The time has finally come. I have waited for this evening with a longing that borders on obsession. Everything has been prepared, and I lay stretched out on my couch, ready to begin. I flex my fingers to relieve the itch of anticipation. I look to my beloved husband as he dims the lights, asking me if I am ready. I am, and with a contented sigh………………. I hit “Start”.
What did you think this was going to be, a cheesy beginning to a crappy romance? Hell no! This was the night of March 6, and I was beginning Mass Effect 3. I have been an avid fan of Mass Effect since the first game, so I cannot begin to describe the excitement I felt as I started up the latest installment to the series. When my best bud asked me to write up a review, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. But I am not here to give a technical analysis, or a comprehensive piece of all the rights and wrongs of this game. This is just one simple gamer-girl’s thoughts on a game she couldn’t wait to get her hands on.
Mass Effect 3
Systems: Playstation 3, XBox 360 [Reviewed], PC
Publishers: Electronic Arts
Released: March 6, 2012
As Commander Shepard, you begin on Earth, awaiting trial for genocide. Immediately you begin to sense that something is amiss. By the time you make the short trip to your military tribunal, your suspicions are quickly confirmed that something is very wrong. The greatest threat the galaxy has ever faced has arrived – The Reapers have begun the attack on Earth. The annihilation of the Milky Way has started, and you are now the last hope to try and stop it.
From the beginning, this game is amazing. I spent the first 30 minutes with my mouth agape in awe, repeating the term “this is fucking awesome.” First off, the game is gorgeous. Who would have thought the end of the world could be so breath-taking? One of my biggest complaints is that I was often too busy trying to save my ass and accomplish my mission to really get a chance to take it all in. On the bright side, I was having too much fun destroying my enemies to dwell on it. The battle controls are pretty damn good. Firing and aiming are simple enough. Taking and staying under cover is probably the trickiest thing a player will have to master. Be warned, you will get shot trying to do this correctly. Just hope your shields are fully charged.
If you can’t take cover fast enough, you can easily pause the fight and access abilities that can give you an edge in any battle. Want to sabotage your enemies’ weapons do they explode in their hands? Want to throw your enemies around with your mind? Want to go invisible and take your enemies out from behind? You can do all this and more. Even if you choose a class that doesn’t include an ability you would like to have, it’s all good. Just head to the med-bay and buy whichever power you want. For me, a bad-ass sniper rifle and assault rifle was usually all I needed to get the job done. Still, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve, because you are going to need them.
That’s right kiddies; the enemies you face in this game are not stupid. There is a good variety and they will come after you in a myriad of different ways. You have the usual grunts, but you will also have enemies that will piss you off and/or make you cringe when they come onto the field. The worst for me was the aptly named Banshee – just the shriek that signaled one’s arrival made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What makes it even better is that your opponents aren’t even all on the same team.
The Reaper enemies are horrifying mockeries of the species you are trying to save. They are the “harvested” beings of various planets, and while their death is essential, you can’t help but pity the lost souls and feel the dread that comes with the realization that this is what awaits the galaxy if the Reapers are not stopped. Meanwhile, there is the fringe group Cerberus. They are a bunch of assholes with their own agenda of how to deal with the Reapers, and it is usually at odds with your own. Even on the easiest setting, you will have to consider what you face and plan accordingly. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. You will always be allowed to have 2 squad mates to help you fight. You can direct them as needed and command how they move and use their abilities. I’ve never been too big on doing this, I tend to use them as cannon fodder, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they weren’t stupid either. They know what needs to be done, and can hold their own pretty damn well. It’s definitely a bonus for a player like me.
Now don’t think that this game is all action. If you are looking for a game that gives you non-stop battles and a chance to rack up an impressive body count, this is not the game for you. Story is an important component to this series, and especially this game. The whole premise of the game is that you must bring together the galaxy and hope that with its combined might, it can take out the Reapers and save Earth. BioWare said that this game is stand-alone and new players can jump right in. While this may technically be true, do yourself a favor and play the first 2 games or at least ME2. There is so much back-story that is woven into this final chapter, I think that it would be far less absorbing if you don’t have a good understanding of what has happened before. So many of the characters you meet along the way towards the final battle have usually already played a part in Shepard’s tale. I can’t help but think that to a new player, this would cause some boredom and confusion. My husband wanted to make sure that I wrote about how much fun this game was to just watch. He was as engrossed as I was, and he never picked up a controller for this game. So maybe my opinion is biased, I really can never know for sure. Only way to find out is to give it a try for yourself.
