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xx Mass Effect 3: The Extended Review w/spoilers
« Thread started on: Jun 30th, 2012, 7:52pm »

Mass Effect 3 is the third installment BioWare's popular sci-fi action/RPG series on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC (and coming soon to the Nintendo Wii-U system) and is the conclusion to the story of Commander Shepard. And Mass Effect 3 might be one of the controversial games in recent history. Now I had planned to write this review after I finished my first playthrough but that changed because of the game's original ending now that the Mass Effect 3: The Extended Cut DLC has been released and I have finished a playthrough, from start to finish, with this DLC am I able to review the game. I will also include in this review my thoughts on Mass Effect 3: From the Ashes DLC. So lets get started.

A Galaxy at War
Mass Effect 3 picks up roughly 6 months after the events of the previous game and/or ME2: The Arrival and has Commander Shepard cooling her (since I perfer the female Shepard over the male Shepard that is how I will refer to Shepard) heels in the brig of the Alliance HQ in Vancouver for blowing up the Alpha Relay and killing over 300,000 batarians (in ME2: The Arrival DLC) and/or working with Cerberus (if you haven't played the DLC) meanwhile Admiral Hackett and Admiral Anderson have received word that Reapers on their way to Earth and Hackett has mobilized the fleet. Shepard is watching a little boy play in a garden on the rooftop of nearby building, when new character James Vega enters and escorts Shepard to see Defense Committee while walking to the Committee's chambers Shepard and Vega meet up with Admiral Anderson who talks to Shepard and explains why to new gamers why Shepard has been grounded and relived of command. Before they meet with the Committee they meet either Ashly Williams or Kaiden Alenko (the survivor from Mass Effect 1 and since I generally save Ash she will be the one I will reference) then Shepard and Anderson talk to the Committee just as the Reapers begin their assault and as the Committee sees a Reaper land and it destroys the Committee's chambers killing the Defense Committee and Shepard and Anderson barely escape. After that it's a run of the rooftops of Vancouver in the Mass Effect Universe and as Anderson patches in Ash and Vega and they are too meet them at the Spaceport and escape in Normandy. After one building is blasted by a Reaper Shepard sees the little boy and she tries to help him escape but he vanishes down a vent. Anderson and Shepard make it to port and find an injured marine and medic near a down gunship they fight several Cannibals (batarians turned into husks) when they are rescued by the Normandy Shepard jumps into the ship, but Anderson decides to stay behind and lead the resistance on Earth he throws her dog tags and reinstates her and orders her to get the Citadel Council to help retake Earth. Shepard reluctantly agrees to this mission, as they take off Shepard watches the little boy board an escape craft only to be shot down by a Reaper.

Once in space Vega confronts Shepard and asks to stay on Earth. Shepard refuses and then gets orders from Admiral Hackett to head to Prothean Archives on Mars to find Dr. Liara T'Soni, who might have found the means to stop the Reapers. Shepard, Vega, and Ash head to Mars and find that the Archives and find not only Liara but Cerberus as well. Liara has found ancient plans for a super weapon called the Crucible.

Shepard orders Vega back to the shuttle and Shepard, Liara, and Ash try to get the plans they battle Cerberus forces and learn that a new specialist Dr. Eva Corre' is actually a Cerberus robot has helped them take control of the base. Once getting to the location of the plans they are confronted by the Illusive Man, the leader of Cerberus. Shepard tries to get him to work with her, but he believes that destroying the Reapers is not the way but controlling them is the way. Why Shepard and Liara argue with the Illusive Man, Eva downloads the plans and destroys the computer and then she tries to make a run for it but Shepard chases her. She almost gets away in a shuttle but Vega crashes their shuttle into hers and this causes it to catch fire. As Ash helps Liara Eva breaks the door off and is revealed to be a robot. Ash grabs Liara's pistol and tries to shoot her but Eva grabs Ash's head (which was protected by her helmet) and bangs her against the shuttle, Shepard gets her pistol and Shepard shoots her. Shepard picks up Ash and Vega grabs Eva and just as the Reapers appear they get on board the Normandy and escape the solar system and head to the Citadel where Ash can get the proper medical care and Shepard and Liara meet with the Council, who are more concerned with saving their own worlds rather than unite against a common foe.

