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on November 20, 2012
---A Preface---

Let me preface everything by saying that I am fully aware that reviewing this game further would be belaboring the point. Still, after all the time and love I spent upon the game, I feel that I owe it to myself to write this.

---Review---

Gameplay (5/5):

Firstly, ME3 is a great game. It is very fun, and it'll be incredibly hard for you to put down. Very few, if any, of the negative reviews on here owe their criticism to the gameplay itself. In fact, in my opinion it is ME3's most redeeming quality.

Here's my breakdown:

Graphically (5/5), ME3 is top-notch. Now, I may not be the harshest critic here; I mean, I can't tell the difference between a DVD and a Blu-Ray disk (which I suspect is mainly the price). I suppose that if you're someone who demands perfect, unyielding graphics without tearing, etc. then you might be able to find some complaints. Personally though, the only thing that bothered me was that my custom FemShep's imported face looked absolutely bizarre despite being...well, hot...in ME2 and ME1. No matter how much reconstruction I did on it, I only got it to about 80% of what it was before. However, this was a very minor complaint for me.

In terms of combat (4.5/5), the game again shines. It has more of an ME2 feel than an ME1 feel, but it is also somehow distinctly different. It's subtle, but there are certain things that have improved, or at least changed. Playing as an adept (as I did in 2 and 1), I noticed that the balancing of the powers is distinctly different. "Shockwave" in ME2 was my most powerful/effective ability. In ME3, it's essentially worthless unless your enemy is right in front of your face (as with a husk). Rather, an adept's most powerful ability is a type of biotic grenade. I cannot speak to other classes as much, because I prefer a biotic-heavy style of play.
One thing that was really nice about ME3 was the ease with which any class can use heavier weapons, like the sniper rifle (a personal favorite of mine, even though I am an adept). There are also many new enemy types, some of which are quite challenging. The banshees I found to be absolutely terrifying.

Missions (5/5) were fantastic. There was always a sense of urgency, and a sense of purpose. Everything you do is an act of great importance, and the game does a great job of making you feel that. At least until the last hour or so.

Music (10/5): the score to this game is absolutely incredible. The music to ME2 was amazing, and the music to ME1 was pretty damn good too, but the music in ME3 is perfect. I can't even describe why - suffice it to say, this game has a very emotional storyline, and every background piece highlights the heart of that scene, in a way I could only describe as reminiscent of chiaroscuro in art. Now, I don't cry very easily. Or, at least, it takes a lot more than a generic RomCom to do me in. But here, the music always put me right over the top.

Characters (10/5): as we all know, the essence of Mass Effect isn't the combat, or the music...it's the characters. I mean, who doesn't love them? ME3 throws in quite a few new ones, and some of them are pretty cool. Some of them are annoying *glares at the slutty newswoman in the cargo hold*...but the main characters return in force. Many of the ME2 characters don't get quite as much love as one might hope, but they do get some airtime. If you romanced any of them, though, the odds are that your romance experience will not be very enjoyable in its conclusion.

Replayability(3/5), on the other hand, suffers a lot from the story (more on that later). Still, going through it again for the gameplay alone would be quite rewarding. Planet scanning has largely disappeared, but it has spawned an almost equally annoying series of scanning missions. These mainly involve salvaging things that may be useful for the war effort...but the Reapers (ever the logical little buggers) quickly destroy 90% of the fuel depots. This makes it much harder to jump from system to system within a given cluster. Furthermore, when you get there, you only get about three pings before Reapers jump down your throat and try to kill you (they chase your ship on the Galaxy Map). This makes it hard to find everything without an online guide.

And now, let's turn to that long-decayed and very dead horse...the story and the ending.
<<< SPOILERS AHEAD >>>

General Story (5/5):

At the beginning of the game, you have to abandon Earth. It was somehow hard to do that, even though it's a linear game (in this regard). You really feel the pain and the destruction on Earth, and even though it's necessary - a retreat to advance, so to speak - you feel guilty as a player. You'll meet up with the Virmire survivor (I saved Kaidan)and a couple new characters in an Alliance-retrofitted (which basically means uglier) Normandy to fly off and reunite the galaxy.

Before you do that though, you stop at Mars and meet up with Liara. And hey, guess what? It's Deus Ex Machina time! Miraculously, there's a schematic for a devastating new weapon found in the Prothean archives in the Alliance base there. It's called the Crucible. Now I know what you're thinking...does this mean that you're going to force the Reapers to perform chemistry experiments? No. At this point, we think that it means that we have a Reaper vaporizer.

Now, despite my criticisms of this device, I was expecting something similar long before I played ME3. It's simply a necessity with an enemy like the Reapers. I also like the "full circle" aspect of it - Mars was really where ME begins, and with this discovery it's where it "ends" in some senses. In fact, this contrived device is infinitely more forgivable in our initial understanding of it. I would have given ME3 twelve stars if its perceived function had been accurate.

