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Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 is an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. Officially announced on December 11, 2010, the game was released March 6, 2012 and marks the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy of video games, completing the story of Commander Shepard. A Wii U version was announced during Nintendo's conference at E3 2012. The Wii U port was developed by Australian developer Straight Right, and was released as a Wii U launch game under the title Mass Effect 3: Special Edition.

The combat system in Mass Effect 3 has been changed and refined. In particular, the cover system has been improved, there are more options for moving around the battlefield and scoring instant melee kills, more conventional grenades are available and an improved artificial intelligence is introduced. A four player multiplayer co-op mode is also available in game. Gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is influenced by decisions made in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, for players who have completed those games. It was nominated for five awards at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards and it won Best RPG of 2012.

Like its predecessors, Mass Effect 3 was released to commercial success and critical acclaim. However, the game's endings were criticized by many players, prompting the release of an extended cut DLC which elaborated on the consequences of the ending chosen and the choices made by the player throughout the series.

Mass Effect 3 Plot

Mass Effect 3 begins on Earth with Commander Shepard having been detained following the events in Arrival. In the opening moments it is revealed that Earth has recently lost contact with its extra-solar assets and is hastily preparing for the imminent Reaper arrival. The assault comes moments later, and all of Earth's defenses are overwhelmed. Shepard escapes a burning Vancouver on the Normandy with the help of Admiral Anderson and either Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams (depending on which survived Virmire), and leaves to gather help from other species while Anderson coordinates human resistance on Earth. Before leaving the Sol System, Shepard is ordered to Mars by Admiral Hackett, who claims that researchers have uncovered something that may give humanity a chance against the Reapers. There, Shepard battles Cerberus forces and encounters former squad-mate Liara T'Soni, who has discovered plans for a Prothean superweapon that may be capable of defeating the Reapers. Before leaving the facility, Shepard speaks with a now-hostile Illusive Man, who claims he wants to use the Prothean weapon to take control of the Reapers. Shepard pleads for help from the Council, but they are reluctant to oblige due to their own preoccupations and unwilling to bet everything on an untested device. Shepard realizes that the only way to gain other species' assistance will be to help them in their own wars against the Reapers and garner favors, while at the same time gathering war assets to be used against the Reapers in battle. Eventually, Hackett begins construction on the Prothean weapon and dubs it "The Crucible".

After rescuing the turian primarch from a battle on one of Palaven's moons (as well as reuniting with squadmate Garrus Vakarian), Shepard convenes a war summit, consisting of Shepard, the primarch, and representatives for the salarians and the krogan. The primarch promises Shepard turian support for Earth, but only if the krogan agree to help defend Palaven. The summit goes badly at first, with Urdnot Wrex/Wreav (depending on whether Wrex survived Virmire) withholding all krogan support until a cure for the genophage can be created. The cure is being developed on the salarian homeworld of Sur'Kesh by former squadmate Mordin Solus (if he survived the events of Mass Effect 2) and a team of scientists. After a series of battles on Tuchanka, the krogan homeworld, Shepard can either cure the genophage or trick Wrex/Wreav into believing it has been cured. If Shepard decides to go forward with the cure, Mordin sacrifices his life at the last moment to counteract a salarian-planned sabotage to it. If Shepard decides not to use the cure, they are forced to shoot Mordin to prevent him from fixing the sabotage -- unless Shepard can convince him that it would be best to leave the genophage uncured.

After gaining the support of the krogan and the turians, Shepard learns that Cerberus has launched an assault on the Citadel. While there, Shepard deduces that human Councilor Udina is behind the attack and kills him, saving the rest of the council. Shepard also encounters Kai Leng, a notorious Cerberus assassin, and prevents him from assassinating the salarian councilor with the help of Thane Krios (if he survived the previous game). However, Thane is critically wounded in the struggle, and later dies in hospital with Shepard and his son Kolyat by his side.

