When EA announced Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U, I was definitely impressed. The series is one of the best of the generation, and Nintendo finally getting in on the action is exciting. Then I stopped to think about it, and it occurred to me that anyone picking this up, would likely be disappointed. Not because it is a bad game, but because they will have missed two-thirds of the experience. Their Shepard would not be as fleshed out, and they would be robbed the joy of building their experience throughout the other two games. Releasing just ME3 on Wii U is admirable, but when the trilogy is dropping on every other console, you have to stop and wonder why only one game is hitting Wii U.
To make up for lacking the first two games, you do get the 20-minute interactive comic that lets you make a slew of the big decisions throughout the first two games. This also means a lot of the smaller ones, including your romances are pretty much null and void. This also doesn’t go a long way in attaching you to your Shepard. It feels empty and shallow for the most part. Mass Effect is such a rich and vibrant universe, summing up two-thirds of it in 20 minutes just feels wrong.
Technically, the game is fine, but it’s not without issues. There are some audio miscues and the occasional frame rate drops, even if they aren’t that offensive. It is still disappointing that this next generation hardware is having such a hard time rendering these older games that have been running just as well, if not better, on 7-year old hardware.
The main game is pound-for-pound the same experience you will get on the other consoles with a few additions. For starters, there is a collection of DLC already on the disc. The Extended Cut ending is on there, along with From Ashes and a selection of the multiplayer stuff, making the package all the more enticing. We still don’t know if the other packs will make their way into the game, as neither Nintendo (or EA) has been all that forthcoming with info. Still, as a stand alone product there is a fair amount of content here.
The Gamepad also comes into play in several cool ways. Of course you can opt to play the game exclusively on the screen. Having a portable Mass Effect is pretty cool actually, and it looks pretty good to boot. Otherwise, the screen is used as a map to show enemy locations as well as your squad powers, which is a nice touch, but not something I found imperative to the experience. The changes made are neat, but unnecessary.
Of course, all of this is null to some gamers, as you are lacking the full experience. Being able to barrel through all three games is one of the things that make the series so special. By the time you reach the third game you are invested in the characters, the universe and, of course, your Shepard is your own. This is all lost on a stand alone game and kind of takes away from the experience. We still aren’t sure why EA didn’t just port the recently released trilogy to the system; it would have made much more sense. Still, everything else is here, including the surprisingly fun multiplayer. The game runs online fairly well on Wii U, and at least that portion doesn’t require any prerequisites.
Mass Effect 3 on Wii U is a tough sell. The game on its own is fantastic. The shooting is solid, the narrative is great and the characters are memorable, but you are simply missing so much of the experience by not having played the previous two. In the case that you have played them on other consoles, there is no incentive to lose your save and progress to migrate to Wii U. ME3 is a weird game that makes me wonder why it was handled like this. Why bother porting the last game in such a broad and immersive experience as opposed to just bringing it all over at a later date?
If you want to check out our review of the 360 and PS3 versions, click here.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.