As a long time fan of Mass Effect, I was so excited about the third game. I couldn't wait to play it. And luckily, my brother-in-law and sister bought it, but let me borrow it from them, since they weren't going to play it right away. So, after all the hype, is it worth it?
The plot of the game follows directly from the Arrival DLC in Mass Effect 2, with Shepard (still voiced by either Mark Mier or Jennifer Hale) on trial for their actions that resulted in an entire solar system getting destroyed, with the now-Admiral Anderson (Keith David) at their side. However, at the trial, the Reapers, the threat that had been looming over the series, finally arrive on Earth, forcing a quick evacuation for Shepard. Once off the planet, Shepard has a new task: to unite the species and find a way to defeat the Reapers once and for all. However, there is a certain organization that has a beef with Shepard...
Honestly, the plot of the game is incredible, for the most part. It is well developed, has a nice sense of emotions...and honestly, I feel was better than some movies I've enjoyed. There is a problem, however, and I will get to it later.
Yes, he's still calibrating. And awesome.
The gameplay itself is, to me, the strongest in the series. The controls move fluidly, and while the game is still a third person shooter, there are some RPG elements to be found, such as through the skill tree, and more importantly, modding weapons. It's not as much an RPG as the original, maybe, but it is much more RPG-like than the second game. My only issue is the new cover mechanic. In theory, it's simple. Go up to the wall, press A to use it for cover. In practice, however, I had several occasions where I would accidentally get stuck in cover with an enemy shooting at me, because I had pressed A to sprint away, only to accidentally get stuck on a wall I looked at instead. It's a minor issue, but still annoying.
The characters...well, they are great. They are very well developed, and even if you think you know all about a character, you will get surprises from time to time. As well, they react believably. For example, the Virmire survivor is initially wary as far as you are concerned, because the last time they saw you, you were working for Cereberus. Would it be nice if they were immediately forgiving? Maybe, but it wouldn't be as believable. As for any new characters...Honestly, James Vega is quite interesting to me. Yeah, he's not as striking a personality as, say, Tali or Garrus, but he is a much more developed character than Jacob Taylor was in ME2. He is a soldier, and he is eager to take down the Reapers that attacked Earth, but he has his own moments.
The mood of the game is dark. No, seriously, it is. While Mass Effect 2 had its moments of darkness, this game is almost Saving Private Ryan dark. You are at war with the Reapers, a huge threat. And rather than take the easy route of making the Reapers less intimidating in force than Sovereign or Harbinger by themselves, Bioware made the Reapers the threat they deserved. And as the story goes on, and the threat looms, Shepard actually seems to crumble a bit from the stress. And no, there are no easy answers to be found this time.
Oh my God, Ashley has longer hair! Character derailment!
The voice actors are now on their third game, and the experience truly shows. The nuances in the voice acting can often make or break a scene, and here, those nuances are nailed. You can hear the terror in Tali's voice when she sees a Reaper. You can sense the underlying anger that the Virmire survivor initially feels towards Shepard. Happiness, sadness, and every other emotion is hit dead on. I cannot think of any voice actor who didn't give it their all. And yes, Mordin has a new voice actor. You know what? His new voice actor does a damn good job with the character. And really, if the character is still kept the same, that's the important part.
Graphically, the game is one of the best games I've seen on the 360. Just the sheer scale of things is enough to draw your eye, but they have little details that push it over the edge. For example, early on, Shepard gets blown across a room. When s/he stands up, their uniform is quite dusty, and they have a few bloody scratches on their face. Those little details do so much for immersion, and they work wonders in ME3.
So, are there any issues with the game? Well, yes. First off, the game is really hard. Now, I enjoy difficult games, don't get me wrong. However, they went a bit too far in making this game harder than ME2 in my opinion. Playing through ME3 on normal is about the same as playing through ME2 on Insanity. I understand they need to make this one harder, but making that steep of a change is a bit much.
The bigger problem is the ending. Other people have complained about it enough. I won't spoil it. But honestly, after all the work I put into the games, that is the best Bioware could do? Really? It honestly did feel like a bit if a slap to the face. To paraphrase Yahtzee, it's like having a fine feast, but having the waiter fart in your face when you ask for the check.
But overall, I highly recommend this game. The difficult jump from ME2 is quite steep, and the ending is very infuriating, but I cannot condemn a great game because of the last ten minutes. Just be warned, it won't be a hilarious romp through the game.
Although it has its moments. *spoilers*