Mass Effect Review

Isabel Johnson, Copy Editor

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Mass Effect 3 (ME3) will hit all the right notes for avid gamers, science fiction fans and lovers of good stories.

Many games are somewhat lacking in plot and character development: Bethesda’s latest offering of Skyrim is an excellent game in many ways, but has a main plot of “Dragons! You can kill them!” This is not much of a problem for most developers, provided they are strong in other aspects such as balanced combat, wide open worlds or excellent online play.

But Mass Effect 3 has effectively ruined all other RPGs for me. The plot is better thought out than most movies and on a level with many great novels, with room for each player to develop their own version of Commander Shepard, the iconic hero of the series. Throughout the games you can shape Shepard into a near infallible beacon of justice and fairness, a ruthless soldier just out to get the job done as quickly as possible or any combination thereof.

All this on top of gripping, balanced combat built into a deep world where each aspect has history and a place of its own. Societal tensions are based on more than, “You’re not from around here, let’s be hostile!” Every major opponent has a back story that explains their motivations. This is the standard we expect from Mass Effect.

My favorite improvement was the combination of better combat that once again made my sniper rifles even more fun than the last game, and better graphics which allowed non-player characters (NPC’s) heads to explode when I got a head shot with my rifle. Characters whose heads I wasn’t shooting also looked smoother, cleaner and more realistic. The cut scenes were better quality than most movies, with breathtaking landscapes and gripping dialog.

ME3 brought all the loose ends of plot from the previous games back together, allowing Shepard to bring peace, resolution or bloodshed as the player chose. The combat was again improved, and a new multiplayer option included so gamers can team up against waves of their favorite enemies.

Bioware also included several nods to its fans, such as characters making jokes about Garrus Vakarian’s love of calibrations and the inclusion of an expensive Virtual Intelligence fishtank, so the fish in your cabin’s aquarium no longer die if you forget to feed them, both things that were the object of many fan jokes. Cameos from every squad member in previous games allowed for fond reminiscence and closure, and most of the ME3’s squad were returning characters as well. Shepard got to fall in love or reconcile with an old love, shoot the breeze with her/his besties and get teased for her/his propensity to get friends involved in death-defying adventures to save the galaxy.

I’m going to make this simple for you: if you have not played these games, you are missing out. Go buy them. Mass Effect 3 is an incredible experience, as is the whole series, and the risk of never finding a better game for the rest of your life is well worth it.

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