Once you get past the disappointing Genesis comic, Mass Effect 3 starts off with a bang and then hits a strong stride that ebbs and flows to allow tension to build and releases, but at an ever increasing level of intensity. The central storyline can be followed without distraction, but the side missions that are worked in naturally provide just the right pacing and all add meaningful development to the plot. Even the exploration element of the game better contributes to the core game this time out, though it still becomes tedious at times.
Mass Effect 3 also completes the evolution of the game into a sophisticated hybrid of role-playing and action. Combat lives up to top-tier third-person-shooter standards every bit as well as the character and narrative systems reflect the best of RPGs. The blend of ballistic weapons, tech skills, and magic-like biotic powers has become seamless. They are all balanced near perfectly to one another, making it a tactical pleasure developing squadmates to fulfill combat roles and then executing with them in game.
Taking advantage of the Wii U GamePad also expands upon the tactical depth of the game. Perhaps the best addition afforded by the tablet is the ability to precisely draw paths for your AI squadmates to follow. Partner AI has never been remarkable in the game, so being able to take cover and command your AI team to flank enemies is surprisingly useful. In addition, you can map abilities to the touch screen. I found myself using the GamePad far more often than I expected: drawing a path for one teammate, tapping a biotic power, and then running into a flanking position.
The GamePad augments the combat experience in a non-intrusive way. While I appreciated the added functionality, many players will be perfectly fine playing with just the
Genesis 2 does a poor job of summarizing the first two games