Unfortunately for all of us, it wasn't. But you don't find that out until later.

In the meantime, you fly about the galaxy gathering your forces. I won't go into detail here, because maybe you still don't know and my warning for spoilers wasn't enough to dissuade you from reading this. What I will say is that you wade through huge subplots and explore many fundamentally 'human' themes. Several characters lose their lives in this process, or maybe just one or two if you've been a diligent little player up until now. As I said, every mission during this time is amazing, and powerfully evocative. Thessia and Rannoch in particular gave me chills. You will almost certainly cry.

And through all of that, you get to see how your crew evolves. Yes, in terms of ability, because it is an RPG...but also psychologically. Joker, a personal favorite of mine, is a prime example of this, but he is far from the only one. Every character displays more depth than I've ever seen in a supporting character (I mean, of course they do - it's Mass Effect!). The amazing voice acting really reinforces this.

Your romance, if you have pursued one (and why wouldn't you have?) will also come to a close, one way or another. I've read in other places that the only truly satisfying romance is Liara. Apparently, you never get to see Tali's face, no matter what, which I thought would have been the coolest and most natural side benefit of that romance.

I cannot speak to this, but I can speak to a romance with Kaidan: if you've done certain things in the past, or in the alternative are prepared to work very hard at your relationship with him, you can take the romance further. (Also, if you're a male Shepard, you can now initiate an M/M romance with him.) Personally, I felt that it led to what I was expecting, but it was somehow more vanilla than I anticipated. I guess it was done realistically, but not quite as...subtly, or perhaps tastefully, as I would have liked. It was, somehow, disappointing. I guess it just lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Nonetheless, I really did feel the romance, and it was still very emotional.

Now, as for the ending...

What on Earth was Bioware thinking?

That will be your reaction, almost exactly. It will likely begin with, "Um, what?" and then progress slowly to complete, mind-numbing disappointment. Why? It turns out that the Crucible has a much different purpose than what we expected, or at least a much-expanded one.

And it just plain sucks.

But that's just the proximate cause of my (our) disappointment. As Sheldon would say, the higher-level distal cause is that Bioware treats the ending more like art than game. In some ways, I think that that's a cool idea. The problem is that art is subjective. A tower of sponges to some is amazingly meaningful. To me, a tower of sponges is probably just a tower of sponges. And with a game-as-art theory, you should accommodate the duality of those concepts. That is, you shouldn't just make it art for the sake of art and forget that it is also a game, and therefore must be logical. Failing that, sensical.

As it is, you get to choose the color of your doom, and that's about it. Personally, it doesn't bother me that much that you only get three choices, despite the promise of fluidity of choice upon which ME is predicated. It doesn't bother me that there isn't a boss fight, only an encounter with the Honorable Marauder Shields. What does bother me is that (perhaps indeed for deference to art) the ending does not make sense. At all.

I will not dissect every point here; the reasons why it is entirely illogical are so numerous that I couldn't bear to itemize them for the sake of my love for ME. What bothers me most is that it contradicts the themes it expresses in the same game. I mean, what was all of that stuff with the Geth and the Quarians about if that damnable God Child does the (pseudo-)philosophical equivalent of laughing at you for it?

I don't know. I really don't. I desperately clung to the notion of Indoctrination Theory for a while...but then Bioware crushed that hope when it didn't release the real ending. All they did release was the Extended Cut, which
patched a few logical holes and makes the ending somewhat more bearable.

But not that much more bearable.

I'm sorry to say this, Bioware. I truly loved ME; it will remain for me one of the most evocative, transcendent games I have ever played. Yet, I cannot honestly say that you did well by it. Of course, I will not scream, or send you obnoxious letters. That won't change anything. All I ask is that, next time, you never let yourself forget what the game is really about.
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on March 10, 2012
Be warned, this review contains some spoilers so read at your own risk. This is also a bit long winded; I apologize but, as a fan, I invested quite a bit of time in the series. Time for me to give back what they took from me.

My Real Rating: 4.5/5 until the last hour or so, at which it becomes 2/5

Game reviews can often be subjective so this review is coming from someone primarily with an RPG background who, in terms of game play, enjoyed the first game better than the second. The second wasn't terrible in terms of story but it was much less of an RPG and more of a shooter. The first thing I noticed about Mass Effect 3 is that BioWare gave us a game that gives us the best of both worlds and should be recognized for that. There are also some things here and there that I either loved or hated but these were not things that impacted the overall experience so I exclude them.

Some Observations
=================

1. Some people complain about graphics but that isn't as much as an issue for me. I am a hard line gamer who still pulls out the classics from the 80s and 90s and can generally forgive not-as-good graphics for a good story or game that is simply fun to play. Mass Effect 3 is, for the most part, both. That being said, the graphics weren't terrible and I feel that this is really a non-issue.

