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Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 (PC) Review

Mass Effect 3 (PC)

Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize When our job as a journalist is getting paid to play games and write insightful and witty comments that are mainly removed by the editor and branded as being "inappropriate" we don’t like to complain too much – honest, but having recently played through a few mediocre science fiction releases that played like a poorly conceived homage to Philip K Dick, no doubt encouraged by the success of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, we have to say that we were not looking forward to Mass Effect 3.

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Mass Effect 3 follows on from the events of the Mass Effect 2 and we control the main character, Systems Alliance Commander Shepard in a number of missions to save the galaxy from the Reapers, a race of genocidal synthetic beings that destroy all advanced organic life every 50,000 years. The only way to stop the Reapers is to unite all of the civilisations throughout the galaxy together into one effective military force. While undertaking this mammoth task we also have to take on Cerberus, a paramilitary force that opposes your attempts to destroy the Reapers.

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Legitimate Essay Writers Levelling up our characters is achieved by completing the priority and secondary missions. Upon completion we receive experience which stacks up until we gain enough to increase a level. This increase in level gives us a point to spend on our skills and the other character under our control gain points when we do. Each skill has six levels, which level costing one more point to purchase than the last level and each skill starts along a single path and then splits into two branches where we can select upgrades along a sequence of possibilities.

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Pay To Have Your Essay Written The interactive narrative is one half of an immersive gameplaying experience that plunges us into an all-out galactic war to take Earth back from a nearly unstoppable foe but it also enables us to pick up the storyline and get to grips with the characters easily. The other half of the gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is combat. The combat is entirely from the third-person perspective in the shooting, melee and cover aspects. During combat we the option of moving around the battlefield with an inexhaustible sprint or combat roll. We can also fire blindly from cover or pop up to take on an opponent with a specific ammo type that we equip using our abilities. Should we need additional help in a fire fight we are able to direct our two squadmates. Not only can we guide them to a specific location or to attack a particular individual but we can also direct which weapon or ability they should use. If we choose to leave our squadmates alone then they will engage the enemy automatically and follow us around.

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Our success with the on-going war against the Reapers is controlled by War Assets and Military Readiness. War Assets are collected throughout the game but Military Readiness is affected by the multiplayer aspects of the game. The Military Readiness is default set to 50%, therefore if collect enough War Assets to have a Total Military Strength of 5000 then our Effective Military Strength would be 2500. As we play and complete the co-op multiplayer games our readiness increases and the War Assets become more valuable. The number of Assets and our readiness determine how successful we will be in the final battle against the Reapers.

Looking specifically at multiplayer it takes the form of four-player co-op missions. We can choose from a variety of races and character types and we start as a basic human character but after time we unlock other races, abilities and equipment.

No characters from the single player campaign are featured in the multiplayer mode so we must create brand new characters and assign them with new powers. As we unlock the multiplayer races, which include human, Asari, Drell, Krogans, Salarians, and Turians, we find that every race has unique powers and that the maximum level created characters are able to reach is 20. Additionally just like in the single player mode, levelling up will include skill branches.

The multiplayer missions are a wave attack style, set in various locations that are all or part of an area used as a primary mission in the single player campaign. We can choose our location and whether to fight against Cerberus, Geth or Reaper and these choices affect experience gained and the overall difficulty of the mission. During the missions tasks are assigned that allow us to collect credits to purchase equipment between games then after a certain number of waves we are instructed to retreat to an location which we then have to hold until extracted. Gameplay in the multiplayer mode only allows us to carry two character type specific weapons at a time and limits us to only three powers. Equipment and characters are acquired by the purchase of kits which contain random weapons, characters, and mods. The kits are purchased with multiplayer in-game credits or Microsoft Points.

The successful completion of a multiplayer maps can add up to 10% to our Galactic Readiness score within the sector that the map is located in the single player game, though it isn’t mandatory to achieve the ‘best’ ending.

