Currently Playing: Mass Effect 3 (X360)

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I’m back in action, last time I was trying to save humanity, now, I’m saving the galaxy. It’s been more than a year since I played Mass Effect 2 for the Xbox360. I didn’t have any plans to buy the game immediately, but it was good news when a friend of mine bought me a copy because he knows how much I enjoy the franchise.

To prepare myself, I was able to get a copy of Mass Effect 2 for the PS3. I didn’t want to force my old Falcon Xbox360 because of it’s age. I don’t want it to go 3RL on me when I want to finish Mass Effect 3 on the 360 instead of the PS3 because my save game from Mass Effect 1 and 2 are already there. I just wanted to play the PS3 version because I wanted to try it since a lot of people said that it is the best version of Mass Effect 2, because of the added DLC and the interactive comic book.

Once I got my hands on my copy of Mass Effect 2 (thanks friend), I couldn’t wait to start to transfer my save game. I was worried about rumors about transferring your character, that some people had experienced some errors not being able to transfer their customized faces properly. It was good news when I didn’t get the same error. It was smooth sailing when I made the import.

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When I started the game, I immediately noticed the difference between the PS3 demo against the 360 full version. The 360 has a smoother frame rate, but this may mean that the PS3 is a little flawed in terms of performance. The graphics is amazing, a lot better than anything I’ve seen in Mass Effect 1 or 2. The first part that you get to play is an amazing set piece with a large scale event while you run on a specific path. Even though the level itself is designed to train you, it still feels epic, you know that it’s the end of all things if you don’t do anything.

Although the overall look still looks the same, with slight improvements here and there. Even being inside your ship which is called the “Normandy” feels more lived in. Although it does make sense because in Mass Effect 2, everything was brand new, while in this game, the ship is currently being called to action while it was being upgraded, so it feels unfinished. But since you’re in a war, you just have to made due. Because of it, it felt more interesting than it did before.

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You get to travel to different systems and planets just as before. Although you immediately notice that travelling won’t be as easy because so many systems are already invaded by your main enemy which are the reapers. Generally, most initial missions don’t force you to go to those systems, but if you have to, you won’t immediately have to do anything. But once you trigger your scanner, to detect any items or new missions in planets then you’ll notice that reapers will show up and will follow you around. This is a pretty simple game though. Just try not to get captured. Once you are captured, nothing really happens except for a simple game over screen.

Mining has been one of the most dragging things to do in Mass Effect 2, I’m happy that they removed the mining thing altogether. You still have to send a probe, but it’s only necessary when there is some kind of anomaly or you have a mission to do in a certain distant planet. Although I did notice that they removed a lot of things that was part of Mass Effect 2, like computer hacking and bypassing the locks. In Mass Effect 3, all doors open if you can open it, no restrictions. Not everything removed was good, I was disappointed when I finished the entire game without any vehicle missions when both Mass Effect games had them, although Mass Effect 2 did it as DLC rather than actually being part of the original game. Removing it altogether feels like it was an incomplete experience that I really missed.

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In terms of weapons, you can’t load everything all at once. You have a maximum of 5 weapons that you can bring, but you can’t bring two similar types of weapons. The new thing here is there is a weight factor. If you try to load up too much weapons, your power will recharge slower than normal. So you have to choose smartly before going into battle. Each weapon can be upgraded while you are in your ship. Upgrades can only be picked up somewhere in a mission, before you can access to buy them. So you have to keep an eye all the time before going to one section to another because you might miss them and you might not get the full upgrade once you are at the end of the game. Another interesting thing about the weapons are the modifications. You can put 2 modifications on one weapon for each character. There are a few upgrades for each weapon, so you have to choose carefully too. My favorite is always the scope, because it makes my shooting game give more accuracy. Other mods will give you a light weight material, additional thermal clips and other interesting changes to your weapon. All mods will have a visual effect on your weapon.

The controls of the game is very similar to the previous Mass Effect game, you’ll notice that they have refined Bioware’s take on the third person shooting/cover mechanic. Although it’s not as action intensive as playing Gears of War (since it uses the same Unreal Engine), but nevertheless, it’s still a game that’s very challenging. I even had to repeat a mission like 10 times before I was able to get through it, although this was one of the earlier levels. I presume my character was too weak, because of a lot of the missions especially near the end, which I was going through it pretty easily… except for the last few missions which it was just hard, but not impossible. My only problem with third person games is that you really need to have a very smooth graphic animation throughout the experience, or else some people can have a hard time appreciating the game. As I mentioned before, the PS3 version was a little sluggish, and the frame rate drop can really discourage some gamers.

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Some missions seem a little too short. Seems like it was designed as an arena than it is a mission. I enjoy a game more if a level was designed with a story in mind rather than feeling like an afterthought. Although these are just some, most of the missions do feel like there is a story behind it all, especially the priority missions. The game itself overall feels very short. I noticed that on a normal game time, I was just close to 40 hours when I was about to finish the game. Considering I played Mass Effect 2 on both PS3 and Xbox360 and I was able to finish those in less than 60 hours. Seriously, Mass Effect 3 feels a little shorter than I expected.

The ending is something that I won’t reveal too much, but yes, it is generally disappointing because it contradicts everything that you’ve worked for. So, to everyone who hated the ending, I understand you all. But to everyone who was fine with it, well, it’s not so bad, but it’s not as good as how Mass Effect 2 ended.

Another interesting aspect about the game is the multiplayer. I really wanted to get into it, but I keep getting booted out by gamers just because I’m level 1. How can I gain any experience points when I play alone. The missions themselves are very difficult to be done alone, unless you grind your way up. I hate grinding. So, this feature was a little turn off for me. It’s a good thing that this component is not a requirement or else I would have given up finishing the game altogether.

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Overall, the game generally is refined, but it lost a little heart than I expected. The game itself was more focused, had more interesting missions, had some closure in some way, but because it lacked an impact at the end, I kept thinking that they could have made this better. But what do I think of the game? It’s better than a lot of games out there, but it feels that it still needs to grow. Hearing that Bioware plans to renew the ending because of the outcry of the fans, made the game a little more interesting. It shows that Bioware knows that the game is not their own anymore, that the community will keep it running forever.

UPDATE: There is an announcement that they will be updating the ending with a free DLC which will come around summertime in the US. The game itself will have no changes, but it will resolve what happened to the characters at the end.

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