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Mass Effect 3: Special Edition review

Plays superbly, but fails to tackle the scale of the Mass Effect universe

We're five years down the line and the greatest threat the combined forces of the galaxy have ever known has been revealed, fought and defeated a million times over. Romances bloomed as whole races died. But, finally, the galaxy is at peace in one way or other. Only now Nintendo fans are getting to sift through a third of it to find out just what the hell was going on all this time. I

t's strange for a series so famous for its storyline to be released to an entirely new audience in what amounts to a seriously abridged form. A pessimist would suggest that this was a cash-in, a way of earning extra space-bucks on the back of a lucrative year; an optimist would believe that the publisher recognised that this was the best game of the trilogy. Where your opinion falls will depend on what you want from a Mass Effect title.

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If you're after that vaunted storyline, let us steer you away now. So much of the trilogy's appeal as a narrative was lodged in its small decisions, and you're missing out on many of the results of those here. Any game can ask you to choose the fate of a galaxy and see how that pans out, but it's in the quieter moments that Bioware's truly great work shines through.

Story Surfeit

If you had a save file from the first game, Mass Effect 3 could confront you with a character you'd known for years talking about things that you, specifically, had done. The cumulative effect became a defining feature of the series - by the end of each game and, eventually, the trilogy, you felt as though you'd had a hand in shaping what had happened throughout.

The Dark Horse-produced interactive comic, Genesis, which makes up the first half an hour of this game, can't offer that service. In fact, it doesn't even present the larger decisions of previous games in their full complexity, reducing many of the more multi-layered decisions into yes/no questions. We're not blaming the developer, it's a slick way of covering two huge games in their entirety, but you won't get the full effect of the Mass Effect storyline by playing this version. In terms of what you're getting, Mass Effect 3 is all bluster, a constant climax in which Earth is attacked by an extra-galactic spaceship race in the first five minutes and only gets louder from there. It's undoubtedly well presented, but it just doesn't feel right without the build-up.

That said, the benefit of the end of a story is that all the best action tends to happen there. This game didn't break that rule - it's an amazing action experience and the Special Edition goes a little way towards making it even better. Mass Effect 3 is a perfectly honed action-RPG, mixing cover shooting with on-the-fly power use, not to mention a streamlined levelling system that enables you to tinker with how you'll perform in combat. It's precisely the kind of game the Wii simply couldn't handle and sets an excellent precedent for the system.

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Survey The Ordnance

The expected GamePad map is as useful for getting around unwieldy hub areas as it is in frenetic combat, while the addition of drag and drop touch hotkeys along the edge makes proceedings more fluid once you've mastered activating them. The ability to move squadmates precisely on the map is also handy, but too fiddly, given that you'll probably use your finger to do it.

On a more prosaic level, Straight Right's time porting the game seems to have been well spent, because it looks wonderful, showing off lighting, animation and even fixing the texture pop-up issues that plagued the original version with equal nonchalance. GamePad-only play (activated by holding down the minus button) is surprisingly easy to follow for a game that can get this hectic, too. Even the hugely underrated multiplayer mode is in working order from the off, with every available DLC pack bar the latest included (plus the From Ashes and Extended Ending packs for single player).

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  1. danbish Monday 31st Dec 2012 at 10:35

    As I own all of the Mass Effect games on Xbox, I can safely say that it's a fantastic series to experience and one that, in my opinion, needs to be part of your collection. Having said that, EA's decision to release ME3 on it's own for WiiU and charge full whack for it when it's less than half the price on other consoles is riduculous. Especially when you realise that the entire Mass Effect trilogy is available on the other formats for the same price as the WiiU version of ME3!

    I really want to play this on a Nintendo machine with the added capabilities of the Gamepad but I'm not paying 40 just for number 3 whcih only gives you the last third of the story. I'm holding out in the hope EA sees sense and releases the trilogy on WiiU too - which is what they should have done at the start.

  2. ThePokekid78 Monday 31st Dec 2012 at 13:22

    As I own all of the Mass Effect games on Xbox, I can safely say that it's a fantastic series to experience and one that, in my opinion, needs to be part of your collection. Having said that, EA's decision to release ME3 on it's own for WiiU and charge full whack for it when it's less than half the price on other consoles is riduculous. Especially when you realise that the entire Mass Effect trilogy is available on the other formats for the same price as the WiiU version of ME3!

