The pseudo-shooter mechanics of Mass Effect 2 are further refined in ME3. You now have a complete cover system in place. Shepard can now hide behind most objects with ease, but you might have a hard time switching from cover to cover with combat rolls, especially on consoles where several cover-related actions are mapped to the same button. Still, it’s a minor headache on lower difficulties, but players that intend to finish the game on nightmare might be more aggressive in their outcry.
Mass Effect 1 had a veritable shower of available weapons to play with. Mass Effect 2 settled for a limited arsenal with different properties. Mass Effect 3 combines both system into a pleasantly sized arsenal that the player can continually upgrade via weapon mods found with a bit of dedicated exploration.
Weapons can have their firing rate and clip sizes upgraded, and melee attachments, like bayonets, are available. If you want to scope your pistol and give it some armor penetration, then go right ahead and do so. This new system further enables the player to fully customize his squad. I played mostly with a sniper build while my heavier companion caused damage with armor-destroying shotguns and my lighter buddy went into battle with a rather fun little pistol that spat out sticky grenades that exploded after a few seconds. Hilarity and giblets ensued.
Combat in Mass Effect 3 is extremely satisfying. I recommend not playing the game on its easiest difficulty setting your first time around or you’ll simply breeze through the entirety of the campaign’s combat.
The bulk of your remaining play time will be swallowed up by gathering War Assets. Here, Bioware once again screws with loyal customers. You see, in order to obtain ME3’s best ending, a certain number of War Assets are required. This would be a perfectly acceptable game mechanism, except players figured out early on that obtaining the necessary number of Assets pretty much requires players to participate in Mass Effect’s multiplayer modes. Playing online earns you multipliers that makes it easier to gather enough resources to obtain the game’s best ending. Several problems with this:
1) Both prior Mass Effect games did not have multiplayer, yet were huge successes in spite of this. 2) Allowing players to engage in online co-op is one thing, forcing them to do so when your prior products were single-player only RPGs is insulting. 3) It’s blatanly obvious why Bioware chose to include multiplayer literally at the 11th hour in the game’s production cycle: their EA overlords asked for it and Bioware sold their soul. 4) Let’s be honest, there’s another reason why MP was included in what used to be an exclusively single-player experience: to combat piracy. Players who download the game illegally are locked out of Mass Effect’s online modes. I understand the need to combat online piracy, but screwing your loyal fan base isn’t the way to go about it. And that’s not even considering the possibility that some people might actually not care for online play. And what, pray tell, happens 10 years from now when I want to replay the game and all the online servers are gone, hmmmmm? A game’s single player experience should never be dependent on whether or not the player participates in online play. Shame on you, Bioware!
Read about the presentation in Mass Effect 3 and the verdict after the next jump…