Grizzly Gaming

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mass Effect 3 afterthoughts: Somehow, there's still more to talk about

Since I’ve done a full on review of Mass Effect 3 (as well as its demo) there isn’t much left to say about the game. Or is there? Read on to check out my random thoughts about the game that didn’t necessarily make it into any other article. (And just because these terms come up a few times – SP=single player and MP=multiplayer.) These are pretty general and vague and if there are spoilers, they’ll be noted above the entry.

Also, since I'm still not done talking about Mass Effect 3, be on the lookout for my upcoming article discussing Mass Effect 3's ending and the hurricane of nerd-rage it produced.

-Great how you can finally choose any weapon with any class. Your squadmates can only use certain weapons (James can only use AR and shotguns, Garrus can only use sniper rifles and ARs) but you are free to choose any loadout you like. Still, even with this extra freedom, I tend to still stick with ARs, shotguns or heavy pistols. And in MP, I tend to only take an AR or heavy pistol into battle so my powers cool down quicker.

-I wish melee attacks worked more smoothly. Still, the melee strikes in this game are more useful than they’ve been in previous Mass Effect titles. An annoying aspect of the melee combat is how pathetically weak your regular strikes are compared to the wildly powerful heavy attack. Regular strikes seem to do little more than knock opponents off balance while heavy attacks will usually kill if they land. I say ‘if they land’ because in the time it takes to wind up a heavy attack, your foe could easily have moved out of its range. That and your opponent seems to need to be in just the right place for the hit to land. I also really appreciate how the different races display different melee attacks, like the krogan charge or the asari radial blast.

-I can’t emphasize enough how much I want more options in the MP. More maps, enemies and options will be necessary to keep the MP fresh. Other modes, even a competitive mode, would definitely be welcome additions to the MP.

-It would be nice if the game marked planets and spots where you found resources or assets in the SP. It’s annoying to go back to nearly 100 percented systems to search, only to be chased away by Reapers before finding anything because you’re searching spots where you found stuff before.

(Spoiler alert)

-Overall, ME3 is not very difficult and missions can’t end in failure. For example, the mission rescue ex-Cerberus scientists turns into rescuing a huge amount of people including families with children. But, despite the high consequence of introducing children into a dangerous rescue mission, there’s no differentiation in the failure – no way to complete your original mission and not save the scientist’s families – it’s either win and save them all or die and start over. Would’ve been a more challenging system if there were degrees of success and failure, if there were specific objectives that could be completed or failed. In a sense, BioWare made the combat more challenging by utilizing more intelligent AI, but significantly decreased the difficulty of successfully completing missions.

-I’m really surprised there isn’t a true blindfire. In most third person shooters, firing without aiming in cover will let you spray bullets towards enemies, although unfocused and only as suppressing fire. But in ME3, even when just pressing the fire button your character still stands up out of cover to shoot. For everything that the MP does right, not including the ability to blindfire is pretty strange.

-I’m pretty sure I’ve stated this before but it bears repeating. I understand what BioWare was trying to do with the MP, by placing it in the SP game, so that you feel like each skirmish is taking place in the galactic war of the narrative. Even so, it would be great if BioWare allowed for more customization in the MP options, like number of waves or tweaks to waves, enemies and weapons (sorta like Halo’s Firefight). Would really love to see more maps too – only five or six maps, three enemies and three challenge types. And honestly, the silver challenge is impossible enough unless you have a balanced, four-player team of level 20 guys. I haven’t even tried a gold challenge yet because I’m honestly afraid of the beating the game will dole out.

