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‘Mass Effect 3’ delivers an epic and emotional experience

‘Mass Effect 3’ delivers an epic and emotional experience

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Mass Effect 3
Bioware
Electronic Arts
PS3, Xbox 360

Mass Effect 3 is not only one of the best sequels ever made, it is simply one of the best games ever made. From the stellar opening to the (admittedly controversial) ending it provided a rich and gripping narrative of sacrifice and struggle against overwhelming odds. It also brought the saga of Commander Shepard to a fittingly epic conclusion brimming with emotion.

The beginning of Mass Effect 3 sets the stage for what is to come. The opening sequence of Earth under assault by the terrifying Reapers shows the odds that Shepard and the rest of civilization are up against. The attack plays out like a futuristic shock and awe campaign, with skyscraper sized Reapers striding among the buildings of Vancouver. The Reapers make short work of Earth’s defenses, and Shepard is forced to flee. As the Normandy flies into the darkness, the realization comes that things will get much worse before they get better.

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The games story hits every note perfectly. From the sacrifices of former team members to the desperate comic relief amid the grim reality of war, the writing and voice acting is characteristically superb. The game pulls no punches in its story, and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried approximately five times during the course of this game.

Now, in order to get this level of narrative punch and poignancy, some of the narrative freedom from the previous two games was taken away. While regrettable, it led to a more focused and more intense experience. The writers at Bioware were able to make the story hit harder by not having to worry about as many branches on the story tree.

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The game’s ending, while controversial, made sense with the story as it was: there was not going to be a happy ending. Dread and finality were draped over every inch of the games narrative. When the end came, and Shepard was presented with that final choice, it seemed right. The moral choice system writ large in one massive choice for how the galaxy would move forward from the Reaper War.

It was tough to say goodbye to Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy. They felt like family after the 90 or so hours put into the trilogy. Their story will live on as one of the great tales in science fiction. The struggle against the Reapers is waiting for anyone who is new to gaming and isn’t sure if they’ll like it. In short, Mass Effect 3 is one of those games that showed exactly what games can do.

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