2. The re-design of the Normandy is great! I love the lounge (reminds me of a line from Mass Effect 2 when Shepard told Jacob that the next Normandy gets a lounge). Nice touch.

3. The writing was generally good. There were some places where I felt it was lacking but I'm saving my anger to discuss the ending. Also, character development is good, especially across the three titles; this is insanely difficult to accomplish in a game trilogy so kudos for that. There were several points in the game where a scene elicited an emotional reaction from me. In the last hour, that emotion was sheer terror that all this character development had been for nothing (see below).

4. As I mentioned, many of the RPG elements that were taken out of the second title were brought back but vastly improved. One such feature was weapon modding. While it didn't bother me like it did some people, I must still admit that modding in the first game could become rather tedious, especially for someone who feels the need to collect everything (not a good idea in the first game).

In this game, for example, suppose you mod a series of weapons with, say, a Rifle Scope I. If you pick up or purchase a Rifle Scope II, all weapons with the earlier mod are automatically updated as well as your inventory.

From the start, you can choose to upgrade weapons you are using to better weapons right away. Moreover, weapons are no longer constrained to a particular class (i,e, infiltrator, soldier, vanguard, etc) so you can enter a combat situation with the weapons that are best suited to the task. There are some weight limits that you should observe when carrying weapons that depend on class, however.

Overall, the game play is fantastic.

5. Halleluiah, planet scanning is gone! It has returned in some form but one does not need to spend large chunks of time collecting resources to upgrade weapons and ship components. Planet scanning is mainly used to collect war assets in Reaper controlled territory but even this can still get a bit tedious at times.

6. I am not a huge fan of multiplayer games, cooperative or not, so I do not feel like I am in a position to adequately critique it.

Comments on the Story
=====================

The story was great. I was on the edge of my seat digging it, that is, until the last hour minutes or so when, in my view, the totality of the trilogy came crashing to the ground. There is a huge, heated debate about the ending of the game where both sides are calling names like rather ill-behaved children. I do not intend to call names here as games, like movies, are very subjective. However, I do have some thoughts about the ending and the story. If you don't share these thoughts, great. But don't be pompous, acting like your opinion is the only one out there. And, beware of spoilers.

//[Work Hard and Still Get the Shaft]//

The first thing that really annoyed me was that I played through every mission/side quest and got most (but admittedly not all) of the war assets from the various worlds using the planet scanner (this also got tedious at times but was nowhere as bad as the scanning in ME2). The way I understand the galactic readiness rating (GRT) is as follows: it is basically a multiplier that takes your raw military strength and is used to produce an effective military strength (EMS). If you spend more time in the multiplayer (which I did not) you can, in principle, spend less time on side quests and vice-versa. Good idea, I thought, as it gives players some leeway on how to proceed.

However, when I went into the final battle, I feel that the EMS rating was rather misleading. Mine was roughly at about 3200 or so with a default GRT of 50%. The green bar was completely filled. However, my ending sucked (I'll get to this in a minute). In fact, the first time I played through, I was so shocked that I re-loaded the Citadel mission to see if I missed something. Nope, as I feared.

Now, my initial reaction was knee-jerk. I was furious that EA/BioWare made a game where, as I perceived at the time, a decent ending could not be achieved without multiplayer. I have since then been corrected. A decent ending, where Shepard presumably lives (there is still some ambiguity here), can be achieved with an EMS of 4000 or better (at least, according to sites like IGN). However, my complaint is that the game misled me about this as my EMS bar was completely filled going into the last mission. Even if you can get the good ending without playing multiplayer, much of your readiness rating depends on previous choices from earlier titles. Also, admittedly, there is a box that told me that my chances against the Reapers was even but I didn't think much of it because in Mass Effect 2, they still called it a "suicide mission" even if you made all the necessary preparations.

I should note that the supposed "good" ending includes a very brief cut scene where Shepard is still alive but appears to be in bad shape; I don't have much of an incentive to work hard to get my EMS up for a 20 second cut scene that leaves some ambiguity about Shepard's ultimate fate.

//[Past Decisions?]//

I didn't feel that all of my decisions really mattered. My feeling is that your decisions mattered mainly insofar as a character might briefly appear in the game and promise to help you but you may not ever encounter that character again in the game and a positive number would be tallied, in your favor, to your military strength. So, basically, I feel like I made decisions not to see further development of a character who was willing to fight and, possibly die, along side me but rather, to see a sum magically increase by a few hundred points.

A good example is the Rachni Queen. She appears if you save her and you are again given an option to save or let her die as she has been taken over by Reaper tech. If you let her live, she appears in a list under the war assets and that is that.

The collector base, for example, does play a role in what choices you have in the ending but I didn't really feel like my decision to destroy it made much of an impact throughout the game. This was, at least I thought, a huge decision and all it does it determine which three crappy choices will cause you to "win" if you even "win" at all. That is, the crappy choices are permuted depending on your choice to destroy or not destroy the collector base.

