Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Very few games that claim that your decisions have real consequences are telling the truth. Mass Effect was telling the truth. Choices you made in the first two games determined the story you were told in the third game, in sometimes dramatically different ways. Relationships you had with companions affected the way you related to them in the final game of the trilogy, people/races who’d lived and died clearly had a significant impact on what you experienced, and calls you’d made about difficult matters saw consequences later on. But none of them affected the final ending of the game. And that’s brilliant.
I argued this in more detail here (then later discovered that “fart” is the worst insult of them all), but Mass Effect 3’s climax, while avoiding spoilers, demonstrated something really important and impressive: the universe is bigger than one person. To suggest that this third game was not impacted by the previous two is madness, simply because the last half hour wasn’t unique to you. Something bigger was going on, and while your character was central to that bigger thing, it was always going to happen. What makes the ending quite so impressive is that it’s the experiences you had up to that point, the relationships you made, the impact that characters and situations had on you, the player, that played a huge part in the choices you made at that point. The choices weren’t there as a consequence of your actions, but the one you picked was so heavily influenced by them. It was a bold statement.
It was also a top third-person action RPG, that stripped down the over-complexity of the second instalment, and told a great story. The ending was of course extremely divisive, and I think the best ones so often are. What a superb trilogy, and what a great way to finish it.