Mass Effect 3 - The Game.........Not The Ending

I doubt very much that many will care or haven't played ME:3 by now, but for those who haven't it must be a bit tricky to get an opinion on the game because there's so much focus on the ending. Certainly I found that to be the case before I purchased it. So here's my review which, after this sentence, won't mention the ending more than once.

Right, now that's out the way what is the actual game like? Well, firstly fans of the previous two games, and in particular their RPG elements, will no doubt feel somewhat betrayed and possibly even insulted at the total lack of real RPG elements. It's quite deceiving when you read other internet views as fanboys and the usual lame reviewers site the fact that there's plenty of RPG elements still just because there are certain points where you can make key choices, and the fact that the stats/skills/equipment side of things is still RPG-like. But the downright truth of the matter is that there is only about 10% worth of player interaction with NPCs as there was in ME1, and even then it's so streamlined and predictable that you just switch off. Seriously, the first 4 hours (4 bloody hours!!) of the game hardly saw me have any NPC interaction at all, and I just coasted through this glorified movie. ME2 was bearable, it was dumbed down but not to the point where you felt isolated from the experience, whereas ME:3 isn't and you often do.

And there in lies one of ME:3's main issue - it feels like a movie, but a 30 hour one. As mentioned the 1st 4 hours were like watching a movie, but one where they drag out one incident out over it's entirety. How people can stay remotely interested is just unfathomable.

So surely the combat can help with that? Well, it's certainly slicker and can be very fun and frantic - I personally prefer combat more geared to radial wheel use as I find the pauses add more tension to the fights - but that's a personally preference and the combat certainly works well and can be very cool. However, again it's something that also feel on-the-rails and very basic. That, coupled with the fact that your squad mates can do most of the leg-work for you, again detaches you from the experience. Between those elements and the funneled movie part of the game you can honestly spend hours at a time where you don't really do anything. On one play I started washing the dishes because the game was just playing itself so much, and despite the obvious improvements to gameplay the combat suffers from that same feeling of "It's all done for you".

So essentially you're buying a 30 odd hour story to watch, so that story needs to be mind-blowingly awesome to keep you interested. Guess what? It isn't. There's a reason why films like Commando and GI Joe aren't 30 hours long - because anything relying on the spectacular alone can only maintain interest for so long. Yes there's the odd moment of emotional weight, and yes there are elements of brilliance there, but they are so, so, so thinly spread throughout the game - and it's so hard to care as you feel so detached from the whole experience anyway - that they just get buried amongst the rubbish. I knew things were going pear shaped when I controlled a dream sequence where Shepard tried to save a child - totally cliche, ill-thought out (seriously, the sights Shapard must have seen and he's meant to give a toss about saving one kid) and it totally emphasized the fact that I was nothing more than a 3rd party at best to this whole experience. I was like "hello game, remember me? The player?"

As mentioned earlier some will argue that there are many significant choices in the game, but the way the rest of the game rushes you to them, and keeps you so detached when it comes to making them, it feels more like a inconvenient surprise than a weighty issue you have to consider. The stickler too is that some of those choices are pants. I liked Cerberus - they stood for humanity and were prepared to go to any lengths to save it and make it prosper. When I first spoke with the Illusive man I was like "he knows the score, I agree with him and will back him", but instead the game takes this choice away from you totally and he's painted as a Bond-esq villain. You just get to the point where you think "meh, live, die......who cares? I'm an outsider so I'll leave it with the game or select randomly"

So, as you've probably guess by my repeated mentioning of it, the games biggest issues lie with the fact that the player is often a non entity, right down to how you obtain side-quests - by eavesdropping on conversations. You don't even talk to people now, you listen to them chat to someone else. Oh dear.

So the final verdict? Awful, truly awful. Not that it's a "bad" game per-say, or that it's flawed - it's very polished, slick, and extremely well produced - but it's just a empty, heartless game that treats the player as an afterthought. Oh, and don't forget the ending.

3/10

That's a fair opinion, haven't really heard anyone put it like this.

For the most part, I was content with the game. I enjoyed it up until the infamous ending. I concur that control of the character was wrested too much from the hands of the players. Conversations took the liberty of choosing your next response for you based on previous interactions in the interest of streamlining the process. However, I had no issues with not having the option to side with Cerberus. My Shepard saw them as a means to an end in ME2 and that end was met with the destruction of the Collector base.

I, too, don't consider ME3 to be much of a RPG but then again, I wasn't as surprised or put off as you. ME2 is where I was most shocked. The difference in the lack of RPG elements is much more pronounced between the first two games.

