The 8 Biggest Problems of Mass Effect 3

By Shaun Clayton in Daily Lists, Video Games
Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8:08 am
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After two years of waiting, Bioware's conclusion to their epic RPG/shooter/unofficial Space Quest episode is now in the hands of gamers everywhere. Finally, Commander Shepard brings the races of the galaxy together (or at least some of them) and takes the battle to the Reapers after they invade Earth (in either a nice way or an evil bastard way, depending on the choices the players makes). It's a fantastic conclusion to an epic interactive story that has delighted gamers by the thousands. Now, to crap on it.

Well, not crap on it, exactly, but to delicately point out that even though this is a game made by very talented overworked people, it has its flaws, some of which are mildly irritating, and a few of which are really goddamn annoying. We think it's worth noting that as good as it is, Mass Effect 3 isn't perfect. WARNING: There will be some spoilers here, so if you are one of the few people who hasn't bought the game yet and have been neglecting food and other people just to play it, you may not want to read this article.

8) White Shepards Can't Jump
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Actually, neither can any other ethnicities of Shepards. Sure, the Mass Effect series has lacked a jump button since the first game, but when you can fight off hordes of enemies, throw them in the air with a biotic slam, and travel through space itself, the inability to jump a couple of feet can be grating, especially when your objective is blocked by nothing but a low railing. Though the movement system has been greatly improved over previous Mass Effect games, you still can't move like a real human being would. This is of course due to the necessity of it being a game as well as the need to keep you on certain paths, but it's still a pain in the ass.

7) That Day-One DLC
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Mass Effect 3 had a $10 DLC expansion available on the same day the game itself was released. DAY ONE. The title is From Ashes, which is appropriate because you would have to be smoking something if you didn't think EA was going to haul you over a barrel with the DLC. Look, I know DLC is an inescapable part of videogame life now, but by releasing it on the same day of the game, Bioware very much seems to be charging for content they could have easily put on the game disc. Maybe that's not actually true, but it sure looks like it, and it's left many gamers sore in their backside areas. Specifically, their wallets. Did you think I meant something else?

6) The Glitches

Disappearing characters. Wonky physics. Walking through walls. Walking partway through walls, and then getting stuck. Wrong camera angles. Planets that won't scan. Difficulty importing characters. Elevators that stop randomly in-between floors. Shepard soaring through the air. These are just a few of the many, many glitches found in ME3. Of course, any game as big and ambitious as Mass Effect 3 will have some bugs no matter what. What's irritating is that there are so many of them, especially when Bioware apparently found the time to make that damn DLC.

5) It's Too Damn Dark
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Not in subject matter. After all, Earth has been invaded by Reapers, who have killed a massive portion of the population. That's dark shit. The problem is that the game is too visually dark. The Normandy itself is as bright as a pool hall in a bad side of town where people get stabbed for fun. I can barely see the two-foot-tall walls I can't jump over.

4) So Many People Die
Supporting characters in the Mass Effect universe tend to get killed. For example, in Mass Effect 1, if you can send either Kaiden or Ashley to help the Salarans distract Saren's Geth on Vimire while you sneak around and plant a nuke and whichever one you don't save with reinforcements gets nuked. In Mass Effect 2, it's a little more complex, as the loyalty a character has for you can determine if they get killed in the finale (I don't see how loyalty really equals survivability, but whatever). But in Mass Effect 3, characters seem to die at the drop of a hat. In fact, you shouldn't drop a hat, because then a millenary expert may show up and stab Tali in the neck. I understand the need to kill off a few characters to raise the stakes and add some drama, but most of us have been been controlling these characters since the first game, and have put a lot of work into leveling them up. We didn't spend all that time so they could all keel over in the first few hours of ME3. It's less tragic and more annoying.

3) The Multiplayer
You know, the last two Mass Effect games sold just fine, and they were totally single-player. Adding multiplayer to Mass Effect 3 is technically fine, but having the player's multiplayer performance adjusting the outcome of the single player game? Not okay. One of the reasons I played Mass Effect was for a really strong single player game; I could actually play something on my Xbox without having to deal with swearing racist 14-year-olds. Now Bioware is making you deal with them. Also, the single player has been tweaked so if you don't want to play the game like it's an RPG, you don't have to! You can play it like a shooter! Hey, Bioware, you know what? Stop messing up my RPG with your vain attempt to get shooter people to like Mass Effect -- the people who want to play shooters are already playing Modern Warfare 3.

2) The Endings

The endings of Mass Effect 3 have been quite controversial, meaning that some people hate it a lot, enough to have started an internet petition to have these endings changed. While I personally think the endings are fine, I understand why people are so upset. One of the problems about these endings is that they're all pretty much the same -- same animation, slight palette shift, Reapers defeated, Normandy inexplicably traveling through a Mass Relay, ending up on an alien planet, credits roll. With a game series built on making your own decisions, each with their own effects and consequences, some reasonably unique endings would have been nice (for instance, in the original Knights of the Old Republic, you at least got the choice of saving the galaxy OR RULING IT LIKE A GOD. Two very different outcomes). From the first game, on the player's decisions vastly effect the galaxy to the point where they're carried through the sequels -- then at the end, it suddenly doesn't matter what the player does, because their last "choice" is essentially meaningless. No wonder it's rubbing so many fans the wrong way. Likewise, a lot of people are irked that Shepard dies no matter what ending you "choose." Sure, what with the whole Christ motif of your character, and the huge amount of foreshadowing going on, it's no surprise that Shepard ends up dead in at least some of the endings, but it might have been nice if this beloved character managed to clearly survive one of 'em.

1) The Reveal
HUGE SPOILER TIME. Yes, there's a lot of people out there who don't like the endings to this game. I think the endings themselves are fine. The issue I have is right before the endings where you meet the entity controlling the reapers, which is a little boy. Yes, I realize that it's just an avatar of the machine entity that controls the Reapers, but really, Bioware, you went to Contact for inspiration? Having the reveal of the big mysterious thing controlling the universe to be a little boy is a letdown. I understand the logic of the machine presenting itself as a familiar image to seem less threatening, but to the audience, it's kind of disappointing to discover you've spent three games trying to save the galaxy from Dennis the Menace. Considering the shape of the Reapers, we were expecting a Space Cthulhu voiced by Tom Waits; instead, it's a little boy. I will now see if there's a way to kill that little boy in repeated playthroughs.

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