In Ambassador Udina's office the turian councilor makes a deal with Shepard, help the turians get their leader off their homeworld and get their support, and he also reinstates Shepard's Spectre status. As Shepard checks in on Ash she meets Dr. Chakwas and gets her to rejoin the crew. Ash is out cold and Shepard talks to her and then leaves.

Back on the Normandy as Shepard is plagued by a nightmare that ends with the little boy she saw die be consumed in fire. As she tries to take Liara about the dream they are interrupted by Communications Specialist Samantha Traynor who gives Shepard the tour of retro-fitted Normandy. After a brief chat with Hackett, and the rest of the crew Shepard begins her mission.

An Epic
Mass Effect 3 is an epic, make no mistake, the game's prologue is a trilogy and the game builds on the foundations laid in the previous 2 games and their assorted DLC as well the novels and comic books. The story has it's best moments on Tunchaka and Rannoch (the krogan and quarian/geth homeworlds respectfully) and builds towards emotional rewarding climaxes on both missions with consequences to decesions that were made some going back all the way to Mass Effect 1. While the main quests are epic and some of the side quests are mostly to meet up with the crew from ME2 who, with the exceptions of Garrus and Tali, just appear on sidequests and/or appear briefly to talk about what they've been up to.

Everybody Loves Shepard
One of my favorite attractions to the Mass Effect trilogy is the various love interests (or LIs for short) and how they change. With all of them from the first two games back and 3 new ones added this might make Shepard's love life very complicated, but it doesn't. One of the most asked features gay and lesbian human characters are introduced Traynor is a lesbian and Shuttle pilot Steve Cortez is gay. While Liara is bisexual and so is war reporter Diana Allers also is Kaiden (who was straight in ME1). I like how the sexuality of Cortez and Traynor are portrayed in the military as no big deal. The romance between Liara and female Shepard is still the best written.

Controversies and Problems
To say this game is BioWare's most controversial game would be an understatement. The game has been blasted by gamers for it's poor handling of the Mass Effect 2 characters, to the LGBT LIs, to the day one DLC debacle, the singleplayer/multiplayer integration and of course it's orginal lackluster endings. Just to name a few. While some of these controversies I believe are just opinions (the handling of the ME 2 and the LGBT characters), while some are real issues for gaming.

The Day 1 DLC which unlocks the character of Javik the last Prothean was huge PR blunder for BioWare. The Collector's Edition of the game was suppose to be the only way to get the character. Apparently some gamer found a way to hack the disc and unlock the content even though BioWare said the content wasn't on the disc. My thoughts on this: since I bought the collector's edition for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 you might think I would be pissed off at this, well no, I'm not because I NEVER once thought that the DLC was going to sold only to people who bought the CE and since I also got other content, I feel I have no right to complain.

The SP/MP integration however I feel is just plain stupid, and should not have been done. As you progress through the SP campaign who get war assets that increase your Effective Military Strength (or EMS) to help you in the final battle these assets include your past decisions from the first two games and the people and stuff you find in ME3 the only real payoff is in the Red ending that shows an extra 30 second or so cut scene showing a still body (which is supposed to be Commander Shepard but we don't see the head or face) laying in a pile rubble suddenly taking a breath. and depending on if you save or killed the council in ME 1 on whether you see or don't see the asari dreadnought the Destiny Ascension in the fleet. If you play the MP and get your characters to level 20 you can promote them and get about 200 added to your EMS and you get an email from Hackett about them that's pretty much it.

