Why was I putting this review off? I have no idea, but hey, let’s get into it. Needless to say, I was waiting a long time for this game. Pretty much from the second I beat Mass Effect 2. Then I got even more excited when I beat all the Mass Effect 2 DLC. I wanted to see how the Galaxy at large would handle Shepard blowing up a Mass Relay. Was hoping for some Star Trek level political intrigue. Imagine how disappointed I was when I didn’t get some Cardassians infiltrating the Maqi or some such.
Wait, I was not annoyed at the lack of Star Trek political intrigue, because that would be really boring. Mass Effect 3 gets right into things with the talky talk being rudely interrupted by the Reapers getting together for their annual Scour the Galaxy of all Life Jamboree. So we have a great way of getting Shepard out of his (or her) house arrest and back into the action.
This action by the way, plays great. Bioware decided after the first Mass Effect game to take the series in more of a straight up shooter direction, and surprisingly it worked out really well. Mass Effect 2 was a shooter/RPG with shooter elements on par with anything that came out this generation. Bioware upped the ante again by adding on more to the shooter parts, which serve to enrich the experience even more so. Running is a lot more fluid, and you can turn while sprinting now, which actually adds a lot to combat.
The way the actual combat works is very similar to ME2, with a few key differences. First of all, your teammates have an AI more advanced than a microwave clock and will actually be helpful in combat. It’s nice to not have to fight alone this time around.
Also in ME3, the places you fight are a lot more organic. The narrow corridors with oddly placed chest-high walls are kept to a minimum this go-around; instead the third installment makes heavy use of large, open areas with a myriad of cover positions. This helps keep the fighting tense as the enemy AI has also received a vast improvement. Enemies will take up defensive positions, and even send comrades to actively flank you. This can actually be a little jarring at first, especially if you are not otherwise a person who plays a lot of shooters, but did play Mass Effect 2.
Speaking of the enemies, this game has one of the richest set of people and aliens to kill I have ever seen in a video game. The sheer number of enemy types in this game is staggering, and they all act completely differently from one another. Every shooter franchise should be taking a look at Mass Effect 3 and making copious notes on how enemy design is done on their end. Bioware delights in throwing a great variety at you at once, actually forcing you to prioritize kills in a way you do not normally see.
I have read people theorizing that the variety in enemy types is a direct result of Bioware trying to make the multiplayer gameplay dynamic. Well hats off to the fine people who made this multiplayer because it is a dynamic time. Unlike a lot of shooters out there, ME3 has no competitive multiplayer, instead going only for the Horde/Swarm mode that is all the rage today. Bioware keeps the fighting interesting though by putting in the trademark RPG elements, along with a random collection system that gets you new race/class combinations, along with new and upgraded weapons. On top of this, the multiplayer will also throw optional missions at you while you’re playing a match, which completing yield very nice rewards. I am not normally one to dive into multiplayer in a single player game, let alone something as single player intensive as Mass Effect, but I am really glad I did this time around.
As good as the shooting and the multiplayer are, the main focus in a Bioware game will always be the story. Mass Effect 3 manages to send Shepard out with a bang. 99% of the story is absolutely amazing, with your journey across the Galaxy tying up loose ends left and right. Choices you make as far back as the first Mass Effect affect the story that will play out for you on this title, and the rewards are sweet. Bioware has fully realized the idea that your Shepard is indeed your character. I have never felt so connected to a group of characters in a game as I do in Mass Effect. Many of the scenes in the game were truly emotional affairs for me, and without spoiling anything, people you know and care about will not be making it out of this one alive, and I defy you to not react emotionally to it. This is rounded out by voice acting that has remained consistently good since the first game. I am normally the type of person who will shut off spoken dialogue if there is an option for it, but Mass Effect is one of the few series ever created where voice acting has enhanced the immersion factor to such a large degree. Line for line, this may be the best spoken game ever created.
As good as the story is on the whole, there is a blemish on what should be the jewel in Bioware’s crown. I will not talk about this at length, as the internet has already bashed this topic to death. I will just say this, yes the ending to Mass Effect 3 sucks, well all of the endings suck, and they are basically the same. Bioware has already announced it will be expanding the ending this Summer, so let’s see where that leads.
My last gripe about the game…this is a weird one. The game comes with Day-1 DLC called “From Ashes”. It is ten dollars if you didn’t get the special edition of the game. Now I don’t mind Day-1 DLC at all, I happily paid for it. It is the weapon you get as the DLC. This assault rifle that is a energy beam weapon. This gun functions like guns in the original Mass Effect, where the weapon in question has infinite ammo, the only limitation being the overheating issue, where you have to get your finger off of the trigger every once in a while. This weapon in the world of ME3 is broken. It completely negates the need for the clips that are absolutely everywhere on the battlefield, making it where you never need to move to get the clips, or switch weapons. Just pound away with the space laser, you’ll be fine.
Other than those two issues, Bioware has created a masterpiece. Through the last five years, we have been treated to a saga the likes of which has honestly never been seen before. The Mass Effect series as a whole may be the most important series of this console generation; it shows a way of continuous storytelling we have never experienced before, and it seems we will not be experiencing again for a while. Anyone who does not play through this series is seriously missing out, so get moving, get yourself some cheap copies of ME1 and 2, go get your amazing space opera started.