|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: March 6, 2012|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Matt Walker
It's hard writing a review for a game like Mass Effect 3. There's just so much involved in spreading the word about this type of game that, in a way, writing a review that does it justice is almost like saving the universe in written form. Too often this generation, games have cried out about how amazing and revolutionary they were going to be—how you were going to "finish the fight" or how you would always be "brothers to the end." Yet, when all is said and done, you find yourself wondering if those games could ever live up the anxiety you had while waiting for the impending release. In fact, I find myself asking that question more often than not—especially with games that make huge promises.
This has been the case with Mass Effect. Admittedly, when the series first hit shelves, I was not bitten by the BioWare bug right away. Rather, I waited until the game had been out for nearly a year before I dove into the universe that would ultimately change the way I wanted gaming to be for the next several years. The unparalleled decision-making and attention given to the smallest plot details brought a level to gaming most movies today can't achieve. This, however, was not the only thing about Mass Effect that pulled me in. It was the fact that no matter what I did in the game, no matter the moment, I always felt like there was more going on than what I was seeing. And I needed more.
With Mass Effect 3, players will get more. A lot more. If you checked out the demo of the game a few weeks ago, then you already know the score. Earth has been attacked by the Reapers. The destruction is severe, and the loss is even greater. Now, as Commander Shepard, you must find ways to unite the entire universe against this common enemy. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, but then again, nothing ever is in Mass Effect. Players with previous save files will once more be rewarded, as the decisions they made in the previous games will transfer over and rewrite the way Mass Effect 3 unfolds. It's probably best at this point to mention that I won't be talking about any plot points in the game directly. Instead, I'll be as vague as possible to not spoil anything for anyone.
As expected, Shepard finds that his friends from the past are never too far from the center of the action. Beloved characters from the first two games make appearances throughout. Just like past locations visited spring up as you begin gathering resources to save Earth and the rest of the universe.
The Citadel is probably the one place I was most pleased to see, since several people have commented on how the Citadel of the second game felt restricted and not as open as the first one. In Mass Effect 3, the Citadel is an amalgam of the two. At times you will feel overwhelmed, just as you did in the first game, but you will soon be navigating it in a similar scope to the way you handled Omega in the second game.
The refinement here is a testament to how BioWare has listened to the fans of the series. Players are allowed to fine-tune their experience by choosing several different ways to play the game. If you always felt that controlling the dialogue was a bit cumbersome, you can remove this option altogether and have the game choose how things play out in conversations. If you are more action-oriented, then you can do more action-type gameplay instead of the RPG-style gameplay more in line with the first Mass Effect.
In addition to these changes, Mass Effect 3 brings multiplayer to the series for the first time. It's not traditional multiplayer; instead it offers a co-op mode that will actually help your single-player experience. While you can enjoy both separately, and you don't have to play either to enjoy the other individually, this is meant for players who are interested in truly saving the universe.
Doing this with up to three other friends, of course, helps this feature along as well. For the first time in the Mass Effect universe, you get the feeling that you get to actually be involved in all those other things that are happening around you.
Of course, having the soundtrack from the game also blaring in the multiplayer doesn't hurt at all. We've all known for a while now that Mass Effect 3 was going to feature some of the most talented musicians out there, and this fact pours through beautifully. The quiet moments of the game are perfectly accentuated with the soft melodies of despair and doom, while the orchestral charges of percussion adrenalize the player as you race onto the battlefield, never looking behind you. Based on the orchestral score alone, Mass Effect should be a feature-length film.