Mass Effect 3 Review

Five years ago, BioWare made what became a series of ridiculous promises in Mass Effect. A galaxy spanning space opera of an RPG. A persistent trilogy in which decisions made in each game would influence the eventual outcome. A choice-driven narrative steeped in moral quandaries. Looking back, it was something of a crazy undertaking.

Drawing close to the release of the third and final installment in the Mass Effect story arc, like a looming Reaper threat, things were not looking so good. A leaked copy of the script hit the Internet, a lackluster demo dropped onto all major platforms, and every bit of new information about the game suggested a scaled back RPG-lite that catered to a demographic with its brains soaked on Call of Duty clones, brown ruined cities and chest-high walls.

I’ve just closed out a marathon session with Mass Effect 3 to get this review done on time, playing for nearly 20 straight hours (more or less) to bring you this rundown. I can say two things with clarity in the moments after I turned off my Xbox: that Mass Effect 3 is a flawed, imperfect game; and that it packed an incredibly high density of moments that I’ll remember among the greatest of any game I’ve ever played. Mass Effect 3 was a phenomenally good time and a great way to end a five-year mission to the Milky Way, circa 2187.

Mass Effect 3 (2012): PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: March 6, 2012
MSRP: $59.99

I’ll not bother with the story because anyone reading this probably already owns the game, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Suffice to say: The threat of robotic monsters that protagonist Commander Shepard has been preaching for the last two games have shown up, and the galaxy is plunged into a slow-burn war as the relentless machines spread from system to system, harvesting high-level sentient life and destroying just about everything in their paths.

Earth succumbs to occupation almost instantly, interrupting Shepard’s almost-court martial for blowing up a mass relay and taking out a batarian colony in the process, back in “The Arrival,” a DLC pack back in Mass Effect 2. (Quick note: If you’re lost, well…it’s only going to get worse.) Shepard hops aboard his ship, the SSV Normandy, under orders from his buddy and former CO Admiral Anderson, and it’s off to gather the rest of the galaxy to come back and help liberate Earth. Easier said than done, given that half of known space is under active attack.

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12 Comments on Mass Effect 3 Review

Kristyn

On March 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Gotta say, I completely agree with this review after having played it three times through already. After seeing so many discussion boards and forums where people only put ‘it sucks’ it’s nice to see someone has looked at the good with the bad (because some things are messed up, especially with the cutscenes). Anyway, just saying, this seemed like a very fair review and it gives me hope to know that not everyone out there simply thinks ‘it sucks.’

Bill

On March 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm

No one is saying it sucks. They are saying the ending sucks. Everyone who hates the ending loves the game; it’s why they are so appalled at how it ended.

Quinn

On March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

This article sums up everything pretty well;
http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-reasons-the-fans-are-right/

The game is amazing but the ending robs you of so much

Scott

On March 16, 2012 at 5:16 am

The ending was not satisfying at all. Infact I think it might have killed the series for me, I can’t be bothered even getting passed Mars on my paragon character.

R

On March 16, 2012 at 9:20 am

#3 is definitely an improvement on the previous games in almost every way, but I think that the side missions are have been really badly done this time round…I found flying around looking for miscellaneous objects (the pillars of this, the book of that) without getting more actual playable missions a pain in the ass.

They are also confusing -maybe I’m just a moron, but I could never figure out if I had already picked something up and where to find the one individual (hiding out somewhere in the citadel) who I had to give it to.

Connor

On March 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

The ending is different depending on all the choices you made in ME1 and 2, as well as the number of assets you acquire and even the amount of effort you put into the multiplayer

Q

On March 18, 2012 at 7:32 am

@Connor

The endings are different! Biggest different being the color of explosion.

The ending robs long-loving fans of Mass Effect of so much. It’s just not fair at all.

And the multiplayer is lack-luster, the time and space used for it should have gone towards endings that had more closure.

zarathos

On March 18, 2012 at 9:51 am

(spoiller)
Romance is done quite well and the reaper enemies are a hell lot disturbing and decisions such as selling the geth and not helping that college create enemies jack becoming phantom and legion attacking you in the cerberus base. great committment to story but a bit more work in combat would make the emphisis of reaching the end of the trillogy more enjoyable ace review

Owen

On March 21, 2012 at 2:50 am

the romances were awkward and stale unless you romanced liara, kaiden, ashley, or garrus. any of the relationships from me2 are addressed as a quick “hello, hows it going, remember how we had sex that one time? me too? kay, bye”

Daniel

On March 23, 2012 at 2:38 am

@Connor

I’m sorry but it does not matter what you did in ME1 or ME2, your options at the end are exactly the same. It does not even matter if you finish the game Renegade or Paragon, the options at the end are exactly the same. All you get to do is pick the color of your explosion.

birthofthecool

On March 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

@Owen:
Tali’s romance also worked quite well, but the other ME2 romances really got the shorthand, even Traynor and Kelly Chambers worked better than Jack and Miranda and to call what happens with Allers a romance is an outrage,

global74

On March 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm

great honest review.

Mass Effect 3 is 90% perfection. The last 10% of the game seemed out of place, but dont let that discourage you from playing it. I was genuniely moved by some of the scenes in the game. They did a great job in tying up many loose ends and doing it with style. I’ve been a big fan since ME1 and this game goes far and beyond what I expected. I hope they get the ending sorted out with free DLC.