You also see Major Kirrahe who promises to fight by your side no matter which way the political tide turns. What is frustrating is that I expected a full scale, epic battle where all sorts of people I have rallied were fighting by my side. Literally. I don't think that this was a wrong or misleading assumption. But this isn't what I got. Perhaps my expectations here were far too high.

I understand that making a game that is custom tailored to the player is a difficult, technical task but this is how they marketed the game. I remember feeling that my ME1 decisions, with the exception of Wrex, didn't really have an impact on ME2 except for a few casual encounters with Conrad or an Asari communicating on behalf of the Rachni Queen. I really felt like I would feel the heavy weight of my major decisions from ALL three titles. Instead, there were many times when it felt like "Oh yeah, I remember doing that." The only decisions that seemed to carry sufficient weight were ones that I made in this particular game.

//[Total Annihilation/Gooification of Humanity Isn't So Bad So Long As it is Justified by a Child]//

The ending didn't make much sense to me. In fact, I felt like more alcohol would assist me in understanding it. So, to save organics from the hands of super advanced synthetics or AIs we have to brutally destroy entire species with a race of ultra-sophisticated synthetic-organic hybrids? Okay, perhaps "destroy" is a bad word; more like, gooify you and collect you as a museum exhibit of what once was. So, instead of being destroyed in the usual "the machines have revolted" sense, we will be brutally harvested by super advanced machines. Yeah.... that is a great....uh.... solution? Chaos is not necessarily a bad thing; it is found in nature. This was hard to stomach.

In Mass Effect 2, we discovered that the collectors were really Protheans who were re-purposed and it was generally agreed by Shepard and crew that this was a fate far worse than extinction. Why the change of heart? Because the presumably non-caporial being on the Citadel took the form of a child instead of Harbinger, with his guttural, bad guy-ish sounding voice? This child basically told Shepard what Harbinger told Shepard on Virmire and at various spots in Mass Effect 2. Shepard certainly didn't buy what Harbinger told him in the previous games but now it is okay because a child says it?

Seriously, I would rather fight a loosing battle against machines Terminator 2 style than have my friends and family turned into some goo where they loose all personality but their genetic structure is preserved. Because, you know, as I play, develop relationships, and think long term, my main concern should be.... preserving my bodily fluids? It almost has a Dr. Strangelove tone to it... I'm just imagining Shepard droning on about his precious bodily fluids.

Seriously, this sucked beyond measure. And by beyond measure, I mean it was serious, knee deep, disappointing, suckage. Dying at the hands of the collectors in ME2 was, in my opinion, a far more satisfying ending to the series. Fewer loose ends to tie up (which were not tied up in ME3).

//[But You Can Still "Stop" The Reapers]//

If, by stop, you mean one of three things: you control the reapers, which is very disappointing because it gives the Illusive Man credibility, you combine synthetics and organics which is equally disappointing and, frankly weird as hell, or, as some game sites misreport, you destroy all synthetics, including the Reapers (some game sites report that you just destroy the Reapers). And, unless you worked really hard, Admiral Anderson will die as will Shepard.

Then, in a sudden chance of pace, Joker apparently stops assisting the space attack to go and pick up Ashley, James, and Liara from the ground battle so that when they crash land on some Eden-like planet, there will be enough people to make babies (Note: some things may be different depending on who you saved in ME1, who your squadmates were for the last mission, etc but the idea is the same).

So let's recap: you either die or, if not, you take a breath of air badly wounded with absolutely no character resolution, you have absolutely no clue what happened to the other characters you have grown to love, and it is very likely that your spouse-to-be (or, at the least, I hoped) will have the task of making babies to repopulate humanity with little to no facial expression that seems to express the slightest bit of concern as to your fate.

I wanted to see total Reaper carnage (as opposed to total AI/synthetic carnage) and maybe a wedding or possibly a scene where you walk away with your friends in the sunset leaving behind a pile of dead reapers (yes, I know, I am a hopeless romantic). Instead, I got no character resolution and a random scene of Joker crashing on a planet that seemed to have little to do with anything.

Some people might contend I am making too much out of nothing. Possibly. But I wouldn't tolerate this kind of ending in a movie trilogy so why should I tolerate it in a game that is supposed to be story driven?

The suckage is complete and I'm not it sure can be undone. This alone does not make me want to go back and re-play the game. In fact, I would be content to stop playing before the battle of Earth and leave it be or die in ME2. I'm not even sure I can play the other titles knowing what ending lies ahead. The game and the trilogy was great but the ending completely ruined everything for me at this point.

Bottom Line
===========

Gameplay is good and refined. Ending sucks and ruins the trilogy. Even if the ending is bad (I would have preferred a bittersweet ending as mentioned earlier), character resolution is still a part of story telling!
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Writing a review of Mass Effect 3 is like writing an opinion on abortion. The emotions run extremely high with this game. And that in and of itself indicates how much people care about the characters and plots.

