Mass Effect 3: First Impressions

Mass-Effect-3-FemShep-31

Mass Effect 3’s ending is bad, and Bioware should feel bad.

That’s the sentiment on the internet these past few weeks since the game’s release, but it’s silly to condemn what has otherwise been a widely acclaimed game for a poor turn at the end.

I’ve been playing the Mass Effect series since its release, and that definitely hasn’t stopped me from giving it a go – albeit a few weeks after everyone else. Still, I’ve been playing through the opening stages of the game and I’d like to share my thoughts – without having gotten to the game’s ending, I feel I can speak about it without being preoccupied with the ending or even spoiling the game.

The Reapers are coming.

Of course, the most immediately grabbing thing about Mass Effect 3 is the setting and its end-game position in the storyline. Much like the third entries of the Halo and Lord of the Rings trilogies, the final chapter of Mass Effect has the enemy at your very gates – you’ve got to win the war against impossible odds, collecting allies and readying the galaxy to fight the Reaper incursion that was detailed at the climax of Mass Effect 2.

In fact, this ‘Galactic Readiness’ quotient is provided for you as a viewable figure in the game, with it going up or down depending on your actions. You can also increase your Galactic Readiness by playing multiplayer matches. Fear not though – you’ll not have to slog though it for very long if you don’t want to, as in the three multiplayer matches I played I lasted only a few minutes and still received a 2% rise in Galactic Readiness across the board for each one.

One of the greatest stories ever told.

But it’s not multiplayer that offers the biggest draw for most players; instead it’s the story and character development that we’ve grown to trust Bioware to provide. The Mass Effect 3 storylines seem as strong as ever in the opening stages, with the urgency of the situation that humanity faces being made immediately clear.

The theme of loss and sacrifice is evident from the off; presumably something that’ll continue throughout the game. You meet up with a figure from your past (from Mass Effect 1, in fact) and lose them within a few missions; something I didn’t expect given their excellent character model (a fair sight nicer than in ME1) and upgradeable powers.

Looks pretty on supercomputers, still runs on your grandma’s laptop (almost).

Technically, the game is impressive. The same engine from Mass Effect 2 has been well upgraded to serve so admirably in Mass Effect 3, with the game looking prettier than ever. The interface has been overhauled, but the in-game sections have also been buffed, with new capabilities for your character and more solid chest-high-wall mechanics all around.

The improved, more fast flowing gameplay is very evident even from the first couple of missions, with some impressive set pieces that have you hurtling along, action move style, with bullets and space-ships chasing behind. It’s something that seems to have been taken from the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC in Mass Effect 2, which included a memorable taxi chase scene. Now that the fight’s back on the ground, the same kind of chase mechanical works really naturally.

The game is also somewhat amazing for being quite playable on older hardware. I’ve been out in Yorkshire for the past week and have only had access to a four year old laptop instead of the mammoth white supercomputer that I normally play on, but had little trouble and decent framerates once I’d turned the graphics down a bit – not bad for a first generation Core 2 Duo and a mobile Nvidia 6800GT.

Go play this game, internet!

All in all, it’s a strong recommendation from me for Mass Effect 3. I’ve only just arrived at the place at which the game begins to diverge, but already I’ve found more than enough to keep me hooked for a few weeks yet – and I can’t wait to get back home to try it on my gaming PC!

Be sure to share your first impressions in the comments below, but no spoilers please!

This article was written by William Judd. William writes for Mobile Fun, the UK’s leading online retailer of iPad 3 accessories, iPad 3 cases and iPad 3 covers.

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