By now, just about everyone knows that the ending of ME3 was a major point of contention. No other game that I can think of has caused such an up-roar. To put it plainly, many players hated it and demanded something be done. Just Google “Mass Effect 3 ending” and you can find out for yourself the firestorm that came from it. I will give you a more thorough examination of what I thought on the matter below, but if you would rather find out for yourself, I stress that you skip the next paragraph. But let me just leave you with this. I was disappointed.
Disappointed does not even begin to describe what I felt as I watched the credits rolls. I was disgusted, angry, confused, and depressed. I never wanted to play this game or any other entry in the series ever again. I cursed BioWare and swore that I would never buy another game by them. My husband says that I actually went through the 5 stages of grief, and I can’t really deny it. Now I know what you are thinking, she just wanted her happy ending where everyone lives happily ever after and was pissed that she didn’t get it. I won’t lie and say I didn’t hope that there was one. But I accepted going in that there was a good chance Shepard wasn’t coming out of this alive. That wasn’t the problem at all. The problem was that the ending didn’t make a damn bit of sense. And nothing that I had accomplished during the game seemed to matter. As a game that glorified that the player’s choices mattered, the ending didn’t reflect any choice at all. For a game that allowed you to play as the noblest of boy-scouts to the most ruthless of assholes and any degree in-between, none of that seemed to matter in the end. This was one point where new players had the advantage, because they weren’t burdened with the questions that came to so many long-time players. Shepard’s demise was the one thing that I was certain about. Did I accomplish my mission? Did I save Earth? Did I save the galaxy? To the new player, the answers were “yes”. To me, maybe, but at what fucking cost? I may have just destroyed Earth and the galaxy in my bid to defeat the Reapers, and frankly I wasn’t even sure I did actually defeat them. What about my ship and crew, my squad-mates on the ground with me. Did they make it? I spent 3 freaking games, 150+ hours working with these guys and frankly, it seems the little bitches were magically resurrected and ditched me to my fate as they ran away. And that is just the intellectual argument. The ending itself was lame as hell. In ME2, Shepard and his/her crew could live or die. You could hold the Collector base, or destroy it. Very different outcomes based on what you did. In ME3 it was more like “which color would you like with your end scene”. Whether you chose synthesis, control, or destroy, each ending was very short and THEY ALL LOOKED THE SAME. It was a cheap and lame way to end an amazing series, and frankly it pissed me off. When dancing Ewoks are a better ending to an epic galactic saga, you know you have failed.
I, like many others, took to the Internet to see what the hell happened. To see if there was something I missed, something I could have done differently. Anything that would make me not regret the time, thought, and effort I put into this series. The ray of hope for me was the “indoctrination theory;” it gave me a reason to try the game again. I don’t know if it is real, or a mad hope to justify the ending. But it made me start my game again, and for that I am grateful. Also BioWare has announced they will be making changes to the ending. Nothing different or new, but to expand on the original endings. That’s fine. As I read one person say, “I don’t need a different ending, but a little clarification would be nice”. That would be great, so I will eagerly wait and see.
Bottom line, this game is amazing. If not for the epic fumble that is the ending, I would say that Mass Effect 3 is one of the greatest games I have ever played. It looks and sounds great. The story is absorbing and makes you eager to find out what’s next. The fighting is fun, challenging, and varied enough that you don’t get bored, but not so difficult that you give up in disgust. I would recommend this to any player, with the caveat that the ending may not be on par with the rest. I believe in giving fair warning.
