Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mini Review: Mass effect 3 Retaliation (PC)

Free DLC is always good, especially when it adds to an already pretty enjoyable game.  Mass effect 3 has had a pretty decent set of DLC so far a majority of which has been free, a rarity in today's market.  Retaliation is the latest and best of the multiplayer DLC packs adding a whole range of new features to Mass Effect 3's multiplayer suite.

The biggest addition as I mentioned earlier in the week is a new enemy faction, The Collectors, fresh from Mass Effect 2.  Rumour is that these enemies have been brought back to play a major part in the upcoming Omega singleplayer DLC and this multiplayer offering is a way to familiarise yourself with the updated Collector threat.  They offer a unique challenge compared to the now familiar Cerberus, Reaper, Geth combination.  Although they have a small number of active units compared to the other factions, their range of abilities are much more varied and just as devastating.

Shown here is the Havoc fighting Collector captains
Standard Collector forces are tough to take down and move relatively quickly, while Collector captains back them up with barriers and deployable seeker swarms.  Seeker swarms are annoying because they prevent your powers from recharging while they are swarming you, but do no damage.  The Collector version of the Husk known as the abomination returns with less health than a normal husk, but the added ability to explode when near to you.  To round out the Collector troops we have the lumbering Scion complete with high damage arm cannon, and the bizarre Praetorian to act as their Banshee/Atlas/Prime unit.  Praetorians are particularly nasty, being able to move very fast and take an extreme amount of punishment.

Collector troops can also be possessed like they did in Mass Effect 2 suggesting that the influence of Harbinger is going to play a part in Omega.  Possessed versions of Collector units are visually distinct by having a bright glow effect and each unit is powered differently.  Collector soldiers and Captains gain more damage resistance and increased barriers, while abominations have a much larger explosion radius doing more damage.  Scions become faster and more resistant to damage, while Praetorians become an even bigger threat.

Volus are small but pack a big wallop
Like the previous packs this one also adds new characters to unlock and play as and this is a big one.  Sixteen new characters are available, although it appears some are unlocked over time by Bioware, but still those that are available now are pretty impressive.  The biggest surprise is the debut of a new playable race, the Volus.  For those not in the know, go search mass effect Volus to see what they looks like.  This diminuitive pressure suit wearing race take to the battlefield as biotic users and engineers and despite the somewhat comical appearance they pack a punch.  Their biggest downside is their low health, once they lose shields they fall pretty fast.  Still this addition opens up the possibility of seeing other races not originally thought to be playable in Mass effect's multiplayer.

The exisiting races get new classes such as the Turian Havoc complete with jetpack, Asari Huntress, Krogan shaman, Batarian brawler and more.  This pack makes up for the lack of new classes seen in the earth DLC which added the N7 human classes.  These classes are tougher and more versatile which is a good thing since the game has now seen a new platinum difficulty setting.  As such the previous settings now have higher credit rewards an example being silver matches now averaging 30,000 credits compared to 15,000 prior to this update.

The challenge system is a new time sink for the dedicated player.  There are challenges for completing missions on different difficulties, playing as different races and using weapons.  As you complete these you unlock banners which can be assigned to your lobby image for bragging rights.  Along with the challenges we also see the addition of new ammunition types and gear, my new favourite gear is medigel implants which automatically ressurect players including your character when downed.

There are three new weapons, although the Collector assault rifle was already available to those who had preordered the art book from barnes and noble in the states.  The other two weapons are also Collector themed in the form of an SMG and sniper rifle.  I feel this is the weakest part of the pack since Bioware have shown much more creativity in previous packs.  I know they are to fit the new enemy type, but it just doesn't feel as cool as the Pirahna shotgun or Cerberus Harrier.

The final part of the pack is the new hazard maps.  These are six of the existing maps with new features that either help or hinder depending on your situation.  An example of this is firebase reactor which now has a meltdown event locking anyone (friend or foe) in the reactor chamber as it vents the heat.  This pretty much kills anything barring tough enemies like the Banshee.  Reactor also allows players to activate the meltdown via consoles on the outer walls as a trap for large numbers of enemies.

Overall this pack is an astonishing amount of new content for something that many critics had written off a box tick for the packaging.  There is no reason to not download this content and get stuck into defending the galaxy from the numerous threats to mankind and the galactic community at large.


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