The last time you played the role of Shepard, the “Savior of the Galaxy”, you came back from the dead with the help of Cerberus, given a new ship, assembled a team composed of old and new mates, then went into the ominous Omega Relay to combat the Collectors, who harvest humans in order to create Reapers. You successfully defeated them and basked in the glory, but you have Cerberus turning against you and is now on your tail.
Mass Effect 3 is the last iteration of this sci-fi RPG trilogy by Bioware, so what better way to end it all than going back to Earth and try to save it from being destroyed. Shepard is no superhuman, but he/she is the best chance that humanity and the rest of the galaxy has. Bioware has since expanded to developing games outside their usual scope, most notably Command and Conquer Generals 2. Despite this, they are still known as the most well-known team in developing role-playing titles since time immemorial.
Since being formally announced back in December 11, 2010, various teasers and promotional material have been released to the public for this last leg of Commander Shepard’s saga. The most notable of the marketing is a scene where a battle is being fought in Big Ben amidst the carnage, which is a startling image to say the least. Finally, the fight for humanity has come to Earth and Mars, which were actually featured in one of the star systems you can see in the galaxy view mode of the Normandy SR-2 in Mass Effect 2. Instead of being called the Solar System though, the name was shortened to Sol to fit in with the rest of the fictitious star systems. Perhaps that was already a sign of things to come.
As with other recent Bioware games, you can load your save file from Mass Effect 2 into this game and continue your character’s journey. This is great since it provides continuity between each version and it lets players have facial investment on their custom character, immersing them in the story and gameplay. If you have had a character since the first game, then it’s time to complete the journey and make your Commander Shepard the ultimate Savior of the Galaxy.
There are other new features added to top off this sequel, including revisions to the combat system. In the previous games, moving and shooting isn’t exactly conducive for Shepard’s health and you need to always be behind some cover. But with Mass Effect 3, you now have an improved melee attack that lets you quickly eliminate an enemy when up close and not just stun him while you’re wide open for other enemies to take potshots at you. There are punches and other close range attacks, including an instant kill with your new omniblade when you hold down the melee button. This means that if you’re the type that played Vanguard in ME2 and died a million times because you’d play very aggressively, you can finally play that way and not get killed as quickly in ME3.
The cover system itself is now also improved, so you can do more things while in combat more seamlessly like blindfiring and moving from cover to cover. There are also other things like being able to issue verbal commands to squadmates and even use the Kinect in Xbox 360 to make use of their biotics. You will need all these things to fight against the improved AI and the larger variety of tougher enemies that you’ll encounter. Of course, all of this is topped off by the gorgeous visuals that have captivated fans in the first two games.
After years of fans asking “what if?”, there will be a four-player cooperative multiplayer, which is something that fans have been wanting for quite some time. When Mass Effect 2 had showed improvements in combat dynamics, especially with biotics between different character classes, the potential for co-op had become obvious. You and your friends can now combine your skills and come up with new tactics during battle to take out enemies left and right. The only thing about it though is that you can’t carry over your singleplayer characters into this mode, so you have to make new characters just for the multiplayer.
Due to it being a game published by Electronic Arts, Mass Effect 3 will require players to install Origin, which is basically EA’s own content distribution platform, similar to Valve’s Steam. This may perhaps be an inconvenience for a lot of people as it’s basically installing another piece of software, like Rockstar Social Club for Grand Theft Auto IV and L.A. Noire and Windows Games Live for a lot of other titles, while Steam isn’t as big of an inconvenience due to the amount of games available for purchase in it. But if you’re an avid player of other EA games like Battlefield 3, then you don’t need to worry about it at all.
For those who want a taste of this new game, a demo is planned to be released on Valentine’s Day, February 14. If you’re lonely on this year’s day of hearts, then perhaps you can hunker down in your bunker and download the demo to occupy yourself in a more worthwhile way. If you do have a date on that day, then use it as leverage when that person turns out to refuse sex and other later pleasantries. If you can’t get any, then just get back to playing this game until he/she changes her mind about you apologizing for whatever you may have done and get back to the supposed plan for a perfect Valentines anyway. That’s more than enough reason to download the demo on that very day.
Mass Effect 3 is set for release on March 6, 2012, less than a month after the demo. In Commander Shepard’s last appearance, Bioware has pulled all the stops to make this game the ultimate swan song. The Mass Effect series has been quite a fascinating universe with its own society and culture, so its following will live on beyond the initial shelf life of this new game. The good thing that fans can say about this particular series that hasn’t been said about a lot of other franchises is that this story had an ending, and it looks to be a really good one.