Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Box Art(www.masseffect.com)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.   Every once in a while, when all the planets are in alignment and all the stars are in the perfect position, a game is created that stands above the rest; a game that blends excellent storyline with great gameplay. For me, the original Mass Effect was that game. It wasn’t perfect, but Bioware created something truly special with it. Mass Effect 2 carried on the tradition by blowing away my expectations set by the first. And now they’ve gifted us with a conclusion to this epic trilogy. Commander Shepard’s galactic tale comes to a close with Mass Effect 3. 

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Box ArtMass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Logo(www.masseffect.com) Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  Every once in a while, when all the planets are in alignment and all the stars are in the perfect position, a game is created that stands above the rest; a game that blends excellent storyline with great gameplay. For me, the original Mass Effect was that game. It wasn’t perfect, but Bioware created something truly special with it. Mass Effect 2 carried on the tradition by blowing away my expectations set by the first. And now they’ve gifted us with a conclusion to this epic trilogy. Commander Shepard’s galactic tale comes to a close with Mass Effect 3. 

 

Presentation:
I’m not one to fawn over a good storyline, but I’ll make an exception when the story is as good as Mass Effect’s. If you haven’t played one of the previous games, you might be a little lost at first, but the plot is fairly easy to wrap your head around. A race of ship sized machines known as Reapers have come to rid the galaxy of all organic life and it’s up to you, Commander Shepard, to rally everyone together and fight back.

 
**WARNING** The following video may contain content inappropriate for children**  


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But if you’ve played the series before, you’ll be in for a nice treat. The choices you make in both previous games will impact how the Mass Effect 3 plays out. The impact of your decisions is felt in the entirety of the story, so much so that it’s sometimes hard to imagine how it would have played out if things had happened differently. Unfortunately, this means newcomers get their choices from the previous games decided for them, resulting in a less personal gameplay experience. But for those that have been with the series for some time, it’s extremely gratifying to see how the choices you’ve made shape the world. Because of that, I highly recommend that you play the previous two games all the way through. And though I have a few problems with how they chose to end the story, the plot is still entertaining and captivating.

Graphics:
While graphics have gone through several improvements throughout the series, the overall style of Mass Effect hasn’t changed much since the first. The many diverse races look just as unique as when we first encountered them while Shepard fought Saren and the Geth many year ago, but now the details are more refined. A color palette of brightly illuminated blues and oranges make a stark contrast against modern shooters of our time. And the character’s facial expressions actually show sometimes now, though they still haven’t gotten them down quite right.

Sounds:
Mass Effect 3’s score wasn’t written by the same composer from the first two games, Jack Wall. However, Bioware recruited the phenomenal talents of Golden Globe nominated composer, Clint Mansell, credited for the musical score in movies such as Black Swan, Smokin’ Aces, and Doom. And the incredible voice acting cast returns for the final installment, including Seth Green (Joker), Tricia Helfer (EDI), and Martin Sheen (The Illusive Man).

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot

Gameplay:

Mass Effect 3 is a third person shooter with RPG elements. Bioware has taken elements from both of Mass Effect’s previous titles and combined them in a happy balance of gameplay goodness. There are still 5 different types of guns, but now any class can wield any weapon. You are instead limited by your class carry weight, and going over that weight will negatively impact the cooldown on your class’s special abilities. Weapon and Armor customization have returned, but significantly simplified and diminished from what the original had. Each weapon within its type behaves uniquely and an array of weapon mods allows a new level of customization. You can wear several different armor sets or you can purchase individual pieces of your armor to improve health, aim, shields etc. The six different classes are structured differently enough that each one affords a unique gameplay experience from the next.

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot

Longevity:
Considering the length of its predecessors, it comes as no surprise that Mass Effect 3 has an absurd amount of gameplay time. The story alone takes well over 20 hours of gameplay and that’s not even counting the amount of possible sidequests and exploring you can do. But then there’s the multiplayer. You can team up with friends online in a cooperative horde mode. Like most games of this type, you fight waves of computer controlled enemies together. But unlike other modes like it, Mass Effect has objectives that you’ll occasionally have to accomplish, to spice up the endless waves of bad guys. But what’s really interesting is that if you do well enough in each multiplayer match, you’ll affect the readiness of the galaxy in your single player mode. Raise your galactic readiness and it will make the final fight against the Reapers much easier.

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) Screenshot

Conclusion:
I should probably make some witty remark that since Bioware wrote a disappointing ending to their story, I should make an equally halfhearted conclusion to my review. But I stand by Bioware’s decision to end the series the way they did. The way Commander Shepard ends his (or her) adventure isn’t as important as the journey it took to get there; and it’s been quite the adventure indeed. Mass Effect is one of the great Scifi stories out there, and the fact that we got to experience in the personal and intimate fashion of gameplay made the story all the more special. 

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