Gameplay is much faster and more intense this time around, which is definitely a good thing. Graphically the game looks incredible and performs much better, especially on the PS3. While PS3 owners could previously simulate many of the important decisions from the first game, this marks the first time they can carry over their save files into Mass Effect 2. This ability will make the opening segments of Mass Effect 2 even more powerful, as they are some of the most intense and riveting sequences in any game I’ve played. The ending is incredibly varied, as who lives and who dies (and ultimately gets carried over into the grand finale) is based entirely on the choices you make throughout the game. Overall, this is probably the most well-rounded of the three games.
Mass Effect 3
This game was released for all three platforms in March of this year. You can check out PSUni’s original review of the game right here. This game does not include any of the DLC (no surprise, it isn’t even a year old yet and they are still making DLC for it.) The game boasts improved visuals, improved combat mechanics and an all-new cooperative multiplayer mode. Mass Effect 3 takes the action-focused approach of the second game and ramps it up to 11. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing, because the moment-to-moment gameplay is much more engaging, entertaining and exhilirating as your allies and enemies alike are all much smarter on the battlefield. Melee combat specifically received a large overhaul and Shepard is much more mobile while in combat. This focus, however, has detracted from the fundamental design decision that makes Mass Effect so immersive: the roleplaying elements. Case in point: when you begin the game, Bioware actually gives you the option of playing the game in various different modes, one of which, is an “action” mode that eliminated many of the decisions. While this is an optional feature, it sort of highlights the approach they took with this game: mass appeal.
Overall it’s an incredible game, but even the amount of choices and dialogue options you receive in a typical interaction within Mass Effect 3 feels severely limited compared to past games. Automatically chosen cutscenes are much more frequent, often leading to your Shepard saying things you would never choose for him or her to say. This is all underscored by the extremely controversial ending that received so much hate, Bioware actually released a free piece of DLC entitled: Extended Cut that added a lot to the game’s ending. Without spoiling anything, much of the disappointment revolved around the fact that, given the franchise was built on the concept of choice and influencing outcomes of situations, the endings felt extremely limiting and uninspired within the context of the franchise.
The multiplayer mode, which is cited as another reason why their focus on better writing and storytelling diminished (who knows if that is true or not) is actually quite fun. You perform in teams of players and fight against waves of enemies with different objectives to complete. Your loadout, race and class can all be customized and you even level up and improve your abilities over time. With lots of free updates and content added to the multiplayer mode (along with paid packs) it is still played fairly frequently today and is surprisingly fun.
All in all, shortcomings aside, this is the culmination of a trilogy spanning five total years. Mass Effect 3 has plenty of flaws, as does any video game, but never before have I played a game that engaged me on the level that this game did. When characters died, I cried. When characters pissed me off, I became furious. I think that the fact that so many people could actually get upset at the ending, only goes to show you what this franchise has meant to people and what level of attachment gamers across the world have to Shepard and the various other characters.
Overall Trilogy Assessment
I strongly believe that Mass Effect is the best trilogy or gaming franchise of this entire generation. I would even go so far as to say that this is one of the best sci-fi universes ever conceived and deserves all of the praise that it will continue to receive over the years. With that being said, this trilogy package doesn’t really offer anything new.
If you own all three games on a platform already, it isn’t worth re-buying them unless you really want a cohesive box to put them in and a little bit of artwork to look at while they install. If you haven’t played the first game but own the other two on PS3, I would recommend downloading it digitally. However, if you are one of those people out there that have just entirely missed out on this franchise all together, you need to immediately go to your gaming retailer (or website) of choice and buy this trilogy right now. Mass Effect isn’t just a gaming franchise to me and millions of other people, it’s an immersive universe full of living, breathing characters to interact with. You don’t want to miss out on this.
- It’s all three Mass Effect games – they are beyond legendary
- You get most of the best DLC
- Finally having the complete trilogy on the PS3
- The trilogy is over
- No “new” content
- Mass Effect 3’s ending is still underwhelming
Final Grade: A-
Make sure you let us know what you thought of this review, of this trilogy or your thoughts and experiences with the Mass Effect franchise as a whole. Keep the discussion going!
This review was conducted using PlayStation 3 copies of all games provided by Electronic Arts.