As Mass Effect 3 loaded on my Xbox, I sat back, calmly waiting for the game to start. Of course, this was interrupted by three separate updates to the game and I got to sit for a long time before being able to click that New Game button. The first chime took me back to the very first time I played Mass Effect 1 and the excitement started. Who can forget that noise? Leaning forward eagerly, I waited for my port to go through but then my save from ME 2 didn’t port correctly and I got to spend ten minutes recreating my Jane Shepard from scratch (her nose still doesn’t look right).
So, finally, after nearly a half hour of waiting, the opening cut scene started – and I was hooked. As Commander Shepard once again, it was my job to smack the stupid Alliance Council into doing something about the nefarious Reaper threat. Did they listen to me? Well, they probably thought they should have all along when a Reaper blew the fuck out of the chambers we were in and killed them all.
Yes, that’s right, the game starts out with you nearly dying as Earth is attacked – no decimated – by the Reapers invading force. The little girl you were watching playing from your room? Oh, she’s dead. The friends and family of most of your crew? Them too. And in this game it’s not just being told, “Hey, we don’t stand a CHANCE against this enemy,” you see it firsthand. As I ran down the outside of the tower where I had been , I looked out to watch a Reaper ship zapping and blasting its way through a thriving metropolis, ship after ship dogfighting above me while molten meteors hurtled their way through the sky. Let me remind you, I’ve been playing for less than ten minutes thus far and ever since, the action hasn’t relented once.
I’m not going to spoil more of the story for you, but I will say that fans of this series will not be disappointed. The game play is the same combat from ME2 (sadly for those of us who miss ME1s combat system) as is the upgrade system, though the weapons load out gives the player many more choices of how to play their shooting game (supposedly there are power upgrades like the weapons load out, but I haven’t gotten there yet). Moving from cover to cover is more fluid than ever, while the companion AI is, in all honesty, still a little finicky, it’s nothing that a little micro managing can’t overcome.
The graphics are gorgeous and when you play this game, remember to look out over every vista and out of every window because Bioware has done a remarkable job of populating the world around you with stunning vistas and views of the Citadel that make the Mass Effect world more real than ever before.
And let’s be honest, part of the reason I’m so enamored with this game is that right off the bat you’re thrown into creating relationships with these characters or furthering the ones you’ve already met. Since I romanced Kaiden, our initial meeting outside the council chamber was rife with tension and delicious awkwardness. Then back on the Normandy after my first mission, I got into a sparring match with the new character, James Vega, where I tried to beat the survivor’s guilt out of him. I got some face time with Dr. Chakwas and my favorite character Joker, not to mention the multitude of other familiar faces that popped up to say hi.
So far, I give this game rave reviews and insist that if you’ve ever been a fan of any kind of RPG, pick up ME 1, 2 and of course, 3. You will not be disappointed. As to those of you who played ME 1 and 2, why the hell haven’t you bought 3 yet? Get playing! We have to save Earth, people! These damn aliens sure aren’t going to do it.