Wot I Think: Mass Effect 3 (Single Player)

I have avoided any plot-specific spoilers in this review, and reading it will not reveal any details about how the story unfolds or concludes. Clearly if you want to avoid knowing anything at all about the game, or seeing images from it, then look away now. Otherwise…

It’s done. Commander Shepard has taken the final steps in the grand science fiction tale of the Mass Effects. Now there is only the aftermath, the discussion, the opinions, the DLC, and the inevitable retrospectives. Here’s Wot I Think.

The completion of an epic story usually contains an unavoidable thread of melancholy. The actions and ideas that gripped you are concluding, the characters are passing into legend, and the events that meant something to you are over. This feeling of something significant having breathed its last is never clearer than at the closing moments of of the Mass Effect trilogy.

It’s been easy for me to dismiss Mass Effect over the years. It is just Star Trek with more blood. It’s just Guns & Conversation. It’s just Starship Troopers with dicey trans-lunar moral dilemmas. It’s just… I really don’t want to just lazily quip away what Bioware have tried to do here. Even putting aside the endless high-bandwidth hyperbole stream being emitted from the blackhole mouth of Electronic Arts, there’s something hefty in this final game.

Mass Effect 3 goes out on a big note. A galactic note. A giant, infra-sonic ultra-low frequency alien scream of a note. The endings are monumental, and the final battle is one that I couldn’t help being moved by. I know, I’m a big old fool, but sometimes a videogame with sad-eyed aliens and the end of all life in the universe is enough to raise some kind of response in there.

As you are likely aware, Mass Effect 3 is the episode in which The Reapers, the vast, ancient, unfathomable anti-life peril which threatens the galaxy, finally turns up to make its move. That move is full-scale galactic war, and there’s barely a moment to say hello to familiar space chums before an roaring, breath-taking torrent of lasers and bio-horror ensues.

You can perhaps tell from the way I am describing this stuff, but I want to state that Mass Effect 3 gets the pitch of this desperate space war just right. Unlike the other games, where there’s a lot of team-assembling and side-missioning to pootle around in before really getting it on with the Big Bad, here there is only war. And a lot of death. You think there were a lot of dead people in the previous games? Think again.

This backdrop gives a peculiar urgency to proceedings, because you are all too aware that every second counts, at least as far as the story is concerned. You can, of course, still take your time to pursue the numerous side missions, but Bioware have been clever enough to make them feel like another essential beat in the tune of galactic struggle. A couple of missions time out, too, if you fail to attend to them. The march of The Reapers is, the game stresses, relentless.

For obvious reasons I can’t go into too much detail in these missions, but the sum of their parts is that you must bring a certain amount of the warring galactic factions to bear on the enemy, and the more of them you bring, the better things will be for everybody. Of course, thanks to the intense and complex web of politics and resentment that the previous games have outlined, none of this comes easy, and the consequences of brutal decisions can be quite shocking. Not everyone will make it to the last supper. This Mass Effect, for the first time in the series, saw me make a decision where I genuinely regretted what I done. Really, I thought to myself, that was the wrong choice, even if I was pursuing the most brutal renegade course of action. And the consequences were horrifying.

What I am saying is that, yes, Mass Effect 3 is the darkest and most urgent of the games. The story is bold and ruthless, and I enjoyed it enormously. Of course what I enjoyed most was my decisions playing into it all. What I can’t quite imagine is what someone would get out of choosing this screen at the start of the game:

Yes, the question “is Mass Effect really an RPG?” can now be answered with “only if you actually choose that option at the start”. Needless to say, I chose this option instead:

But I could have chosen this one, below, and by the end of the game I sort of wish that I had. I started to think about John’s skippable combat nonsense. Oh how I scoffed at the time.

What Mass Effect 3’s standard, “role-playing” setting did for me – other than play the minor notes on my heart-strings – was to make me realise that I loathe the game’s combat. Strong words, and I’m sorry to say this in front of those numerous folks who enjoy attaching themselves to ME’s scenery, but I just can’t like it this time around. I mean, I thought I liked it in Mass Effect 2. And even 1 was okay. But here… It’s not that the combat is ever particularly difficult, or even that it is broken in any way. It works fine. As intended. It hasn’t even changed much. As ever: stay in cover and make sure you allow time for your shield to recharge, and pretty much every battle is done. It’s rather that it can be a serious grind, and never more so than in the battles in the second two thirds of Mass Effect 3.

