Friday, March 9, 2012

A Man on a Mission: or, Mass Erect: Mass Effect 3 Review: Part 1: Requiem: The Beginning: In Space

Ride the Great Space Coaster as Chris takes you through Part 1 of his two-part Mass Effect 3 review! It's fairly spoiler-free, but be warned, you're on your own!

Mass Effect 3 is a study in opposites. That is to say, what you will get out of the experience relies very strongly on what expectations (and game saves) you are bringing in with you. Chances are, you're either jumping out of your space boots to continue your fight across the galaxy, or you're dreading the gameplay changes you've heard whispers of. BioWare has done much to improve and refine upon the success of Mass Effect 2, but where they have deviated from that formula is where the true nature of ME3 starts to take form. If you have ever considered yourself a fan of the series, you owe it to yourself to see this epic tale to its conclusion. But that’s not to say it’s perfect.

Created by the ever-expanding BioWare studios, Mass Effect 3 follows the cross-galaxy journey of Commander Shepard, and his attempt to stop the coming Reaper invasion. The Reapers, as we learned in Mass Effect 1 are giant bug-like robots that swing by every 50,000 years to wipe out all life in the galaxy. Basically, they’re Galactus from the Fantastic Four, but without the silly hats. How exactly does one stop the Reapers? That’s what Commander Shepard is about to find out.

The Reapers are massive.
If you’ve played and imported your saved character from previous Mass Effect titles, Mass Effect 3 lets you drop right back into the role of Commander Shepard. Back on Earth, the Alliance has grounded Shepard after the events of Mass Effect 2, and his affiliation with the shadowy Cerberus organization during that time. It doesn’t take long before the Reapers hit, some tutorial movement and shooting scenarios take place, and the Commander is back aboard the Normandy, ready to kick some space ass.

Speaking of kicking ass, the gameplay of Mass Effect 3 feels very similar to that of ME2. That is to say, that I didn’t even notice a difference upon starting my playthrough. It all felt very natural, which is always a good thing. Tiny enhancements have been made, such as a quicker way to leap over low barriers, and reloading seems to take a little bit less time than it had before. There is that small matter of FemShep’s running animation, though. Luckily, I play as a male Shepard, so I don’t have to live with that embarrassment.

Over the course of my first few hours in Mass Effect 3, I found myself not nearly as engaged in the story as I imagined I would be. The plot, and richness of the fiction is what I love about Mass Effect, but for the life of me I just couldn’t get excited about my first few hours with Shepard. After leaving Earth, you’re afforded some time to walk around the Normandy and re-familiarize yourself with the layout of your ship. Still, it’s great to talk to Joker again, and re-exploring the ship really does feel like coming home again.


Your first major mission is a trip to Mars to hunt for the Prothean archives. Apparently, there’s some info in there that might be useful for taking down the Reapers, which are still fucking Earth up the whole time Shepard is cruising around the galaxy. This odd pacing can be a major headache if you think about it, but I’m just going to suspend my disbelief for the sake of having an enjoyable experience.

Once into the Mars archives, Shepard meets up with Liara, whom I totally nailed in the original Mass Effect. She is now the Shadow Broker, as you might have seen in the cleverly titled “Lair of the Shadow Broker” DLC pack for Mass Effect 2. Shepard and Liara team up to find the info they need, and of course, run into trouble along the way. This is where something that I noticed bothered me first happened. In a number of missions, it seems they gameplay structure has been cut from the very same cloth. And when I say very same, I mean EXACTLY the same. Upon retrieving whatever McGuffin, you’re after, the game frequently relies on Shepard and his team “holding this position” or “clearing the landing site.” What this means to the player is 5-10 minutes of arena combat against a few waves of enemies.

I hit that.
You know what else that sounds like? The multiplayer! That’s right, because it is. A good amount of the mutiplayer maps are taken from these sequences, and the gameplay is the single-player component is very similar to what you’d be doing in the multiplayer. While you’re waiting for an elevator to arrive, or a ship to land, progressively harder enemies will come your way, and you’ll need to circle-strafe your way around the arena in order to shoot your way through to the next cutscene.

That’s not to say I didn’t get sucked in to the story though. Because I certainly did. Seeing Shepard’s choices made in Mass Effect 1 and 2 reflected in 3 felt like magic at times, and made me even more thankful for devoting this much time to the series. Seeing old friends return was a wonderful sight, and in part 2 of my review, we’ll take a deeper look at the story of Mass Effect 3 and how this trilogy fits together as whole.

What adventures await? Who will Shepard meet? Will I kick any guys out of windows?

Check back next week!

Christopher Linendoll is reporting for duty. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.


  1. I like how they upgraded Liara's boobs. That's what games really should be improving on in sequels.

    1. That's where the Mass Erect part of the title comes in. Also, EDI is quite well endowed too. Also, "comes" heh heh heh.

    2. Let's not forget Ashley's makeover. And if you haven't been yet, Jack's gotten a bit of a sexifying as well

  2. I always thought Jack was pretty gross. I kind of wish that I could go back in time and save Ashley instead of Kaiden. Now I'm stuck with that jackass.

    1. hah! yeah I don't think I ever used Kaidan. Looking through the art book I was a little surprised to see him. Kind of forgot that a choice would mean that he'd be in this game.

    2. Ashley is the worst. The last thing I need is a Space Racist clingy ho' cramping up my mission to hump all the blue ladies in the universe.

    3. Haha, that's true. Having Kaiden does keep me focused on my mission to sex up Liara.

  3. Ending the subplots of your squadmates from Mass Effect 2 were handled very well.

    But man the ending.

    1. Yeah, I agree. Like I said, if you're not bringing a 100% intact ME2 team into this game, you dun goofed.