But this is NSFW Gamer. What about the hotness factor? Well if you play your cards right, you can have sex with one (and maybe more) of your comrades. As someone who has always loved “the chase,” the fact that you can do this is just amazing in my book. It might not be to the degree of skill you may want, but it’s still great. What makes it even better is you have more choices than ever before. Straight, gay, bi, even alien sex is within your grasp. Now you can’t bang just anyone, some characters are not options. For those characters that are, your gender and their sexual preferences do factor into the equation, but still, so many possibilities!
Fortunately most of the characters in the game are very attractive, even the aliens. So getting to bang one of them is a pleasing proposition. Now, there isn’t a lot of skin to be seen. Sure there are half-naked dancers in the bar, but that isn’t much. But my God, some of the things these characters are wearing! Their uniforms are so skin-tight it isn’t a stretch to think about what’s underneath. Plus when you can be fully decked out in futuristic battle armor and still look sexy – that’s hot to me.
Like I said before, you do have to put some work into successfully bedding one of your companions. This is actually an enjoyable part of the game for me. I liked running around the ship and interacting with my crew. Trying to get one in bed was just another layer to the fun. There are many worthy candidates, like my right-hand man Garrus. He was by my side through all 3 games and I did consider it. But he is a Turian, and so there was a problem with the “parts” lining up right. So he was a no-go, not if I wanted my sex scene. Another possibility is Tali, but only if you are a guy Shep. Since I have spent 3 games wondering what was under her mask, I was a little pissed that I didn’t get to find out. This is only a perk if you romance her. So I am already planning another play-through as a guy Shep to find out. But I already know I will be tempted to use my manly version to go after Miranda, who still has that amazing ass and body shown to full advantage in her body-suit. There are just so many options, what is a player to do? For my first play through, I decided to go after another long time character, Kaidan. He was my romance in the first game and he is still hot. I especially liked getting to check out his ass at one point. Unfortunately, he went from being a sensitive hot guy to a slightly paranoid and whiny pain in the ass. It’s probably less annoying for new-comers, but after 3 games, I realize he is the type of man who would be waiting up for me after a night on the town with my buds. Lame!
Still, I made my choice, and I got my sexy time, right? Sort of…
Let me explain. After all that chasing and flirting, the grand finale was less than satisfying. First, it was way too short. I have been flying around the galaxy kicking ass and yet still found time to pursue this guy and I only get about 2 minutes (and that is a very generous estimate) to bask in my catch before it fades to black. That is just wrong! Second, it is more an implication of the deed than the deed itself. I didn’t even get to take my damn bra off! I have seen more sexually explicated scenes on prime time TV. Even if you are of the opinion that video game sex is creepy, who cares! I worked for it and I want more than what I got. This game is rated “M,” so at least take it as far as an R-rated movie. Oh well, I will take what I can get.
There were two points that bothered me with the whole romancing thing. First, where is the option for those people of the mind set, “the galaxy is ending, I may be dead tomorrow, I want to just have wild, crazy sex and damn the consequences”? Why can’t I just go and propose some doomsday sex with any of my companions? I had the desire for that option, and I knew who I would do it with, which brings me to my second gripe. Two of the hottest characters of this game are not romance options! First is EDI, she is your ship’s AI that gets an android body that is pretty damn amazing. She is super-hot and she is trying to get a grasp on what organic life is about. There is nothing hotter than a sexy android that doesn’t know about sex and wants to be taught. AND YOU DON’T GET TO TEACH HER!!! The best you can do is pair her up with your ship’s pilot Joker. It makes sense, I guess, but come on! Then there is Lt. Vega, who is just a totally hot piece of ass. I don’t care if he has a fauxhawk, he is hot and I want to have wild Viking sex with him! AND I CAN’T!!!! It doesn’t help that he is a total tease who turns shy when you call him on it. It only makes him that much more appealing. It’s just is not fair.
While there may not be a lot of skin, nor is the action you get all that visually stimulating, I think that being able to romance other characters does give Mass Effect 3 a special appeal that most games lack. Since most of the characters are sexually provocative and enjoyable to look at, you aren’t hard put to try. It certainly gives ME3 a certain degree of hotness. I love having the opportunity to be able to chase, flirt, and romance members of my crew. I just wish I got to do and see more.