Monday 24 December 2012

GOTY No. 6 - Mass Effect 3

We’ve almost reached the half-way mark in this year’s list of the very best games, but what title narrowly missed the top 5? The critically acclaimed Mass Effect trilogy concluded in March and certainly provided plenty of action and at times, discontent amongst fans.

Whatever you thought about Mass Effect 3, it was undeniably one of the best role-play games of not only this year, but of this generation of gaming. Critics showered Bioware’s futuristic adventure stating that it possessed one of the most impressive stories in the history of the medium and coupled with extensive gameplay and customization features; it was truly a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately Mass Effect 3 lacked accessibility and failed to stand up as its own game. Indeed players were expected to at minimum have played Mass Effect 2 and this was further pushed as an incentive by allowing players to download and incorporate their save from the previous game to Mass Effect 3. For fans of the series this was an absolute delight, all the moral decisions that they made from the previous games were re-created in Mass Effect 3, making the world believable and visibly changing place completely dictated by your actions. Those who wanted to give Mass Effect 3 a go and didn’t fancy spending around 100 hours catching up with the previous games were left confused by Mass Effect’s complicated world, story and ideals while at the same time having little emotional investment in the main character because at this point, he / she was nothing more than a blank canvas.

Normally you would assume that a game ending in the number 3 would be tailored for fans of the series and the aforementioned were truly treated to a spectacle. With the galaxy on the verge of war, it was up to Shepherd to establish effective military strength (EMS) by completing missions and allying with other races and planets to fend off the Reapers. The story was emotional, dramatic and full of interesting twists, of which you have control over.

Then comes Mass Effect’s fantastic gameplay mechanics, which emphasized third-person shooting and cover based shooting for modernized gaming. Despite leaning towards a conventional style of play, the different classes, weapon customization and power-ups gave players the opportunity to create a varied and unique character and partnering them with a group of engaging and powerful comrades. There weren’t as many allies in the third instalment as the others, but this was designed to further your emotional connection with the group, creating once again, some very difficult decisions throughout your time with Mass Effect 3.

I personally don’t see how the third instalment in the Mass Effect series could have simultaneously appeased it’s fan base and became an entry-level title, so for me, this wasn’t a justified criticism. People who bought Mass Effect 3 knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, a completely engrossing world full of life and character. It’s the series’ remarkable progression from an average role-play game, to a great role-play game and now a pinnacle benchmark for the genre that is so incredibly impressive. Mass Effect 3 was a technical masterpiece and it’s games like these that the video game industry should be known for.

Igor Kharin
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