Mass Effect 3 Single Player Review

The Earth is screwed. At least it appears that way when you first boot up Mass Effect 3. After your Shepard thwarted the Reapers plans in Mass Effect 1 and 2, they’re bringing the pain to your home world. While the temptation is strong to stay and protect your home world, Shepard knows the only way to victory involves him recruiting all the help he can get from across the galaxy.

Are you ready to suit up in hopes of ending the Reaper threat once and for all?

At its core, Mass Effect 3 does not stray too far from the formula set in Mass Effect 2. Story wise, the conceit of the game is basically the same as its predecessor with a slightly different twist. Experienced Mass Effect 2 players will feel right at home with the balance between action and role playing. To me, the only difference in terms of feel revolves around your collection and management of stuff. In Mass Effect 3, you’re given a bit more freedom in terms of leveling up your characters, managing load-outs, altering your armour and modifying your weapons. I kind of liked the streamlined approach taken in Mass Effect 2, but it’s not asking you to manage too much, unlike the Mass Effect 1 system where you were constantly in a position where you had to throw things out to make room in your inventory.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I still hold Mass Effect 2 in the highest regard, and the mechanical similarities don’t bother me at all when they’re still good and there’s a great story wrapped around them. Just don’t go into this thinking that the jump from 2 to 3 will be as dramatic as the jump from 1 to 2.

If you’ve played the previous two entries of the series to completion, then I don’t need to tell you to play this game. You probably have enough invested in the series that you can’t let all of these loose ends hang. Even if the game were garbage, you’ll want to know where everything ends up. I can assure you that Mass Effect 3 is a quality product.

However, if you’re new to the series, the game does try its best to accommodate you. The story threads are modified so that it’s easier for you to grasp what’s going on. The game has a number of different assists/prompts that appear to help guide you through the gameplay. If you want, you can even tune the action and RPG balance of the game so that you’re either only dealing with the action or only dealing with the story.

As stated above, the game is fairly solid mechanically and most people should find this aspect of the game to be appealing. What will ultimately make or break the experience for you is your enjoyment of the story. The first Mass Effect put a heavy emphasis on telling a story about the universe, while the second game focused primarily on its characters. The third game tries find a balance between the two with varying success. I personally preferred the story of Mass Effect 2, though it’s open for debate which you’ll find better. My major gripe with the story has to do with the ‘readiness’ mechanic. It’s sort of like the ship upgrade mechanic in Mass Effect 2 that dictates what ending you’ll receive, except that they’ve managed to make a tedious and annoying gameplay mechanic into a confusing, annoying and arguably infuriating gameplay mechanic. The way it’s been implemented here makes even less sense than it did before and it’s very difficult to max out that rating unless you play the multiplayer (which isn’t what most people come to Mass Effect for) or have made certain decisions in the first two games that notably raise your score.

(NOTE: Discussion specifically relating to the ending coming soon in a spoiler-filled post)

My expectations for Mass Effect 3 were astronomical going into this game based on my experiences with the first two games. Did it live up to my expectation? No. Does that make it a bad game or a game not worth your time?  No, it doesn’t make it either of those things. Mass Effect 3 is a very good game any way you slice it. In fact, I’d say that most of the components that make Mass Effect 3 are better here than they ever were in the previous games. However, for me, those components just doesn’t come together in the way that I had hoped. In any case, don’t let any of my gripes with the game stop you from playing it, especially if you’re a Mass Effect fan. Go suit up and save the galaxy already.

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