August 2, 2012

Mass Effect 3 (Day 1)

Welcome to Mass Effect 3, home of the American-ized universe. It seems that there are more different alien races than there are uninhabited planets, and every single one of them had the decency to learn fluent English and American accents. Actually, I suppose that’s not entirely true for there is one human doctor who has a French accent. It’s nice to see diversity flourishing during troubled times. All the aliens have extremely human customs, attitudes, and thought processes. Come to think of it, aliens in the Mass Effect universe are just discolored humans with slightly different extensions growing out of their heads. But enough with the complaining — there’s plenty of room for that later. Mass Effect 3 is an over the shoulder action role-playing game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. The game marks the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy and will complete the story of the space marine hero Commander Shepard. For those who aren’t aware of the events of the previous games, Shepard discovered an ancient alien machine race that awakens every 50,000 years to slaughter everything that doesn’t require a battery to live. Shepard relays the information to his superiors who quickly write off the fact as fake. Mass Effect 3 picks up the story when Reapers start ripping Earth apart.

The game starts off asking you how you want to play the game via three options: action, role-playing, or story. The action option basically excludes the role-playing ability. All dialogue options are chosen for you, and any interaction that doesn’t involve shooting things takes place in cut-scenes. Combat is harder and more intense and is suited towards players who just want to kill things rather than appreciate the story. In this option, you can only play as the one and only Commander Shepard that the series is based upon with no customization options. The role-playing option obviously adds the role-playing element back into the game but makes the combat slightly easier than in action mode. You can customize your Shepard if you want and give him/her a first name for giggles, although it doesn’t matter because you are only addressed as “Shepard” or “Commander”. During dialogue, you are often required to select a speech option for your character which can alter the outcome of the conversation. There are usually three types of speech options: the nice response, inquiring response, and the jerk response. The questioning responses tend to give you more information on the matter while the nice and jerk responses have a chance to change the consequence of the conversation. It’s quite straightforward really. Be nice, get treated nice. Be a jerk, get treated like a jerk. Ask questions, get more answers so you can decide whether to be nice or a jerk. The story option is intended for casual players who care more about the story and less about the gameplay. It’s basically the same thing as role-playing except that the fighting is easier.

I thought that the gameplay options were kind of neat, even if the role-playing and story options were pretty much identical. I chose to play role-playing because I decided it was a happy medium between the other two. After you choose your game mode, you can pick from a variety of classes, backgrounds, and customization options for your character. I ended up being Miss Commander Shepard, the orphan from Earth who joined the military at a young age. In my years of serving the military, I became one of the best infiltrators of my generation, using stealth, cloaking technology, and sniper rifles to destroy my intergalactic foes. I was considered by many to be ruthless due to my “get the job done” rule. But the years of hardship began to take its toll and Commander Shepard’s mental state began to suffer from the guilt of seeing far too many die. Now that arduous customization resume form is filled out, let’s start this story.

Mass Effect 3 begins with military officials and powerful politicians realizing that Shepard wasn’t entirely crazy about the homicidal alien machine race. Shepard is reinstated as Commander and brought forth to the human council to say, “I told you so.” A minute later, the city is blown apart by the Reapers, and you are given back your ship with a goal to combat the powerful force. The reapers begin their full-scale invasion on all existing organic life in the galaxy with Earth taking the brunt of the attack. The reapers’ quest of universal annihilation has begun, and only you — yes you, not that other equally capable guy — can unite the quarreling alien races as one to defeat the reapers and restore peace to the universe. No pressure.

Image Credit: BioWare

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