Buying a game is never simple these days — there are a raft of gadgets, peripherals and whizzbangs that accompany any title. But there is one old staple that has long accompanied video games, and that’s the strategy guide.
Obviously, these guides are designed for gamers who intend of making a serious investment into their game, and they are also designed with complex games in mind. Mass Effect 3 fits both of these criteria. And as expected, the complete Mass Effect package is not complete without its glossy official game guide.
Clocking in at 417 pages, this official guide is one big beast. It covers a wide range of information, from special tactics and reconnaissance, to the campaign, to your squad, all the way up to a list of achievements and trophies. It’s damned comprehensive. The content inside is useful and informative, but is pitched in such a way that veteran gamers and newbies will be able to pick it up and find something useful. Spoilers are kept to a tiny minimum, and it handily gives a significant amount of background information to players who are not familiar with the Mass Effect universe. Some of the “special tips” contained in these voluminous pages are a little obvious (“frontal assault” seems pretty self explanatory, right?), but for the hardcore collector, or the stupefied newb, the knowledge inside will be valuable.
Look and Feel
The guide is well laid out, and makes great use of images and diagrams where appropriate. The guide itself is solid, but doesn't feel like a doorstop. You wouldn’t be embarrassed to have it take up a prominent space on your game shelf. However, it is also a little text heavy — thumbing through guides like these can become a little laborious, and this one seems to have an odd mix of intense text boxes on one page, and then barren white space on others. Pretty? Yes. Consistent? Not really.
Its fairly obvious that the official game guide is for the serious collector, the wealthy first timer, or the gamer who bizarrely lacks an internet connection. Because on a practical level, there isn't really much in this game guide that you cant gleam off the tubes if you look hard enough, or will find out just by playing the game. Presenting searchable information in paperback form is also a little outdated, so as an actual tool for improving your gameplay this guide provides some, but not much, value (don’t we all just use our smartphones and tablets now?).
However, complaints about form should be taken with a grain of salt. Hunting through game guides such as these is hardly the raison d'être for buying them. Gamers get them to complete their experience. If you’re a hardcore fan, then the Mass Effect 3 game guide will be great for you.
This guide is well presented, contains a wide range of comprehensive information, and is a must have for any serious collector. Gamers who are willing to fork out extra funds to complete the set will want to give it a good look — especially for the cool graphical art at the back. But for the casual gamer, its not a necessary purchase. If Mass Effect 3 is the only major purchase you’re going to make this year, you might want to think about grabbing this guide to round out the set. But if it’s not, it’s probably best to save your hard earned cash for something a little more important.