Killer Kittens from Mars

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Galaxy at War (Mass Effect 3 review)

                This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Commander Shepard has been telling the galaxy for years that the Reapers (a sentient Machine race hell bent on destroying all sapient life) are on their way. Now Shepard’s Cassandra truth has shown itself, and the galaxy must band together to survive. As Commander Shepard you must pull all the races together and save all species from annihilation. Does Mass Effect 3 live up to its predecessors while providing a satisfying end to the trilogy? Read more to find out.

The first thing you may notice is that combat is much improved in Mass Effect 3. It ends up feeling much more like a run and gun shooter than the previous two games. It gives you the opportunity to do combat rolls, and has a better cover system. It even integrates with the Kinect to allow you to verbally tell your squad mates what to do. Not that they need telling, often they work well on their own. The enemy AI is smarter as well and the varied enemies all work to their individual skill sets. For example enemies with shields will move to prevent you from flanking them.

Although the combat is much better, that’s not the reason most people play Mass Effect. Most people play for the characters and the story. The characters are just as interesting as they were in Mass Effect 1 and 2. Your relationships with them can develop further, depending on how you treated them in the previous games. The only thing to watch out for is a couple bugged dialogues and a few characters that seem to forget (I’m looking at you Liara) that your character committed to them in the past two games. The dialogue with them is awesome, as dialogue always is in BioWare games. It makes the characters feel more realistic and much more human. The only problem is that there is a great deal of dialogue which the player has no choice over. Shepard just says some things no matter what. There are also a couple conversations where you only get to make one choice at the beginning of dialogue, after that you just watch Shepard talk to the character.

                The most important part of any Mass Effect game has been, and should always be the story. As I said before the Reapers are finally attacking. Shepard is forced to leave Earth while it is under siege to gather reinforcements and War Assets, without which it will be impossible to win. The Commander will have to settle thousand year old grudges and cut through deep seeded speciesism to get the disparate races of the Galaxy to work together.

                The games side quests involve getting at least a certain level of War Assets. War Assets are anything that can be used to help beat the Reapers. They can be a Turian Flotilla or a missing scientist.  These assets are gathered through turning Shepard into a space delivery service. You are told through ambient dialogue of a system where something can be found. You go there, do a scanning mini-game, launch a probe, return to the person you overheard and they’ll give you access to a War Asset.  The other type of side quest is called a N7 mission. During N7 missions you get more plot and more fighting. The reward for these is also War Assets.

                The main missions focus on the individual species. You have to earn the respect and trust of any species that you want help from. This is where choices from the first two games really shine.  Your experience getting some species help is different depending on the decisions you made in the past. There is even an entire species that may not exist if you killed them off in Mass Effect 1. The main missions hammer home all the choices that you have made and really give the game a feeling of finality.

The biggest problem I have with the game is the conclusion. It keeps up the heat and keeps your adrenalin pumping all through the climax, but the ending leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. This is especially true if you play the game more for the characters and story than for the gameplay. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but the ending is very vague and provides more questions than it answers. It also puts some beloved characters to horrific fates, invalidates all your hard work, pulls a few overused tropes, and does a great deal of other horrible things. I would suggest playing up to the ending cut scene and then turning of your platform of choice.

                All in all this is an excellent game, up until the last half hour. I would suggest playing it, but I wouldn’t suggest finishing it. 80/100