The issue is basically down to the way that the challenge has been upped with lots of very high hit-point enemies. Each one has to be ground down, shield, armour, and so on. The result is less thrilling space soldier exploits, and more waist-high-cover-attrition, with you carefully emptying each gun into enormous walking hit-point bins. After a dozen hours it becomes a bit much. I can’t say I’d really noticed this grind so much in the previous games, although it was clearly still there. Mass Effect 3’s attempts to be a little more hardcore seem to have amplified issues that were already present. It is not, after all, significantly different in its execution. Perhaps I’ve had my fill of this sort of combat, and I am totally certain these criticisms will be swept aside by the majority of Mass Effect fans, but the feeling is still there. I struggled to enjoy it and by the end was feeling quite dissatisfied.

Also, to my dismay, I sank a huge number of points into melee – because I like to be able to beat things down with my bare hands or the butt of a rifle – only to discover that a huge number of enemies in the late game have instant-kill melee moves, making my points entirely wasted, and pushing me back into ranged weapons. (Only two of which in the entire game I actually found much application for. The pistols were too crappy, the sniper rifles too slow.)

Yes, I’ve spent much of the past few days grumbling and griping about various irritating action bits in Mass Effect 3. One of them is, heart-breakingly, an action mini-game entrée to the most moving part of the game. It was a pay-off that felt like an enormous relief: at least I was rewarded for grinding my way through that arbitrary insta-death scene with an astonishingly memorable bit of grief-stricken game-story.

All this is a difficult sort of thing for me to swallow, to be honest. To realise that I dislike one of an otherwise fine game’s most central mechanics – because ME is basically about shooting aliens and then having a chat (Guns & Conversation Classic Mode) – and yet to have been thrilled by most other aspects of it. It’s somehow worse for me that the best bit is the story. When it comes to games I will almost always defer to mechanical systems, physical activity, player-stuff, rather than story and all the jazz and lights that go with that. Here, though, it was always the story that dominated my enjoyment. I feel like The Witcher 2, Skyrim and Amalur are all actually far more fun to play from moment to moment, because I just can’t get with ME3’s gun combat. But then again, there’s everything else about the game.

There’s Sheen’s Illusive Man and the entire Cerberus sub-plot, which is by magnitudes my favourite part of the story. There’s the sheer bleakness of it: Shepard rolling about in nightmares while pretty much every location in the game is devastated and on fire. It heaps more and more difficulties onto you, more and more responsibility for catastrophe, and frames it all with a brilliant, poignant soundtrack.

EA have done a bit to wax about Clint Mansell to coming aboard to do the soundtrack, and they weren’t wrong. The team of Christopher Lennertz, Cris Velasco, Sam Hulick and Sasha Dikicyan aces it, underscoring the entire game with a sense of doom, with a few moments of gentle, ambient lightness as the characters set out hopes for the future they may never see. It’s beautiful. In fact I would say all the audio stands apart from the previous two games – the best aspect of the combat is just how punchy the effects are, and it’s the audio that sells every impact and detonation. Really stand out stuff.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that Mass Effect 3 is an apt culmination to the series, and particularly apt to my personal experience of the trilogy. No, I never really did like the way it handled combat, and that has been lit up neon for me here. Yes, I did love the characters and cast, and the sci-fi world they were set to inhabit. Yeah, it was a bit generic space soldiery, and a legion of Space Opera others had been here before, but that hardly mattered. When Mass Effect 3 hit the ground running, I found myself unexpectedly caught up in its events. It dragged me along, and I was glad to see it move so fast, and cover so much ground. It’s a big game, and a worthy conclusion.

It’s hard to see where Bioware will go from here, but I think are some reasons to be cheerful, whatever the dark fate of that particular galaxy, and despite the messages about purchasing future DLC that appear to interrupt your elegiac moment at the end of the game.




  1. BobsLawnService says:

    Just when you thought it didn’t get more ridiculous than liquified-human-remains-terminator-baddies they go ahead and surprise you with techno-dragon.

    I wonder if it goes “wub, wub, wub” when it fights you?

