As a player gets ready to evacuate a crumbling building as Commander Shepard in “Mass Effect 3,” a child is encountered hiding in a vent. After reaching out a hand to help the child, the player is told it’s all hopeless; no one can save him.
This happens during the opening moments of the game, and it helps set the pace for the dark and gritty story that concludes the “Mass Effect” saga.
The result is an emotionally gripping tale that shows how video games can be interactive forms of entertainment. “Mass Effect 3,” which was released March 6, pushes the boundaries of game design
with a compelling story, sound and excellent game play.
The story line takes place in the distant future, when humans could explore the galaxy thanks to the mass effect relay, a device that allows travel at hyper speeds.
In previous games, players controlled Shepard as he fought against galaxy threats such as the Collectors, an alien race that attempts to harvest all human beings and other alien life forms. However, Shepard faces his most terrifying threat yet in “Mass Effect 3.”
As the game begins, Earth is being attacked by an ancient alien race known as the Reapers, a synthetic life form that is the most advanced and intelligent in the galaxy. The Reapers are capable of unimaginable destruction. In previous “Mass Effect” games, many characters in the game considered them only to be a myth.
Protagonist Commander Shepard warned the council, the galaxy’s governing body, in previous games of this threat because he experienced it first hand.
It’s too late, however, and the Reapers have started an all-out attack on Earth by the time the game starts. Unprepared for the attack, Shepard is sent to receive aid for the war.
As players control Shepard, the goal is to get help from various alien races on planets that face the same threat. Who players choose to align with and how they wage war against the Reapers makes up the game’s plot.
Along with the crucial decisions in this new game, key decisions from earlier in the game series carry over to “Mass Effect 3.” This all leads to the end of a trilogy that is paralleled with great stories such as “The Lord of The Rings” and “Star Wars.”
While the game’s story is nothing short of phenomenal, this great tale is told through good game play.
Fans of the series should feel right at home, as this new game hasn’t changed much from a gameplay perspective– and that is a good thing.
The gameplay helps players believe they are Commander Shepard by taking control of not only his physical abilities but also his mental ones. Players experience Shepard’s state of mind after remembering all the decisions they made throughout the series.
However, this game does something the other games in the series didn’t do much: It dives deep into Shepard’s psychology, which shows why the character has had such trouble sleeping recently. During gameplay sequences where players are on the Normandy — their spaceship — and engaging in conversation with crew members, they will notice some of these segments casually thrown in.
Every scene in the game, from intense gun fights to the calmer moments, features great sound design. The voice work is well done, which makes the characters seem lifelike. Key sequences, combat, and mostly continuous exploration music is fitting with the experience, and tragic moments feature scores that express unmistakeable sadness.
The message the game conveys to its players is provided through the musical score and is an important part of the total experience.
Overall, “Mass Effect 3” has some nit-picky things to complain about — such as the long load times on console versions — but nothing takes away from the gained experience.
Since the series started in 2007, developer Bioware has crafted a game that transcends its confines. “Mass Effect 3” isn’t just a game; it’s an experience.
Some fans have started an online petition for Bioware to change the game’s ending, because the series’ dramatic conclusion has left them baffled and torn. Saying goodbye to the many loveable characters Bioware has created in their universe can be hard.
However, this is what makes the game unique. The developers successfully affect the players’ emotions and, instead of catering to fans, Bioware has showed what its artistic vision of the universe was meant to convey. With such feelings of triumph and sadness, “Mass Effect 3” has earned the right to be called art.