Mass Effect 3 PS3 review
The digital nuts and bolts powering combat have been given a tweak and an oil change rather than an overhaul – it’s basically the cover shooter with powers ME2 fans will remember, with an increased emphasis on Shep’s physicality.
New to the control set is a combat roll that, incredibly unhelpfully, is bound to the X button also used for cover. Inevitably, this leads to ungainly incidents where you’re desperate to duck into cover and recharge your shields, but instead confidently barrel-roll out into the open – where all kinds of ‘critical mission failure’ screens and defeated slumping await.
While we’re on a downer, it’s also worth mentioning that the profoundly unhelpful sprint camera view remains, but that’s the extent of the bad news taken care of.
The good news? When you’re not doing an involuntary floor gymnastics routine, shooting stuff is not only light years better than ME2 – it stands up against straight action shooters. Up close, Shep now has a heavy melee attack that can take down a Husk in one glowing orange punch.
At distance, your class choice and squad selection determines the tone of each firefight, so as before Adepts like to get up close and murdery with their biotic powers, while Infiltrators deal their death from scope distance.
Since the combat encourages experimentation, power combos (certain powers that don’t need a cooldown period if they’re used in order) and tactical finesse such as ordering team-mates to flank while you suppress, it never feels like a grind.
Cerberus engineers build turrets, while agile new ‘Nemesis’ femmes fatales cartwheel about trying to get a laser dot between your eyes. Husks shamble towards you, Marauders keep their distance and pepper you with fire – and several other spoilerific enemy types constantly force you to adapt your position, powers and tactical approach.
It would have been incredible to see three-way battles between your bad self and these enemy types, but that wistful thinking doesn’t stop the carnage being all kinds of fun. It’s easier to move between cover and jump over it now, too, thanks to an arrow overlay that shows your intended direction.
It isn’t quite perfect (curse you, combat roll) but ME3’s killing time comes damn close, and it gives you a sense of power and tactical control that was lacking previously.This time around, it makes sense that Shepard has been given such a monumental responsibility, since s/he’s unrivalled in the universe at turning hordes of enemies into space jam.
Don’t start burning your signed copies of Baldur’s Gate, though, RPG fans. Yes, this third outing has undoubtedly stepped up its action element, but that’s as much a narrative necessity (with there being a universe-wide war on and all) as it is an addressing of one the chinks in ME2’s N7 armour.