    I really want to play this on a Nintendo machine with the added capabilities of the Gamepad but I'm not paying 40 just for number 3 whcih only gives you the last third of the story. I'm holding out in the hope EA sees sense and releases the trilogy on WiiU too - which is what they should have done at the start.


    That's my plan asw bro, especially after EA's announcement that there will be Mass Effect news concerning Wii U in the future....we can hope!

  3. mirage 5x5 Monday 31st Dec 2012 at 18:11

    got to say when the run up to the wii u was coming out it look quite good
    but then all the bad news came out so i cancelled my order
    and now thank's to official nintendo mags reviews i now know that i did the right thing
    and i will never get one now it sounds rubbish got to admit other websites have been giving the wii u bad reviews as well :roll:
    may be the next nintendo console will be good :D

  4. ThePokekid78 Monday 31st Dec 2012 at 19:23

    got to say when the run up to the wii u was coming out it look quite good
    but then all the bad news came out so i cancelled my order
    and now thank's to official nintendo mags reviews i now know that i did the right thing
    and i will never get one now it sounds rubbish got to admit other websites have been giving the wii u bad reviews as well :roll:
    may be the next nintendo console will be good :D


    Hahaha are you an idiot? You've already decided to skip an entire Nintendo console, and so miss out on at least 5 years of Nintendo games, based on a handful of games that have been released within a month of launch?! :lol:

    Now do you realise how stupid you sound? It's foolish to write off the Wii U when it's been out for less than 2 months.

  5. mirage 5x5 Monday 31st Dec 2012 at 22:54

    got to say when the run up to the wii u was coming out it look quite good
    but then all the bad news came out so i cancelled my order
    and now thank's to official nintendo mags reviews i now know that i did the right thing
    and i will never get one now it sounds rubbish got to admit other websites have been giving the wii u bad reviews as well :roll:
    may be the next nintendo console will be good :D


    Hahaha are you an idiot? You've already decided to skip an entire Nintendo console, and so miss out on at least 5 years of Nintendo games, based on a handful of games that have been released within a month of launch?! :lol:

    Now do you realise how stupid you sound? It's foolish to write off the Wii U when it's been out for less than 2 months.

    well you can be looked at and say the same
    i wasted my time and money on the wii and that was a bad 6 years and now i have see what is coming out next year for the wii u so you say i am stupid well i can say the same about you :lol:

  6. Xenobladeperson Tuesday 1st Jan 2013 at 00:27

    I fail to see how that makes him stupid at all, if anything your statement as completely backfired and made you look stupid. And the Wii wasn't bad, go play some of the actual decent games on it and not Mario Party or Skylanders.

    Back on topic; I'll probably just pick up the ME trilogy on PS3 instead, it's about the same price as this.

  7. imbusydoctorwho Wednesday 2nd Jan 2013 at 21:59

    I wouldn't mind it,but I would not pay 40-50 for it,I'm going to wait till the price drops to under 20,or the inevitable trilogy release on Wii U.

  8. Bowser16 Sunday 6th Jan 2013 at 18:54

    I have played all three games on the 360 and it is a fantastic series, up until the ending anyway lol. :wink:

    But seriously, what is so special about this edition for the Wii U?, it's not even getting half the dlc for it.

    Just another quick cash in from EA.

  9. SilentDark Friday 11th Jan 2013 at 14:38

    Personal feeling: what's the point.

    The whole seeling point of Mass effect is that it is an epic that can only be truly appreciated as a whole. Your decisions affect aspects of the games that follow. Now that the PS3 and 360 are getting a release of the entire trilogy this just comes across as just a quick cash in. Like the Wii it seems that the WiiU is going to become a dumping ground for ports of games from the past two to three years with tacked on controls so that they can claim it is enhanced.

    Ports are not worth full price, regardless of the tacked on gimmics, and what is essentially the last third of a game should be retailing for no more than 20, like what it tends to go for new on the other consoles there days.

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