Started Mass Effect 3 and now it takes all my spare time!

I made the mistake of starting Mass Effect 3 on Sunday and now it is taking all my spare time. ME3, like its predecessors, is a well-written, mostly great looking RPG with third-person cover shooter elements. The game starts off with the invasion of Earth and our hero Shepard’s escape to rally the galaxy to fight the Reapers. Then it turns into a conventional mission-based RPG with some missions that move the plot forward and side missions that provide allies or better abilities. Because the overarching goal is to gather support against the Reapers, the distinction between plot missions and side quests is much more blurred than in conventional RPGS. In my opinion, this is a good thing: if my world were under enemy occupation, fetch quests and kill ten rats quests would seem like a colossal waste of time, but quests to gain support would be okay.

The graphics in the game are typically very good. As with other Bioware games, the textures for armor and such are not quite up to par, but even with all settings maxed, I get great frame rates at 2560×1440. Unfortunately, the cut scenes are probably ones rendered for the original Mass Effect, because they look horrible. The scenes right before a mission that show the shuttle bay on the Normandy seem quite low-res, as do the Mass Effect Relay movies where the Normandy is launched through space. Even some of the shuttle landing sequences look unnatural and not smoothly done. These lousy cut scenes hurt the continuity of the game. On the other hand, the female characters’ bodies are lovingly rendered and look perfect, even under the low-res armor.

The game is split between wandering around on the Normandy, interacting with crew and passengers, visiting the Citadel space station, dealing with government officials and criminals and more, and the missions on various planets and space stations throughout the galaxy. The problem with Mass Effect games is that after a certain point, you get funneled to the endgame missions, and, (per ME2) if you try to do other missions after that point, consequences are dire. I’d prefer that not happen, so I’m trying to be careful to not get too far in the plot while my mission list is still huge.

Overall, I am enjoying ME3 very much and it takes all my spare time, while other games go unplayed… OK, so it isn’t a mistake to play ME3, but it is one to think of having free time again.

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