The Mass Effect 3 Journal: Day 1

Miss ya buddy!

I’ve forgotten to mention one more crew member, one I picked up as a result of caving in and buying the $10 day one DLC, From Ashes. I’ve previously defended Bioware’s right to sell such a package, even with “vital” plot info attached, as they technically can if they want to and people are willing to buy.

But I have to say, now that I’ve experienced it, this is by far the worst abuse of DLC I’ve ever seen. If you  know anything about the DLC, you know that you pick up a new crew member, a Prothean. Yes, those Protheans. There was fury among fans when this detail came to light that surely he would be of huge importance to the plot, and guess what? He is! If you care anything about the story in Mass Effect, which I’m assuming nearly everyone who plays does, the character is beyond essential, even in the limited time I’ve had him in my employ. In your very first conversation, he tells you things about the Protheans and Reapers and the origin of all current life in the galaxy that are leagues beyond more interesting than practically any other plot reveal in previous titles. How they’re marketing his inclusion as “optional” I have no idea, and they might as well just say they’re assholes and the game costs $70.

Cast spoilers over

As you can see, I haven’t touched much on the actual combat, which remains unchanged from past games, which I wouldn’t exactly say is a good thing. These games have always been a bit clunkier than any other shooter on the market, and though they get marginally better with time, the cover, running and climbing system is still pretty awkward. Shooting is fine, and it’s easier to control your squadmates than before because you can have them use quick powers with one button. What, did you think I meant Kinect voice commands?

Ka-punch!

I like how the game doesn’t start you from square one, as it doesn’t make sense that Shepard would have let all his skills atrophy over the past few years. You start at level 30, and have a ton of stat points already in place from your last character. I was annoyed however, when the game somehow couldn’t port my old face over, and I had to recreate it from memory with mixed results. Sometimes my blue-eyed Asian male shepard looks like a badass, sometimes he looks like a complete creep, and lately I’ve been opting to just keep my mask on at all times as a result. In general, the character animations of this game have remained relatively unchanged since the first one in 2007, and it’s starting to look a bit dated. Conversations feel natural as they always have because of the well animated body language, voice acting and script, but the lip-syncing and facial wireframing is a bit lacking.

It’s clear this is going to be a long, long ride. I’ve racked up a dozen quests simply by wandering around the Vitadel. All you have to do is eavesdrop on a conversation to get many of them now. The “War Table” which shows your allies support has a dangerously Fable 3 feel to it, but “being ready for the coming attack” isn’t necessarily a bad concept in itself, and I’m curious as to what exactly I’m going to have to do to bolster my troop strength, as nothing I’ve done has increased my numbers yet.

So I’ve probably got at least another thirty hours to go with Paragon Shepard here, and then after that I’ll fly through the game with my Renegade female who has lost half her crew over the past two games. I’m predicting quite a different experience.

See you next time. Stay tuned.