Mass Effect 3

A review.
A portrait photograph of Gareth Latty.

35 hours later, I’m done. I’ve completed my first play-through, and I can honestly say there is no reason not to go out and buy Mass Effect 3 right now. It’s an excellent, excellent game and is worth every penny. The only real reason not to is if you have not played 1 and 2, go do that first, then come back for 3. It’s all about the plot and you need the first two games to get the most out of it.

So, why do I love it. Well, for one, the combat has been perfected. A nice middle-ground between the originals RPG elements, which were to hard to sort through (remember converting a ton of weapons to omni-gel every time you filled up?) and having only a few weapons to choose from in the second game. 3 provides a good range of weapons and mods, but does it relatively unobtrusively. The combat feels good, powers have been tuned to feel like they flow in combat better, as does cover. In general, the game is excellent purely as a shooter.

So the important part - the plot. The game continues Mass Effect’s love for excellent storytelling. It’s gripping, dramatic and awesome, but also manages to keep you laughing out loud - often. The characters all come back in style, and it all plays out really well. The missions all feel important, as do the conversations, the scans, everything. The game puts weight on every choice and action, as the games have always done, but ME3 manages to add even more. It makes you truly care about the races and the characters, even more so than before.

It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but truly, there is little to nothing wrong with Mass Effect 3.

A sort-of-spoiler warning. I’m not going to reveal any plot elements, but rather, what I thought of the ending. Not anything about what the ending was or what it contained, but rather how it was done and what I thought about it.

So don’t read past here if you want to avoid the sort-of-spoilers.

It was disappointing. The ending was did not fulfil what it needed to do - not that I didn’t like the content of it, but rather, how it was played out. Mass effect is an epic that has spent three whole games building up to this ending, and when it got to it, it was over in minutes. We didn’t get to see how our choices affected the universe. Once the game was done, I just sat in shock expecting more. It was a great game, but all the choices I made, all the things I did, I didn’t really get to see how they mattered. I didn’t get to see how the characters that Bioware put so much soul into ended up.

I was also expecting more from the gameplay at the end. Given how ME2’s last mission was handled, I was expecting to choose how to use the various fleets and units I had collected, in a similar way to how the squad-mates were picked to perform actions in ME2. Instead, they just didn’t seem to matter.

Mass Effect was an epic trilogy of huge scale - entire races of people, entire solar systems, fleets and the galaxy were the plot. So the ending felt… small. It felt too much about Shepard and not enough about everything else, and that’s a real shame, because it is literally the only fault I can point to in the game.

I can’t deny the possibility Bioware is going to release some DLC that makes this right - which, if so, is a really horrible move. DLC shouldn’t be main-game content and a decent ending should be main-game content. Unless it is free, and hence more of a fix, then it will come across as Bioware holding players hostage to find out what happened - which really sucks. We’ll see, and I’m not going to lie - I’m going to buy any (plot or gameplay, not outfits and guns) DLC available, because it’s Mass Effect and I love the series.