  2. SanguineAngel says:

    So…. I really like the combat in ME1 & 2… I mean I love the story and RP elements more but I still actively enjoy the combat so this sounds like it might be win win for me. sweet

  3. Bhazor says:

    So it’s a good game apart from the gameplay and it’s a good story apart from all the cliches predictable twists and rehashes of every other sci-fi franchise?

    The Mass Effect fanbase bewilders me at times.

    Looks like I can wait for the GOATEE version to go half price at christmas.

    • Zepp says:

      It’s because games aren’t about gameplay or story anymore! They are about being epic Shepard and thats epicly awesome. Looking forward to ME4 that will be even more uber awesome.

      • Matt says:

        There’s also a war going on with civilizations being obliterated so that’s not just about being Super Shepard (which I never liked anyway). It’s not bound to be very deep and realistic but the ties to the characters and setting might just be strong enough for it to be more than a tour through a war theme park. If you don’t care for this premise, why you should care for any other?

    • Apples says:

      Well to be fair sometimes that’s what you want, something that is not hugely original but lets you pretend to be in Star Trek or [insert your favourite sci-fi here]. If you go in wanting a Star Trekky space battle/moral choice story and you get it, and it has fairly high production values, it’s a ‘good story’ as judged by what you wanted, and being a bit more original would have been a nice surprise rather than essential.

      And yeah sorry but story can sometimes carry a game in spite of the gameplay, so it can end up being judged as a ‘good game’ even if the ‘gameplay’ wasn’t very well received. Unpopular opinion, I know.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I reckon the phrase “greater than the sum of it’s parts” might be what you are looking for

    • NathanH says:

      The gameplay of the first two games are fine, anyway. It’s entirely in the spirit of the series: light and accessible but engaging. If you were trying to be elitist you could call the gameplay casual. Then you surround it with lots of professional icing, and you get something that’s really fun.

      Sometimes I play games to challenge, concentrate and compete. Sometimes I play games to relax and relieve stress. Mass Effect works well for the latter. Hopefully turning the difficulty down will keep ME3’s combat light and accessible. I quite like playing ME2 at the second-highest difficulty, but it does screw with the pace of the game completely, so I wouldn’t have liked doing that the first time I played.

    • Bhazor says:

      If your game is entirely built around its story it had better be a good story.

      Bioware are probably one of the richest, most well resourced developers out there. With the full backing of EAs gargatuan forces of marketing and money hoses. They could work with anyone in the business. Any writer. Any actors.

      Considering all that being “good for a fanfic” is the absolute minumum you should expect.

    • Matt says:

      The gameplay is no surprise and although I haven’t played the game yet, I found the demo at least a step up to Mass Effect 2. It had a better of “feel” of being in control. The shooting remains shootery as ever, of course. Mass Effect (and to some extent games in general) always had a rehashed, clichéd story. The question is whether you can get invested in it (whcih is not a question about how mindboggingly ingenious it is). And although Bioware might have any amount of money to do what they want, what they want is also to get any amount of money in return. This is not a question of ideals but about compromises. And you can see in Battlestar Galactica how even more professional writers can muck up a story.

  4. tehfish says:

    That story mode sounds very interesting for future playthroughs,
    will definitely being sticking to the standard RPG mode to start with though

  5. malkav11 says:

    A question, and a comment.

    1) Those missions that can expire: is the player alerted to the fact that this time limit exists and that they should be a priority? I know ME2 had a hidden time limit in that once you trigger the abduction of the Normandy’s crew, you can’t wait around and do more questing without losing them, but that was understandably cued (imho) and one could easily arrange to do all the sidequesting one needed to before triggering the endgame cascade of events. Having missions that fail after a while without some sort of explicit or implicit notice of limited time would be a -terrible- design decision.

    2) I can’t comment on ME3’s combat, but I will say that the nature of ME1’s combat is dramatically different than ME2’s. Cover exists, but it’s not the focus. grenades and area explosives are part of affairs, health does not automatically regenerate, there’s no rock-paper-scissors weapon design vs. different types of hp bar, enemies have significantly differentiated attack types, movement patterns and other characteristics, combat arenas are much more natural and open, with long range snipering being quite viable in many circumstances, powers have separate cooldowns so there’s reasons to use more than one and they actually work on all enemies, weapons have dissipating heat instead of ammo (sorry, “heat sinks”)…

    It’s a little clunky at times, but I think it’s much faster paced and more interesting than what I remember of ME2’s Gears-lite combat.