Also, I did find it a tad bit insulting that EA/Bioware pandered so much to the player new to the ME series. Introduce a bland new character (Vega) who is supposed to share the new ME player's perspective on the galaxy and Shepard's struggle? How about ultimately resetting your LI interactions to 0? I found it odd that after everything my Shepard had been through with Liara in ME1, ME2 and the Shadow Broker DLC, ME3 was written in a way that portrayed Liara as thinking they were only friends until 2/3 of the way through. This is clearly the whitewash solution that was "meant" to be accessible to both new and veteran players alike. And then there's Kaidan who is suddenly bisexual, clearly to make sure that there are equal potential lesbian and gay partners (2 each to be exact) for Shepard.

I would rather they have rewarded those of us who stuck through from the beginning though of course, not at the complete expense of the new player.

Oh and the dreams weren't that bad... if you buy in to the indoctrination theory.

It's awful truly awful yet not bad? What the hell are you smoking

It may help that if you're going to review a game you don't needlessly tack on a review score just for the sake of having a review score. No other area of your post points to an eventual score being issued, so instead its thrown in at the end as a big "F-you game"

Something else you may want to consider is not coming into the review with such a disdain for the game. It comes off as really unprofessional and more of just anti-fanboyish, clearly you have your own viewpoints on the game, whether valid or not, and those are worth stating but the whole post just kinda reeks of, "I really want to tear this game apart".

Other things to look into, "Rail Shooters" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Rail_shooters Its a short blip but pretty much gets it right. While ME3 may not have the most robust open ended combat, it is by no means on rails. Addressing the evolution of the game as well as the evolution of combat juxtaposed to gameplay mechanics and story mechanics. Would give it a bit of depth think of it like this, Does it make sense that the rpg elements would take a backseat to action/combat if this is the climax and resolution of a trilogy? Does the pacing sense of time/scale change the focus of mechanics? And if so do those choices make sense or do they detract from the overall goal of the game/story.

Look into 3D modeling, programing, and a little bit about art whether art History, or some art Theory. These will give you a bit more perspective and also help you understand the term "soul" or what it means to be "heartless". While "Soulless" is a pretty objective term it doesn't really apply to mass effect (perhaps in the first game but just slightly) Mass Effect applies more of its leverage to story and world building then it does to gameplay mechanics, which does hurt the gameplay mechanics but prevents it from being just about the numbers or just cash grab/binary. It fulfills the 3 aspects of a successful art piece, as well as presents an allegorical story for racism and political/isolation. Theres plenty of pollish on the animation, sound design, art direction, UI works, marketing was successful, these things need a place in a healthy review.

For a final note the review is completely condescending, ME3 has its flaws and issues that need addressed. There is plenty of content that could use discussion but instead you let your feelings latch on to the piece and rode off.

I thought ME3 was a fun ride, but they did completely neuter my shepherd of who he was. Not that Mass Effect has ever been a series about big decisions, as I don't think it ever carried them game to game in a meaningful way. But I liked how you could talk a lot in ME1/ME2, and ME3 kind of took that away from my character. Also, sudden PTSD Shepered was sheer ridiculousness.

As for the ending, that's just what Bioware does. ME2's ending was silly, ME3's was a full blown contradiction to the entire series, and Dragon Age 2 was almost equally offensive. I'm not sure what their problem is.

And ninja cyborgs. Good heavens. ME3 sounds dumber the more I think back on it, actually.

I enjoyed ME3, the ending was bad and there are dozens of issues and contradictions in the story, but overall it was a fun game. Not including the last 15 minutes of the game, there was no other point where I felt that the game was "bad" or flawed enough that I didn't want to keep playing.

That said, hopefully Bioware can manage to save the Mass Effect franchise from the downward spiral it seems to currently be stuck in.

I thought the ending was the best part of ME3.

The game play was certainly weak. That was inevitable with EA at the helm dumbing everything down for the console tards. But the ending showed some pretty serious balls as far as story writing goes (especially knowing how it would be received by the very same unsophisticated gamers that EA was targeting by dumbing the franchise down), and I find the whining about it just plain funny.

It's OK for us to choose who lives or dies, as long as it's not us.

Boo-friggen-hoo. If you didn't want to die you should have picked a safer occupation.

You are bit late to the party.
Anyway for me the story was mostly good and they really nailed the combat aspect of the game this time around, I kept playing multiplayer for 1 year after the release and it was all very enjoyable and most importantly fun.

