Here we stand at the end of a generation, we finally see out the war that has captivated our minds and held us prisoner for many hours, but wait there is most definitely a problem here why are we playing number three in the Mass Effect series when we haven’t played one or two in this very story focused franchise. Well this is because EA has only given us Wii U owners the final part in their space shooter so we kind of have a lot to catch up on.
Mass Effect is a very story focused franchise with each entry in the trilogy playing on the idea of choices and having the choices you made in the previous games have an impact on the following games. This has been played over as characters only appearing if you made a decision that involved keeping that character alive and these choices have played a major part in the basic story. That is part of the problem that exists in Mass Effect 3 special edition we haven’t had a chance to make these decisions as we haven’t played the previous games. So how do we rectify this issue we look to an interesting design choice that lays out at the start of the game, when we start we are shown a motion comic which tells us major points in the story from the previous two games and are then given the options to choose what we would have done in this situation, essentially we are playing with the lives of our characters and this all impacts who will appear in our game and their thoughts towards you because of the choices you made. I can’t help but feel that I would have rathered get the first two games then this as it is pretty boring but at least they gave us something.
Mass Effect is an extremely long and incredibly convoluted series with far too much going on to always understand, the basic premise of Mass Effect 3 is that the reapers that have been a constant threat I the previous games have finally made their way to earth and you as Commander Shepherd must set out on journey across the galaxy to save earth. To do this you are tasked with the big task of uniting many of the Universes races in order to take down this threat once and for all and break the cycle that the reapers follow. The story still goes even deeper and even harder to follow but it is certainly interesting all the way through.
For those that are new to Mass Effect there will be a lot to learn, the galaxy is so full of lore and races that it becomes difficult to follow at times. In these points I was glad for the many different choice options that are often given to me, these allowed me to learn the history of the game even when I had no idea what they were on about. This also led to me feeling like I actually mattered in the game, I was the main character and what I wanted to say counted so I could choose the option that best represented the way I thought. Though the idea of choices does leave a good portion of tough choices that had to be made and in some cases you actually feel guilty for the choice you made. Choices such as choosing to save the life of one species of creature can weigh heavily on the end game and cause problems later on and so decisions that were made really came down as a matter of your morals and how exactly you want things to play out. Letting one species die to save another is difficult but Mass Effect 3 really pushes the hard choices and it actually makes the game even more compelling. Though even though it’s a game I do still feel bad for some of my choices that had unexpected consequences.
The idea of choice also plays out quite heavily with main characters, how you react to certain things they say and how often you talk to your crew plays in on your reputation and can help you in how characters perceive you. Key conversations in relation to characters and special sequences all appear based on your decisions and some of these are not to be missed. Mass Effect 3 even pushes you to be able to form relationships with characters, because of your relationship you will receive scenes not to be missed and it is part of the core experience of the game.
Outside of the story and decision making is the brilliant fighting and array of weaponry, in different missions you are met with a good variety of enemies that span across a wide range of different clans and groups. The variety of enemies in both types and groups is incredible and the way Mass Effect 3 deals them out to you does not ever really get boring, in one mission you could be fighting the armies of the reapers so you get the reaper enemy types, in another you are fighting Cerburus and so the enemy types from this group appear and enemies get increasingly difficult as the game continues with new types added every few missions. It is impossible to get bored of enemies when there are so many different types with different styles to see.
Likewise we see so much that we have to remember and think about in relation to weapons and armor, between missions you can explore Shepherds ship the Normandy and during this time you can go and play with upgrading your weapons, selecting amour and many other things. As you go through the game you will be able to find new allotments of weaponry and armor that you will then be able to use. To get the best results you are always tasked with finding the best load out and armor assortment in order to help complete the mission. In many cases I feel many people will find a certain class of armor or weapon will suit them and their play style best. With so many weapons available from start to finish it is often difficult to find the weapon that suits you best but it comes as part of the experience with so much to think about.
Weapon assortments also carry over to your additional team members with each having their own strength and weakness. You are tasked with dealing with their needs in weapons also by looking at what they prefer to use and finding the best possible weapon and upgrades to balance out the team. In each mission you are required to take two team members to help cover you and fight, finding their balance and what abilities they have will often help to determine who you take with you. Every character has their own abilities that can complement Shepherd and you will have to figure out which characters work best with you.
The shooting itself is also well done, the over the shoulder style works well for the basic gameplay and is often very enjoyable for the style of game Mass Effect 3 is. Likewise the balance presented by Bioware allow for multiple different playstyles. Taking cover is an key part of the shooting and using the covers can often mean the difference between life and death, using cover also still works well for fighting back as you often have better aim when shooting from cover, on top of this you can use cover to quickly recover from damage taken. Of course even my more in your face approach to taking out enemies was also quite acceptable, using cover I was able to duck from cover to cover to get closer to my target and deal a quick satisfying end. The gameplay was easily fun and the mechanics always worked really well.
Without a doubt Mass Effect 3 was quite a fun and deep game to play, the clever crafting of the characters and the story really drive home what a great game it is. I still feel disappointed by the games start only retelling key events, and for myself never fully being able to get a complete grasp of the previous stories. From start to almost the end this game presents fun and enjoyment, without spoiling anything I will say I was annoyed by the end of the game by the presented choices but still its forgiven for having its shortcomings. The only thing I can really say is that I don’t know why this was called a special edition, nothing that different really happens.