“Mass Effect 3” is what “Transformers” could have been if it was good. The third installment in the critically praised series was released March 6. The preview build released recently for both Xbox 360 and PS3 is a great introduction if you’re unfamiliar with the series. “Mass Effect 3” has a solid reputation to maintain and based on the preview here, they will have no issue even raising it up a notch.
The preview starts out with character selection. The ability to customize your avatar has been a big part of the series and fans will be pleased to know that you can port the character you’ve created into this story, like in “Mass Effect 2,” creating a seamless transition between games. Any decisions made in previous games transfer to this, creating a narrative that is truly affected by how you play the game.
The story begins on Earth. You are Commander Shepherd, the essential hero of the universe. The game drives its story with the idea of a coming apocalypse, but instead of it only effecting Earth, the entire galaxy is in danger and as commander Shepherd you’re the only one who truly understands the situation. Without spoiling much from the previous game (for those who haven’t played yet), Shepherd led a team against the Reapers on a unwinnable mission. As the leader of this crew, it is your job to form alliances with separate species to ensure survival on a galactic scale.
The game uses a light touch to bring emotion to the story, never using exploitative methods to create an artificial connection to the characters. Any tragedy that is witnessed in the game serves to create more of a drive to win the game. The gameplay, character design, story and insane level of customizability make this one of the best games to be launched this year—and it’s only March.
For those who don’t like RPG gameplay, you can select to have a more traditional action game. If you prefer the narrative experience, you can choose to have that be the primary focus of the game. While still pushing the “on-rails” aspects of the story, you still feel the impact of any choices you make in-game. If you haven’t pre-ordered or prepared yourself to play this, get ready now. The level of payoff on such a simple game will make any time played feel unique.