This time, the challenge faced by Shepard is even greater, as the Reapers, a 50,000 year old race, have returned intent on wiping out all organic life from the universe. Only Shepard can save everyone from certain doom, and this time it’s personal. Shepard’s home world, Earth, is one of the first to be targeted by the deadly Reapers, and having to abandon his own race, he must seek help to defeat the Reapers. The storyline immediately sets the tone for the rest of the game, which does not fail to disappoint.
The gameplay itself is very similar to the old Mass Effect, relying on a tactical wheel to quickly pause the action, select which biotic power or weapon you require, and re-manoeuvre your squad to defeat the enemy. This system is easy enough for new players to be able to quickly pick up, and is still effective for the more experienced Mass Effect gamer. The action itself also feels realistic, using the cover system which makes combat feel intense, as you dive from cover to cover in order to gain an advantage over the enemy. The sound effects also add to the experience, particularly the biotic powers, which land with a satisfying thud as you use them to tear the enemy apart. Apart from the occasional frustration of trying to go into cover and instead rolling into it, Mass Effect provides satisfying combat that really adds to the overall experience.
The second key element of the gameplay is the dialogue. Mass Effect allows you to engage with the story through a wheel of dialogue choices. It is important to consider your choices carefully, as whatever you choose will have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. This really engages the gamer and the multitude of conversation and lore surrounding the story makes it very easy to get lost in the world of Commander Shepard.
The missions are also enthralling to play, and they offer a subtle blend of combat and dialogue. The missions also contribute to the overall war effort, which can be viewed in Shepard’s ship. The universe is monitored based on how much the reapers control and how many forces Shepard has managed to amass, the aim being to be as prepared as possible for war and the final mission. The scanning system of planets is also still included and is surprisingly addictive, making it interesting to search for items that will aid the war effort. The magnitude of side missions, along with a gripping set of story missions, make for an exciting and long campaign.
The graphics are also very impressive, particularly the facial features of all the characters, adding a distinct sense of realism to the characters in the game. The scenery is also incredibly detailed, and apart from one or two minor glitches, characters move and interact with the world seamlessly. The graphics then do not disappoint, all adding to the great experience the game creates.
A multiplayer game option is also include. It takes the form of co operative missions in which four of you battle against waves of ever stronger enemies with varying objectives. This is a nice inclusion to the game, and adds even more to its total “playable time”, however without a countdown to force the start of a mission you could be waiting for a while for one person just to ready up. Although in the early waves team work is not really required, it certainly is in the latter stages, and so it can be frustrating if one of your team members decides to run off on his own, jeopardising the mission and the precious XP. Therefore, this mode will be far more satisfying with your friends. Overall, however, the multiplayer adds another dimension which once the campaign has been exhausted, will provide hours of entertainment.
BioWare have successfully pulled of a compelling and thrilling game, which boasts an engaging campaign and exciting new multiplayer features. Mass Effect 3 is certainly a must buy, however be warned: it will demand a lot of hours from you. So if you want a degree, or even a social life, it might be wise to save it for the holidays.