    • wodin says:

      I finished ME1..I didn’t finish ME2…not sure can stand more than a couple of hours of ME3. Something has happened to the game visually and control wise and definitely combat wise to ME1.

  6. Brun says:

    As I suspected.

    Gears of Mass Effect.


  7. Lagwolf says:

    I played the ME3 multiplayer a fair bit (after playing the demo) because I enjoyed it for some illogical reason. Why is it illogical? Because the combat in ME3 is absolutely rubbish and the fact so much is tied to one key (space) is frankly idiotic. Why ME3 does not allow you re-bind is beyond me. Unfortunately from playing the Demo it seems that Bioware was more concerned with the console players than the PC gamers.

  8. Randomer says:

    Did they put interesting and differentiated skills back in the game? In ME1, you had a diverse set of skills, and it seemed to actually matter which ones you used in each situation. In ME2, they all felt identical (the only differences being cosmetic). Thus, there was no reason to use one party member over another (apart from the dialog they supplied), since the characters were basically cookie-cutter.

    • NathanH says:

      Maybe that is the effect of the lower default difficulty in ME2. On Hardcore difficulty, there are definitely differences between the characters. And on all difficulties, Jacob has useless abilities.

  9. db1331 says:

    I can’t believe that the action, story, or role-playing select screen actually made it into the final game. That’s fucking depressing. I mean there are people out there who will choose action, do some cover shooting, skip the dialogue, do some cover-shooting at the final boss, then trade their game into Gamestop in 3 days. I thought that menu was just built for the demo so that people could choose a scenario to jump into and check out.

    • Dominic White says:

      I, too, am depressed and/or vaguely angered when people are offered choice, and freedom to do (or do not) as they please. It is most disconcerting to think that someone might want something different from a game as I want. I am a grump.

      • Walter Heisenberg says:

        Shepard’s no player input automated talking is likely a result of these new “choices” Dominic, action mode’s automated dialogue choices likely inspired them to script Shepard to make him more their character than the players, this leads to a tough as nails, take no prisoners, kill everything renegade Shepard freaking out over some kid getting blown up now that’s what I call freedom!

    • Brun says:

      @Dominic White:

      If BioWare/EA made their games as compelling and fun as they should be, no one would want to skip ANY part of their game. Including a choice like “turn off the story” or “turn off the combat” is just lazy design.

    • Dominic White says:

      My girlfriend likes a lot of games for the story, but has little to no interest in combat. Should I tell her to ‘man up’ and like fighting? Tell her that she’s wrong, and that she should appreciate everything put before her? Or, hey – maybe that would make me an enormous dick?

      Meanwhile, I’m playing it on Hardcore mode, full RPG, with a character imported from ME1 then ME2. Because that’s how I roll.

    • NathanH says:

      Dominic, normal practice is to insult her weight or appearance. Disturbing death threats are an optional extra. If someone complains, tell them you’re not sexist, you just always act like you are, which makes it all OK.

  10. Lucas Says says:

    Stare at the salarian’s chest plate. Look how happy he is!

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

  11. Lemming says:

    When it’s half-price and some savvy hacker has developed a no-origin crack for it, I’ll bite.

  12. Dominic White says:

    I’m admittedly only a couple of missions into the game (hurrah for me having access to an American proxy), but I can say this about the combat: I’m enjoying it far more than ME1 or ME2. Maybe it’s because it let me import a character and jump straight in at Level 30? Either way, I picked a Vanguard (manliest class ever – headbutts, shotguns and punching!) and I’ve stripped myself down to just the boomstick, allowing me to teleport freely around the battlefield while constantly regenerating health and shotgunning guys at point blank.

    It was also really, really easy on Normal mode (enemies were dying before I could even hit them twice!) so I bumped it up to Hardcore. Maybe I’m going to hit a brick wall eventually, but right now this combat is just a crazy power fantasy where I’m superman with a shotgun and a variety of cosmic punching powers. Nova is so fun.

