapon, ship and character upgrades. The reason I am so thankful for this change in Mass Effect 2 is because I spent probably 10 hours or so just doing that so I could have all the minerals I needed for the upgrades. It was tedious and boring and took away from the story of the game. Another aspect of the gameplay that was changed was integral to Shepherd himself. He was given more mobility options like jumping and rolling, which become vital in certain combat situations. With these changes, they still kept the core gameplay the same, which involves a lot of ducking into cover mixed with a little run and gun action you find in games like COD. Your weapons and special powers like biotic are on a circle display that is brought up by the shoulder buttons and can be attached to the face buttons for quickie access in the heat of the battle. The ability to control your AI squad mates by positioning them where you want in battle is back and I found it very useful when waiting for the enemies to come to me. The enemy AI has been improved and they seem to work a lot better together as they try to outflank you and use cover as you do when fighting them. While the AI is not perfect and they do not always make smart decisions, they do for the most part keep you on your toes.

For those who purchased Mass Effect 3 on Xbox 360 and own a Kinect, you will be happy to know that all the worrying about how the Voice Actions would work with the game is all for nothing. For experience players of Mass Effect, they are already very comfortable with issuing commands to their squad mates via the shoulder buttons, however thanks to the inclusion of Voice Actions by BioWare, now you can feel like a real leader when on the battlefield. You can issue commands like “Switch Weapon” when you want to switch weapons, “Open” and “Examine” when you want Shepard to do those actions. When talking to squad mates, you can issue commands like “Liara Singularity” or “Garrus Sniper Rifle”. When dealing with commands involving using abilities, you must have your aiming recticle placed on a specific target for her to attack. With weapon switching commands, just say it and watch in happen in real-time. Only drawback to this ability is you needing to know what abilities and weaponry your squad mates have equipped if you want these commands to go off without any hitches.

In Mass Effect 2, more emphasis was placed on weaponry than biotics, where as in Mass Effect 3 biotics are front and center. Most of the guns you can get in the game have many attachments that can be added to them as you come across them. From lightweight plastics that will make the weight of the gun lighter, there are attachments that increase fire rate, ammo capacity, increase the damage and accuracy as well. There are different types of ammo disruptors - standard, cryo and fire – which can help turn the tide in a battle. Depending on the class you choose in the beginning of the game, your character will be fitted with certain biotic abilities. The Classes include Adept, Soldier, Engineer, Sentinel, infiltrator, and Vanguard. Cloak is one I use a lot as an infiltrator class. Some of the others ones include the ability to shoot out a ball that lift enemies in the air; which coupled with cryo rounds, would freeze them in air and once the levitate wears off, they would fall to the ground and shatter. There is the ability to slam and throw enemies, and reave which rips apart enemies. There is much more and having all these different abilities to use makes your options nicer, especially when the enemy AI is in cover and you cannot reach them without exposing yourself.

The graphics in Mass Effect 3 are amazingly beautiful. All the characters are very colorful and beautifully designed. The facial features when you are watching the characters talk to each other look realistic and is a credit to other games like L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain for laying the groundwork. However, what draws you in way more than the facial features of the characters are all the exotic looking planets that you have to visit while you are recruiting friends to help defeat the Reapers. The Turian home world, Ilos, the Citadel, Mars and several other worlds are visited and they look amazing the textures and colors used make every world look different and interesting. On every mission, I found myself exploring and looking around each of them before I jumped into the missions.

You cannot have amazing graphics and not equally have great sound design. This is the kind of thing that furthers draws you into the game and make you feel as if you are living that moment. The voice acting is part of this and each of the characters is distinct and impressive. The dialogue is a step up from the first two games. The music and sound effects during the combat sequences rile up the tension and makes the game feel complete.

Adding to the gameplay and giving the game more replayability is the Multiplayer. The multiplayer is not necessary to be played to complete the single player campaign, but I will advise you to give it a try as it is fun. You play with up to three other people, there is only one mode which includes six six different stages all pulled from single player campaign where you fight against Cerberus, Reapers, and the Geth. The Multiplayer can affect the single player campaign in that as you advance through the waves and waves of enemies; depending on which stage you are playing on, you strengthen that region somewhat. Currently I have the Earth Systems Alliance Space up to 81% and I believe they all started at around 50%. Therefore, there is some interplay going on with it but not much if you do not feel the need to do that. Your character you choose can level up in the game just not as fast. There are tasks during some of the waves like taking out specific targets or uploading data that once completed give you credits that you can use in the Store to buy packs like the Recruit, Veteran, or Spectre Packs. Each is better than the one before it. The recruit Pack can only be bought with credits while the other two can be bought with money and/or credits. The Recruit Packs consist of basic weapons, mods, and unlockable characters, though the chances of unlocking something rare are low. The veteran Pack gives you more advance hardware and ammo mods and can unlock characters. Finally, the Spectre pack is the best of the best and gives you at least 1 rare item or better, and unlocks characters and other items like weapon mods and ammo mods and such. I will let you know that these are all random and on several different occasions you could acquire the same guns from these packs. You still have the same classes to choose from and the abilities that come with them. The Multiplayer is great fun with your friends or random players. There are different levels of difficulty as well - Bronze, Silver, and Gold - which if test your character(s) and you as the player. Bronze is the default level and Gold should only be tried by those who are at least level 45 or higher.

Does Mass Effect 3 live up to the hype that came with it the months, weeks, days and hours before it was released? Yes in short, because it completes one of the best trilogies in videogames today. It ties up loose ends and concludes the story nicely. It builds upon what the previous games had and provides an experience that fans of the franchise can get behind as well as new people to the franchise. By having Role-play, Story, and Action for the differing modes you can play the Single Player Campaign on, you give something for every type of player. The ability to customize your player to make them look how you want them, as well as their weapons and powers is a plus. Although the max level is 60 for a character in single player, which you cannot obtain on one playthrough, with the NEW Game+ option you can continue with a second play through with your character at the level he was when you beat the game. An increase of difficulty and you are on your way again. With the addition of multiplayer, which is necessary in any kind of game that has a shooting element to it this game, provides the player with many opportunities to keep playing well after the single player campaign has ended. Whether you are a fan of the franchise or someone new who heard about the game and all the hype, I am here to tell you it’s worthy of the hype and you should buy this game right away. I am proud and happy to have it in my collection.


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