Shepard then travels to the Far Rim to meet with the admirals of the quarian flotilla. Shepard learns that the quarians have gone to war with the geth, and are attempting to reclaim Rannoch, their homeworld. With Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, Shepard boards a geth dreadnought that is broadcasting a short-range Reaper code to the geth. Shepard destroys it and finds Legion (or an identical geth VI, also dependent on the suicide mission), who tells Shepard that the geth, losing the war with the quarians, turned to the Reapers in desperation and were greatly enhanced at the cost of their independent thought, while Legion/the geth VI remains independent due to its unusual amount of active programs. With Legion/the geth VI's help, the geth are pushed back to a Reaper base which is projecting another Reaper signal. The source of the signal is discovered to be an actual Reaper, and with the help of an orbital strike from the quarian fleet, Shepard destroys it. With the Reaper control gone but the superior upgrades still viable, Shepard must choose either to allow the geth to upgrade and become fully individualized and free, in which case they retaliate against the quarian flotilla, annihilating it and causing Tali to commit suicide, or to shut down the geth consensus, which in turn allows the quarians to destroy the geth fleet and end them as a race. Alternatively, depending on past decisions, Shepard can allow the geth to upgrade while convincing the quarians that the geth do not want to fight them, making peace between the two and gaining support for Earth from both.

Shepard is then informed by the asari councilor of a Prothean artifact on the asari homeworld, Thessia, which may be the key to finishing the Crucible. However, when the Normandy arrives on Thessia, the planet is already under heavy Reaper attack. Shepard must defend Thessia while simultaneously gathering information on the "Catalyst", an essential tool for the Crucible's effectiveness. The artifact the asari councilor referred to is revealed to be a Prothean beacon housing a VI called Vendetta. As it is about to reveal information regarding the Catalyst, Kai Leng arrives and steals the VI program. Deciding to take the fight to the Illusive Man, Shepard follows Leng to the Sanctuary research facility on the human colony Horizon, which Cerberus has been using to research methods of controlling the Reapers. There, Shepard saves Miranda Lawson (or her sister Oriana, if Miranda is dead) from her father and Leng in the research facility. Either of the sisters gives Shepard the location of Cerberus headquarters, which, with the help of Admiral Hackett and an Alliance fleet, Shepard assaults, killing Leng in the process but failing to capture the Illusive Man. After reacquiring Vendetta, Shepard learns that the Citadel itself is in fact the Catalyst, and that the Illusive Man has now become fully indoctrinated by the Reapers. Because of his indoctrination, the Illusive Man has informed the Reapers of the Citadel's pivotal function in the activation of the Crucible. In response, the Reapers capture the Citadel and move it to a defensible position above Earth, massing their fleets around it.

Under Hackett and Shepard's leadership, the combined fleets of all the races of the galaxy launch a massive final attack on the Reaper forces above Earth and on its surface in a last-ditch attempt to retake the Citadel and use it to activate the Crucible. After landing, Shepard assists in an assault on London, at the center of which there is a beam that connects to the orbiting Citadel. Reunited with Anderson, Shepard eventually begins the final push to the Citadel beam, but the attack force is decimated by Harbinger, the oldest and most powerful of the Reapers. During the charge, Shepard's squadmates are injured and evacuated. Shepard continues the charge alone, but is severely wounded in a blast from Harbinger, barely making it to the beam. Once on the Citadel, Shepard hears from Anderson, who also made it to the beam. Finding Anderson under the influence of the indoctrinated Illusive Man, Shepard succeeds in stopping the Cerberus leader, but Anderson is fatally wounded in the process. After opening the Citadel arms so that the Crucible can dock, Shepard is transported to the pinnacle of the Citadel, where a childlike AI appears. The AI declares that it is the Catalyst, and the creator of the Reapers. It reveals that the Reaper cycle is an attempt to prevent organic life from destroying itself by creating synthetic life; creators, the Catalyst argues, are always doomed to be destroyed by the created. The Catalyst characterizes the harvest as an ascendance, wherein advanced organic races are preserved in Reaper form and the opportunity is created for more primitive species to rise, evolve, and advance. In every cycle, the Catalyst studies the evolution of these organic species as well as their technological progression, with the ultimate goal of finding a solution to the conflict between synthetic and organic life.

