Friday, 24 February 2012

Minigame Review: Mass Effect 3: Take Earth Back

Prepare for the biggest war the galaxy has ever seen...
By playing a mini-game!

If you're a huge Mass Effect fan like I am, then you'll no doubt be dying for the release of the 3rd and final installment in the current story arc. The beta may have teased us by giving us a small taster of the absolutely gigantic battle that will take place in the epic universe, but it isn't long until we can save the galaxies (or fail miserably...) and send those nasty Reapers back for another 5000 year nap.

In the meantime, if you need to satiate your Mass Effect addiction, Bioware have just released this little minigame for the series called Take Earth Back. It's a simplified RTS style game, that gives you an overview of the galaxy with specific areas represented by coloured dots. You're the blue guys, and you have to spread your reach across the entire map as quickly as you can. It's not just a simple case of pointing and clicking and winning the game in seconds however. Each base will slowly spawn more ships, which are represented by tiny blue triangles, and you'll need to amass a good amount to travel forth and capture a base. The more enemies (who adorn the colour red) at their respective bases, the harder it will be to take down the base. It's best to gather your strength and pile in on the weakest bases and slowly get further across the map.

Of course, the enemy isn't defenceless. They'll attack your bases as you attack theirs, and if you lose even one base, it could potentially turn the tables on the whole game. The more ships you have at your bases, the harder it will be for them to be taken, so it's with this that you need to strike a specific balance to try and fire up a good offence, but not be so easily overwhelmed by sending all your troops out. There isn't really a huge amount of strategy to it so much. You'll find certain areas that are best to stockpile reserves and others that will act as your base for preparing the assault. Evil doesn't just wear red however, as occasionally rogue squads (Yellow) will enter the map from a random direction and head for one particular base. This stops the game from getting too boring too quickly as not only are you trying to take down one team and defend from them, but you'll have a sudden appearance from these enemy ships that have an annoying habit of almost taking out your bases that have just sent their troops into the front lines.

Overall, this game is short and sweet but a lot of fun. The music is quite nice when it appears though you'd be as well to listen to your own music. The gameplay elements, while simplistic, aren't boring. It's a fast paced game that can become very frantic as you try to beat the timer and get the best score you can. My only gripe is the constant chatter from when you confirm a command. If you send a ship to another base, it will say something like, "No problem," or "On our way". When you're clicking across the whole galaxy trying to move your ships around, it gets very annoying and cluttered.

This minigame is worth checking out if you're a Mass Effect fan, though there's really no lore of special stuff to look at. It's just a fun mini game with a Mass Effect theme, but it was certainly enjoyable to play and something to do in the wait for Mass Effect 3's launch on March 6th (North America) and March 9th (Europe) 

- Andy Robison


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