Release Date: 05/14/2021
Also Available On
Here it is. The finale to one of the largest video game sci-fi epics ever created. It’s a huge undertaking and when Mass Effect 3 first launched it became infamous for its disappointing ending that basically had to be rewritten and patched back in. This is it. The final push against the Reapers and any other enemies that stand in Shepard’s way. The game focuses heavily on shooting and veers more away from a traditional RPG, but also has a more focused mission structure with a lot of writing and dialog with choices that mean even more than they ever did before.
The main focus of the game is to now gain War Assets towards defeating the Reapers. This is your main goal and what all main and side missions will give you in the end. You have a minimum meter and can’t engage the final mission until you’ve met this bar. This is all based on a score and it’s broken down based on what you have done. All main missions give you the largest chunk as your next big goal is to basically figure out what to do with each species that we have learned about up until now. The krogan and turian conflict, the krogan genophage, the quarians, the rachni, and the geth. All questions are answered and each main mission focuses on the main characters that either survived during Mass Effect 2 or just in general. Dealing with each and every major issue with all species is pretty incredible and cool. It feels right that everything led up to these huge decisions.
One of the first noticeable things is the improved combat. It’s more cinematic and feels closer to something akin to Gears of War. Infinite sprint, finally, with snappier cover mechanics, dodge and roll mechanics, and the guns feel more tweaked, unique, and satisfying to shoot. This feels like a proper third-person shooter now with some RPG stats tacked on. However, despite the more unique weapons which include a loadout bench and each weapon can have two mods attached, the game is still too easy. I rarely ever died and when you fully upgrade a weapon to level five everything dies in a couple of bullets. I wound up finding preferences for how the gun feels over how much damage it can do. I feel there are way too many weapons for such an easy system and every enemy feeling like cannon fodder. While there are now only Reaper enemies and Cerberus enemies, they repeat often and get boring to shoot. I was never afraid of any situation and I could even stand out in the open most of the time and just mow everything down without a scratch. While the combat feels great it’s not challenging and all the effort feels almost wasted.
Once again you command the Normandy ship and its layout has changed once again. It’s lost more streamlined and you no longer have to walk around talking to everyone hoping to unlock the next relationship stage. You only acquire five squadmates this time and most you already have met before. I really felt no need to walk around the ship anymore except inviting people to my cabin to advance a relationship. You are informed when someone wants an invite so the whole relationship thing is better and streamlined. The game switched focus from a lot of planets to visit for side missions to just very unique and cinematic main missions with a few side missions here and there. There really aren’t many. There are a ton of main missions and it keeps the pace going. Most side missions for acquiring war assets come in the form of probing planets. Don’t worry, it’s not as tedious as ME2 as this time you just probe the flashing spot on the planet and get your asset. And very rarely do you ever land on a planet for something. This allows you to solely focus mostly on main missions and map exploration which is pretty much the same as ME2.
The map removes needing probes and just has fuel which I still don’t really get. Now that the Reaper threat is imminent you can scan on the map as you fly around to find hidden assets. Sometimes this will alert the Reapers and they will swarm you on the map and you usually have to escape and come back. So, once again, the map is improved ins some ways and hindered in others. Never did BioWare really gets this system down working flawlessly. The only place you can now visit off-world is the Citadel and nowhere else. It’s also been streamlined as you visit different areas again. There’s a central elevator that takes you around to the five different levels and it’s mostly used for war assets acquisition. You overhear people talking and you then need to go to that system on the map and probe a planet for the thing they’re looking for. Sometimes is something you pick up on the main mission, but sadly these can be easily missed and there’s no way to go back if you do.
I found the binary moral system hindering once again as it matters here more than ever. It still unlocks certain actions during scenes and dialog options during important scenes, but I don’t like being either really nice or really mean. There’s no in-between and after going through three games like this it’s really annoying and holds things back. It feels so black and white here that I almost predicted what outcome would happen if I chose a certain response. Other than that the ending itself was satisfying, and you can replay the final scene and go through your options to see different outcomes. I didn’t like how I couldn’t get a detailed epilogue of what happened to each surviving crewmate and my romantic partners. You get concept art stills and Hackett giving a speech at the end (doesn’t spoil anything) and it felt pretty generic in the end. Like a fizzle and hiss rather than a huge emotional finale.
The visuals in ME3 are better than ever with insane details in the backgrounds and overall detail of the game. I found zero crashes and glitches with this game as with ME1 and ME2 I did. I did actually find one glitch where I fell through a floor, but I think it was my own fault that time. I did also find the DLC in ME3 kind of weird. There’s one DLC that’s all about comedy and stopping a clone of Shepard. You get an apartment that you can…deck out? Why? It’s not like this is a game I want to spend time in a player home in. I can buy furniture and stuff, not very exciting and completely useless. This DLC also has more mini-games in the form of an arcade and is basically an entertainment strip mall. While I enjoyed the funny one-liners and overall humor that the main games lack, this added feature was super strange.
Overall, Mass Effect 3 improves on giving you more cinematic story missions, less filler, improved combat, and bigger choices than ever before. You really feel like all of your actions from the past have caught up with you for better or worse. While BioWare still can’t seem to nail down combat and the galaxy map well enough, it works. Combat feels great, but it’s way too easy and thus the time and effort spent on creating so many unique weapons and mods is a complete waste. Why bother when I can stand there and mow down every enemy with the same weapon through the whole game? There’s no incentive to mix up the weapons and experiment. With the ending being iffy and the DLC being kind of weird, I enjoyed my time with ME3 but also felt the flaws were glaringly obvious. It’s still a great ending to one of the greatest video game franchises ever made.