Youíre still talking about ME3, right?
First and foremost, Mass Effect isnít Star Trek; you donít need to have even a passing interest in sci-fi to enjoy it. The series began as an RPG/shooter hybrid, but like many hybrids, I felt it was more of a jack of all trades and master of none. The combat was slow and cumbersome, and the RPG mechanics amounted to little more than offloading a ton of junk items to vendors or melting it down for omni-gel (then used for hacking and engineering tasks). Mass Effect 2 got rid of most of that and focused on the combat, replacing weapon overheating with heatsinks that act like ammunition clips while removing spare parts and weapon customization altogether. A lot of fans decried it as dumbing the game down, but I felt it was a welcome change by focusing on what was more important and making it better.
Fans will be very pleased to hear that Mass Effect 3
further improves the combat and also brings back weapon upgrades. You can now pick up or purchase a variety of different weapon parts, which are used to customize your arsenal at workbenches. You are limited to just two accessory slots per weapon, though, so you have to be strategic in deciding what you want to use and when. In addition, types of weapons are no longer restricted to being used by specific classes. You can equip any weapon you want, even one of each of the five types, but the trade-off is that carrying more weight increases the time it takes to recharge your abilities. Classes that rely heavily on using a lot of powers rather often will find themselves sticking to lighter guns anyway, but at least this time the choice is yours to make.
Armor customization is also here, unchanged from previous games. Commander Shepard can mix and match parts of his/her N7 suit or wear special one-piece outfits that offer a unique look in addition to coordinated group of enhancements. New to the Normandy ship is a procurement terminal where you can buy anything from any store you have visited at least once. You have to pay 10% more to cover the cost of delivery, but you can avoid that extra trip back to the Citadel to find a store that you vaguely remember had something you wanted to buy. Unfortunately, armor customization for your squad mates is limited to swapping between two outfits with different benefits (by default, DLCs add more), but at least you can pick and choose exactly what weapons and add-ons they use.
Combat itself flows very well, partly because the game now makes the option to disable mouse dampening available in the menu (rather than leaving it to you to discover you can tweak the config file). I also feel that the AI has been considerably improved in how they use the map to their advantage: enemies will always search for cover, flank you, and even seemingly work in teams. This also applies to your squad mates, who are capable of intelligently deploying their own abilities if you have the option set to let them. Sadly, the difficulty setting you choose determines just how aggressive the AI will be. Even on Normal, most enemies will stay behind cover for the duration of the battle, requiring you to carefully aim for any exposed parts or charge headlong to eliminate them. If only the difficulty settings could be manually adjusted according to play-style, rather than vague settings with pre-determined valuesÖ at least ME3 makes a better effort than its predecessors.
On the bright side, talk of the game being made ďmore accessibleĒ (marketing-speak for dumbing something down) prior to release ultimately led to little more than there being additional gameplay options in the menu. You can choose to let the game pick all of your dialogue and play them as regular cutscenes, automatically level-up you and/or your squad, have your squad use their powers without micro-management from you, or even make use of a new super-low difficulty setting for those that donít enjoy any challenge at all in the combat. Veteran Mass Effect
players that arenít interested in those things will be relieved to know that you can play the same way you did in ME2.