I’ve put off this post for a bit longer than the other two so that I could play a few other games with multiplayer modes to be able to put it into some sort of perspective. The multiplayer part of this post won’t be terribly long, because no one really plays it any more as the game has long passed its youth, in a way of speaking.
The third title presents an interesting change in the focus of these posts. Where, historically, the first two games’ mechanical and technical aspects have been stumbling blocks that negatively affect the title, this third game doesn’t have those issues and goes above and beyond the previous titles to a point where its shortcomings do not relate to the gameplay or the technical failings at all.
The story on the other hand… we’ll need to rant about that.
The trend of knocking the wind out of your sails at the outset continues.
And it still works well.
This exposition is a classic staple of the Metroid series of side-scrolling adventure-shooting-collecting games that has been exploited in the context that Samus simply stands no chance against the main antagonist without having to re-discover herself in the process. That’s a very condensed explanation of it, of course, but you get the idea. It’s an effective way to motivate the player to push forward in the hopes that you’ll eventually be able to return to the state you were in before and claim victory in the game’s presented scenario.
Mass Effect 3 takes this principle and turns it on its head. Instead of revoking abilities or mechanics from Shepard, the game presents Earth and its role as the ever silent support system exploited int he previous titles away from the player. Shepard reacts as you might expect when the Reapers finally come for Shepard’s home world, but Earth’s invasion also allows for the rest of the game to be a bit more believable. The previous games always foreshadowed that the stakes would only be getting higher—and the greatest form of that prophecy comes to fruition in this last installment of the Mass Effect trilogy.
But you’d hope that the rest of the game would live up to that amount of hype.
Okay, let’s be clear: IT FUCKING DOESN’T.
The multiplayer (at this point) is plagued by morons and kids who shouldn’t be playing the game.
I jumped onto the game pretty late in its life, which is to say that it still has one, so that probably explains a lot. However bad your allies are, though, the Bronze level multiplayer missions can be completed by yourself. Completing these missions reward Shepard with a more ready defense force. That matters in the story considerably, especially with how the Alliance generally performs when the final battle begins.
The opportunity to play as alien species is the best part about the multiplayer, though. The alien races are not as nimble as the humans, so dodging incoming attacks is a bit difficult if you’re not in cover. The dodgy dodging is offset by offering different abilities depending on which race is chosen.
Don’t make the mistake that I did and use your headset in the multiplayer mode. Yelling at teammates to revive you will leave you disappointed. Just save your very limited rocket launcher ammo for bigger enemies and you’ll be fine.
Back to the part of this post where I explain how bad the rest of the game is.
Everything is put on hold while you save the world. And really, after playing the game for a few hours, you’ve already unlocked the full measure of the fleet readiness meter that you can find in the war room. Unless you play to intentionally receive a bad ending, you’ll always have a nice full fleet ready to act as fodder for the final battle.
Once you start the final sequence, you don’t really get the feeling that he game really should be coming to a conclusion. At least I didn’t.
The satisfaction that you get after you complete the loyalty quests int he previous title is hard to top considering the vents and the story of Mass Effect 3. Your party’s loyalty is assumed and is greatly affected by the decision you make in previous games and in the events running up to the counter-assault on Earth. The loyalty missions weren’t required to complete the game, but if you felt attached to that character, you’d have your Shepard complete that mission and in the process you could potentially learn a bit of information about the character’s personal life. In Mass Effect 3, it’s really about reuniting with the human crew member you didn’t send to their death in the first game and wrapping up a romance before you make the ultimate sacrifice to save humanity.
I dunno how to explain what I’m trying to say, but it comes down to this: I really didn’t like how the Mass Effect 3 story resolved itself.
Shepard’s necessary death may have been to prevent another Halo-style hero-dude-never-dies scenario, but I’m sure there were better ways to go about it than have the child that Shepard saw getting BLOWN OUT OF THE SKY as the Normandy departed Earth to come back as the representation of some thing that had never interacted with Shepard before.
Not even that, but the Illusive Man somehow finding out that his legs work and being able to run with the big boys right up until the end scenario on the Citadel after largely being a laid-back one-percenter is a disgrace to how largely complex that character had become. I can understand having the character expertly acted by Martin Sheen not be able to turn towards the player’s wishes, but Bioware could’ve made his death a bit more dramatic.
Bottom line: Mass Effect 3’s story was so dumb, I felt that I had lost a little bit of myself after completing it. Twice. Unless the Synthesis ending is canonified and all beings refer to Shepard as some sort of savior-god character, Mass Effect 3’s story is bad. And if you like it, you should feel bad, too.
I say all of that to say this: Mass Effect is different for everyone.
My experiences with the game are my own just as your playthrough granted you your own experiences and perspective about the game. If you haven’t played it, go get the Mass Effect Trilogy set. It’s a steal at any price, and it started selling at $60 USD. Play all the games back-to-back-to-back. You need this experience. Games don’t always have reference points or hundreds of different points of variance across its storytelling possibilities. This series does.
But don’t play a male Shepard for chrissakes. Jennifer Hale’s Shepard is one of the consistent wins about this entire series. Yeah, that might turn the tables on what romance options are available for you as a player to take when you play your story, but just pick Liara, if you pick someone at all. Just do it.
And kill Garrus off in Mass Effect 2. Worst bad cop ever.