I've been reviewing video games since the days of Adventure and Zork, and of course there have been many atrocious games along the way. People who play atrocious games tend to be fairly blase about it. "Yes it sucks. Move on." However, with Mass Effect 3 it is an entirely different set of emotion. The emotions here are more along the lines of "I adored my character. I invested hundreds of hours into carefully crafting his life, his moral choices, and the people he fell in love with. And then THIS!!!"

I think it's important to realize how powerful this situation is. Only a mere ten years ago people would argue that video games could not capture the emotion. They would argue that there was no way to connect with a video game. We have proven here, in 2012, that absolutely a video game can be FAR more immersive than a movie or a novel. With a video game you become invested in the story, you help craft the path, and you emotionally connect with the characters.

Think of all the areas that Mass Effect 3 opened horizons. It offered heterosexual and homosexual relationships and most people didn't blink an eye. It offered a range of ethnicities and hardly a word was spoke about it. Moral choices were presented, and people made their decisions. People cared.

So I think it absolutely should then be expected that these years of investment, these weeks of time and emotion and energy should have a pay-off at the end. Yes, gamers paid the $x amount for the game - but that is trivial compared with the investment of their time and energy. They expect, after all of that, that what they did mattered.

And, in the end, it didn't.

The summation of the game - as undoubtedly the vast majority of gamers know by now - is completely independent of what the gamer chose to do. Relationship choices didn't matter. Alliance choices didn't matter. Morals, good, or bad, or ugly, didn't matter. The game makers simply pulled with a razor and ended the story.

There are some gamers who posit that this shouldn't matter. Oh well. It was a noble end. We should be satisfied.

But again, this is not about a movie we watched for 90 minutes while munching popcorn. It was an investment. If you were in a five year relationship with a partner, where you lived with them, cared for them, and made a focused effort to make things work, would you be content with a five minute razor-blade slicing off of the relationship? How would that ever be considered adequate? And, once your partner had done that to you, would you say to yourself, "Oh well, they were nice to me before"?

Absolutely I feel strongly that the way one closes a relationship is one of the most important, powerful things a person in a relationship can do. I feel BioWare failed in this act - and by doing so they tainted all that came before.

Ask any woman or man who has been through a nasty divorce what they remember. Is it the few years of joy - or is it the way they were treated at the end.

For those who didn't mind the ending at all, I'm not sure what to say. If someone was in a five year marriage and they don't really mind that their partner cheated on them nastily and laughed as they ran off with the money - what does that say about the person's emotional investment in that relationship?

I purchased this game with my own funds for the purpose of doing this review.
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on March 18, 2012
Not a bad game on its own, it just failed to deliver on the grand vision promised us at the beginning. Minus one star for not living up to its potential, and minus another star for the cop out ending.

The big finish to the Mass Effect trilogy just fizzled out when it should have shone brightly. Since story is so important in a game like this, I'll start with that. From the first cut scene to the last, the story pacing felt off to me. All the story elements felt rushed, out of place, or focused on the wrong thing. I basically threw up my hands at the narrative and went along with it by the time I had gotten to the last 10% or so of the game. Some big things happened "off screen" when they shouldn't have (from a dramatic point of view) or other things that got played up during the dialogue go essentially unexplained in the end. It felt like the writers were going for the twist ending here, unfortunately they tried a little too hard, giving it an anticlimactic feeling than firm resolution.

As for gameplay, the AI was improved over the other two games, and that's about it. If you've played the first two games or any other action game built with UE3 tech, you know what to expect: duck-and-cover, shoot-shoot, move on to the next area. Rinse, lather, repeat. It seems they took out all of the puzzles and mini-games, and I found I missed those more than I thought I would. They offered a nice break from the monotony of the duck-and-cover shooter system and the sometimes hokey dialogue.

I've never been a fan of the Mass Effect user interface, and it seems that every attempt made to streamline it buried some important menu or function in a non-intuitive place. The layout of the shops is a joke: while it may make thematic sense to have a weapon and armor shop in the shuttle bay, a research center in the crew area, power upgrades in the med bay, etc, it feels out of place. The rest of the game has already been streamlined, from the side quests to the exploration maps to the combat, why not do away with that cumbersome interface? I find it funny that Shepard can run the galaxy from one terminal but still has to walk down to a bay to get a weapon upgrade. And on a personal note to the developer: whoever set 'B' as the confirmation button should stop having "brilliant" ideas. I've been hitting 'A' to confirm things in menus for over a decade now, thanks.