It's a pretty solid game. The boss fights don't feel like boss fights. One particular NPC (who I won't name), has Plot Armour. Meaning "he" can't die no matter how many pulp inducing Singularities you crush "him", you can even have the best sniper rifle in the game that can one shot virtually anything in the game, even through terrain and "he" will still survive.

This is game not an RPG, not even close. Even ME1 wasn't, it was a 3rd person shooter/RPG hybrid. It took elements of both and failed at it. ME2 stripped out even more of the "RPG", and by ME3 they are all but gone. This is a cover based shooter, like Gears of War. Which means the generally even paced battles will be broken up by you cowering behind a pot plant wanting for your health and shield to regenerate.

ME3's (ME in general) is a simple story, but it wasn't told well. The idea was solid, but they couldn't keep it straight how they wanted it to play out. This led to some exceptionally glaring plot holes and lack of knowledge concerning basic human physiology. If you get lost or suddenly realize some parts don't make sense, this will be why. Science also takes a nasty beating, for example; "Push" hits with 2,000 Newtons of force. Sounds impressive, impressive enough to send most foes flying. Your average World Heavyweight boxer hits with over 3,000.

You are right about this game being like a movie. Treat it as such, shut down the part of your brain that controls your suspension of disbelief and think of ME3 as a Michael Bay movie and you should be just fine playing it.

SpunkeyMonkey:
I doubt very much that many will care or haven't played ME:3 by now, but for those who haven't it must be a bit tricky to get an opinion on the game because there's so much focus on the ending. Certainly I found that to be the case before I purchased it. So here's my review which, after this sentence, won't mention the ending more than once.

Aaaand, snip the rest

Reading your review, I started to wonder if you were playing the wrong mode. ME3 has a setting in the options where you can have the game make all your decisions for you. It turns the conversations into cutscenes and all you play is the combat. That's what it sounds like you were doing.

Seriously, I've heard a LOT of complaints about this game, but this is a new one. The RPG elements are just as strong as they were in ME2, which were admittedly cut down from ME1. There are certainly points where your interaction is reduced. Shepard's dialogue choices are down to 2 instead of 3 for some reason, which is indeed bullshit. Some times it feels like your squadmates give you short shrift, and the conversations are not as long, but this is a very long game, and over the course of it you get plenty of interaction with most of them. Outside of that, what NPCs are you talking about? The random folks on the Citadel and various planets? I guess there are fewer of them, but this is a different set of circumstances from the last 2 games. Shepard doesn't often have time to stop and hobnob with the locals when a reaper is wrecking downtown just ahead of him.

The combat is not something you can just let your teammates do unless you were playing on casual, in which case, duh, it's called "casual." It's nothing even resembling "on-rails," I think you need to check the link a couple posts above me for a definition of that term. It's actually more varied and involved than the first 2 games, with more dynamic encounters and tougher enemies requiring some actual strategy. Where in the other games you could often hunker down in one choke point and pick everybody off, ME3 makes you move around the combat arena a lot better.

I guess the early hours of the game do feel less open than previous in the series, but once you get Garrus and leave Menae the galaxy map is your playground, just like always. The choices have always been rather inconsequential in Mass Effect, but in context at least they feel big. There are plenty to make here, and I have no idea what you mean when you say the game rushed you to them. Also, the series has never been about creating your own unique character, whatever the marketing told you. Shepard only has so much customization you can add to him/her, and otherwise the game doesn't let you make just whatever choices you want. None of them do, so don't act like ME3 is different.

Now, in the interest of fairness:
Yes, Shepard is often more defined by the game in this one than the other 2. At times you lose control over what he/she gets to say, and sometimes those lines sound dissonant with your own version of Shepard. So that sucks.

The sidequests are total balls. Other than the main storyline quests and the N7 missions Hackett sends you on, you get nothing to do but scan planets from orbit and run from reapers like Benny Hill. I really missed the way in ME2 you could just fly to whatever random system and there might be a mission waiting there for you, with full combat and even a decision or two.

Also, with certain characters at least, your interaction feels shallower than in previous games. I never romanced Liara, so maybe it's different if you do, but if you don't then there is very little to talk to her about. All the ME2 characters are boned in this department as well; even if you romanced them previously it doesn't lead to more romance, maybe a couple different lines and a kiss. But still, even here Garrus is amazing, Tali is great (when you finally find her, over halfway through the game), Joker and EDI are always fun to talk to. Even James and Javik, if you got the DLC, get several great moments. The character interaction may be lessened somewhat from ME2, but it's at least as robust as ME1, with the added benefit of the last 2 games to link back to.

