Friday, January 4, 2013

The Hate for Mass Effect 3

There were so many complaints from the gaming community after the release of Mass Effect 3 that I was hesitant to purchase it. After finding it for twenty bucks, I decided to give it a chance; most critics, at least from what I read, seemed to praise the title.

Was it just the ending gamers hated? In doing research, I found that to be the case, and I saw the point: here we were, three games deep with dozens of characters we had grown to love and countless decisions that effected the story, yet they did not effect the total outcome. The ending, all three of the major choices, were similar and what we did with our characters along the way had no impact. The entire franchise was modeled to be about player choice, yet in the end, there was no real choice. It was off-putting.

There was also no closure to the relationships and characters from what I experienced, other than seeing who didn't die. I say that from someone who doesn't buy DLC most of the time--I don't even know what's in them, because I find bonus content is price gouging. We're expected to spend twenty dollars on a mission or gear set or new class, which usually adds an hour or two to the game, if that. Nothing substantial. One of the few exceptions was Shivering Isles for Oblivion, which was a complete expansion. So, I do not have any of the Mass Effect 3 DLC, and there might be answers within them for the questions that remain.

Up until the end of Mass Effect 3, I rather enjoyed the game. It had the same feel and immersion as the previous titles with interesting stories, choices, and side missions. There was lots of armor, items, guns, mods, and abilities. The graphics were better; the music was outstanding, and combat had definitely improved since the original, though I have to say I enjoyed Mass Effect 2's scanning and probing and resource gathering with my ship a lot more than Mass Effect 3. Running out of galaxies from Reapers was fun the first time yet became cumbersome.

I did find a few annoying bugs still persistent in the game a year after its release, particularly a quest I could not complete in the Citadel from using an imported character. The NPC I needed did not appear in front of the embassy office like he was supposed to, so the completionist within me was frustrated.

It was also bothersome to have to constantly switch the discs in and out of my Xbox when I started a new side mission. Every hour, it was, "Insert disc 2," or, "Insert disc 1," back and forth, back and forth. Not game-breaking but definitely a pet peeve that made me grumble.

Another complaint that I have is no playable Krogan. This was my favorite race in 1 and 2, but characters like Wrex and Grunt do not join the team. Instead, they're demoted to cameos, as are all the rest of the playable characters from Mass Effect 2. It was almost like rubbing it in my face seeing Grunt for one mission, especially with his extraordinary cutscene...

If a player can step away from the outcome of the franchise and just look at everything else Mass Effect 3 had to offer, I believe they'd say it was a fun experience, one worth experiencing again. However one tries, ignoring the end of something we've sunk hours and years into is difficult; given the amount of times we spent chatting with characters, making choices, being bad ass/neutral/friendly, we expected something more epic and less like the Matrix Reloaded, and I completely understand the outrage.

If I had spent sixty dollars for the game instead of twenty, going into it unaware of the bad ending and expecting the choices of the two previous titles to fully alter the outcome (this is what Bioware essentially promised), I would have spammed the web with my hatred of EA/Bioware as well. Thinking on it this moment, I expected to be playing this franchise for years. I expected to start from the original and work my way back to Mass Effect 3 for a true perfect ending...

Sadly, that will not be the case. If anything, I might replay Mass Effect 2, which is my favorite in the franchise.

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