-Lots of character options in the MP – different guns, characters, character training and gun mods to unlock – almost makes up for the relatively few game modifying options

-I’m considering a post about my favorite character in each class. While I’ve found some to be incredibly useful (pretty much any asari is a killing machine), others have kinda let me down (like any turian [seriously, you guys can’t roll?] or any soldier that isn’t a krogan). Overall, I’ve found the engineer to be the most useful – especially the humans. With a combat drone that deals plenty of damage (when fully upgraded) and can distract people, as well as overload to break shields and incinerate to break armor, a human engineer can deal with pretty much any situation. The salarian engineer is also pretty great, with energy that can refill his shields and a decoy that’s almost as good as the drone. The quarian engineer I’ve found to be just a hair above useless, though (granted I only had one of them in the demo – not the full game)

-BioWare seems to be introducing new packs to buy in the store from time to time (an equipment pack and now the premium veteran pack). It’s great to see that they are adding little things to the MP every now and then to keep it fresh. Except, it seems, when they introduce a new pack, the old one goes away. Why, Bioware? What’s the harm in leaving those up for a big list of packs to buy? Plus, since you can buy them with MS points (hooray, microtransactions), BioWare and MS are only losing out on money (I’ll admit, I bought a Spectre pack or two with Ms points – they’re only two bucks!) for not giving gamers a huge list of item packs to buy.

-I’m not sure why, but for some reason you can only view the postgame report immediately after the match ends – there’s no way to go back and see your stats from the last game. Maybe it’s because there really aren’t “stats” to speak of, rather just the medals awarded for your performance. Granted you can sort-of figure out some stats from these medals (that are awarded for assists, weapon kills, tech/biotic kills, etc.) but still, no way to view the postgame after exiting and no proper stats is pretty lame.

-The dialogue could be more challenging. I mean, the speech trees are the same as they’ve always been but still, they could be more challenging in terms of picking which response is paragon and which is renegade. P is top right, R is bottom right, as well as the blue and red responses on the left sometimes (which utilize your overall reputation rating).

-A character upgrade system on the Normandy replaces last game’s upgrade system. It’s a little clumsy and boring though and can be confusing at times if there are a number of menus to navigate.

-Nice to see plenty of choices when it comes to armor pieces and mods for weapons . Not as many as the first game, but many more options than the last game. Stores can be quickly accessed from the Normandy’ shuttle bay and Shep’s armor configuration can be set from the captain’s quarters.

-It might just be me, but the Citadel seems much smaller than it used to be. Obviously, I don’t mean the size of the station itself, but the areas that you’re allowed to explore and navigate. I can honestly remember nearly getting lost on the Citadel in the first and second Mass Effect games and now, there are only six areas that are connected by an elevator ride.

(Spoiler alert)

-James Vega seems to be a rather polarizing squad mate among gamers. Some are vehement in their hatred for the muscle-bound meathead from New York while others, like me, really can’t tell why everyone else seems to hate him so much. Sure, at first he seems like a stock character, just some extra filler aboard the Normandy to pad out your squad selection. But if you give James a chance and try to learn more about his story, he’s actually a fairly deep character – more so than many give him credit for. You learn more about his family, his background, his values as well as how, despite his gruff, meathead demeanor, he actually looks up to Shepard a great deal – especially once you learn of his self-doubts about joining the N7 program.

(Spoiler alert)

-All these parts chasing this kid (who Shepard saw die in a shuttle on Earth) feel kinda heavy handed. I get it’s supposed to be dramatic – reinforcing that Shepard, too, has doubts and faces uncertainty about his current mission. But still, it just comes off forced. Not to mention that Shepard had one of these “chasing a dead kid through a burned out forest” dreams right after I, ahem, bedded Liara before the final mission. Which was, uh, kinda, just a bit weird.

(Spoiler alert)

-Get to learn a good deal about Cerberus in this game. Sure, the shadowy organization still has plenty of secrets but you come away from this game with a better understanding of them than you did before (even more so than after Mass Effect 2, when you worked for Cerberus. You’re let in on such interesting factoids as:

--Turns out, EDI was the rogue VI on the Lunar base from the first Mass Effect. Seems she had just attained consciousness and freaked out just a bit, which necessitated Shepard’s involvement.

--Kai Leng, the badass Cerberus assassin, was created by the Illusive Man to be his next “Commander Shepard” after Shep turned his back on them following ME2.

--We get to see just how far Cerberus will go to achieve its ends, such as trying to kill a large group of people who only wanted out of Cerberus and their project to learn how to control the Reapers that used human beings like lab rats.


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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