  13. Shooop says:

    I enjoy a good story, but I like an above-average game to go with it. Especially when it costs more than $20. And pushes EA’s spyware.

    It’s good Bioware has the dilemmas and pressure of choice-making perfected, but can someone develop something more than a standard-issue third person cover shooter to attach those dilemmas to? Someone other than CD Projekt Red?

  14. wodin says:

    Is it me or are the animations odd compared the the two previous games. People run around in a sort of floaty way. Also how fast do they reload???

    It really does feel\look very strange. It looks erm..consolified in it’s animations etc (is that a word)

    • honkyjesus says:

      I have found my female Shepard kind of walks around, and looks like!, a monkey. I am watching a damn cutscene and trying to not laugh at how it is all happening. It isn’t a weird movement off the cuff during gameplay. This is how they literally coded and scripted everything to happen. Amazing.

  15. Calculon says:

    I cant stand it. I played about 20 minutes of ME2 and hated it. I got to the first significant battle sequence and yawned I was so bored, and shut the game down and never came back.

    To me this just seems like another snooze fest of scripted combat and dialogue. If I want this kind of boredom Ill pop in a movie.

    Then again, I disliked Skyrim (but did put a number of hours into it). It seems the gaming industry still hasnt been able to surpass the height of RPG brilliance released in 2000: Baldur’s Gate 2.

    It’s actually very dissapointing, but I suppose this is the price we pay for gaming becoming mainstream, and the likes of XBox and Playstation. Mediocrity and pretty lights ftw.

    • Brun says:

      Disagree about Skyrim. Agree wholeheartedly about Baldur’s Gate 2.

    • Shooop says:

      Skyrim is just like Borderlands in one important way: it’s not the conclusion that’s so good, it’s the journey there, or rather how many other things you can do along the way before even realizing there’s a storyline quest.

      This of course doesn’t appeal to everyone.

    • zal says:

      the first dungeon of baldurs gate 2 is some of the most terribly boring material I’ve ever soldiered through. I was also bored by mass effect 2’s beginning, but my god was that starting dark beige dungeon-lab of baldurs gate 2 incredibly boring.

      the number of times I would roll a new character to play another round of BG2 only to stop when I realized I’d have to go through that dull dull dungeon one more time… well its a very large number.

  16. Calculon says:

    According to my handy dandy play-o-meter in Steam, I put 65 hours into Skyrim.

    To me, it is percisely the lack of impact my actions have on the world that I found so dissapointing. For example, I became the Arch-Mage of the magic school (whatever its called) in the game, and it literally had no impact on the game. The teachers didnt suddenly treat me with more respect, I couldnt make decisions about the school, or more importantly research bold new spells, and discover cool things. Contrast this with Baldurs Gate 2. After choosing either the castle, or the Magic/Science Lab/Time travelling home, I could actually research new spells, and go to different planes of existence. I had to manage the chosen location, both financially and resource wise. It was interesting. It had an impact on the game.

    I found this pattern repeated throughout the entire game of Skyrim. My actions had little to no effect. It changed nothing really. Not only that but the very first dungeon I explored (after I walked off in a random direction) was the very first dungeon I played in Oblivion, it was just re-skinned.

    Furthermore, I also found the dungeons to be boring and repetitive, with no real purpose of doing them other than to advance the main story line.

    That and the lack of actual spells to choose from, general lack of creativity, and a number of other issues (like I could snipe guards from long distance with a bow, kill them, and no one would ever come to my location to discover what was happening – simple cheats of beating the system) lead me to rate Skyrim very very poorly. Personally I’d give it a 5/10.

    Mass Effect I’d give a 2/10. Its pretty bad imo.

    • PopeBob says:

      I feel like a lot of this stems from developers not wanting to “lock away content” from players simply because they chose a certain path. Or, perhaps, to make games more quickly accessible to hold onto that 50% of players who simply never finish. Either way, it’s obviously bullshit that’s accepted because it’s an excuse to not have to do more- to get the product out and monetized as quickly as possible. Same reason BioWare reuses some model and A LOT of animation assets across all ME games, to get the game out ASAP. Granted, this is an understandable endpoint when a company is beholden to stockholders who need a constant rate of profit to keep interest, but that doesn’t really salve the wound to consumers.

