Mass Effect 3

aka: ME3
Moby ID: 55078
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

As a result of Commander Shepard's affiliation with the Cerberus organisation in the past, he or she is removed from active service by the Alliance military upon returning to Earth. It is at this point that the alien machine race known as the Reapers launch an all-out assault on the planet. The Defense Committee asks Shepard for assistance, and Captain Anderson re-installs him as a member of the Alliance and Commander aboard his old ship, the Normandy. While Anderson stays on Earth, trying to hold its defenses against the overwhelming power of the Reapers, Shepard is sent to the Citadel to convince the galactic council to provide military aid for the struggling planet, and unite the alien races in a battle against the common enemy.

Mass Effect 3 is the third game in the series and forms the final part of the trilogy. As with previous games in the series, gameplay combines tactical, squad- and cover-based third-person combat with role-playing, in the form of different classes, customizable upgrades and dialogue choices. As with the second part of the trilogy, save files from the previous games can be imported with decisions being made in the first two games having an effect on the new situations.

In addition to combat difficulty selection, the player is offered a choice of three modes before starting the game. The "action" mode bypasses conversation choices, displaying them as non-interactive cutscenes; the "story" mode keeps choices intact, but lowers combat difficulty. The "role-playing" mode reflects most closely the gameplay of the two previous games, containing both choices and more challenging combat.

Most of combat-related and character development features have been carried out from the preceding installment. Melee combat plays a somewhat larger role: certain classes possess the ability to execute powerful charged close-combat moves. Weapons can be modified with two enhancements each, gaining more firepower, large magazines, increased accuracy, etc. Like before, abilities and powers can be upgraded when leveling up; each of them now offer two upgrade choices per level, and selecting one of them will lock the other enhancement permanently.

Entirely new to the series is a multiplayer option in the form of the co-op game mode Galaxy at War. It involves up to four players cooperatively taking over enemy strongholds. Players can take part in Galaxy at War as any race in the game's universe.

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Credits (Windows version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 59 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 98 ratings with 4 reviews)

Competent gameplay execution, but still a disappointing conclusion

The Good
The biggest strength of Mass Effect 3 is easy to name: is is a very fine third person shooter. Compared to the boring Whac-A-Mole combat of Mass Effect, the series has come a long way: instead of hiding behind a single peace of cover and killing enemies when they look up from their cover, the player is often forced to move because of grenades or aggressive enemies which quickly move into melee range. The previous games already had Husks, but they almost never entered combat together with other enemy types and therefore leaving cover to deal with them was not problematic. Especially the Banshees work well because they have much health, have powerful attacks and a creepy sound. Unfortunately they don't show up often and many fights - especially against Cerberus - can still become a bit stale.

The second good point is the design of the main quests. With the exception of one (boarding a ship; revealing more would be a spoiler), they have varied optical design and are short enough to not become boring. Unfortunately the caveat is that the progression of the main quest is completely linear.

And of course it is still a joy to travel with Shepard's old crew, even if the new additions to the roster fall flat. The best moments of the game are meeting previous crew-mates during side and main quests. My personal favorite is Thane's arc. The interactions with the Normandy crew were shortened: instead of fully animated conversions, there are mostly non-interactive lines either without or automatic interjections by Shepard. In my opinion this is a good change because it ensures everyone has at least one new thing to say after every mission.

The Bad
Much has been talked about the ending and many people hate it with a passion. I think it is weak and can only explain it with writers having written themselves into a corner. Otherwise nobody would come up with such a simplistic conclusion to the game's main mystery which - in contrast to the rest of the series - completely ignores all player choices. But it is certainly not worth sending death threats to the developers, especially because the main plot was always only passable.

No, in my opinion the biggest failure of ME3 is found in another direction: the side content sucks. Mass Effect's Mako sections were too time consuming and without any variety while Mass Effect 2's planet scanning was simply boring - but the war asset scanning combines both into a boring, time consuming mess. I have to admit, I just googled the locations of the assets to save some time. The planet scanning in ME2 was quickly done with because after half an hour you had everything you need for the rest of the game (it does not tell you, but that's another issue) - but here is mandatory. At least if you want to unlock the best ending without playing multiplayer.

