- Exceptional graphics
- Excellent combat AI
- Great story (until the end)
- Combat gets repetitive after a while
- A horrible ending for the Mass Effect series
I?m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite and least favorite game on the Citadel.
One of the most popular, well-written, and visually intense game series in the last decade came to an end this month with the release of Mass Effect 3. In the final installment of this sci-fi action RPG your task is to unite the militaries of several alien races to stop a massive fleet of machines from destroying all life in the galaxy ? starting with an attack on Earth.
Is Mass Effect worth the wait? Let?s just say that Commander Shepard goes out with a bang ? and a whimper.
Outside the RPG-like storyline, the heart of Mass Effect 3 boils down to the combat. The war against the Reapers is in full swing and the combat tactics at your disposal are an impressive evolution of the combat system in Mass Effect 2. For those of you who aren?t familiar with the previous Mass Effect games, combat in the Mass Effect universe is a combination of advanced ranged weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, etc.), tech powers (such as hacking an enemy turret or overloading enemy shields) and ?biotic? powers. Biotic powers are based on the futuristic technology that gives Mass Effect its name: mass effect fields.
Biotics are characters who possess the ability to create mass effect fields ? essentially the manipulation of gravity and dark energy like a miniature black hole ? using a fictional element called Element Zero which is embedded in body tissues. Biotic individuals can knock over enemies from a distance, lift them into the air, create gravitational vortices to tear enemies apart, or project defensive barriers.
In addition to the ranged weapons, tech powers and biotic powers from the first two games, Mass Effect 3 adds a new melee weapon: the omni-blade. The first games had a device called the omni-tool which was a wrist-mounted computer with a holographic interface that helped you use tech powers or interface with computers in the game. There isn?t a lot of detail in the game about how the omni-blade works since the omni-tool in the first two games was just a hologram, but if you?re a fan of close combat you can sneak up on the bad guys and stab them in the back with what amounts to a red-hot laser knife.
You can compare this to the gameplay in the Mass Effect Infiltrator tie-in for iOS.
Something that the Mass Effect developers did to significantly improve the gameplay is a complete overhaul of the combat AI to deliver smarter enemies. What this means in practical terms is that enemies don?t just walk up to you in a single file line and stand there while you shoot them. Not only that, but enemies are smarter about utilizing cover. If you start shooting at an enemy and he hides behind a wall for protection, he might not come out from behind the wall until you move to a position where he can shoot back. This makes for much more demanding combat since you can?t always just stand there and wait for the bad guy to stick his head out.