First Impressions - Mass Effect 3

So how is it so far?

Well, I’ve played ME3 for around 20 hours now and if Hackett’s message is anything to go by (i.e. “the Crucible is at 50% completion”) that means I’m about half-way through the game. This already tells me the first thing about ME3 in that it so far appears to be longer than the previous games and they’ve done so by not having any annoying mini-games whatsoever. So that’s at least something, because if you’ve been following ME3’s release there were apparently a lot of displeased ME3 players to the point that just after release it was receiving a score of 2/10 on Metacritic (link). The number of 0 reviews didn’t seem to end! This has since been rectified as Metacritic has removed several of these user reviews claiming many could not be included due to the reviews being posted before the game’s official release date.

So far, the game’s been pretty good if you ask me. Graphics, audio and gameplay are generally similar to ME2 with a couple of neat compromises like the ability to modify your weapons again with mods (so it’s not as involved as ME1 but not as simple as ME2), and the scanning of assets, credits and quest items by evading Reapers (so not as basic as ME1 but not as laborious as ME2’s planet scanning for minerals). There are a couple of concerns I have or points that puzzle me.

Lack of ME2 Party Members

Characters from ME2 seem to take a backseat in this game – this is really a reunion of the ME1 characters. So far, none of the ME2 characters have returned as party members (unless you count Garrus as an ME2 character, but he was in ME1 too). I’ve had contact with most of them so far and their involvement ranges from a couple of lines of dialogue to being integral parts of the storyline – which brings me to another question. If you don’t have certain party members by the end of ME2 how do these missions play out without the ME2 character? Unfortunately, I’ll have to play another playthrough to find the answer to that question. It might explain why they excluded ME2 characters as party members though since depending on your ending for ME2, you may not have many party members to pick from.

Galactic Readiness and the Ending

There’s been a lot of debate online about this and with good reason. Many have complained that you cannot get a perfect ending in the game if you don’t at least play some multiplayer in order to increase your Galactic Readiness. Basically, the game is about preparing for the final confrontation by collecting War Assets in the single player game (war assets being things like armies, ships, etc.). These War Assets count towards your military strength. However, at the beginning of the game you receive a 50% penalty to this figure due to Galactic Readiness being at 50%. The only way to increase Galactic Readiness is by playing multiplayer. Some cynics reckon that the multiplayer is actually a form of anti-piracy measure, by only allowing those who play multiplayer to get a perfect ending. In response, Bioware has insisted that fans can still get a perfect ending if they just play single player, although it would mean more hunting of War Assets whereas playing multiplayer is potentially an easier way of doing it, if you’re not into spending hours hunting for items. Provided Bioware is telling the truth, I don’t really mind what they have done but it still remains to be seen if Galactic Readiness actually makes a difference or not.

While on the topic of the game’s ending, I’ve also seen a lot of players complaining that decisions you made in the PREVIOUS Mass Effect games have a big impact on how the ending pans out, suggesting that what you do in ME3 has absolutely no impact. This is also something I’ll have to experience for myself. While I find it hard to believe what you do in ME3 has absolutely no impact, it would be disappointing if it turns out true.