Most side quests are also tied with the war asset scanning: Shepard overhears a conversation, finds the sought item through scanning and then returns to the person in question. This is not only boring, but also loses all narrative depth because there is no real interaction between Shepard and the quest giver. There are also some other side quests: a few good ones with old teammates and many boring ones on obviously recycled multiplayer maps.

No discussion of ME3 is complete without mentioning BioWare's atrocious DLC policy: Javek, the last surviving Prothean, was cut out of the game and sold as Day-1-DLC. BioWare claims he was developed during the time between gold master and release, but this is obviously untrue: not only is much of his content already present on the retail DVD, but his story is also deeply intertwined with the main story. Playing without Javek makes ME3 a worse game. But to be fair, about one year later BioWare also released one of my favorite DLC of all time (not counting real expansions like Blood and Wine).

The Bottom Line
When ME3 would have been released as standalone game, I don't think it would have made a big splash in the gamer community. The story and dialogue is not outstanding on its own, but as conclusion of one of the most beloved game series of all times it is definitely worth playing despite the ending. If you loved Mass Effect 2 (or the first one, I guess, even if I can't imagine why), this is a must play.

For the series as a whole, I can recommend it to players who love reading through lore items and appreciate watching great characters grow. But the plot itself is weak and the first Mass Effect is a chore to play.

Windows · by Patrick Bregger (297670) · 2020

Watered down Mass Effect 2

The Good
Mass Effect 3, graphically is stunning. The cut scenes are epic and really push the story telling. In the previous games you build up great relationships with characters who you again join up with during this game. The action or fighting FPS scene feel shorter and maybe not as epic. It may take you 5 minutes of play to save a world that is having a Epic battle. This is not really an issues if you are keen on keeping the story going. The middle portion of the game which ties up loose ends from the previous games is probably the most memorable with some emotional moments.

The Bad
I did not feel the closeness or in depth personal relationships experience with crew members as in the previous games, it seemed very generic with maybe one or two personal moments. The game also felt a bit rushed. Unlike the previous installments, they have done away with mining for minerals for resources and instead added a scanner to detect single items in space systems which are needed for the big war effort. This means that you can basically fly around and collect everything from known planets within a few hours, you then have to stumble and eves drop on people in the citadel for these side missions and run up and down corridors to reach them. I also felt, and I mean some may disagree, that the choices you make in this game and the consequences of which, are not obviously seen. For example saving the Geth or Quanaries or stopping the Genophage cure, or finding extra fighters, how does this benefit the player, are these included in cut-scenes which otherwise do not appear? did I really have to support the defense of the Citadel when things later on show that it may have been a pointless exercise anyway. In Mass effect 2 your choices could lead to the life and death of your crew mates and they definitely become clear as you progressed through the game. Here it happens once or twice. The sections of the game, should have had more strategic leadership choices with NPC's. The renegade and paragon choices were little and far between and not nearly as effective as before. I think as well that their should have been options whereby Sheppard could have called on war resources to assist with certain tasks at or near the end of the game i.e. Use special op's to infiltrate tower, or use special fighter (war resource) to attack tower. There was none of that so you have to presume that everything you collected, somehow, somewhere had or is assisting you with your primary goal.

The Bottom Line
Mass Effect 3 is a very decent game, the RPG aspect of it has been watered down drastically which I found sad. It is not as emotionally binding as number two, but at least it ties up lose ends. I have not played any DLC as of yet, but am sure they round off the story nicely. Definitely worth investing in, but in my opinion Mass Effect 2 is far superior in story telling, structure and care.

Windows · by Thekwane Black (30) · 2013

Bioware's worst, and yet still a good game at heart

The Good
At first, Mass Effect 3 felt like it would combine the best parts of the previous two and eliminate the worst. In some respects, they succeeded. Combat feels more engaging than ever before and there are some nice added RPG elements, like more talents and slight weapon and armor customization. The game manages to feel much less repetitive than ME2.