The biggest problem in this finale is that it doesn't provide real closure to the series. Without spoiling too much, I found the overall message that Bioware sent to fans to be the most disappointing aspect, and I'm not referring to the clever revenue stream with the online pass, DLC and IOS game (I find that trend more disturbing, actually). Bioware promised a sweeping epic where the choices you made matter. In Mass Effect 3, those choices do matter but only as technicalities, like mere variables that have more effect on the dialogue trees than the game itself. I expected better.
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on March 12, 2012
This wasn't the review I wanted to give. Believe me, it wasn't. I wanted to give a review praising this game. I wanted to talk a lot about the struggle between fear and hope. I also really wanted to compliment BioWare and the programming team as a whole as they really made me love all the relationships in the game (not just the sex....but the friendships which came so naturally). But I can't. I just can't.

I've played Mass Effect from the beginning, like many of you out there. There have been many, many great reviews...and I wanted to add my own voice. Maybe you'll agree with me. Maybe you won't. That's cool either way. All I can express is my own views on the game.

1. I loved the gameplay. I think BioWare perfected the interface. Battles worked smoothly. The roleplaying aspects seemed intuitive as well.

2. It is true...your choices do not matter in the game. BioWare lied. They promised the players that the choices made in Mass Effect 1 and 2 would play a major, if not important, part in Mass Effect 3. But that was not the case. Important missions and events in the first two games got mentioned briefly and nothing more. The decisions came off as reminiscing rather than mattering. I felt, and still feel, lied to.

3. I paid $59.95 for this game through Amazon.com. But I didn't get the complete game. In order to get the Prothean into the party, I had to shell out an additional ten dollars. BioWare made a day one DLC for a character that seems critical to the overarching narrative of what happened to the past races. Getting one in the group makes sense from a storytelling perspective as it is coming full circle. And since this was a day one DLC, this character was already made well before the game was in final production. They saw a way to milk additional money out of fans of the series.

4. So would I get the complete game for $69.95? Of course not. In order to have access to the 'happy ending,' (I own an XBox 360)...I have to shell out additional money to get access to online play. That could range between $10 - $30 a month! I'm looking at a minimum $79.95 for a complete play-through. They are just trying to get every penny they can out of the player.

5. The ending...many wiser people than I have commented on the ending. I want to add to the voice of general discontent. I wanted a happy ending. An epilogue. I want to learn what happened to everyone in a long epilogue. Did Tali and Garrus make it? What about Ashley? What occurred with her? I couldn't find her when saying goodbye to everyone. She crash-landed on the planet...what happened to the love of Shephard's life? And even more broadly, what happened to the galaxy after the Reapers? Without the relays, what happened? Was there efforts to rebuild them? Did the Geth finally make peace with their creators? And the Krogan? What happened with the Krogan? There were so many questions. No answers.

I want to go on, but I cannot. Words escape me. I wanted to love this game. I wanted to praise it. But now? I just can't.

Avoid this entire series.
-=-=-=-=-=-

The ending should have been simple. The Crucible is just a monstrous laser beam that tears Reapers into little bits, and then we have Shepard wake up on the Normandy, Lord of the Rings style.

And then the epilogue plays. To celebrate the victory, the biggest party in Galactic history is thrown on the Citadel. Everyone gets filthy drunk and dances the night away. EDI and Joker try to have sex, which ends with a shattered pelvis. Grunt does some hilarious stuff, Jack gets in a catfight with Miranda (jello optional), Garrus and Shepard go swimming in the giant lake, Wrex tries to join them and almost drowns (in a funny way) but finally gets that fish, someone pours a Gatorade bucket (Mass Effect equivalent) on Hackett's head, who flips out at first but ends up having fun, and other general hijinx ensue.

And then afterwards there's a bunch of shots of the different species rebuilding their homeworlds. Shots of the Quarian and Geth getting along, the leftover Reaper corpses towed into space and blown into bits, red tape being cut, etc. Happy happy happy.

And then there's a love interest ending. For example, Ashley and Shepard are shown with her family on Earth, maybe starting a new life together in the military. Or whoever the love interest was...just show them together....

And then, the final shot is of the Statue of Shepard that gets erected in the Citadel, and it fades to credits.

