Mass Effect 3 impresses with story, gameplay, customization

Blake Becker

Image used under the fair use doctrine.

It is the year 2183 and humans have just traversed the corners of the Milky Way using the discovery of ancient and powerful technology they found on Mars. This technology allowed humans to travel faster than light and use giant space stations called Mass Relays, which are essentially teleportation devices for spaceships to go anywhere in the galaxy.
Along the way, humans colonized many inhabitable places and sentient races they encountered. In the two previous games, Commander Shepard of the human alliance discovered a horrible truth about a race of highly intelligent massive machines called Reapers.
Reapers emerge from outside of the galaxy every 50,000 years to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy for reasons unknown. These prawn shaped space ships go from planet to planet harvesting resources and life for reasons they say people cannot comprehend. This menace may sound easy to stop with all of the technology people have and with help from all of the other advanced races people associate with, but Reapers have dealt with situations like the ones humans create dozens of times. They can range from two kilometers in length and have shields nukes can’t pierce. Any one of them can destroy a fleet with ease, invoke mind control and transform harvested species into their soldiers. There are thousands of them; they are far more intelligent than humans and have greater technology.
In previous games Shepard tries to warn the galactic community about the coming threat, but without proof his claims are dismissed and he convinces few to believe him. In Mass Effect 3 the Reapers decimate most of the unprepared armies while the player is left saying “I told you so.” This role playing game revolves around the player playing as Shepard and rallying all of the species in the galaxy to fight the apocalyptic menace.
The game is influenced by more than 1,000 variables that carry over from the decisions players make in the first two games and can greatly alter chances of defeating the reapers. Mass Effect 3 is the ultimate RPG as players decide how to save the galaxy in any number of ways; one can either play politics to gain support or be balls out and force people to join. There’s always an urge to hurry as Earth is one of the first planets attacked, and players must desperately hurry to recruit help to take Earth back.
The game is constructed so that I actually felt a connection. As every second ticked 100 humans died on Earth as Reapers ripped apart the planet’s surface. I also felt something for my teammates who accompanied me on missions; they each have their own realistic personality.  Their survival and attitudes were greatly affected by my actions. When one of them died, I felt somewhat pissed off if I liked the character.
Players make very important decisions when getting help too. For instance a player can cure a race’s disease  to help increase its population to gain their support and trust. This race was the Korgans; however, the Salarians might offer their own support if the player sabotages the Korgans’ cure. The player may then choose between deceiving one while helping the other or attempting to gain the support of both races at the risk of being caught.
The gameplay is a solid and customizable third person shooter. Players can dash through, guns blazing, or strategize. Players who want every big gun for every situation will have to give up using abilities. But those who want psychic abilities should only carry handguns. The level up system allows players to customize strengths, stats, powers and guns – which can be made lighter, more powerful and more accurate by adjusting mods. Survival in combat relies on a cover system under which players direct teammates and use powers while under fire. The enemies come from a variety of soldiers under control of Reapers, zombielike husks, 12-foot tall monsters called Brutes and colossal robots called Geth.
There is also a multiplayer with the same customization as in the story, except players can change races and fighting classes at any point. A team of online players then face waves of enemies and cooperate to survive. Unlike in Call of Duty, the lone wolf routine doesn’t fly here. Teamwork is essential to defeating the enemy.
This game is one of the best; it kept me on my toes in combat and entertained me with intricate scenery, clear graphics and a great narrative. Whether it’s recruiting help, taking out reapers or saving refugees from invaded planets, there’s something for everyone.
There are some flaws, however. At times the large number of people playing at once was confusing. The cover system disobey me a few sometimes while I switched weapons or used powers, revealing me and resulting in my death in the game. Squad mates in battle can sometimes have poor accuracy, be unresponsive and fight poorly, but they generally operate fine. At times the cut scenes and narrative play too often with little action interspersed, which can be boring for those eager for action. Fans of the first two games will also be disappointed to see some of their favorite characters excluded.
Despite these shortcomings, the game is outstanding and has something for everyone: blowing stuff up, fighting through hordes of enemies, finding all of the outcomes from decisions or playing through a great story. The game is incredibly long; I haven’t been able to beat it yet, and it will keep anyone entertained for hours. I’m placing Mass Effect 3 near the top of my list with a nine out of 10.
By Blake Becker