I picked up Mass Effect 3 last Tuesday after work and completed my first play-through last night. I have logged roughly 40 hours into the game already, which is partly why I haven’t posted so much in the past week.
For those who are unfamiliar with the game, Mass Effect is set a couple of hundred years into the future. Interstellar travel is made possible by devices left behind by an ancient species. The technology has been called Mass Effect.
A race of sentient machines have entered the galaxy and are intent on destroying all life. This is a cycle they say must continue for the good of the galaxy. The sentient species of the galaxy are fighting back to prevent their extinction.
The story picks up roughly six months after the end of Mass Effect 2. Commander Shepard has been placed on administrative leave and essentially is under house arrest for allying with Cerberus. As the story begins, the Reapers have entered the galaxy and launched an all out assault on Earth.
The Alliance brass quickly call on Shepard to assist in the defense since he has the most experience fighting the Reapers. Admiral Anderson orders you to leave Earth and to go to the Citadel to rally support from the other species to assist in Earth’s defense.
The council says that their own worlds are under Reaper attack as well and there’s not much to be spared. It’s up to you to form an alliance with all of the sentient species to put up a united front against the Reapers and to also find a way to defeat them.
Overall, I like the story in Mass Effect 3, however there were some things that bothered me. None of your crew from Mass Effect 2 join your current crew. They are certainly part of the game, and you have some side missions with them, but they don’t join you. You only have two of your crew from Mass Effect 1 with you. A third one joins you temporarily. You have three new characters as your crew now. I was disappointed with this as I wanted some of the crew from Mass Effect 2 to join my mission.
Otherwise, the story is still good up until the end. The ending is ridiculous and one of the most awful endings I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you’re supposed to feel victorious after the end of the game or not, but you don’t. At least, I didn’t. You have three options for the ending, but no matter what you choose (SPOILER) every Mass Effect relay in the galaxy explodes and Shepard dies. There is reportedly a “perfect ending” that shows the chest plate of Shepard rise and fall once before cutting away to another scene.
The final battle takes place on and over Earth, so after the end of the game every fleet in the galaxy is stuck in our solar system because the Mass Effect relays have all been destroyed. Everyone stranded there would likely starve to death within a few months. Plus, after you make your decision, there is a cut scene in which the Normandy (Shepard’s ship) is running from the beam destroying the Mass Effect relays. How did the Normandy get there since it was engaged in battle above Earth? The next scene shows a heavily damaged Normandy on an unknown planet. Then, the rest of Shepard’s crew exits from the ship. How did they get on the ship? They were on Earth last time I saw them. Plus, one of those crew member’s died along side of me trying to get to the Citadel.
In short, there is no happy ending. There’s not even a decent ending. Every ending is a tragic one. Not only for your character and crew, but for the entire galaxy.
EDIT: I started my renegade play through just a couple of hours ago and have found an inconsistency in the story. At the end of Mass Effect, you have an option to save the council, which is made of up three different alien species, or to let them parish in order to ensure your victory. As my renegade character, I let them parish. Afterward, an all human council was made. At the beginning of Mass Effect 3, however, the council only has one human on it and the other three members are of other alien races. WTF?
The graphics, as they have been for the entire series, are stellar. I noticed no glitches at all while playing and the cinematic scenes are well crafted and if strung together could probably make a very decent looking movie.
The voice acting is, again as it was in the previous two games, superb. Also the background music blends in well on the cinematic scenes. During the more battle scenes the musical accompaniment adds to the emotion. The sound effects for the in-game play are also top-notch.
The gameplay is similar to the prior two games. It is a third-person shooter. In addition to being able to take cover, Shepard now has the ability to roll to avoid attacks and the melee attacks have been upgraded a bit. If you hold down on the melee button, Shepard will unleash a devastating melee attack that kills most opponents with a single hit.
You also occasionally get to control a turret in this game, which is quite fun. Especially when you get to control a turret on the side of a shuttle on the Quarian home world (whose name I cannot recall currently) and light up Reaper forces while the shuttle is flying. That was pretty neat.
Other than the ability to roll and the updated melee attacks, not much was added to the combat.
The leveling system has changed again for the third installment, however. For each rank you purchase in a particular skill the point cost goes up. One rank costs one point, two costs two, etc. I did not notice any new powers, but I have only played through once.
There is a multiplayer mode on this game which I don’t know if I will try or not. The reviews for the multiplayer are good, but I can’t stand playing games online because most people online are assholes and take the fun out of the game.
The replay value is phenomenal as it is with every BioWare game. My first play through I played a paragon, or the good guy. This next play through I will be a renegade. Plus, as I import my characters from the other games in which I made different decisions I will see how those decisions affect me in this final Mass Effect chapter. I have three other characters saved so I will likely play the game through that many more times.
Overall, this is an excellent game. The only weak area this game has is the ending, and that’s only 7 minutes out of the 40 hours I’ve put into the game so far that sucked. I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys RPG’s or even shooters, as this is a 3rd person shooter in addition to being a roleplaying game. If you have not played ME1 or ME2 I recommend playing them beforehand. Not only for the background story but one of the best parts of this game is seeing the consequences of the decisions you made in those two games.