And there are no child gods, I don't feel like I should have to explain why.
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on September 27, 2012
as a diehard fan of mass effect I was blown away bioware did an excellent with the game mechanics gameplay was polished as should be on the begining of the series ME1 was good game but the bugs on this game was like a plague to it, seem like it was transfered from the pc version to be able to played on xbox on ME3 found couple of annoying glitches like the one on the citadel on the shooting range the was a side quest on csec where I spoke to guy and he didn't appear looked like I was talking alone these minor flaws wasn't a big deal but how bioware sttabbed us in the back like that? why !!!! jesus I feel so dissapointed that I believe they DID this on porpuse they don't have idea how many fans do they have? stabbing us on the back like that? what this ending is suppossed to mean? I am so dissapointed how could you ruin such a nice game don't tell me you ran out of scripts just right there, I strongly believe that this was done on porpuse extended cut didn't fix nothing just wait for to be 10$ used if you wanna see what was like BIOWARE WE SHOULD CALL YOU (BEAWARE) DO SOMETHING TO FIX THIS THIS EXTENDED CUT DOESN'T FIX ANYTHING!!!! YES I CRIED FOR THIS BETRAYAL!!!
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on March 20, 2012
Mass Effect 3 is the biggest video game let down I have experienced in years. My excitement for the game was insane, and the end result was nothing short of hilarious. I spent over 100 hours and over $300 on this franchise, and I am very angry. This game is a let down from start to finish. The game does not have enough dialogue options, you don't get to explore big interesting area you are either in a battle or on the Citadel. Side quests are AWFUL and I mean god damn AWFUL you acquire side quests by wandering like an idiot on the Citadel and "eavesdropping" on people...seriously?! what's wrong with plain old talk to the NPC way? and worse side quests are not kept in a nice organized way in your journal..and you don't get to "mark" a side quest as active either..and you don't get info on where to go or what to do..you have to recall what the conservation was when you automatically acquired it..and a lot of side quests EXPIRE if you don't do them quickly..ugh.

And don't get me started on the ending..its beyond bad. I am open minded when it comes to ending, I can take tragic, happy or anywhere in between. But this game..its just terrible..it does NOT make ANY sense..its totally against what the series has been about...and you have almost NO control over what occurs..isn't Mass Effect series about choices and consequences?! MY Shepard would NEVER do what I saw him do on the screen...I just watched helplessly in horror..

Its sad..really sad. There was a time when I associated the brand Bioware with quality..I used to buy their games without even a single review because I knew how good they are. Now don't get me wrong every Dev make a bad game or two..and this is Bioware's second fall after DA2..and what really angers me is that they are CHOOSING to make their games awful by being lazy (DA2) and ridiculous (ME3). Therefore whatever Bioware's next game is, they will have to earn my money.
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on March 20, 2012
"______SPOILERS__________Probably"

Well from my title you already have a good idea of what my stance on the game is.

Throughout the game I was absolutely astounded; character interactions felt so personal and deep, the action was good, the amount of story and shooting was well balanced, and thankfully the scales had tipped more in the story aspect compared to ME2 in my opinion.

One moment that stands out in my mind more than anything is when i reunited the Geth and the Quarians. I almost made the wrong decision which would've resulted in the Quarians total destruction, but last second I made the right choice and saved them both. I was literally standing with my arms in the air, and grinning and smiling like a total knob head.

I just don't understand how bioware, who made me experience these feelings, could be the same company that made me feel what I felt at the ending. And that is complete and utter disappointment. I just can't comprehend how the same company who made the first 99% of the game could be the same company responsible for creating that....ending. Choice is a key pillar of the ME series and the ending completely does away with that. It may be cliche for most games or movies, books to always have a happy ending, but unlike most games, movies, books etc. mass effect is all about choice. If we want to have a favorable ending, then let it be an option to us. Or at least give us an ending that is consistent, with continuity, and has an actual ending to wrap things up. As it stands now, the galaxy is destroyed, bioware has destroyed one of their greatest creations.
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on March 18, 2012
You have probably read the reviews that highlight the travesty that is this games ending. The reality is this is a series that overwhelmingly depends on player choice forming the story line. Abandoning that dynamic at the end of the series makes the entire exercise pointless. That said the only thing this series really has going for it is the story telling. Once you remove that or look beyond the fantasy. What you are left with is at best a very mediocre shooter, or a outright anemic attempt at a role playing game. With an absurd amount of time sinks which have no real entertainment value.

There are simply better options to avail yourself of in either genre. Mass Effect 3 as a shooter takes turns at being maddening, and yet tedious at the same time. The combat is based around a cover system married to a shield based system. Meaning that combat can be underwhelming. Except for the times when the controls cause mishaps like jumping cover, saddling up to the side of cover, or gasp walking away from cover randomly. That would be bad on the whole, but it can become infuriating in some scenarios where overpowered enemies are thrown at you, or worse you contend with a endless drill of them. So you will go through hours of mind numbing repetition only to find yourself getting hung up in a arena like area for upwards of an hour.

On the role playing side of the equation the situation is even bleaker. The entire system is based around making tradeoffs that equal out regardless of your play style. Meaning that you only have the appearance of choice. Even then it boils down to a choice of A or B. This applies equally for skills and equipment. There is just no room for thought, or individualization. It really speaks to a contempt for the player. This developer isn't known for having a comprehensively deep system, but this is about as shallow as the pool gets. With two previous outing in this series. It should have seen marked improvement, but in the end it has actually gotten much worse.

To summarize you have a story development based game which not only gets castrated at the end, but is also just plain unabashed about ripping other franchises off. It isn't homage when you rip entire scenes from movies, and television series. So the story is pretty pathetic regardless of whether your choices matter or not. Other then that you just have a very weak shooter with some pointless role playing elements tacked on top for I guess some kind of nostalgia purpose.

