Customer Review

71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed...and Confused, November 20, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (Video Game)
---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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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 22, 2012 2:11:12 AM PST
A very good review my friend. You were flat out honest with your feelings about this game. I too love the series and this game as well. Like you, I hated the "endings". It was like Bioware got to full of themselves and decided to go artsy. The very fact that Shepard HAS to die in every ending ruins the ME concept of the games being about choice. The solution to the Reapers was both terrible and demystifying. I loved this game and I want to play the Omega DLC. But with the way the ending was and how you always feel alone in the final fight, it makes many people feel like "what's the point?" Still, I won't completely beat a dead horse. Your review was great! You should read my review on my homepage.

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 4:37:31 AM PST
P. Kaufman says:
I'll just say that Bioware had a plan for the ending, in which something that started slowly in ME, was further touched on in ME2, and exploded out in ME3. IGN released word of this plan. So Bioware scrapped it, and changed it to generic crap so EA would stop coming at their throats with knives.

Bioware was rushed, and this is the result. This is why there appears to be a stark difference between the entire game, and the last hour of the game. They were done, they just had to rewrite an ending, and couldn't. There's more but I'm summarizing heavily and giving a little more credit to Bioware than maybe I should. But maybe I shouldn't, up to you I guess.

Also, the multiplayer is great. So there's that too.

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 12:06:51 PM PST
MK37 says:
Embrace your Hate. Many of us have.

Posted on Aug 5, 2013 5:19:39 PM PDT
I love the game. I hate the ending. I loved ME. I won't buy another ME game.

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 6:56:23 PM PDT
Very thoughtful review and spot on. I loved the series. It will remain one of my most memorable gaming experiences, and my greatest disappointment.
Graphics, Story, Music, Environments, Gameplay: all top notch. And who could forget the characters? Bioware really touched on something when gamers consider many of these digital characters "friends" and "my Commander Shepard" (kinda creepy actually). The ending absolutely blew...To shame, Bioware. To shame.

Posted on Nov 5, 2013 8:12:53 AM PST
D. Rohde says:
A very detailed review! The story line is nicely done in ME3 and, as with the previous games, there's nice interaction with those that Shepard encounters. If you're in the citadel for instance, there are dozens of people milling about having conversations, some of which are important to game play and others that are just awesome backdrop.

I thought the graphics to be spectacular and really the only problem I had with controlled interaction was my ability to place Shepard in exactly the right place to "hide" vs jumping over vs doing nothing. In the one scene where one had to run across the balcony from cover to cover to avoid being ripped apart by the machine gun pod I died many times because in my haste I wasn't quick enough to find the "hide" sweet spot. You can't be too close or too far away. But one thing I've found with the whole ME series is that the overall graphics have been great throughout. I think in the whole series I have only seen a few minor glitches. My hat's off to the artists, programmers and renderers.

Probably the biggest issue I have with ME3 is finding the missions. The first problem is translating what the journal says to a short-cut name on the map. The second problem (and somewhat related to the first) was simply finding the missions. Some missions you can translate to what's printed on the map, some are just blinking jump points, others nothing at all. More than once I have gone through every single jump point and still couldn't find the cryptic reference given in the journal. The problem is that one doesn't know if you've missed something, misinterpreting something or (such as in the case of the Hades Nebula) it just hasn't been put on the map yet, so one wastes an enormous amount of time map hunting. I dislike using walk-throughs as it seems a bit of a cheat but, now on my second time through, I'm using one just to give me the relative order of missions. There are still ones I can't find but those are side missions so am not too worried.

The scripting of the relationship between the two engineers and of course Joker and EDI is absolutely over-the-top well done! It's great comic relief and always ongoing. I'm jealous that Shepard doesn't have half that much fun with his chosen relationship but recognize that'd be a significant amount of dialog that doesn't further the main plot (but then the same could be said for Joker's and EDI's).

Besides the missed missions (and the fact that I love this game) another reason I'm playing through again is to see if I missed other things. For instance there's a second page to the war map that never came into play on my first time through and even though I'm half way through my second go-round I've still not uncovered its function or meaning. I've apparently not figured out the upgrade terminal in Liara's lab either. Through the whole game I only had only two or three things show up. I think much of the interfacing with the equipment and the missions took a step backward from ME2, or perhaps I'm not getting it. I have to admit that I'm surprised at how much I missed on my first time through.

I agree with you that the ending to ME3, such as it appears to be, bites. I can handle it a bit better if I go with the idea that Shepard has been knocked unconscious and is dreaming the whole final scenario--and, everything does seem to support that. Given that, it would open up the possibilities of an awesome REAL ending in ME4 wherein all the loose ends are tied up and you got to realize the positive (and/or some negative) fruits of all your labors. The story has been so awesomely told to this point that I seriously find it difficult to believe that ME3's implied ending is IT. Yes, I've heard that ME4 will likely have little to with Shepard, but I'm having some faith that Bioware isn't showing all their cards. After all, remember how ME1 ended, and why else create an ME4?

All-in-all, even with the detractors I mentioned, I think this whole series is simply awesome. It sure has provided me with my money's worth of entertainment.

Posted on May 15, 2014 9:27:08 PM PDT
Andrew says:
Knights of the Old Republic is better than this garbage. Your choices actually affect the game and you can bend your will towards the dark side and become a dark jedi if you so choose. People have said that the ending in Mass Effect 3 is the exact same no matter what choices you make, so I guess this isn't a game for me.

Posted on May 19, 2014 6:50:40 PM PDT
basil mick says:
Liked the game a lot and like the ending in view of indoctrination theory.

so what is the problem?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2014 2:24:02 PM PDT
Lusara says:
My issue with the ending is that throughout the games, your choices take you down different paths. But then you get to the end, and all of your previous choices don't matter. You get to make the final choice, but how you got there is totally irrelevant.
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