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Mass Effect 3... and five others you shouldn't miss

Brad Gallaway's picture

Mass Effect 3 Screenshot

So, as pretty much everyone in the game-o-sphere knows, Mass Effect 3 is released to the public tonight at midnight. In fact, you may even be reading this as you're standing in line outside your local Gamestop. Without a doubt, Mass Effect 3 going to be one of the biggest, most important releases of 2012. In some ways, it's also a test for BioWare—after developing legions of loyal fans thanks to their high-quality Western-styled RPGs, their future was called into question due to lackluster titles released after being acquired by Electronic Arts.

Despite multiple assurances that nothing in their studios would change after EA made the purchase, there was no question that the games just weren't the same. Although many critics did not call them on the carpet for it, there were strong waves of negativity from the fanbase. Mass Effect 3 is the first major title they've crafted since getting this feedback, and no one has been more curious than I to see what the result would be. I was fortunate enough to get an early review copy of the game and at this point, I would estimate I'm about halfway through the campaign. Although I haven't seen enough of the game to give a final verdict (and this blog is not in any way a review) I will say this:

Mass Effect 1 is my second-favorite game of all time. I gave it a perfect score. The GOTY version even has my quote on the back of the box. Mass Effect 2 was misguided and disappointing. I gave it the lowest score on Metacritic. As for Mass Effect 3?  Based on what I've seen so far, it's not perfect... but it's an electric, exhilarating ride, and in many ways can be seen as a redemptive return to form for BioWare.

More to come.

I have little doubt that Mass Effect 3 is going to do gangbusters at retail, but I would like to take this moment to give a little bit of spotlight to other releases that deserve some attention. I've always seen myself as a bit of a champion for the underdogs or the little guys, so if you've got room in your budget for one more thing at the moment, you might want to consider...

Containment: the Zombie Puzzler Screenshot

Containment: the Zombie Puzzler (PC/iOS)

I'm nearly done with the campaign and a review should be up very soon, but it's a totally fresh, highly original take on the puzzle genre. Absolutely recommended.

Vessel (PC)

A physics-based puzzle-platformer, I've only played through the demo (and maybe a little more) but I loved what I saw, and my gut is telling me that this is definitely going to be one to watch.

Journey Screenshot

Journey (PlayStation Network)

I hardly think I need to explain this one since it's been met with nearly universal acclaim in the critical sphere, but this moody, emotive tale of a traveler in the desert comes from ThatGameCompany—and they don't make bad games.

I Am Alive Screenshot

I Am Alive (PlayStation Network/Xbox Live Arcade)

I haven't had any time with this one at all, but I am quite excited about it. It's a post-apocalyptic survival-themed platformer, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Keep your eyes peeled.

Binary Domain Screenshot

Binary Domain (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360)

This one is a third-person shooter with squad-management elements and an awful lot of robots to dismantle. I played the demo and loved it, and nearly everyone I've spoken to has had nothing but good things to say about it.

...So there you have it, five other things to check out in addition to that giant AAA blockbuster I mentioned at the beginning. The little guys need love too, so like I said... if you've got a few extra bucks  keep them in mind. Or hey, if for some reason you're not going to be on the Mass Effect train, maybe get all of them instead?

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Series: Mass Effect   Journey   Binary Domain   I Am Alive  

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"Lucased" (adj.) slang

Hi Brad,

After Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 2, I'm perfectly content to wait 6 months to pick up a cheap, used copy of Mass effect 3. I'll down a beer or two and with the heavy lidded eyes and morose apathy of a broken-hearted man, I'll toss the disc into the tray of my 360, only half caring if it lands face up. Following a nostalgic gaze out the window, I'll sigh and take a long drag on a cigarette, despite being an avowed non-smoker. Then I'll flop onto my sofa, power on the 360 and, after vaguely hoping for the Red Ring O' Death, press the "start" button.

Thus will I experience the conclusion to the story begun with such promise lo those many years ago. I'm sure BioWare will appreciate my efforts to studiously avoid disappointment. In fact, with that sort of attitude, I really can't see myself having anything less than an OK time with Mass Effect 3. See, as I see it the problem is one of expectations. Kinda like with "The Phantom Menace". If my sister and I had only lowered our expectations sufficiently before standing in line to see that film back in the day, maybe we wouldn't want to stab George Lucas in his Jar Jar Binks today. Maybe we'd think he was actually an OK guy who just happened to lose his way after being acquired by a big publisher.