The MP is a fun 4 player co-op that adds some extra value but not much, since it's an 11 wave horde mode with waves 3, 6, and 10 being a randomized gimmick and wave 11 being get to landing zone. 2 free DLC packs add in new maps, weapons, and characters for each of the 6 classes and the maps are the single player N7 missions, the DLC maps are versions from various main quest locations. As you win each mission you get xp and credits to buy new character classes, equipment, weapons, ammo, and other gear to help you and your team win, unfortunately you also get a LOT of the same stuff over and over again. You can also buy with MS Points and funds the more expensive sets. If you play on Bronze and silver settings you don't need the headset but if you play on gold setting you had better have headset because you will need it.
« Last Edit: Jun 30th, 2012, 8:07pm by Cyberstrike » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Mass Effect 3: The Extended Review w/spoilers
« Reply #1 on: Jun 30th, 2012, 9:07pm »

Mass Effect 3 review part II.

Controversies and Problems

The endings have been the most controversial aspect of the game, namely because before the The Extended Cut finally came out they made no sense and asked more questions than answers and with the exception of who walks out the ship with Joker they were all the same cut scenes with different color lights. The backlash while I think was deserved the determination of fans to be heard and get change was unprecedented. While I like the DLC, I still wished the ending was an epic space battle or a personal battle between Shepard and Harbinger.

IGN host Jessica Chobot who plays the character of Diana Allers has been subjected to backlash by fans who don't think she has the acting experience and/or this was anything other than a bribe to get IGN to give the game a good review. The fact that her character has a low EMS value (15-20 max) and that Emily Wong, a popular character who was a reporter in the previous games was killed off on twitter by BioWare to make room for her doesn't help.

The game also features a lot of auto-dialogue where the player doesn't pick Shepard's reply and most of the time it's only 2 versions for either a paragon reply or a renegade reply.

There are a lot of pointless fetch quests Shepard picks up by eavesdropping on people.

An All-Star Sci-fi Voice Cast

If this was a movie or TV series the cast alone would be worth the price. Think about it Jennifer Hale, Mark Meer, Ali Hillis, Seth Green, Keith David, Lance Hendeskin, Martin Sheen, Micheal Hogan, Tricia Helfer, Carrie Anne-Moss, and more this is a sci-fi fan dream come true. They all do exceptional work.

Everything else

While definitely the best graphically speaking I don't think the game's graphics are going to be winning awards. They are great for this series but when compared to other recent games they are starting to show their age a bit.

The combat is the best in the series. Easy to understand and a decent challenge for gamers looking a a great third person shooter.

There is a lot of dialogue in this game and a lot of it is listening to other characters talk. There are whole stories being told some funny, some happy and sad. Some add depth to established characters like Liara and her father's set of dialogue (which is also funny as hell) to an asari solider with PTSD talking to another asari that is very sad. There is the story of a human female solider trying to get her asari daughter sent to her wife's family on the asari homeworld. These stories don't have much of an impact on the overall main plot but show the cost of the war.

From The Ashes adds in the character the Prothean Javik, who is a bit of jerk, although his dialogue is funny. The sad truth is while he adds more insight into history of the asari, quarians, and krogan except on quest (the asari homeworld Thessia) he adds very little to game.

Nice to have but not essential.

The Extended Cut

New single player DLC that adds a new dialogue, cut scenes, and epilogues to better explain the screwy endings surprising work better than I hoped. The red ending which destroys the Reapers, geth and EDI still maintains the coda mentioned above adds new scenes of the Reapers being destroyed all over the galaxy, with Hackett stating what happens next.

The green synthesis ending shows a galaxy where sythics and organic races are one and the same as told by EDI.

The blue control ending shows Shepard becoming a Reaper and uses their power to rebuild the galaxy and is voiced by Shepard with a creepy sounding electronic echo.

A new reject ending where Shepard rejects the Catalyst and the Reapers win sort of, with a brief cut scene of time capsule created by Liara earlier in the game and all new dialogue for the Stargazer who this time is a woman and not an old man.

At almost 2 gigs this adds a lot of content and makes the endings make sense and plugs a lot of the glaring plot holes up.

Final thoughts

For all of it's faults Mass Effect 3 is still a great game and maybe Shepard's story didn't end the way I wanted it too it's still too much fun to pass up. I give it 4 out of 5.
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