March 6, 2012 marks the third, and possibly final, chapter in the Mass Effect series from EA BioWare. It also marks the first time that we’ve been able to take control of a soldier in the Mass Effect universe and fight alongside our friends to save the galaxy. I’m talking, of course, about Mass Effect 3′s new Multiplayer system.
Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer is surprisingly smooth and decidedly fun. Being a critic of Mass Effect 2, I had little to no hope for Mass Effect 3, especially the multiplayer portion of the game. However, I have been proven wrong. The multiplayer adds a new dimension to the game and it adds a nice break from the regular RPG style play if you find yourself in need of some instant FPS action. (Well, Technically 3rd Person Shooter…) That being said, how does Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer look, feel and function?
The graphics for Mass Effect 3 are just what we’d expect from the third installment of the Mass Effect series. They are clean, polished, and absolutely stunning. For all intents and purposes, they are a perfect blend of the cleanliness of Halo Reach and the gritty doomsday look of Gears 3. In all, the graphics are perfect and appropriate given the premise of the game. The only complaint I have is this: The non-stop action of the multiplayer game doesn’t allow a player to truly look around and enjoy the beauty of the maps that Bioware has created. They are very detailed but you never have the opportunity to enjoy that – you must simply keep running, and keep shooting.
The gameplay for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is, surprisingly, very well done. I was skeptical at first that it would be possible to pull off a developed and mature multiplayer coming from such a strong single player RPG background. However, I am surprised again. The controls were well thought out and simple enough to pick up for anyone who has played the series thus far. The customization of your character is also done well, giving you the opportunity to play various races and to make their armor decidedly yours, adding various customization options for your armor and weapons. In fact, I’d say there is more customization in the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3 than there was in the entire Mass Effect 2 game. Overall, the mechanics are extremely well done: easy enough to make quick and enjoyable, complex enough to be functional and personal.
The idea of making the multiplayer tie into the single player portion of Mass Effect 3 is something that I can truly appreciate. I am usually more a fan of single player RPGs than I am of multiplayer shooters. However, this is a nice exception. Having your exploits in multiplayer affect your overall game experience and outcome is something I like. It encourages people like myself to get out of single player land and join the multiplayer world – which is always a good thing. Overall, I’m a huge fan of having multiplayer actually matter and tie into the story instead of just endless rounds of killing other players. While that can be fun, it was never my cup of tea. Hence my great appreciation for how multiplayer is handled in Mass Effect 3.
For without the action, why would we be here? The never ending, fast paced, confusing and exciting action is where the multiplayer really shines. There is never a time when a player is bored waiting for the next enemy to walk into their crosshairs. Enemies come from all directions and it is always a struggle to simply stay alive. In no other game have I ever felt as involved and epic as I did in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Being shot at from every direction for 20 minutes at a time and walking away (or running in most cases) victorious is an extremely satisfying feeling. It is especially fun if you have all 4 player spots filled. The fast paced, in your face, all around you action sets this multiplayer apart from a lot of other shooters on the market today.
Another aspect of the action is the dual roles of “Run & Gun” and “Tactical Shooter” all rolled into one game. At times, a player will find themselves ducking behind cover, popping up to shoot and then ducking down again to avoid being shot – Tactical. At other times, a player will be sprinting here and there, never letting off the trigger except to reload – Run & Gun. The combination of these two styles of play are actually very exciting. You don’t have the option to sit in one place the entire game, but you’re also not invincible, making being out in the open all the more difficult. Ultimately, a player has to know when to sit and when to run. Doing one or the other will only lead to death.
Final thought on the action: the new melee system is as fun a way to kill your enemy as shooting will ever be. There is something very visceral and satisfying about stabbing your Omni-tool through a charging opponent.
If you haven’t jumped into Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer just yet, I urge you to do so. For the sake of the galaxy, get a squad together and defend us from the Reapers! I promise that you won’t be disappointed. Not only is the multiplayer extremely fun, it is ultimately useful and necessary for the success of the single player campaign. Galactic readiness is no joke – it’s time to do your part. Get your gear, get a squad and go defend the galaxy!
Image Credit: EA, BioWare