Mass Effect 3
For: PS3 and Xbox 360
From: Electronic Arts
5 stars (out of 5)
Shephard, if you don't already know, is the commander of the Normandy and leader of the mixed-up collection of mercenaries, outlaws and misfits that make up the main characters in Mass Effect 3 - the final part of EA's epic trilogy.
If you've not played the first two, I'd highly recommend doing so, in order, before starting this one.
Mass Effect is just as much about building relationships and making decisions (sometimes difficult ones) as it is about exploring the galaxy and shooting bad guys.
The decisions you make almost always have far-reaching consequences and the ever-expanding story, unlike many games, is just as important to the enjoyment of the game as how many aliens you can bag.
One of the great things about the Mass Effect universe is that every game is different for each player; the choices you make, both in combat and in conversation, will lead you down different paths. So it's entirely possible that some of the characters you meet and quests you go on will be different from those your friends will discover.
Often with ongoing franchises, the story can get weak and plots often simply disappear (Halo, cough) but Mass Effect 3 finishes on a high.
This game is simply epic, in every sense. It looks unbelievably good, it sounds superb and the gameplay is as good as you could ask for.
EA have taken the best bits from the previous two games and made them better and taken some of the less successful things and tweaked them to give them a bit more oomph.The character interaction and story is superb. It drags you in from the first minute and doesn't let you go. The graphics and animation are as good as you will see - some of the lighting effects are truly mesmerising.
Collection of resources, a necessary evil if you want to use some of the game's myriad upgrades, is one of the features that has been tweaked for the better and you'll be doing it a lot if you want the best gear. In fact, it's more need than want - the combat is so varied that you'll find a use for every weapon you can lay your hands on - from sniping across great distances or using rockets against huge foes to hand-to-hand melees when things get really hairy.
There is a multiplayer aspect to the game - as is seemingly compulsory these days - and it's all good, but that's not really what Mass Effect is about.
It's about people and emotions, and as odd as that may sound when talking about a video game, trust me on this one - this is as good as it gets.