About all that can be said for the game is that it isn't utterly horrible. It is playable even if the elements in part or whole are entirely unremarkable. You will get about thirty hours out of this title with little to no real replay value. So I recommend waiting to buy used or the price comes down. With the way this games image is flagging it should go without saying that the market will see a influx of copies. This is a game that may be say worth twenty dollars, but definitely not sixty dollars.
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on March 17, 2012
After 28 hours of shooting monsters, playing diplomat and trying to romance fellow crew members my time with 'Mass Effect 3' came to a close and I had to decide whether or not to start up a new game. It's not very often I feel like I'm a part of a video game trilogy that's spanned almost five years and it's incredibly satisfying seeing how the gameplay has changed, improved and expanded in this series. Unfortunately 'Mass Effect' has been a surprisingly unpolished video game since the start and for every improvement 'Mass Effect 3' has made a lot of the flaws in this series have gone unchecked.

Unlike the original 'Mass Effect' (and the 20 minute-long tutorial/character creator that began Mass Effect 2) 'Mass Effect 3' wastes no time throwing you from the character creator/importer into it's main conflict: series villains, the robotic "Reapers" are attacking earth and destroying everything in their path. As the hero, Commander Shepard you must escape off-planet and rally help from other alien races before things get worse. Needless to say the story in 'Mass Effect 3' hits on some serious levels and the feeling of "this is the end" is realized from the beginning with a powerful music score and images of buildings burning, people and children dying and Reapers tearing through cities in the background. Like 'Mass Effect' and 'Mass Effect 2' the narrative in this epic tale doesn't always hold up to scrutiny (and I would've loved to have more time with some of the returning characters like Jack, Jacob and Grunt) but 'Mass Effect 3' knows how to deliver it's emotional punches and I found myself cheering and choking up a couple times.

As with the previous games, 'Mass Effect 3' has you playing equal parts Soldier and Diplomat: Before giving Shepard help the other galactic races have you solving their problems which involve fighting off the pro-human splinter-group Cerberus as well as brokering peace-treaties. While the dialogue wheel is present (with some, but not a lot of Paragon/Renegade options) solving conflicts and gathering resources in the Normandy gives you numeric score, or "War Assets". The total number of Assets you have determines how the story will play out in the end (i.e. how much "help" you have before join the battle on earth). I'm not completely a fan of "numbers" playing such a big role in decision making, especially with the added "Galactic Readiness" chopping things in half if you don't use the multiplayer but it's an interesting, if impersonal way for your decisions to impact the story.

The story-moments in 'Mass Effect 3' carry the same strong cast and voice-acting as the previous installments (with Freddie Prinze Jr. a welcome addition as Lieutenant James Vega) but the combat has received a major overhaul. Gone are the Tom Clancy-lite moments of ME1 and the empty corridors and mini-games of ME2; Combat is fast and frenetic as guns have a lot more weight to them feeling more like 'Vanquish' or 'Gears of War' than previous ME games. Enemies rush you from every direction (in normal mode) and you'll have to dodge, cover and combine squad powers to take down the strongest of them. This creates great moments of tension while still making you feel like a total bad-ass! The only problem I had was that some of my class-powers didn't work half the time which became frustrating when I had to rely on them (namely the Infiltrator's snipe-focus).

While I can deal with the "War Assets" and some unreliable class-abilites, as I played Mass Effect 3 I kept asking myself one question: why is this game series, after THREE GAMES still having the same technical issues? Graphics fade in and out, limbs and characters disappear, and to make matters worse I can't import my character appearance I've had since ME1. Again, nothing that really killed my enjoyment of the game ( I eventually came up with something that kinda-sorta looked like my character) but seeing these problems still present after five years is both disappointing and little heart-breaking.

The ending of 'Mass Effect 3' has caused some outrage among fans, demanding both explanations and complete rewrites of the game. I understand the disappointment as there are no clear-cut story resolutions nor is there much difference in the endings you're given. But even if I hated the finale (I didn't) the ending's never been what I remember about a video game and frankly it doesn't come close to ruining how much fun the gameplay is or forgetting the moments that had me choking up on the Tuchanka missions.

In the end I restarted 'Mass Effect 3' and am still enjoying the hell out of it (the multiplayer's surprisingly fun too). I really hope there's updates to fix the character importer and class-power-glitches (and as of 6/26 Bioware's added more DLC to flesh out the ending), but overall I'm very happy with the experience. If you're new to the series you definitely want to start out with the first game as there's so much carry-over from the previous titles (many conflicts from the previous games like the Krogan Genophage and Quarian/Geth War are finally resolved), but I think 'Mass Effect 3' stands very well as a conclusion to the trilogy.
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