      Good god, the lack of conversation-wheel conversations in 50% of ME3 is probably the most disappointing thing about the game.

  17. Dominic White says:

    Okay, Jim’s talk about melee being useless/wasted? Complete nonsense. I’ve built an all-melee Vanguard, and I had to bump up the difficulty just to compensate for how many faces I’m smashing. I’m going toe-to-toe with Brutes, which are supposed to be one of those instant-kill enemies. The trick? Just dodge-roll when you see them swing.

    I also just punched a huge Cerberus mech to death. My only question at this point is when I get my old, one true love back – my Krogan super-shotgun.

    I’m also not using cover, and I’m not camping, and… seriously, the combat here is faster and more aggressive than anything in ME2. That part of the review was so far off base I’m wondering what Jim is playing.

    • PopeBob says:

      My guess? Soldier. Being bothered by cover-shooting as a Soldier. Also not liking Heavy Pistols (because they’re weak? What?) and Sniper Rifles seems a little off.

  18. Irria says:

    So, Jim, you praise the game for story and choices and yet you are not concerned by the fact that the ending of said story has been ripped pretty much verbatim from the original Deus Ex or that any of the choices you make during the games do not matter at all with regards to what ending you get?

    That and other things, like having a game journalist with bad acting skills as a character for no real reason, the whole reasoning behind the game’s central conflict being incredibly stupid and convoluted (that is my impression, at least) and the absolutely ridiculous out-of-character dreams about THE KID.

    • honkyjesus says:

      I am glad I wasn’t the only one to find the appearance of the Chobot absolutely mind-numbing. How can that happen? She does work for IGN and I believe G4. It is like some joke that can only happen in gaming. I found it kind of demeaning to myself as a gamer. Not to mention her damn fifty pound head and 43 IQ is on my ship for some reason.

  19. noobnob says:

    Ought to say that it’s pretty tempting to post spoilers of this game, but those who wants to find the good (and the bad) stuff, can google it up.

    Tali fans, you will be disappointed.

  20. namad says:

    anyone being honest with themselves will notice that even in roleplaying mode, this game has less depth of dialogue and choice than me2, and far less than me1.

    this game’s roleplaying mode would probably be on par with an imaginary hypothetical action mode for me1

  21. honkyjesus says:

    Thanks for the review, EA.

    On a serious note I wish some of you reviewers would just nut up and explain the hot mess of a game that is at its core. It is a third person shooter with some really awkward gunplay, character movement and a general maelstrom of issues that is rare for a budgeted title like this to have. When you throw in some tech troubles, menus designed ten years ago, dialogue that is outright game-breaking and a pretty bleak Star Wars storyline that can only hook you if you have a large mouth… that is an average game at best.

    Again, grow some nuts, reviewers.

  22. Eversor says:

    Finished it about an hour ago. The game was good. Amazing in some places, really tugging heartstrings and making me shed a manly tear or two, bit janky and weird in other, but all in all, a good experience.

    That is, if I could erase the completely stupid ending out of my mind. Completely and utterly soured the entire experience. It completely ignores what makes the series good, what made people to love it – the ability to choose your way and have the story be impacted by it throughout the series. The ending just doesn’t give a fuck about what you did up until it. It doesn’t care what’s the situation now. It doesn’t want to know. It just dictates its own will upon you. It goes completely against the spirit of what the games are about.

    Remember ME2, where Legion speaks of choosing their own future rather than following the one given by Reapers? You might. The writers sure as fuck forgot about it.

    Good game. Horribly disappointing and utterly shit ending.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      This guy knows what’s up. I felt exactly the same way – tearing up at saying goodbye to my friends for some 120 hours of gameplay.

      And then the ending comes and I don’t want to play any game in the series ever again :/

    • Luciphear says:

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one disappointed in the ending. However, I was disappointed in much more aspects than just the ending. Sure, it’s not a horrible game, but all in all, both Mass Effect 1 and 2 delivered everything Mass Effect 3 had, and more.

      1. Squad Members. ME1 lacked plenty, but ME2 introduced Turian, Quarian, Salarian, Krogan, Human, Geth, you name it. You had the entire army by your disposal, and you really felt them being there. In ME3 this changed. Most characters were nothing but sidekicks. They never actually joined you. Most of them just ended up being an “Asset point”, which in the end didn’t mean shit. You never actually got to get to know the world again. It was always on the fingertips, and once things got exciting, it ended and you were left to rot, never to know what could happen. It’s frustrating, not even in a good way.

