Mass Effect 3 finishes the trilogy off with a bang. Picking up what seems to be months after ME2, Commander Shepherd has been stripped of his ship and is now in Alliance holding. With one-thing leads to another, the story quickly ramps up as Reapers attack Earth. You escape, promising your comrades to return with as much support as possible. You’ll visit new and familiar places and people, solve conflicts, which all lead to gaining support for Earth. The main story is a high adrenaline rush, with the final two hours being an impressive mark on games. There are some slow parts, and the endings, yes endings, are a bit confusing and anticlimactic. As a whole, it’s a well-written, well acted, and very touching end to the series.
The combat basically remains untouched. The third person shooting feels smoother and the AI to both your teammates and your enemies make the battles feel more engaging. Leveling remains the same, you can now upgrade and mod your guns, and everyone can use every type of gun, though with a weight cost which lowers power recharges. The ratio of talking to fighting, like in the other games, is about 2:1, but that’s all right as the story is the big draw of Mass Effect anyway. So through a series of quests, you’ll gain support for the finale, which then in turn affects the endings. You can gain more support in the new multiplayer, which is cool and plays well, but it’s not as engaging as the campaign.
The developers at Bioware put everything into this finale. The battle system has been refined, making it the best in the series. The story is exciting, moving, and dark. The score is solid with ambient melodies and fast pumping electronica in battles. The graphics and set pieces are awe-inspiring. There are a few hiccups, however. Load times are a bother, there are some sound glitches as well as some textures that pop in and out. These problems are more annoying than big issues.
Mass Effect 3, ultimately, remains unchanged. Instead, it’s tweaked here and there to deliver the best experience in the series. If the others have grabbed you before, this game won’t let go for 40+ hours. It has it’s problems, but despite these issues, the overall package overshadows them and makes it one of 2012’s first must play games.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on March 14, 2012 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.