Not only are enemies smarter than ever before, but they?re also better equipped. Several new enemies are virtually immune to specific types of attack, so you can waste all of your assault rifle ammo and barely scratch them. This forces you to develop a variety of tactics for dealing with different enemies. Sometimes you?ll need to use a combination of biotic powers and a shotgun, other times you?ll need tech powers and biotics working together. This also means that you?ll likely be using your squad powers more frequently and order your comrades to attack with specific powers or weapons while you use a different type of attack.
This also means you need to give thought to selecting which squad mates you?ll take on each mission. If your entire squad consists of soldiers with lots of guns and a few tech powers you will be at a disadvantage if you encounter enemies who are mainly vulnerable to biotic powers.
One of the hallmarks of Mass Effect combat has always been the ability to change your combat options depending on the type of character you?ve chosen. For example, if you?re an engineer you can equip tech armor for added protection during combat or deploy turrets to shoot enemies from multiple directions. On the other hand, a biotic adept can send enemies flying across the room and slam them into a wall with a flick of the wrist.
This variety of combat options remains much the same in Mass Effect 3 but because of the size and scope of the war with the Reapers I found the combat became repetitive and downright boring at times toward the end of the game. Despite the fact that you can customize your guns with various mods and train your character with new powers, your combat options are largely limited by the class of character you select at the beginning of the game. I found myself wishing I could transform my vanguard character into a different class after I only finished about 60 percent of the game.
On a happier note, the game developers did an impressive job adding new levels of details to character models and textures so that the visual experience is better than either of the previous Mass Effect games. Granted, Mass Effect 3 probably isn?t a visually impressive as it could be since this game had to be developed with the aging Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles in mind, but gameplay was never interrupted by graphical issues.
One significant gameplay change in Mass Effect 3 is multiplayer or ?Galaxy at War? as it?s called in the game. The multiplayer mode allows you to assume the role of a nameless soldier fighting in frontline battles with other real-world players. You can choose a human player with stats that are similar to your main Shepard character or you can select an alien character with unique powers that aren?t available to your Shepard. The idea here is that the more multiplayer missions you win the stronger your fleet becomes so that you have a more successful victory at the end of the game.
The multiplayer mode is well developed but ultimately it feels like a minor addition that isn?t really integrated into the game. To be honest, you can win the game with virtually that same ending regardless of whether you play the multiplayer missions or not…which is probably the real test of whether multiplayer missions are important or just a lame add-on for the game.
Of course, no review of a Mass Effect game would be complete without talking about the story. From the beginning the Mass Effect story has been the story of Commander Shepard, the protagonist and your character in the game. Not only do you get to select Shepard?s class (soldier, engineer, adept, etc.) but you also decide whether Shepard is male or female, you get to decide what Shepard looks like, and you decide his or her origin story (ruthless war hero, poor kid from Earth who survived a horrible attack, or a maybe the spoiled son of a military family).