Video Game Thoughts: Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 was a 2012 role-playing game by Bioware that I played on the PC. I believed both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 were good games. Neither game was perfect, but they were still good games. Mass Effect 2 only improved in some areas. Mass Effect 3, on the other hand, got much closer to improving on the first game in every way. The gameplay was improved and the story was more epic. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the ending.

The main story featured the homeworlds of the major alien races players had met in the previous games. It was a game of rallying the clans behind the banner of saving Earth. It was great to see these new planets. They had been mentioned in the past, but players never got to see them. The only bad thing is that by the time they got to each planet, it was in the process of falling to the enemies. Commander Shepard, the main character couldn’t really help most times. His (or her) mission, the key to saving the galaxy, was more important. I would have liked to see these planets in better times. The player got to meet all these former characters, help them with their immediate problems, and then they would join the cause to save Earth.

I really liked the whole story of coming together. I feel the same in real life. We are so much stronger when united. When everyone does their own thing, we are weak. Evil wins. When we work together, the community as a whole makes sure evil is contained. One of the reasons I don’t do protests is because to me it is divisive. No good debate can occur during a protest. I can illustrate my point clearly and without offending anyone through writing, like this website, but also in letters to politicians and leaders in the community.

Back to the game, they added a lot more weapons to the game as well as weapon parts. The classes were given more skills with different branches along the way. All of these greatly boosted the replay value. I had just as much interest in playing new classes in Mass Effect 3 as I did in the original Mass Effect. In addition, different story choices in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, had an effect in this final installment. I made new characters in the earlier games just to see the outcome in the later games. Mass Effect 3 still didn’t have enough dialogue choices though.

The major downside here was that they couldn’t honor every choice in the previous games to the fullest extent. Many of my old choices didn’t really change the story. The character would make a one or two sentence unique response based on the unique background of my Shepard character, and then the story continued the same way. I can’t complain too much about this because the amount of choices they let players make in earlier games was staggering. They would never have had the time to make truly unique outcomes for all the possibilities.

A multiplayer mode was added to the game as well. Before playing I thought it would be pretty bad, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Technical issues prevented me from fully enjoying it though. I probably had a disconnection at least once an hour playing multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. That might not sound like a lot but it gets to be tedious after a while. I have been spoiled by Blizzard Entertainment’s online games, which all use powerful dedicated servers.

Electronic Arts (EA), the publisher of the game, went the cheap route. They made the multiplayer based on peer-to-peer connections instead of having a dedicated server. Peer-to-peer connections are ad-hoc networks between players. When a group of players queue up to join a match, the game server does a quick test of each of their internet connections. The player with the fastest and most stable connection is made the host. All other players are directed to connect to that player’s computer. Since players’ own computers handle all the networking, the game server uses a lot less resources, saving EA money. The problem is that even the players with the best connections usually don’t have as strong of a connection as a dedicated game server has, causing players to suffer from frequent lag and disconnections.

Now for the morality side of things. Bioware included less offensive content in Mass Effect 3, but they had to go and include same-sex relationships. It was two steps forward, one step back. There were still some sex scenes that went too far, but there were also romantic relationships with only kissing and a fade to black. The language was better too. It was pretty rare to see any of the really bad words. I prefer none at all, but it wasn’t too bad this time.

Same-sex relationships were a bad move. The first two games didn’t have this. It was very awkward when the third game did. Rather than sticking to the core values of the series, Bioware made Mass Effect 3 more progressive. I’m sure this improved their sales numbers for the game, but at the cost of their integrity. It became “popular” to include same-sex relationships. Bioware pandered to this by adding them to the game. Some of the characters in the original games were straight, but in the third game just happened to become bisexual on a dime to fit Bioware’s goal of accepting of everyone’s preferences.

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