You should buy “Mass Effect 3.” I don’t care if you’ve never played a video game in your entire life. You could pick up an Xbox controller and not know which side is up, it doesn’t matter.
Sure, “Modern Warfare 3” is the best-selling game in video game history, but we all know that what makes the most money isn’t always the best. MW3 is more like that OK-looking chick you settle for when all of the other hot chicks turn you down. It’s interesting and it’s certainly entertaining, but it’s not groundbreaking or thought-provoking or even remotely different.
And it’s definitely not hot.
“Mass Effect 3” is the supermodel at the bar. You’ve got to step outside of your comfort zone to get her, but when you do it’s well worth the effort.
ME3 is known as an “action-adventure” game; it is part role-playing game and part third-person shooter, complete with cinematic cut scenes, dialogue options and a completely customizable main character (Commander Shepard) that can be gay, straight, black, white, Asian or even a woman (cue awed gasps). The level of customization allowed in “Mass Effect” is groundbreaking in both the gaming world and gender politics.
The game allows players to mold Shepard’s physical and emotional characteristics; mine is an angry-looking ginger with a serious attitude problem and a tendency to punch nosy reporters in the face.
Jennifer Hale, the voice of female Shepard, is a superior voice actor to Mark Meer, the voice for the game’s male option. The experience is more believable and entrancing with a female Shepard at the helm, so much so that Bioware decided to feature a female Shepard in the commercials for the game’s rollout for the first time ever.
Also, “Mass Effect” is one of the few games where the player has a direct hand in the outcome of the story instead of following along a predetermined, linear path created by the developer. In other words, it’s a thinking man’s game.
“Mass Effect” demands the player to be tactical and weigh the pros, cons and ethics of situations that always require an open mind. Humans aren’t the baddest kids on the block in this universe, and gamers are forced to look at every decision from the perspective of the minority, something video games never do. In “Mass Effect,” human beings are the marginalized group, since the alien races you interact with have known about each other for thousands of years prior to mankind’s entrance into the picture.
There are few games on the market today that offer probing questions about race, class, sexuality and gender. “Mass Effect” challenges the player on all four fronts. So not only are you playing a thoroughly enjoyable video game, you’re also being forced to look at the world from a new perspective. Deep, philosophical questions about the nature of the universe and humanity’s place in the scheme of things are prevalent throughout the game.
If all of this hasn’t convinced you, maybe the story of my non-gaming roommates will. Both of my roommates are surface gamers, as they’ll play party games on the Wii or N64 and love a good round of “Draw Something” on their phone, but they won’t go out and buy “Gears of War 3” and shotgun people’s faces off. They can barely properly use a controller.
And yet both of them sat on my bed and watched me play ME3 for six hours the other day, completely entranced by the story, the universe and the characters. They even cried when a certain character (I won’t say who) bit the dust, and they haven’t even seen the first two games.
“Mass Effect” isn’t life-changing, and people who call themselves gamers haven’t earned their stripes until they’ve played this masterpiece. But it was so worth my money, I bought it twice (once because I couldn’t wait to get the collector’s edition, and once again after I found the collector’s edition).
If you’re looking for something to do over spring break, play “Mass Effect 3.” And if you have extra time, start with “Mass Effect” and work your way through the trilogy. I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite game that has ever existed.