Mass Effect 3 Review

Like the previous installments of the game, Shepard gathers a crew with a few returning characters and a few new ones, and sets about performing mission across the galaxy. The storyline basically concerns Shepard convincing other races to go to war, and that means brokering alliances, doing favors, making threats and shooting guys — just about anything that needs doing. Along the way, he runs into nearly every single character he has ever encountered since the first game. To BioWare’s credit, this totally works, and works beautifully.

In fact, this is a game for Mass Effect fans. Sure, BioWare (and certainly EA) have been working to make ME3 an entry point into the series for new players — but if you’re new to Mass Effect and you’re starting with ME3, I pity you. Never before have I encountered … really any work of fiction that so thoroughly satisfied its story requirements. Every loose end is tied; every character gets his or her moment.

Shepard’s job has never been easy, but at no time in the series (or any other game ever) have the consequences of every action been so palpable, and so weighty. BioWare has done a beautiful job of making the carnage befalling the galaxy feel personal. The game is constantly throwing you up against moral decisions, forcing you to balance your player sensibilities (especially if you go Paragon) with the goals at hand. Every compromise or sacrifice you make can mean not bringing enough force to Earth when the time comes to launch your offensive. Mass Effect 2 tried to impress upon you that you were responsible for the lives of other characters — in Mass Effect 3, you will lose people. The resonance of each decision is extremely powerful and makes for a great experience.

As to the other aspects of the game, BioWare has done a good job of finding a middle ground between a more straight-on RPG, as it created in the original Mass Effect, and the shooter-heavy sensibilities that created Mass Effect 2. Sure, the game is still very streamlined and still very heavily focused on combat, but the weaker parts of the game have been ironed out and more RPG elements have been introduced back in. At least on the surface, these are all welcome and remind you that you do have a fair degree of control over your characters. Leveling up your skills now requires binary choices between different perks, so you can theoretically spec one character to be speedy while another does a ton of damage, and so on.

Weapons and armor are discovered as loot or purchased from stores, so it pays to look around every battlefield for extra goodies this time around. As you gather guns, you’ll also find weapon mods, which allow you to customize your loadout pretty effectively — at least at first. ME3 also introduces a new system for determining which weapons you’ll take into battle, a system that does a great job of dispelling the pair of idiotic ones developed in the earlier two games. In Mass Effect, your class specialized in specific weapons and using weapons outside your training was next to useless; in Mass Effect 2, you couldn’t even pull out those untrained weapons.

This time out, every gun has a weight, and that weight effects your special abilities (either biotic, tech or soldier capabilities). Every time you use a special ability, you get sacked with a global cooldown period — the weight of your guns causes it to be longer or shorter, so you’ll have to decide if the added stopping power of a sniper rifle to go with your assault rifle is really worth not being able to throw people through the air with a biotic push. Modding and upgrading weapons allows for more flexibility.

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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.