The Milky Way map on the Normandy still serves as the game's vessel for exploration, but how you navigate the various star systems for resources has changed somewhat. First, the tedious mining mechanic has been overhauled. Shepard's goal is no longer scouring every planet for minerals, instead focusing on finding a select few unique items - which are frequently the basis of the side missions - in each system. To accomplish this, the Normandy can use a proximity scanner to locate items outside a planet's orbit, but doing so will attract the Reapers. Eventually, the Normandy's activity will draw a group of Reaper capital ships into a system, meaning Shepard and Co. need to make a quick escape. It's an interesting new take on exploration that cuts out a lot of the fat associated with mining, and ties things nicely to the Reaper threat.
It means that the campaign as a whole has been fine tuned. Even the inclusion of James Vega, who was meant to help newcombers to the franchise feel more familiar this their surroundings, doesn't feel contrived.
When it comes to the visuals, Mass Effect 3 performs admirably. It's even nice to see that Shepherd's implants still show signs of wear when you become more renegade. While the scale of the battle environments hasn't changed a great deal, everything looks much more refined and the variety in the places you visit shouldn't be understated.
It's also worth noting that the voice cast has again done a fantastic job. The talent pool is even more impressive this time around, with there being a mixture of established voice actors, established screen actors and even rather odd cameos.
Perhaps the most interesting element of Mass Effect 3 isn't found in the single-player component of the game. Instead, it's with a first for the series, multiplayer. In this new arena, customisation is very much at the forefront of everything. You get to create your own character from scratch and take them into the universe of Mass Effect to do battle with up to three other people.
This part of the game also complements the single-player story, so it's not just thrown in there to get more replay value out the title, it actually adds something.
Mass Effect 3 is a very special game. It brings all the elements together to create a package that's like a dream for fans of the franchise and should be for fans of the genre and beyond. The integration of core personalities throughout the campaign works very well and it's a marvel to see how the decision you made so long ago can have their consequences realised in such telling fashion. Mass Effect 3 should not be missed.
This game was reviewed on the PS3.
|» Some of the decisions you make will really test your character.|
|» Gameplay has been tightened up.|
|» Multiplayer feels well integrated.|
|» Jessica Chobot's appearance.|
|» We now have to wait to see what happens next.|
|» Combat Engineers can be rather annoying.|
|9||GamingUnion.net Editor's Choice Award|