Bitter disappointment at Mass Effect 3’s other ending

, | Games

While a group of indeterminate size but unmistakable volume complains about the ending of Mass Effect 3’s storyline in the single player game — first the Tea Party, then the Occupy Movement, and now this? — I’d like to gnash my teeth about the multiplayer now that I’ve resolved not to play it anymore.

After the jump, I am done. Do you hear me? Done!

In terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay, I don’t have many complaints. I had a grand time multiplaying Mass Effect 3 long enough to hit the level cap and shunt a level 20 infiltrator over to the single player game, where she can contribute to my war assets against the Reapers. I like that EA lets me dedicate multiplayer time to single player results. And in terms of entertainment value, getting a level 20 character was far more rewarding than trundling my toy ship around the strategic map and pinging outer space until something showed up. Usually fuel I didn’t need.

My multiplayer time had its ups and down. A lot of stuff in the single player game made me worse at multiplayer. So I can’t pause the game to bring up the command wheel in multiplayer? How unrealistic is that? And what the heck kind of sniper can’t slow time to carefully line up a headshot? Without bullet time, I have to aim in real time? While the target is actually moving? Who can do that?

I eventually resigned myself to playing an infiltrator with a shotgun. But I’m awful at close quarters, and as much as Mass Effect 3 would like you to believe otherwise, this game is awful at melee. But thanks, Mass Effect, for the little +15% melee damage shank I can tape onto the muzzle of my shotgun. I’m sure that will come in handy if I ever need to slice up a turian jungle mango.

So I couldn’t contribute much to the other three players stuck in a match with me. Until I opened maybe the third or forth 60,000 spacebuck booster pack. Rather than squander my spacebucks five thousand at a time on cheapy booster packs, I went expensive all the way. That’s how I roll. Every Magic: the Gathering player knows the rares are where it’s at. And that’s how I eventually opened a booster pack and discovered my very own Falcon assault rifle.

It’s a bit of a misnomer to call the Falcon an assault rifle, because it’s really a long range grenade launcher without that annoying arc you get with most grenade launchers. To effectively use most grenade launchers, you have to level up whatever skill it is that calculates the trajectory of an arc. Geometry? Physics? Who knows. But not so with the Falcon. Just point at the target and mash the trigger repeatedly! Puft, puft, puft. Watch the little muted explosions chip away at the bad guy’s hit points, stunning him all the while. It was a thing of beauty and I even had a mod to boost its damage by 15%. Its actual damage, not its melee damage. The only thing it was missing was a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.

But then today’s balace changes happened.

Falcon Assault Rifle
– Increased refire time on the Falcon to 0.65 seconds
– Decreased rate of fire from 125 to 50
– Decreased max spare ammo from [24-34] to [18-28]

So it fires more slowly and I can carry fewer rounds. It was apparently overpowered. No wonder I liked it so much.

Given that Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer is all about grinding coins so you can take another pull on the slot machine, I don’t understand why Electronic Arts is fussing with balance. Don’t they want us to chase after Falcon assault rifles? It’s not as if I can decide to play the quarian engineer I wanted to play in the first place, so why not leave me my overpowered “I win” Falcon since I was lucky enough to get it out of the slot machine?

While I love this slot machine concept, I hate how much I have to grind to get the coins to feed it. If there’s one thing worse than a long grind, it’s a long blind grind. Lost Planet 2 has an almost literal slot machine, but it’s so full of doo-dads that Capcom lets me pull the lever frequently. And unlike the one-shot potions that constitutes a majority of Mass Effect 3’s booster packs, I can keep whatever I earn in Lost Planet 2 and use as often as I like.

Mass Effect 3’s co-op falls short of other similar games. Payday: The Heist has the same number of levels as Mass Effect 3 — actually, one fewer, I think — yet each one is dynamic and varied. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City lets me pick the type of character I want and develop it however I like, with my choice of guns and special powers available from the get-go. Even the not very good Shoot Many Robots has a catalog of inventory items from which I can pick and choose as I unlock them.

But Mass Effect 3 is a big tease, not letting me play the game I want to play it. I never got a chance to try that quarian engineer. What’s more, the advancement includes a constant nag to microbuy spacebucks for a chance — but only a chance! — to get the equipment and characters I want. Which might later be nerfed. So while I consider Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer an interesting experiment, I also consider it a failed experiment and yet another example of how often the words “Electronic Arts” and “online” are an ill fit. At least we’ll always have SSX. Or will we?