So in conclusion, your conclusion is confusing. I very rarely felt that the game was ignoring me the player, and I don't at all agree that it was heartless and empty. As a big goddamn fan of the first 2 games, I wasn't disappointed. I felt connected to the characters and the decisions, I felt connected to the world that the reapers were destroying, and I felt integral in the combat system. I can understand a lot of the problems people have with the game, but yours just don't make sense.

Oh yeah, and the ending wasn't that bad.

Goofguy:
Snip

Unfortunately the way they played Cerberus REALLY killed the game for me. That moral ambiguity and greyness which they set in previous games really made Cerberus interesting, and simplifying them to A-typical bad-guys was a real facepalm moment for me.

Regards the ME2 dumbing down with hindsight I agree. Somehow though I found ME2 had more soul though, and more illusion of RPG elements (an illusion which you probably saw through, and which I obviously didn't straight away).

And the dreams......I just didn't buy them, even if the indoctrination theory is valid, simply because of all Shepard has been through and the fact that he/she is painted as THE Macdaddy, A number 1, top dog human out there. The whole series builds Shepard up to be an uber-experienced War Hero/Sole Survivo/Ruthless mo-fo who goes through all the events of ME1 & 2. In real life I've only seen a handful of people die in front of me and never served in a war, yet I'm not soft enough to go pining after 1 kid when the whole planet is being anhilated - that's war - and after the thousands Shepard saw die & killed himself I simply can't buy into that one bit.

Risingblade:
It's awful truly awful yet not bad? What the hell are you smoking

You've missed my point - it's an awful experience, but not technically a "bad game" (i.e. game mechanics, graphics etc. are all OK/good)

Gabe Yaden:
Snip.

Yeah, good point about the score. It is what I'd rate it, but the review probably didn't need it. Thanks.

Unfortunately I do tend to write with emotion, and that's kinda me, so whilst it may come across as unprofessional I also feel as I'd be watering down my genuine feelings on the game if I changed that. However, I appreciate the comment and will bare that in mind with any future reviews. I'm not a reviewer at all, but I wanted to offer an alternative view for others who couldn't get an opinion on the game itself due to the mire of opinions about the ending drowning them out.

I also want to give a slightly more "casual" and emotional perspective on things too. IMO Too often reviews, gamers and sites look into logical pros and cons, whereas for me the overall experience is what really counts. Kinda like taking home a girl with a fat arse and a bad reputation - others might pick fault, but sometimes they can be the best experiences of your life lol. In ME3's case it's the stunner at the bar who's got a good rep, got the looks-potential-and hype, but the second you interact with them it's nothing but superficial, unsatisfactory drudgery, lol.

bluefields1:
snip

Lol, yep. Agree with all that!

Eggsnham:
I enjoyed ME3, the ending was bad and there are dozens of issues and contradictions in the story, but overall it was a fun game. Not including the last 15 minutes of the game, there was no other point where I felt that the game was "bad" or flawed enough that I didn't want to keep playing.

That said, hopefully Bioware can manage to save the Mass Effect franchise from the downward spiral it seems to currently be stuck in.

It just felt like a non-entity to me. Honestly, I couldn't find the fun in it either in or out of combat. It's only my experience with the game, but I've honestly never felt so detached from one.

008Zulu:
Snip.

That's probably where the crux of the matter lies and a great marker for those who should buy it - "If you can enjoy Micheal Bay films you can enjoy ME3", as I despise Bay's movies lol.

TheVampwizimp:
Snip

My game was imported from ME2, so from what I understand that automatically initiates RPG mode?

I guess we just have different POV's, because conversations would go on for ages without any interaction, and then I'd get two garbage options which rarely felt as if they were much different. Occasionally I'd get an option where I'd be like "whooaa, tough decision to make" , but there was HOURS between such choices.

Regards the RPG aspect and NPCs IMO it's just a BS game setup overall, as you say "Shepard doesn't often have time to stop and hobnob with the locals when a reaper is wrecking downtown just ahead of him." - yet he has time to obtain side-quests by walking round and ear-wigging conversations? It just doesn't fit.

With the combat I never play games on casual, but I can't remember if it was normal or hard mode I played, however it just felt so easy to coast through.

From the positives you put across maybe I just lack the patience to appreciate the good points, but I honestly don't think any game should require you to "play" for 4 hours before you actually start to do anything, never mind anything enjoyable.

Each to their own though, but my 100% honest, non-fanboy opinion of the game as whole is that it was just hours and hours worth of emptiness and nothingness. But that is only my opinion :)

 

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