It has happened. The time has finally come. Mass Effect 3 has arrived. That's right, the extremely anticipated final chapter in the Mass Effect series has hit store shelves and fans of the game (myself included) have been flocking to midnight releases all over the world to be some of the first players to unlock their adventure and try to take Earth back from the dreaded Reaper invasion.
The Mass Effect series has added some incredibly fantastic innovations to gaming as a whole with a gripping story, characters that make you care about them and choices that actually have repercussions. If you don't know already, every choice you made in the original Mass Effect carried over into Mass Effect 2. If you decided to sacrifice one character for another, be nice to this person, mean to that person, go this route on a mission as opposed to the other, whatever it was, the consequences of those actions, good or bad, popped up in Mass Effect 2.
Likewise, everything you did in Mass Effect 2 carries over to Mass Effect 3, including what you did in the first game. Not more than 5 minutes into the game last night and I was already being hounded about things I did in the first game. It's innovations like these that really change the way you play a game. However, choices aren't the only things that carry over. Mass Effect allows you to create a truly unique and customized character. You choose the name, background, class and physical features and that is your Commander Shepard. The best part was that you can take that customized character, looks and all, right out of Mass Effect 1 and into Mass Effect 2 via your save files.
The same thing is true for Mass Effect 3, allowing you to take the single character you first started off with in the very first game all the way to the end, truly making the story and the endgame yours. However, this is where the first bits of bugs have started to show themselves in Mass Effect 3. Reports are coming from all over that Mass Effect 3's character import feature is requiring players to completely rebuild their character's face. The problem only seems to be surfacing with players that are using the same character they started in Mass Effect 1. If you made a character in the first game and played through the second without changing anything, then Mass Effect 3 will restore your appearance to the default settings. If you modified your character at all in Mass Effect 2, then you seem to be unaffected.
Mass Effect Producer Michael Gamble confirmed the issue via Twitter though nothing has been issued in the form of a fix as of yet. That isn't the only issue plaguing gamers in Mass Effect 3. Another issue that surfaced during launch was that gamers who tried to import their saves via the Xbox 360's cloud storage were unable to do so. EA has already confirmed that Mass Effect 3 does not accept Mass Effect 2 saves from the cloud but it also seems that local save files moved across consoles via the cloud are also unusable.
In order to get your cloud save to work, gamers must transfer the file back to the original hard drive and manually transfer it over to their new console with a USB drive or a transfer cable. EA released a statement about the issue saying that the company understands "this may be a great setback to those impacted who have been following the Mass Effect franchise over the years. We thank you for your patience."
However, these minor setbacks haven't stopped reviewers from giving the game top marks in almost every category. Gaming site IGN has given Mass Effect 3 a 9.5 out of 10, calling the game "Amazing" and adding compliments like "amazing story, solid combat, great characters and high replay value." G4's Adam Sessler gave the game the coveted 5 out of 5 score, noting pros to the game as "This is how you end a trilogy. Wide diversity for character options. Combat decidedly richer and challenging" with the only con given being "Small side quests can be teases."
A segment from Sessler's review reads:
"Here is one of Mass Effect 3's greatest tricks; as the final game in the series, it no longer has the lure of your decisions manifesting themselves in unknown ways in successive games and yet the decisions you make feel the most significant, perhaps because they are reflections of your own ethics."
Follow the links if you want IGN's Review of Mass Effect 3 or G4's Review of Mass Effect 3. I haven't played it enough to give a full review myself but what I have played so far has been gripping, emotional and action-packed, leaving me starving for more. Capping off a trilogy is one of the hardest things to do in any form of entertainment and Mass Effect has done so beautifully and, seemingly, effortlessly.