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Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)

87
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zokolov (66)
Written on  :  Dec 16, 2012
Platform  :  Xbox 360
Rating  :  2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars
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Summary

Bioware's worst, and yet still a good game at heart

The Good

At first, Mass Effect 3 felt like it would combine the best parts of the previous two and eliminate the worst. In some respects, they succeeded. Combat feels more engaging than ever before and there are some nice added RPG elements, like more talents and slight weapon and armor customization. The game manages to feel much less repetitive than ME2.

A lot of ME3's charm comes from the little details, like amusing conversations between squadmates or other NPC's and the many side side missions, all of which add to the War Assets, which is, at least in theory, a great idea, though it should have definitely influenced the game more. At least it gives a more enjoyable purpose to scanning planets.

There's also tons of mind-blowing action to be experienced. The story is far from original and it has its flaws, but particularly the segments on Tuchanka and Rannoch are emotional, exciting and well-designed gameplay-wise, too.

Multiplayer is definitely better than I thought, but based on a few tries, nothing special. This one is definitely made for the shooter fans, but on the plus side, playing multiplayer increases your Galactic readiness.

The Bad

But, alas, Bioware's design team could have perhaps spent more time with the product - I would have had time to wait. The side quests, despite adding to the War Assets, have been boiled down to annoying fetch quests, and the Journal is one of the worst I've seen, as they completely fail to keep track of your advancement in the quests like it did in the previous games. There's no exploration left anymore, as apart from maybe two short missions, it's basically endless shooting with occasional dialogue. Although the combat roll seems like a cool improvement, I mostly ended up rolling when trying to take cover and vice versa due to having to press A to do pretty much everything. The game feels buggier than ME2, and both facial animations and running animations are rather terrible. Characters sometimes twist their neck around a solid 145 degrees while talking.

Speaking of the dialogue wheel, it has been utterly manhandled. It pops up very rarely, with our Shepard mostly saying badly written lines in auto-dialogue. When it does pop up, our options seem like incredibly caricatured versions of the Paragon and Renegade lines of the previous games. Either you're "Morally Righteous And Always Right" or "Ruthless Jerk Just Because". Playing a Renegade has lost almost all of its charm - instead of a violent wisecrack who could be a complete jerk to their teammates, even the most Renegade of Shepards is now inexplicably nice to characters like Liara and James, whether or not the player wants them to be.

Although it's impressive how most of our decisions were imported from the previous games, you should prepare to be disappointed. I thought our experience would be completely different depending on how we played the game before, but no, it's pretty much the same. The only part where I felt like our decisions mattered more than just a few different lines was Tuchanka.

And the story... as powerful as it can be at times, it's definitely Bioware's weakest so far. The beginning is a badly paced, cheesy mess that could have been summed up with a simple cutscene. The story gains momentum once we get to the Citadel, but still, most of the crucial storyline parts are actually either frustrating or boring. The words "The Reapers Are Here!" are repeated about three hundred times, and it never truly feels that there's a galactic war going on. Many dramatic moments are ruined due to badly written dialogue and especially awkward animation.The few highlights of the story are brilliant, though.

I tried to write this review without mentioning the controversial ending, but let's be honest here: no matter how I tried to look at it, it was disappointing. Not the worst ending I've seen, but it succeeded in killing my interest in Mass Effect for a good long while.

The Bottom Line

As with the last parts, Mass Effect 3 is an action RPG with emphasis on the action. It's approachable to new players and shooter fans, but on the flip side, it feels less like an RPG than any other Bioware game besides possibly Mass Effect 2. That wouldn't be too bad, if the plot would at least be galaxy-shakingly awesome, but instead, it's a frustrating, inconsistent mess with occasional highlights. Still, kudos to Bioware: even at their worst, they manage to be at least passable.