Review: Mass Effect 3

Note: I know I made wild crazy promises about reviewing Skyrim, but let’s face it, after 5 months of it being out, we all know it’s amazeballs.

Mass Effect 3 is like the Return of the King of the Mass Effect series i.e all of the stuff you’ve spent the past 2 games worrying about actually happens. The Reapers finally descend on every important planet in the galaxy and start kicking ass War of the Worlds style, and of course, Commander Shepard, who has every right to say “I told you so” at this point, has to go clean up the mess. That’s pretty much all of the story in a nutshell. Along the way, Shepard has to don his (or her) diplomacy hat and gather enough forces from the other alien races in the Galaxy to destroy the Reapers for good – and if that reminds you of the plot for Dragon Age Origins, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Plot recycling aside, the story as a whole does live up to the high standard that the rest of the series set, and does a great job of sucking you in very early on in the game. Your moral choices are harder, and they effect how the war is fought and even what races survive, and you get the feeling that the fate of the galaxy rests entirely with you – and sometimes, it feels like a heavy burden to bear.

In terms of gameplay, not very much has changed – you still mostly have to rely on cover-based shooting. However, unlike in previous games where you could kiss your shields and health goodbye if you left cover, Mass Effect 3 doesn’t make your life too difficult if you choose to charge guns-blazing into a firefight. In fact, it provides you with more ways of killing up close and personal, most notably by adding a blade-type attachment to your Omni-tool. You can also greatly modify your weapons to be more efficient and powerful – some reviewers have criticised the fact that you only get around 5 mods per weapon, but it’s more than enough to give you a balanced set of arms.

The galaxy map has been modified to help you search for items that help the war effort. It’s similar to the mining mini game used in Mass Effect 2, except instead of flying to every planet in a system looking for loot, you can use the Normandy’s sensors to pick up where mission crucial items are. However, this also creates a signal that can help the Reapers in the system detect you, so you’ll probably end up flying madly around looking for an exit with about 3 of the things on your tail.

One of the main issues Mass Effect 3 has is its own enormity. It’s a very long game, with a hell of a lot of side quests and missions that it just casually throws at you from time to time. That isn’t normally a problem in itself, but the game has a very poorly designed way of organizing all of the tasks you pick up. Instead of sorting them into a list of main story missions and side quests, you have to go looking down one long list (which can get stupidly big by the time you’re halfway through the game). It doesn’t give you much help in completing them either – you almost expected to just remember what star-system and what planet you’re heading for, and which random bystander you’re supposed to turn it in to. This means you will spend hours just wandering around the Citadel looking for the right person.

However, that’s kind a small gripe what is otherwise a game that is so highly polished, it gleams. The rest of it plays incredibly well, and you will honestly end up getting really excited for the ending. Too bad that in the last 10 minutes or so, it effectively shits all over itself.

I’m not going to spend too long over the problems with the ending, because the rest of the internet is just as angry as I am, and most likely everything I could say about it has been said a billion times over. What I will say, without revealing too much, is that it’s made me feel so cheated that I didn’t really feel the need to play it again after I was done, because I knew the kind of disappointment that would be waiting for me if I did. The story sucks you in like a black hole, and then just spits you out again like you tasted bad or something. For all the time and effort you’ll spent playing this otherwise gorgeous, well-crafted and intelligent game, it’s such a shame that the ending will be what sticks in your mind the most and will most likely tarnish your opinion of it.

My advice? Play the game through to the final battle… and then just switch off your console, and imagine your ideal ending. I can guarantee you’ll be way more satisfied with that than what actually happens.