Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mass Effect 3 - Too good for multiplayer?

Mass Effect 2 was more addictive than cigarettes and sweets when it first landed in my disc tray. It must have stayed in my console for about two or three weeks straight as I battled to complete it. Most of my free time was eaten up by the captivating campaign. I was even allowing my Xbox to shut down for 15 minutes every two hours, just to ensure it didn’t cook its components and red ring on me.

This leads me to assume that Mass Effect 3’s single player portion will do exactly the same, as it ends Shepard’s tale and hopefully leaves the universe that little bit safer. In an attempt to keep up with the crowed and expand the game’s replayability, Bioware are also adding a multiplayer component for the third game in the series. I can’t help but think how this might interfere with the main game.

Assuring us that the multiplayer isn’t just a bolted on afterthought, Bioware has said that it will contribute towards the single player campaign in some way. A galactic control system records your progress in multiplayer and adds to your galactic war readiness rating in the game’s single player campaign, but apparently you can still achieve the game’s best endings without the multiplayer. That being said, this means the system must be balanced so that overplaying the multiplayer doesn’t just make the single player campaign’s best outcomes easy to attain.

My concern grows out of one of my biggest and possibly worst gaming habits. I like to complete the single player portion before I move onto the multiplayer. To get the most out of Mass Effect 3, it sounds like I’ll have to break this convention.

Unfortunately, if the game is just as compelling as the last two entries in the series, I’m going to find it very hard to break away from the campaign and hit the co-op arena to ensure the galaxy is as ready as it can be for all-out war. My fear is that I’ll get to the tipping point, eager to push the story forward, only for my completion senses to kick me in the brain and force me to play the multiplayer component for hours.

This may turn out to be a very welcome and fun break from the main game, but on the other hand the suspense could just as easily hold me by the balls and slowly squeeze until I can no longer bear the dull ache.

So my chief concern is that Mass Effect 3’s campaign will be so good that the multiplayer component will be pointless, at least on the first play through. Hopefully the multiplayer will be implemented in a way that makes it just as compelling as the main story. One way to do that will be to allow access to the online co-op features through the main game, and not a lifeless menu option. Making it a seamless transaction like that will help blend the two modes together and really make it something special.

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