Easily, one of my favourite franchises of this current generation of video games; Mass Effect 3 concludes the epic story which follows Commander Shepard as he/she tries to prevent the annihilation of every sentient being in the galaxy. Will they succeed? Who will be left standing? Really, it’s all up to you, and it’s one hell of an emotional ride.
Spoiler warning: I have made an effort to keep this review spoiler-free, but if you have no knowledge of the events that take place in Mass Effect 3, than you may want to stop right here. If you’re played the previous games and have watched at least one Mass Effect 3 trailer, there’s nothing here that will ruin the story for you.
Mass Effect 3 wastes no time in setting the scene. Within minutes of the opening, The Reapers have reached Earth and everyone is looking to Shepard for defensive tactics. I will definitely be going back for a second play-through, just so I can rip the delegates a new asshole with the renegade dialogue options during this scene. It’s not long before you’re back on the Normandy, and a course of action has been established. Mass Effect 2 was all about team-building. Mass Effect 3 follows a similar formula, but on a much bigger scale. The end goal, is to rally as many allies as possible, in order to meet The Reapers head-on, and try and take back the colonies that have fallen.
Through-out your travels, you revisit many locales, but the scenery is quite different, given The Reaper invasion and all. Who you meet along the way, entirely depends on who survived The Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2, and even who died in the first game. I was bummed when I met up with the Quarian fleet and remembered that Tali had fallen in the previous game, since I failed to win her support. Kaiden tagged along for the ride, as Ashley took one for the team in the first game. And so on… Some returning characters play a bigger role than others, but it was really cool seeing some familiar faces and catching up on what they’ve been doing since the events of Mass Effect 2.
As with previous games in the series, the decisions you make play a huge role in Mass Effect 3. I don’t think the scale of these decisions could possibly be any bigger. Colonies can fall, entire species wiped out, depending on your actions and who you choose to align yourself with. There were several points in the game, when I had to put my controller down and truly consider the consequences of the decision that lay before me.
Also similar to previous games, there is no single enemy you are pit against. In fact, just about every threat you’ve faced before is back in some form. This helps to provide some nice variety in the combat scenarios, as the opposing force is constantly changing. You’d think that with everyone facing extinction, that differences could be put aside, but no, assholes will be assholes. The Reapers have stepped it up this time, though. Husks, who we’ve seen in both of the previous games, are now accompanied by other species who have been converted by The Reapers to produce similar atrocities. If you give them a good look, you will likely be able to figure out which species they’re based on.
There has been a pretty big outcry regarding the ending. Personally, I was okay with it for the most part. After I made my decision and watched the credits roll, I jumped on YouTube to watch the other endings. I was surprised to find that they weren’t all that much different, aside from one key factor, but I couldn’t think of a way that I would have preferred to see things play out. It is a very definite end, and I like that about it. All of the endings leave a little to be desired, though. And during the final scenes, there are a few questionable things that don’t quite line-up with the events that just unfolded.
But there are a couple things that rubbed me the wrong way. The first being contributing factors to reaching your main goal in the campaign. There are three possible endings, but I was only presented with two. The third, and best possible outcome, can only be reached by playing the multiplayer mode, as it contributes to your goal. I wasn’t thrilled about this, when I made the discovery. Then I gave multiplayer a shot, and I was down-right angry. It plays completely different from the Mass Effect we know and love, and is just another take on the wave-based co-op action we’ve seen time and time again. Disappointing, to say the least.
The second shady tactic, is the day one DLC titled From Ashes. This absolutely, without a doubt, should have been included on the disc. Anyone who is invested in this series will find this to be crucial material. And to top it off, you get an awesome new squad member.
When it’s all said and done, Mass Effect 3 concludes the series in a way that left me with a smile on my face, and glad that I’ve invested so much time and energy into this series. The 30 hours it took me to prepare to fight The Reapers was as enjoyable as ever. And the only real faults, are the multiplayer (in its entirety) and the bullshit day one DLC, which is clearly an EA cash grab. Long-time fans of the series will know exactly what they’re getting into. What they take away, will likely vary from person-to-person.