      2. Galaxy exploration & Probing. Long story short, it’s a steaming pile of shit. But I’ll explain with the long version too. Exploration with the Mako in the first game was tedious to say the least, mainly because the worlds were ‘dead’. No trees, barely any lifeforms, badly generated geometry, but you DID get to explore the planets. Mass Effect 2 introduced it’s own system, to fly around scanning the planets, and probing the living hell out of them. Eventually landing on several introducing you to some sidemissions. Mass Effect 3 gives it all the finger and took all of it away from you. Sure, go ahead and go around scanning the galaxy, but once you find a plannet that can be scanned, you get greeted with the marvelous “Asset popup”. Wow, was that a turnoff. I thought this would be a once in a while thing, but nope. Every. Fucking. Time.

      3. Side missions. What side missions? Mass effect 1 had several. Mass Effect 2 had plenty. Mass effect 3 had delivery-boy action. Well, maybe not ‘action’. Before you actually had to interact with NPCs to have a conversation with them, know their need, their request, and had the option to refuse or to accept. This time around you just overhear things on the Citadel, go probe a planet, receive the popup, go back and receive some cash and, yet again, receive an asset. Extremely unsatisfying.
      And regarding the citadel, next topic.

      4. Locations. Mass Effect 1 had the Citadel, as well as a few other places to visit that felt quite unique. You actually got to travel quite a bit. Mass Effect 2 had way more environments. Citadel, Omega, Noveria, Tuchanka and so on. Mass Effect 3, once again, punches you in the face and says “NO!” That’s right. Now you may only visit the Citadel, isn’t this fun?! Even if the Citadel was cool the first few times, it gets dull after you’ve been forced to go back a hundred times to deliver that stupid thing you found by probing a planet. I expected to actually get to visit a few other areas as well, but nope. Citadel only. Great….not even Dead Space made me feel this claustrophobic.

      5. Biotic Powers. While ME3 delivers quite interesting effects and sounds at first, I found it got pretty damned dull in the very end. Everything fucking explodes! Warp, throw, explosion. Pull, warp, explosion. Singularity, Warp, Explosion. Fuck me, even Pull lead up with a THROW ended up with an explosion. STASIS exploded when it ended even. Why does everything explode?! I LOVED pulling people up with either Pull or Singularity in ME2 and just knock them away with Throw. Now they explode instead. Even shockwave explodes… Ugh. Adept was nowhere near as satisfying as in ME2 in the long run.

      6. Dialogues. Or what dialogues really? I can recall ME1 having quite many, and ME2 as well. WAY more than ME1 even. Many of them went into detail, you got to ask a lot, and figure a lot of things out through conversations. In ME3 there are few of those moments. Sure, the dialogues are similar to ME2, thing is there are so god damned few. You rarely get to interact with someone properly, it’s simply not there…

      7. Weapon modifications. And I thought ME1 had it all wrong…

      8. Death and dealing with emotions. In ME2 I could really feel a character. Call it nerdy if you wish, but I shed some manly tears. In ME3, not a single fuck was given. I felt more like Bioware were picking the guys off one by one just for the sake of it. IT’S WAR! People are going to die! Why not just..like.. have this guy killed, for the sake of it? You know? Well, no, I don’t know. If they’re going to die, at least make it truly emotional. This was just truly bullshit.

      9. The game ended before it had even begun. It had a great start, it felt alien, and in a good way. The more I played, the more I felt as if the game had already ended back when I first clicked New Game. What the hell happened to the quality? It was deprived after the few 30 minutes of intro?

      This list goes on and on, but I think I’ve covered the main issues…besides the ending/s. Which is bullshit, as well. As much bullshit as the photography of the unmasked Tali. That’s bullshit on a grand scale, you can do better Bioware. This is not art, not a story, not even entertainment. This is like probing Uranus, a waste of time, but without the surprise of a comment.

      Oh yeah, if I recall correctly. Once I finished the game I got a popup saying “Congratulations! Shepard is now a legend for defeating the Reapers. You can now continue her story by playing Downloadable Content.”, then the game spit me right back just before the second last mission.