Side note: Despite not actually playing many games these days, I never missed a podcast. The reason wasn't to hear reviews of games I know I'll never play. No, the reason was because of the way Tim was able to expertly, and with great wit, marshal discussion amongst a bunch of cantankerous geeks like me. At the end of his last podcast Tim made an allusion to being merely the MC to the stars of the show. Wrong Tim. You were the show. I hope Gamecritics is able to find someone capable of doing half as good a job as he did.

I consider Brad's professed

I consider Brad's professed assessments of ME1 and ME2 to be almost identical to my own. Likewise, the impression he gave on the most recent GameCritics podcast re: the mass effect 3 demo was skeptical at best, citing the rushed intro among other concerns, and again I agreed. During that podcast he also stated that he had preordered the full game, and would be paying for it on day-1 with his own money.

Now comes this article, in which Brad reveals that not only has he been given a review copy in advance by EA, but that his impressions of the game have changed significantly.

I have had my own time with the game, and considering that:
1. The beginning is still rushed, and sloppy
2. The multiplayer is almost required to get the best ending
3. There is day-1 paid DLC
4. The animations and graphics were lazily thrown together
5. There is an abundance of AUTO DIALOGUE that rips control away from the player even on RPG setting

...I am left to wonder what Brad has seen in this game that I haven't, that has led to his inexplicable change of heart.

Moderator's Note: Comment moderated. Please tread lightly if you're going to make accusations about our integrity.

In reply to your

In reply to your moderation:

Given the abundance of perfect reviews that other, completely ethical and honest (by their own declaration) websites have given to this deeply flawed game, a reader could, I hope, be forgiven for being skeptical.

The stakes for Bioware and EA right now could not be higher. Considering the ludicrous amount of time and money they have spent marketing this game, any prospective customer would be wise to carefully consider whose assessment they trust, when games are such an expensive leisure, and publishers have such great influence.

GameCritics, and Brad in particular have always been my most trusted source of forthright and honest reviews. I may not always agree, but I have always been confident that the review accurately reflected the experience of the reviewer. I look forward to reading Brads thoughts on Mass Effect 3, and value his opinion, as do I'm sure the many undecided gamers who have yet to make the decision whether or not to purchase this game.

Hey there, So, to answer

Hey there,

So, to answer your comments…

First off, no one could have been more surprised than I was to find that EA sent a review copy. I mean, I gave ME2 the absolute lowest score on Metacritic and I drowned in a sea of hate mail after doing so. I hardly imagined that I would be on their list of people to send to.

That said, I've been writing reviews for about twelve years now. I think that if you look back on my history, my scoring record speaks for itself and all I can say to you is that there is no way a free copy of the game would sway my opinion. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but we do include information about where we got the games at the bottom of every review and I did mention openly that I got an early copy, so it's not like I was trying to hide anything.

As for the rest of your comments, I think it boils down to something as simple as: I played the demo and didn't like it, then I played the full game and I liked it.

I certainly admit that the demo’s opening is complete crap and it will be one of the issues I bring up in the full review. It is equally crap in the full version of the game, but the story takes off and picks up speed after that point, so that bad opening isn't enough to ruin the entire game for me.

As far as the combat scene that was shown in the demo, I really disliked that portion when I played it the first time. But, after having the ability to customize my character and my teammates, I blew through that part in a fraction of the time when playing it in the campaign and it didn't seem nearly as offensive. Having investment and control of a character certainly makes a difference as opposed to a demo where you're handed a stock character that may or may not be to your liking.

At this point I am about thirty hours into the campaign and I'm getting close to the end, although I haven't finished it quite yet. I will be doing a full review, of course, but at the moment I do think the game is much more enjoyable than ME2 and it shows a different sort of mentality when it comes to the design and implementation of the concepts. ME1 is still my favorite, but I would take ME3 over ME2 any day of the week and I am genuinely having a good time with it.

I hope I've answered your questions, and I hope that you will read the full review when it comes out. We may not agree on the final verdict, but I can say that I will give my *honest* opinion of the game.

Thanks

Many thanks, Brad.

I'm glad you're having a good time with the game, it gives me hope that I might as well if I keep going. I've quit playing for the time being, and will come back to it later, hopefully with a better attitude.

One last question, if you'll humor me: Do you think going into it with low(er) expectations has helped you get more from it? Put another way, if this game were to have followed ME1 rather than ME2, would you have the same assessment?

Just curious.

Thanks again.

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