Average User Score: 5.5Mar 26, 2012The Mass Effect series as a whole is an amazing piece of storytelling, backed by enjoyable and interesting gameplay and a cast of well craftedThe Mass Effect series as a whole is an amazing piece of storytelling, backed by enjoyable and interesting gameplay and a cast of well crafted characters. The rating given reflects the complete experience of Mass Effect 3. Had the game concluded with the themes and narrative quality of the majority of the game, it would rate 8/10.
The game is immersive, reasonably well paced and takes pains to reintroduce the majority of 'fan favourite' characters at least for a cameo and is thoroughly enjoyable, if by no means 'perfect'.
In terms of gameplay, the combat is much improved, with the protagonist being far more mobile on the battlefield - however linking all movement commands to a single button which is interpreted situationally can be immensely frustrating - and the enemies are tactically more varied and force rapid shifts in player tactics. Unfortunately, the opponents are far from varied: Throughout the game there are essentially two factions you fight against in almost every encounter. Despite the focus on one-squad-vs-the-horde throughout the game, it does introduce a little variety in the form of shooting-gallery turret sections and a section in virtual reality.
As a roleplay game (RPG), Mass Effect 3 is far more restricted than its predecessors, with fewer dialogue options and ultimately less choices, however the immersiveness of the first two acts will cause most players to generally forgive this, at least on their first play-through.
If there is a complaint to be had (excluding the ending), it is in the fact that little of the prior decisions made in the series are actually taken into account within the Mass Effect 3 storyline: Species the player rendered extinct can be found throughout the game, artifacts the player destroyed utterly can be found on display, and so forth. While it is by no means uncommon or even unusual for sequential games to make assumptions and establish a 'cannon' series of events, the fact that Mass Effect 3 was specifically marketed as this not being the case causes it not to live up to expectations in that regard.
Additionally, regardless of player choice, Mass Effect 3 will force feed the protagonist with a lot of previously nonpresent anguish over certain events, which is very much out of keeping with the concept of player-determination.
Still, despite these flaws, it easily rates 8/10 for the first two acts, when viewed on its own merits. And for these first two acts, I would recommend this game to any fan of the Mass Effect series, with the caveat they immediately stop playing the game afterwards, and do not complete it.
And then, theres the ending.
On the chance that somehow, someone is not aware of this fact: A lot of customers are not happy with the ending (to put it mildly), and frankly, their dissatisfaction is perfectly justified.
The final act of the game dismisses the overall game theme of player choice and consequences thereof, railroading the player along a series of events - some agreeable, many not - until the point the game ends. Specifically the game, not the story.
In the final hour of one of the greatest epics told in the computer game medium, Mass Effect 3 utterly fails to deliver, from a narrative, psychological and philosophical perspective. Themes established from the beginning are discarded, new and inexplicable characters are introduced the very end, illogical and circular 'exposition' contradicts established story and background and last but not least, established characters are forced to act completely against their nature as the player is shoe-horned into an A/B/C choice, regardless of their prior actions through the series. Even the very narrative style is switched in the very last minute.
To make matters worse: The ending also, for no reason, destroys the entire premise of the game universe with utterly inexplicable and near-identical, emotionless CGI animations.
So sadly, despite 5 years of excellence in the series, 15 minutes of cutscenes (with no player control) quickly and thoroughly ruin the overall experience, and the game must be rated with that in mind.
As a disclaimer: Bioware are, and hopefully will continue to be, an excellent developer, who have produced some of the most enjoyable stories in the gaming media, which is one of the reasons the terribly written ending to ME3 is so surprising.
I would recommend people do NOT boycott the brand, or anything equally extreme, but instead avoid pre-ordering their products or relying on pre-release reviews, and instead wait for peer reviews, such as these here on Metacritic.… Expand