Friday, March 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3: First Impressions

DISCLAIMER: If you don't like spoilers, don't read first impressions on my blog: I hypothesize, spoil, and min/max speculate frequently.  You have been warned and despite my best efforts, I can't suppress my speculative nature as often as I'd like when firing from the hip on first-impression articles.

Now, before I even set out to play Mass Effect 3 (ME3), I had to slap myself across the face for not finishing my insanity play through of ME2 prior to its release.  You see, when I first beat the game a lot of the downloadable content wasn't available, so I played it again on the hardest difficulty (which I regret for the sheer amount of time it wasted for no benefit) and then, two days after it's release, I finally got around to starting ME3.

I wanted to play on Insanity, again, because I am a glutton for punishment and hoped that Bioware did something other then give the enemies bigger numbers to simulate the game being harder.  Thankfully they did, but more on that later.

So after sitting through the grueling five minute opening sequence six or so times to see what changed with every class, I settled on Vanguard because Biotic charge - a skill I had previously made fun of extensively in other games, is ridiculously overpowered and can keep you alive endlessly.  Also, a maxed out pull also ensures that anything not in armor/shields/barrier is never a threat.  Adept would've been a close second choice - but without the instant-shield-recharge attack, they tend to die instantly often.

Not that the vanguard doesn't die instantly.  Charge a Mech (they'll grab and instakill you) or really any big enemy that has a strong melee attack - you'll be reloading often.

Game play really requires something other then the Gears of War method to progress.  You can't just grab cover and return fire expecting to win - a creative and innovative use of you and your squad's powers will really benefit every situation.  This is a far cry from what Insanity was on ME2 - which really was just an endless amount of prayer factored in with a lucky scenario that happened to fall into place perfectly and allow you to progress.

Side Note:  In ME2, when you have to destroy the reaper core towards the end of the game, just prior to getting legion - this particular battle where husks and abominations swarm you endlessly easily goes down on my list as the hardest part of a video game I've ever played, ever.  I was an infiltrator, and perhaps  playing as an adept or taking more biotic squad mates would've helped (I had Reave as my power), but still.  It took three hours and over 100 reloads to successfully finish that part of the game.  

Insanity is fun and rewarding - but also punishing.  Stay out of cover, or approach an engineer's turret, and reload the game.  More on that in another article.

They did a lot of things right in ME3, and while I'll do my usual good/bad/balanced review next week - I'll commend Bioware for making a few very tough decisions, sticking with the ammo system, and improving load times as a whole throughout the game.  The only major complaint I have about the game so far is the story, which seems unbelievable at best for the ME setting and characters I've invested so much time into.  I'm interested, but if this wasn't Mass Effect - I'd be scratching my head wondering what the writers were smoking when they wrote up the script for this game.  Loopholes and character development abound.

Keep an eye out for the good/bad/balanced articles starting early next week!