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Mass Effect 3 back to reviews
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It's 99.5% Good
Everything that can be said about the ending has been said somewhere. Just about everything else, though, is really good, having been fine-tuned, polished, or simply improved from previous titles. If the ending hadn't been so bad, Mass Effect 3 could easily have been one of the best games of the year.

The combat has received the most changes, almost all of them for the better. The series has finally gotten the combat almost perfect. Rolling works well most of the time, and allows more advanced gameplay aside from "hide behind chest-high walls", as you can quickly dodge enemies or their attacks. The weight and cooldown system is a little broken, though; as a Soldier, I could carry just an assault rifle and shotgun and practically spam Concussive Shots everywhere.

The story is also good (aside from the obvious). It's considerably more focused than either of the previous two, and actually does some pretty good examination of what makes Shepard tick an admirable feat when Shepard's personality is entirely up to the player. The choices are a little more ambiguous; you cannot go full Paragon or Renegade and expect to get the most War Assets for the ending. However, the dividing line between the two is still too clear-cut at times; there's more gray than previous titles, but not quite enough.

Dialogue, however, has been reduced; it feels like there are a lot fewer opportunities for you to pick something to say. Conversations sometimes feel less like you're telling Shepard what to say and more like cutscenes. Granted, this makes conversations considerably less one-sided, but more involvement would have been nice. Additionally, crew members have less to say in between missions, and sometimes you don't have any choices at all. However, some of these linear exchanges are well-done (drunk Tali). On a positive note, crew members will sometimes move around the ship and talk to other crew members. This makes the Normandy feel more alive, and it was a pleasant surprise to walk in on Garrus and Joker exchanging jokes.

Ultimately, even at its greatest, the game never quite reaches the heights set by ME2. I couldn't say exactly what made it worse, but it any case, the two are very close in how good they are, making it mostly irrelevant. This would have been a fitting end for the trilogy, were it not for the last ten minutes.
I agree that ME 2 is overall the better game, despite ME 3's combat, weapon customization, and RPG features being superior and more balanced than its predecessors. My theory is that ME 2 had two advantages over ME 3: the jump in gameplay quality was much bigger between ME 1 & ME 2 than ME 2 & ME 3, and ME 2's final sequence more than lived up to the advertising hype. Similarly, ME 3 foreshadowed the "taking back Earth" slogan as much as ME 2's "suicide mission", but the execution was not quite as good. Truth be told, ME 3's final battle on Earth was surprisingly brief, and despite the intriguing "War Assets" element coming into play there, it seemed to only reflect your acquired forces into a superficial number instead of their marked strengths and weaknesses falling into place.

Although I have no idea who created this chart - hxxp://i.imgur.com/efdI4.jpg - this would've been a far better execution on what Bioware attempted to achieve. It even keeps most of what the endings introduced, while giving alternative conclusions that don't feel quite as bleak or problematic to established canon.

Also, the huge number of side quests felt much more like a chore in ME 3, despite far fewer side missions this time around, the new characters are either one-dimensional archtypes (James Vega and Kai Leng) and/or boring (Cortez), the planet exploration felt kind of pointless, despite the "dodging Reapers" gimmick fitting ME 3's narrative, and maybe Bioware went a bit far with the "Gears of War" and "Call of Duty" thematic inspiration. For the former, the point-of-view shots sprinkled all over the plot; for the latter, the "slow walk" sequence during ME 3's last 20 minutes SO ripped off Soap and Price's struggle to survive in Modern Warfare 2's last five minutes. These issues are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but serve to make ME 3 feel less refined and inspired than ME 2.

Again, ME 3's a great game, but even if you take away the endings, it's tough to follow through such an exceptional middle chapter.
comment #13578 t3hdow 31st Mar 12 (edited by: t3hdow)
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