In the future, there are no design schools
Quests in Mass Effect 3 feel a lot more linear and much less interesting than those in the last two titles. Most missions lack an air of mystery and uncertainty, unlike ME1 and ME2. Maps are usually about half the size and much less detailed. To make it worse, there are only a handful of different enemy types: mostly Cerberus and Reaper forces, with some Geth thrown in later. New worlds that have never been seen before are plagued with copy-pasted architecture (Earth is the biggest offender) and are generally lacking in spirit and originality.
There are few locations, like the Asari home world of Thessia, that are absolutely gorgeous, but you donít really get to see much of it. To offset this, BioWare did put more effort into the background vistas, so there is always something to look at during lulls in the action. The first mission on Earth (available on the demo) has some really cool things going on off in the distance. They donít hold up very well to scrutiny, though, as youíll quickly notice there are only one or two animated sprites replicated all over the placeÖ The civilian population running around Vancouver whilst it was being razed to the ground was laugh-out-loud hilarious
As usual, you decide which two squad mates to take with you on every outing, and use their skills to help you destroy everything in your path. Most individual missions revolve around fighting the Reapers and those assisting them (usually Cerberus) and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. There is also an incredible amount of fetch quests available from various individuals around the Citadel that require you to roam the galaxy scanning for objects. These side tasks do contribute to the Readiness Rating and offer small rewards of XP and credits, but otherwise have almost no point to them. Something I really missed from ME1 and ME2 is the existence of more developed side quests that you embark on only after discovering them through galaxy exploration.
The middle of Mass Effect 3
really picks up in terms of plot and mission quality, fortunately. A lot of questions are answered and a lot of progress is made by that point. Itís also where most of the gameís dramatic moments occur. I wonít spoil anything, but there are two very
memorable moments in particular that had me practically jumping out of my chair in excitement. It builds up like this straight up to the final battle at the end, but then youíre let down when you donít get to witness any of the War Assets youíve spent the better part of the game collecting actually do any fighting. It turns out that the Readiness Rating is just that, a number; you wonít really see any mounted Krogans or Hanar warships charge into battle.
However, I will admit that several of the pre-rendered cutscenes do deliver some heart-pounding action that is enjoyable to watch. ME3 rivals just about any other sci-fi space battle you can think of, in terms of the sheer number of ships of all sizes on screen, flying around and blowing each other up . But like with most of the rest of the game, whatever BioWare does right it also does wrong: these mega-awesome cutscenes are compressed to a quality thatís worse than what youíd expect to see on YouTube circa 2006. I suppose the bad presentation is also partly due to BioWareís liberal application of lens flares and motion blur.