After 4 months since the release of the game, I finally get the chance to play.
After six years since the first installment of this epic space-opera, sci-fi role-playing game was released, I get to finally see a conclusion. A sense of closure, be it good or bad, happy or sad, jubilant or emotional, I know I will shed a tear for Commander Shepard whom I painstakingly steered his life through a fictitious universe, risking his lives saving a galaxy. Hours upon hours investing in a story that I handcrafted it to make it my own. An ending that I would see as a result of thousands of decisions I made throughout the entire trilogy of games. An ending that is completely mine and mine alone. Where no two storylines are the same when you compared to another player who are as heavily invested as me just to know how the story progresses and how it ends.
It has not been easy to avoid the spoilers that are rampant in the world wide web. I stayed away from wikipedia, review articles and video reviews so as to make sure that no part of the story is revealed without me experiencing it first. Even news articles about Mass Effect 3 is read with great caution and I actually appreciate (for once) disclaimers about spoilers in certain paragraphs within the news article. So far it has been good. I am playing the game as a blank slate with each revelation of the story taken with awe and wonder.
Here are some of my general impressions of the game so far:
I have clocked in about 10 hours into the game and the first thing that I noticed was the slight graphical improvements made to it. The visuals are sharper, with a slightly wider range of color palette. Character models especially the facial features are still as sharp as ever. Environments are more varied this time round. You encounter pristine labs, rocky landscapes, urban jungles, ultra clean corridors in spaceships and more. So overall its a plus. The bad side of it however, is the slight degradation in framerate. There were certainl areas during the game where the PS3 just struggles with the added load to the graphics presented on screen. It wasn’t as smooth as before but so far it hasn’t degrade or affect overall gameplay mechanics.
They also revamp the layout, feel and look to the Normandy SR2 ship. And I don’t quite like it. After the ship was acquired by the Alliance, according to the game, they retrofitted and revamp the interiors of the ship. It’s darker, and grimmer, more red lights. Not exactly to my taste. Even the layout seems a bit weird. I think the ship in mass effect 2 is still the best. Clean, new and bright. And it really looks like a ship you would like to own. The new one however is a little bit cramp, as they have added new ‘battle stations’ and ‘galactic readiness’ room and what not, rooms that I don’t really bother remembering the names. That’s a big minus. But still its a great ship to have for travelling.
I can’t say much about the new characters introduced in the game in terms of characterisation and the amount of backstory that they have. I remembered the last game you had a ton of characters in your roster whom you can recruit and be part of the team. This time they streamlined it and you have less team mates to recruit and team up with. After all, your mission is no longer about recruiting the best in the galaxy to investigate and fight against an enemy of the galaxy. You are now tasked to rally major races in the galaxy to fight a common big boss and as such, you have a more fluid and transient group of people that you will eventually meet. Characters that are aboard your ship, but are not recruitable to your team when you are on the ground. So the level of interaction and the amount of back story to these character would be ( i assume ) be limited. The characters in the second game are some of the most interesting and it was such a pleasure doing their side missions just to get to know more about them. The good thing though is that you still see the old characters in the third and final installment of the game and you can still talk to them. I just met Thane and I was thrilled!
The story have been engaging and gripping so far. The missions are more interesting this time round, and they all play a part in the overarching plot of the game. Even the side missions feels heavy and are not trivial missions. They all somehow contribute to the overall plot and it is for the first time worth doing every single mission you can possible find and complete in this game.
It’s still too early to say how much I enjoyed the game, but what I can say safely for sure is that it is great to actually experience a beginning and an ending to an epic story.