The Catalyst says that it has lost faith in the Reapers' ability to achieve this purpose and, as now altered by the Crucible, gives Shepard three options of defeating them: control the Reapers, destroy the Reapers and all synthetic life, or synthesize all organic and synthetic life. Each choice results in Shepard's apparent death and the destruction of the entire mass relay network. London suffers varying degrees of damage and the Normandy crash lands on an alien planet. If the player's Effective Military Strength is high enough and Shepard chooses to destroy the Reapers, the game ends with a cutscene of Shepard taking a gasping breath from within a pile of rubble, hinting at survival. In a post-credits cutscene, an old man known as the "Stargazer" tells Shepard's story to a young boy, implying that Shepard's legacy lives on far into the future.

Mass Effect 3 Gameplay

Certain aspects of gameplay in Mass Effect 3 are impacted by choices made in previous games. When starting a new game, players with saved files from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are given the option of importing them into Mass Effect 3 to reflect these choices. If a saved file is imported, over 1000 variables are pulled to help shape how the final chapter is experienced. If there are no saved files available, there is an origin-story comic for new players to help them make quick decisions like there was in Mass Effect 2. Imported characters' appearance and class are changeable, with more features and hair-styles included in the character creator than in Mass Effect 2. Commander Shepard always starts the game with some powers. Upon finishing the game, a New Game+ option allows players to continue playing after the main story ends, starting again with their finished Shepard to collect items they missed the first time around. The game has 82 minutes of cut-scenes.

An expanded leveling up screen demonstrating skill trees in Mass Effect 3. The first three levels of the skill tree are singular whereas the final three levels require the player to select from one of two options.

Mass Effect 3 has three pre-set campaign modes: Action Mode, Story Mode, and RPG Mode. In Action Mode, conversations have automatic replies and a normal combat difficulty. In Story Mode, conversations have manual replies and a minimal combat difficulty. In RPG Mode, which is reflective of the typical Mass Effect experience, conversations have manual replies and a normal combat difficulty. Overall, the RPG elements in the game have been improved over those in Mass Effect 2, with a more detailed leveling up system and increased weapon customization. To level up characters, players have skills that start along a single path but eventually splinter into two branches where they can select only one upgrade or the other along a sequence of possibilities. Players can also customize their weapons with different scopes, mods, barrels, and ammo types. There are 25 weapon mods total five per weapon type and each of them will have multiple power levels to collect. For Kinect users, players have the option to speak their choices instead of selecting them with a controller.

The number of characters available as permanent squad mates in Mass Effect 3 is smaller than in Mass Effect 2 for the purposes of deeper relationships and more interesting interplay, including same-sex relationship options for both male and female Shepards. If players achieved a love interest in both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, then both vie for Shepard's attention in Mass Effect 3. This "love triangle" is resolved by the end of the game.

Throughout Mass Effect 3, players must increase their Effective Military Strength (EMS) to prepare for the game's final mission. EMS is calculated by multiplying Total Military Strength (TMS) with Readiness Rating. TMS is a measure of War Assets, which includes accomplishments from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 as well as items acquired in Mass Effect 3. These items can be acquired in various ways, including casual conversations and planet scanning. Planet scanning has been greatly simplified from Mass Effect 2 and no longer includes the scanning of every planet individually. Other mini-games from Mass Effect 2, including bypassing and hacking, have been eliminated.

Reception
Mass Effect 3 was met with critical acclaim by video game critics. Andrew Reiner of Game Informer awarded it 10 out of 10 and asserted that "BioWare has delivered one of the most intricately crafted stories in the history of the medium". Thierry Nguyen of 1UP.com rated the game "A" and concluded, "While Mass Effect 3 stumbles at times, the fact that it's the ultimate culmination of my own Shepard's story makes it one of the signature (and somewhat-literal) role-playing-games of this year." Edge rated the game 8/10 saying "It's off-putting to new players, too busy tying up loose ends to dangle any threads of its own, and fails to stand up as its own game in the same manner as its predecessors. But it's also a spectacular, powerfully imagined and dramatically involving final act to one of gaming's richest sci-fi sagas." Tom Francis of PC Gamer U.S. gave the game a score of 93/100 and ended with saying "...the end of the series is a mixed bag. Satisfying in some ways, nonsensical in others, and ultimately too simple. But the sheer scale of the adventure it's ending and the music, which is gorgeous throughout gives it an emotional impact that goes beyond its plot payload." Mass Effect 3 was nominated for five awards in the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards, including Game of the Year, and it won one, Best RPG. Game Informer awarded it their game of the year award.[14


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