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Visually Mass Effect 3 is a little bit of a mixed bag. We are treated to awe inspiring landscapes and vast, spectacular battles fields. The details and lighting on the internal environments is also extremely good and the realism of all the characters faces and their emotional expression is somewhat unnerving. And then there are the times when the games switches from dialogue or cut scene to our control and we see our character walk through a closed door or put the assault rifle up to and then through their own shoulder.

The audio aspects of this game are flawless; weapons and equipment have a variety of solid and realistic sound. Voice acting is consistently excellent, it conveys the real emotion of the story excellently, but that is as we would expect given the large number of notable actors voicing parts in this game. In the busier area of the Citadel hum of conversation waxes and wanes as we pass through an area and we can clearly pick out a conversation which gradually fades as we move away from the source only to be replaced by another closer by.

For us, the standout element of the audio and one of the best aspects of the game is the music. Mass Effect 3 is a game about war and death, the death of everybody. Nothing rams home this point better than the music that accompanies the more tragic scenes, it grabs us and emotional hooks us, reels us in and makes us feel the full horror and gravity of what the images or dialogue only partially convey.

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Mass Effect 3 could be confusing to those players new to the series at points. With such a large amount of back story behind every character it is not always clear who this character is, why they have been introduced or even what they are talking about. The developers do put enough flesh on the bones of each character to allow new player to get by and with over half the gameplay being combat not RPG a few missed character highlights are quickly overlooked.

The combat is solid and fun but the cover system is flawed. We use the spacebar to run, duck behind cover, jump over cover and to a combat roll. This means that we frequently found ourselves in the wrong place when the bullets were flying. The combat missions generally saw us being assaulted by waves of enemies and this increased as the game progressed so while it did convey a central game premise that it is us against an entire army, it does become tedious at times.

The environments that the combat missions are set in are stunning. They offer horrific vistas of conflict that stretch from horizon to horizon however the great details of battle only slightly mask the fact that the mission maps are corridors.

While Mass Effect 3 can be played in action or story mode it is our view that you don’t. Action mode gives us a significant amount of cut scenes that take away from the combat, or interaction. The automatic answers don’t always give us the answer that is the best outcome of the situation but more than that, the player just won’t engage fully with this immersive world if we don’t have to make the moral decisions. Equally, playing Mass Effect 3 in story mode the combat is so easy that we may as well not bother and just leave all the shooting work to our automated A.I. squad mates. Playing that way is not only an offence to the developers hard work but also means that we miss out on the growing feeling of panic and fatigue that we could experience and the game progresses.

Mass Effect 3 as an action RPG is a game about the path our Shepard walks, the path of the renegade or patriot or perhaps a bit of both. It is the same as everyone else’s but the sights we see and the decisions we make are our own. Mass Effect 3’s greatest achievement is in respecting those decisions and creating the emotional investment we have built in its characters and worlds.

Perhaps it is this emotional investment that has caused many to have such a negative reaction to the ending. Overall the tone of Mass effect 3 is very bleak but the narrative has some humour in it and there is an underlying optimism that if we can only get enough of a military force together we will be ok and while we also felt the tone and quality of the ending wasn’t as expected part of this issue is down to the scope of the game and in many ways lack of explanation about what is required to achieve success, or the best chance of it, in the end. (NOTE: Don’t ignore the multiplayer). Interestingly Bioware may tweak the ending to appease some in future DLC, a bold step.

Speaking of DLC, the first pack called From Ashes is already available and is give us a Prothean squad mate, one weapon, an alternate costume for Shepard’s squad, and lets them revisit a world from the original Mass Effect, Eden Prime. It was available the same day as the game launch.

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Mass Effect 3 is an excellent game and a fitting end to the trilogy. While the individual parts of Mass Effect 3 aren’t perfect the whole experience is terrific. One of the few games around that can evoke a strong emotional reaction in players.


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Stuart Davidson

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