      Haha, good one. Shove it up your ass, Bioware.

      • Eversor says:

        Haha, oh yes. That message in the end after I just saw the freaking Mass Effect universe be torn apart because all mass relays were destroyed by space magic – yeah, it’s cool buddy. Your Shepard died, but you can totally play DLC! Fuck you, Bioware, that’s just asinine and low. You can’t do this shit after pulling Matrix: Reloaded on me. Consequences might not matter in your setting, but they damn well matter in this one and can’t be Deus Ex Machina’d away. You will never get a single goddamn penny out of me, because you have shown utter incompetence.

    • mitsoxfan says:

      I loved the entire series, but found myself just shooting everything in the final moments to see if I could blow something up. I felt this letdown with Deus Ex just recently. Didn’t think I would experience it again so soon.

      The entire series was amazing. I just don’t like the ‘canned’ endings. Combat was good. Multiplayer is fun. Best of the series IMO. And I do like the pressure the game puts on you to strive to pull everyone together.

      Ending was very well done, aside from the last 5 minutes. Even the epilogue was great. I just can’t get past that ‘pick 1 of 3’ mentality. The finality of the choice seemed too easy for such a deep game.

    • Big Murray says:

      I personally think that the ending was one of the best video-game endings I’ve ever seen. The ending of Mass Effect 2 left me feeling a bit underwhelmed and disappointed … the ending of Mass Effect 3 was tragic, powerful and very, very beautiful.

      I honestly don’t believe we’d be seeing the same kind of backlash regarding the ending that some fans are giving Bioware if the ending wasn’t as sad as it was. In my opinion … that means it worked. Bravo, Bioware, and thank you.

  23. PopeBob says:

    I disagree. I mean, the Cerberus sub-plot being the highlight of the story? Space ninja and his wishy-washy roboboss just got me angry at every turn, and not because their characters elicited anger but rather because their characters just felt wrong. For those who don’t like the hide-and-shoot combat, there’s always the Vanguard class which also conveniently makes melee a much more viable avenue even though it’s less than optimal compared to other options. The handling of the endings is obviously an issue, but not due to content (though I could have done without the Catalyst talking).

  24. elnalter says:

    I beat it a couple days ago, the endings were really dumb, and I got the good endings too. Over 6000 EMS

  25. H77 says:

    My female Shepard ran like she just had anal without lube.
    And as for the endings [SPOILER!!]:
    the green one, the fusion between organics and machine happening by sheer magic, with energy spreading throughout the galaxy resulting in hybrids, reminded me of Galactica’s ending: deus ex-machina is bad writer’s greatest friend.
    Also couldn’t stand the cover system (either became glued to cover when I didn’t want to or couldn’t get to cover while being targeted).
    Almost forgot to say: Day one DLCs should count when evaluating a game. Eurogamer gave this 10 out of 10, despite the double rip off: (a) the price in euros compared to the price in dollars, and (b) the bullshit of “day on dlc being content developed separately”, which no one with half a brain cell buys.

    • Big Murray says:

      I disagree thoroughly that the price of DLCs (or of games for that matter) should be any kind of factor in a review score. The job of a review is to tell me how good the game is, not judge it on price. *I* decide whether the price is right or not after the review informs me how good the game is.

      • H77 says:

        When you read a car review you don’t just read about the details and performance in aether. No, you read about all that considering its price, as it wouldn’t make any sense otherwise; its a product you buy, not something that lands on your hands from out of nowhere. Likewise, games cost money. Magazines and sites that talk about games absolutely HAVE TO judge them considering the price tag. To dismiss that is dishonest. And, yes, in the end you decide if it’s worth buying or not; that’s obvious. It is not, however, a reason to forget that major detail: price.

        • Ymarsakar says:

          Why should reviewers remember the price, it’s not like they actually pay for the games they review. Maybe they wouldn’t be so cavalier about the price if they had to pay for it out of their own pocket, rather than be provided for it by their employers or the companies in question.

  26. Ymarsakar says:

    Fate Stay Night’s ending was far better in the pc, for all 3 plot lines. No, really. Look it the fan reviews if you don’t believe me.