A lot of ME3's charm comes from the little details, like amusing conversations between squadmates or other NPC's and the many side side missions, all of which add to the War Assets, which is, at least in theory, a great idea, though it should have definitely influenced the game more. At least it gives a more enjoyable purpose to scanning planets.

There's also tons of mind-blowing action to be experienced. The story is far from original and it has its flaws, but particularly the segments on Tuchanka and Rannoch are emotional, exciting and well-designed gameplay-wise, too.

Multiplayer is definitely better than I thought, but based on a few tries, nothing special. This one is definitely made for the shooter fans, but on the plus side, playing multiplayer increases your Galactic readiness.

The Bad
But, alas, Bioware's design team could have perhaps spent more time with the product - I would have had time to wait. The side quests, despite adding to the War Assets, have been boiled down to annoying fetch quests, and the Journal is one of the worst I've seen, as they completely fail to keep track of your advancement in the quests like it did in the previous games. There's no exploration left anymore, as apart from maybe two short missions, it's basically endless shooting with occasional dialogue. Although the combat roll seems like a cool improvement, I mostly ended up rolling when trying to take cover and vice versa due to having to press A to do pretty much everything. The game feels buggier than ME2, and both facial animations and running animations are rather terrible. Characters sometimes twist their neck around a solid 145 degrees while talking.

Speaking of the dialogue wheel, it has been utterly manhandled. It pops up very rarely, with our Shepard mostly saying badly written lines in auto-dialogue. When it does pop up, our options seem like incredibly caricatured versions of the Paragon and Renegade lines of the previous games. Either you're "Morally Righteous And Always Right" or "Ruthless Jerk Just Because". Playing a Renegade has lost almost all of its charm - instead of a violent wisecrack who could be a complete jerk to their teammates, even the most Renegade of Shepards is now inexplicably nice to characters like Liara and James, whether or not the player wants them to be.

Although it's impressive how most of our decisions were imported from the previous games, you should prepare to be disappointed. I thought our experience would be completely different depending on how we played the game before, but no, it's pretty much the same. The only part where I felt like our decisions mattered more than just a few different lines was Tuchanka.

And the story... as powerful as it can be at times, it's definitely Bioware's weakest so far. The beginning is a badly paced, cheesy mess that could have been summed up with a simple cutscene. The story gains momentum once we get to the Citadel, but still, most of the crucial storyline parts are actually either frustrating or boring. The words "The Reapers Are Here!" are repeated about three hundred times, and it never truly feels that there's a galactic war going on. Many dramatic moments are ruined due to badly written dialogue and especially awkward animation.The few highlights of the story are brilliant, though.

I tried to write this review without mentioning the controversial ending, but let's be honest here: no matter how I tried to look at it, it was disappointing. Not the worst ending I've seen, but it succeeded in killing my interest in Mass Effect for a good long while.

The Bottom Line
As with the last parts, Mass Effect 3 is an action RPG with emphasis on the action. It's approachable to new players and shooter fans, but on the flip side, it feels less like an RPG than any other Bioware game besides possibly Mass Effect 2. That wouldn't be too bad, if the plot would at least be galaxy-shakingly awesome, but instead, it's a frustrating, inconsistent mess with occasional highlights. Still, kudos to Bioware: even at their worst, they manage to be at least passable.

Xbox 360 · by Zokolov (49) · 2012

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany) / GamePro (Germany)
    • 2012 - Best Role-Playing Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2012 - #3 Best PC Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2012 - #5 Best Console Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
  • PC Games (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2013 – Role-Playing Game of the Year 2012 (Readers' Vote)

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Related Sites +

  • Mass Effect 3 official site
    The official site for Mass Effect 3 (English)
  • N7 HQ
    Provides Mass Effect 3 multiplayer gameplay data including challenges, characters, inventory, achievements and leaderboards.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Starbuck the Third.

Xbox One added by Kennyannydenny.

Additional contributors: Yearman, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added March 11, 2012. Last modified February 13, 2024.