I started Mass Effect 3 last week and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been seriously hooked. It’s nearly everything that I had hoped it would be. Even the few things that I have to complain about are mostly minor. To sum up my experience so far (and I believe that I’m very close to the end, so this might be a tad premature, but I’ve played long enough to feel that I can give a pretty accurate description of most aspects of the game.)
- Story: No complaints here at all. It has been at turns touching, horrifying, beautiful and very humorous. There have been several points where I have considered going back to see if I could alter the outcome of a decision I’ve made, but have thus far decided to stick to my chosen path for this playthrough. The “War Assets” aspect of the game (where scanning planets yields more resources toward the final battle) was a pretty creative way to give that planet-scanning mini-game more of a point, which I’m a fan of. I think my only gripe here is that this game suffers from a bad case of “can’t-skip-shit-itis.” It would definitely make me feel more encouraged to do a second playthrough if I didn’t have to sit through every major cutscene all over again.
Visuals: This game is very pretty while still managing to remain very solid, even on my aging GeForce 450GT 1GB, (which has the driver issues that are apparently endemic amongst all recent generation nVidia chipsets) which is a big win in my opinion. I am a bit sad that much of the game still feels pretty linear in the sense that there is generally only a single path in any given scenario, but the environmental atmosphere distracts pretty nicely from that. I especially enjoyed the few levels that felt like they were taken straight from Aliens, all dark machinery and poor lighting. I did have characters on occasion get that weird issue where their head was on incorrectly (mostly just heads facing backward on bodies), but otherwise, well done.
- Controls/Gameplay: For the most part, the controls were pretty strongly put together, although I suffered from the same issues that I always have when playing games like this. Namely, that when games deviate from the standard WASD control scheme (E for use, F for melee, G for grenade, Space to jump, etc) I spend a fair amount of time being confused as to why I jumped for cover when I meant to hop over something. Especially if I’ve just come out of another game, it can definitely be frustrating for a bit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with a control scheme that made more sense with Mass Effects “Space Bar does everything” system, so I just had to deal. I do wish there was an easier way to directly select weapons without having to lose a power slot to them.
- Music: Sounds pretty similar to the first two in the series, so you probably already have a good idea of whether this works for you or not. Personally, I think it’s well-done, although I did have a few situations where event or battle music would just suddenly cut off with no warning and that was a bit jarring.
- Multiplayer: Here is where my biggest complaint comes in. I don’t want to do multiplayer. I don’t like mixing Single and Multiplayer at all and this game essentially requires it. If you don’t want to do the multiplayer, you can choose not to but there’s virtually no way that you can possibly get the most satisfactory conclusion. To get the best ending, you would have had to make all the right decisions (which decisions are “right” is not only not always obvious, but at times counter-intuitive) not only in ME3 but in ME2 as well.
Here’s my main problem with multiplayer being pretty necessary in a single player game: People suck shit. Seriously. Jump into a public server in nearly any multiplayer game under the sun and you have maybe fifteen minutes before several of your fellow players are accusing each of being “hackers” and “fags”. I have to rely on these morons to progress in my single player game? Fuck that.
You might say “But Drayke, why don’t you get some friends together and do it that way?”. That tactic is indeed how I typically brave the cesspool of multiplayer gaming. I’ve been playing at least one game of Left4Dead2 nearly every night for the last two years or so doing that very thing. The thing is a:) Most of my friends are playing this on their consoles and so they’re right out. b) I am usually playing after getting a bunch of work done. So around 2am on a weeknight. Most people are not up at that time to play with. c) Even in the aforementioned L4D2 games, which I do play during prime time hours, we create a lobby to get friends together to play and we end up sitting in that lobby for ten, fifteen, sometimes up to seventy minutes(!) waiting to get the required eight players. Because we’re all adults and we have shit to do. It’s the biggest reason I avoid co-op games. The odds of my finding a friend who has the same game, is also on a PC and available when I am is seemingly very slim.
Thus, making the multiplayer nearly a required part of your single player game is a pretty brilliant way of just hacking me (and I know I’m not the only one) off at the developers and causing me to get frustrated.
- Origin: Fuck Origin. Fuck it right in the ass. I will not be happy until Origin is dead and I can buy all of my games through Steam once again. I could write a whole other post about my myriad complaints about Origin, so for now I’ll simply say “Origin is *TERRIBLE* for gamers, and needs to die a quick death. The sooner, the better.”
And for those who might be wondering, Shepard totally hooked up with Specialist Traynor, the hottie with the sexy accent and serious nerdy streak.
All images were screen captures from my personal game of Mass Effect 3, but all content contained therein is ©2012 EA International(Studio and Publishing) Ltd.