Whether you like it, hate it or are completely indifferent to it, there’s no denying the fact that franchise milking has overrun the gaming industry today. Fewer developers take risks with new IPs, concentrating instead on the games that rake in the bucks. In practice, it’s sound business strategy, but after a while, customers begin seeing through all the smoke and mirrors and come to the startling conclusion that this is the same game they played last year or the year before. 

The reason I broke out into this impromptu monologue is because Mass Effect 3 firmly belongs in that category. Does that mean it’s a bad game? Not at all. It just means the game is commercialized, simplified and way too predictable, but at the same time still manages to deliver a solid inter-galactic action adventure.

Who brings a Mech to a gun fight?

Who brings a Mech to a gun fight?

The reason I’m calling this game an action adventure as opposed to an action RPG is because the Role Playing Game elements are virtually non-existent in Mass Effect 3. Choosing different classes means you’ll have access to different abilities, sure, but every class can proficiently wield any weapon in this game making the whole system a tad redundant. The whole leveling up aspect is also very straightforward and barebones, which can be a good thing if you’re more of an action junkie. 

The Mass Effect series has always been more of a linear experience as opposed to a Skyrim and this game is no different. Now I know every game world cannot be as vast and alive as Bethesda’s playground but ME3’s game world just felt very cardboard like and fake. The Citadel, one of the game’s central hubs where players can undertake side quests or shop around for better weapons/armour felt terribly dull as it was populated with static NPCs or characters whose animations and dialogue looped every time you pass them by. This made me feel like I was playing a game as opposed to inhabiting a living, breathing world where my choices would make a difference.

This is gonna hurt

This is gonna hurt

Things do fare a bit better as far as gunplay is concerned, since this series has now evolved into a third person shooter, so anyone who’s played Gears of War will feel right at home here. You take cover, shoot, occasionally pop out of cover, shoot some more and move on. It’s been done before, but gunplay feels solid and polished, so that’s always a plus point. Things become far more intense and interesting when you add your biotic powers into the mix or combine your powers with your squad’s abilities.

Squad AI is relatively self-sufficient and they can take care of themselves during combat. However, if you aren’t too confident of their abilities, you can actually chose the powers they use in battle or even send them to a corner of the map to flank enemies. Enemies in Mass Effect 3 come in different shapes and sizes, but their behavioral patterns are more or less the same. Every hostile race you encounter has foot soldiers who basically are your fodder for most of the game. Accompanying them are enemies with better firepower, like soldiers equipped with rocket launchers or mini bosses who can absorb a serious amount of damage. 

While I was satisfied with the game’s combat, gameplay, itself felt a bit repetitive a few missions in. Nearly every mission boiled down to the same thing where enemies would start spawning as soon as I saw objects I could take cover behind. It’s like the game was giving me hints a mile in advance saying “Check it out dude, here’s the cover, so now here are the enemies”.  And not helping matters was the fact that every second objective boiled down to the exact same thing – kill a certain amount of enemies, reach a point where you assign a task to one squad member, protect him/her during that time with the other squad member, fend off hordes of enemies, end level. 

Had this been a five to seven hour game, I wouldn’t have been too bothered with this structure. However, when you have a 20+ hour game and most of your missions end up being that predictable, you have a bit of a problem. This lazy level design translates to the game’s multiplayer component – its Horde mode as well. In fact most of, if not all multiplayer levels are recycled variants of your side quests, right down to the places where enemies spawn to the location of ammo boxes in that very level. Sure it’s fun using your biotic capacities in tandem with your squad mates (who now happen to be real people) to bring down scores of enemies, but for some reason I just could not move past the repetitive level design.

No one said saving the planet would be easy

No one said saving the planet would be easy

BioWare should have instead taken a page from Gears of War 3’s Horde mode that offered players tactical options, like the ability to purchase fortifications, such as turrets, shields, spikes etc. Not only can you not purchase anything in between rounds, you’re barely given a few seconds to compose yourself before the next wave begins. I also found it a bit weird that Horde mode was quite tough even on the easiest difficulty. Enemies you blast apart with one blow of your shotgun in the campaign take nearly half an assault rifle clip to put down. Your health and the health of your squad on the other hand feels like its nerfed down a lot, since a few bullets can take you down. It’s like BioWare’s trying real hard to artificially create a challenge, since they could not do it creatively. 

You’ve noticed I haven’t touched upon the game’s plot, yet, but that’s because I honestly found it a bit disappointing. The whole act of gathering support to save Earth from complete annihilation was fine, but its execution was just so predictable and clichéd, I literally cringed every time someone valiantly sacrificed their lives, while a gentle piano or an orchestral score started playing in the background. If that’s not bad enough, every character, Shepard, included starts mouthing off cheesy lines about human courage, strong will and so on from time to time making it all feel very contrived.

Horde Mode

Horde Mode

At this point, you probably think I hated the game, but that’s not true. I was disappointed by the lack of any real innovation and got a bit bored with the game’s repetitive, predictable nature, but once you look past that (and you will), Mass Effect 3 is a rather enjoyable game with lofty production values that will no doubt appeal to today’s action gamer. It’s like a video game equivalent of Michael Bay’s Transformer franchise. 

Test Rig:
Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 – 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W

Publish date: March 16, 2012 12:47 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:50 pm

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