Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mass Effect 3 Getting the Multiplayer Treatment

If you're a Mass Effect fan and you haven't heard the biggest piece of news to hit the series in the history of the title, then you should seriously reconsider your devotion to the game. I'm talking, of course, about Mass Effect 3 coming with multiplayer. That's right, everybody's favorite single-player space saga isn't so single-player anymore, but things are not always as they appear.

With Mass Effect 3 being the final title in the series, it isn't surprising that BioWare would attempt to go all out for the game. Advancements in gaming, like motion control, are becoming more mainstream as many of the top name companies are starting to incorporate the latest tech into their games. And while multiplayer is certainly not a new feature to gaming, it is to the Mass Effect series.

One of the main things that made the first two Mass Effect games such hits was the gripping, dramatic, interactive and incredibly well-written story, something that was accomplished solo. Games like Mass Effect, that have a lack of multiplayer, make up for it by delivering an incredible story and multiple different ways to play through the game. Mass Effect, for example, gives you the option of playing through as a Paragon (good guy) or Renegade (bad guy) and also delivers a plethora of different character classes, each with their own play style.

I am a firm believer in the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" which is why when I first heard about Mass Effect 3 having multiplayer, I wasn't so thrilled. There are many reasons I think Mass Effect multiplayer is a useless commodity. For starters, I enjoyed being the lone hero in my galaxy. Everything was personal. Second, I honestly did not want what I like to call the Dead Rising 2 Effect, basically the exact same character running around like a clone. I don't want multiple Shepards running around and I certainly don't need one helping me through my adventure.

That being said, I was completely surprised when BioWare announced just exactly how Mass Effect 3's multiplayer would work and from what they've said, it seems like it is going to work out perfectly.

If you aren't familiar with the way the game works, Mass Effect has you traveling to different planets and fighting off this extremely old race of sentient machines hell bent on purging the galaxy of any and all life. Every person you talk to, every place you visit and every choice you make has a direct impact on the endgame. Spare this guy, kill that one, blow up this building or ignore this mission, no matter what you do, there will be repercussions.

It is this cause-and-effect mechanic that is the main feature of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. Instead of playing as Commander Shepard and teaming up with your friend's Commander Shepard, you take control of a completely unique character that you personally create. Then you and up to three friends travel to other planets to complete missions and gain control of these systems in order to affect the endgame of Mass Effect 3. The characters you create in multiplayer don't have any interaction with the main story characters and are simply a way to tweak your endgame to your specifications.

The best thing about the multiplayer component is that you are not restricted to play as a human. Multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 allows you to create a completely customizable character using any of the main alien races you encounter in the game, including races like Salarian, Asari, Drell, Turian, Quarian and my personal favorite, Krogan. In addition to picking a race, you can also pick a class like Soldier, Engineer, Technician or Adept. This allows you to play your character like you would in the single-player without having to run around with three other Commander Shepards.

Honestly, this is the only way multiplayer can work for Mass Effect 3. Giving players the option to choose a race other than human will play to the fantasies of many fans of the series and not running around with clones of your character or engaging in the same old team deathmatch multiplayer modes should help in putting all the haters at ease. What's more-- the multiplayer is completely optional. With the game mechanic having a direct effect on the endgame, one would assume that it is necessary to finish the game. However, BioWare has already announced that if you want to play Mass Effect 3 like you did Mass Effect 1 and 2, by playing completely by yourself, then you still can. At no point in the game are you forced to play multiplayer, nor are you penalized for opting not to.

Personally, after hearing how multiplayer is going to work, I can honestly say that I am excited to jump in and give it a try. All my fears about playing with another Shepard or running around trying to kill as many enemies as possible in Team Deathmatch have all been laid to rest. BioWare even made the announcement sweeter by stating that no team members were taken away from the single-player development as the multiplayer aspect has been developed by a completely separate team.

So what say you? Are you excited for Mass Effect 3's multiplayer? Do you think it is a good idea or one that will completely ruin the game for you? Sound off in the comments with how you really feel.

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