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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

“Mass Effect 3” ends series on a satisfying note

(Courtesy of Electronic Arts)

“Mass Effect 3” is a fitting conclusion to one of the sci-fi stories of my lifetime.

I’m a huge fan of BioWare’s “Mass Effect” series to the point where my laptop’s wallpaper is a painting of several characters from the second game.

So how does “Mass Effect 3,” available now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, stack up to the previous games? I stayed up until 4 AM to finish the original “Mass Effect” thanks to the gripping story and characters.

Before I begin, I should note that I haven’t finished the main story yet. I’ve spent 13 hours in the single player campaign; a review from a German PC gaming magazine named “Gamestar” said that the main story is 15 to 20 hours while a full run through is about 40 hours.

Anyway, “Mass Effect 3” concludes the story of Commander Shepard, whose appearance and gender are user defined. Shepard begins the game freshly released from prison as Earth gets invaded by the Reapers, an unstoppable alien force. After the introduction sequence, Shepard is put back in charge of the spaceship from the previous games, the Normandy, with instructions to form an alliance among the many alien races of the galaxy in order to save galactic civilization.


While this story is strong and suitably climactic for the final installment of a trilogy, it’s also remarkably self-contained. A quote on the back of the box from Yahoo Games states, “If you’re not a fan, now’s the time to start.” While the game’s many callbacks to characters and events from the previous titles will go over the heads of new players, I can easily see them enjoying the story.  

However, one of the best features is lost on new players: you can import a completed “Mass Effect 2” save to continue the story, importing all the choices you made in the previous titles into the story. It added a great sense of satisfaction to note that a choice I made at the end of “Mass Effect” is still impacting my character two games later.

The combat is fun. The game play resembles a cover based shooter such as Gears of War, although your character can also use powers (known as “biotics,” they range from setting opponents on fire to throwing them around) based on a class chosen at the start of the game. The key to success involves selecting your teammates (who have their own biotics) to complement your selection of biotics.

On the flip side, the game play outside of combat is interesting and enjoyable as well, which is one of the “Mass Effect” series’ many strengths. When speaking with people, the player can direct the tone of Shepard’s responses. This element increases the interactivity in the story and makes me feel as though my choices are impacting the plot.

In fact, some of these choices are quite heavy: within the first ten hours, I was forced to choose between helping out a strong alien race and deceiving them to win the allegiance of a smart alien race. These choices keep the game interesting and add to the game’s replay value.

“Mass Effect 3” isn’t perfect, though. There are many bugs and visual glitches (at least on the PS3) that took me out of the game, ranging from a character’s hand going through her face in one scene to the game freezing randomly. In addition, the PS3 version also features an uneven frame rate during cinema sequences; I’ve heard that the 360 and PC versions do not suffer from this.

Also, “Mass Effect 3” features a more straightforward campaign than previous titles. Within the first 10 hours of the game, I’ve only had one major plot mission available to me at any time; this is in contrast to the first two “Mass Effect” titles in which the player could choose between four major plot missions within the first four hours of the game. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I can see it hurting replay value by reducing the amount of choices you can play differently on a later play through.

In addition to a solid single player campaign, BioWare also included a cooperative multiplayer mode, in which players select a character from different classes and work together to take down enemy forces. Unlike most multiplayer modes, I felt an incentive to play as completing matches makes it easier to obtain the best ending in the single player. It isn’t phenomenal but it’s still fun.

Ultimately, “Mass Effect 3” is worth buying. The strategic combat combined with the most engrossing story sequences in a video game makes this title great cerebral fun.

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About the Contributor
John Kesler
John Kesler, Opinion editor
Opinion editor, spring 2012. Staff member, fall 2011.

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“Mass Effect 3” ends series on a satisfying note