Genre: Role playing sci-fi 3rd person shooter
Setting: The Milky Way Galaxy in the future
Story: The concluding chapter in the story of your Commander Shepard (whether you made them male or female) and their fight to defeat the Reapers, a force bent on destroying all life in the galaxy.
Graphics: The best in the series. The textures on the clothes, especially, are approaching photographic realism (whereas the previous game had a more fantasy/sci-fi art look to it) but the custom face I built for my female Shepard looked more cartoony in comparison to the other characters.
Audio: Haven’t mentioned this aspect in my previous reviews, but as far as voice acting goes, I enjoyed it…many times I laughed at the jokes in the game or was moved by some scenes when I replayed various sections of the game looking to see what happened if I chose different options. To audio proper, some parts of the score brought to mind the work of Saul Bass, perhaps in Hitchcock films like Suspicion or Psycho…e.g. the parts with the violin (which both the game and the movies have).
Romance in the game:
Having chosen to let Kaidan die on Virmire rather than consummate a relationship with my female Shepard (because I found Kaidan so dull), I did finally consummate a relationship for the first time in both the times that I played Mass Effect 3…once with a male human character and another with the feminine Asari character. So…numerous options on that front…but I really would recommend starting this franchise from the beginning, not jumping into it from the middle or end.
My first playthrough was on Normal on this and I got through it alright, although some of the DLC missions had extremely tough sections to get past…Insanity level. This is also the first game in the series not to have any small spacecraft for you to fly…it’s all done for you in cutscenes.
Good about the game:
I like how the game wraps everything up (this is without the Extended Cut DLC) but I haven’t had a chance to compare it to the Extended Cut version.
Also good was how some of the conversations played out. E.g. on the Omega DLC Shepard reminded Harrot of how he knew her, cf. earlier games where Shepard was always having to be reminded of how they knew people (or at least, I was! I played Mass Effect 2 first, when the official line was that the game in the series would never be released on PS3…which it later was). This kind of character knowledge (as opposed to the gamer’s knowledge) should be the default in games, I think…whether for conversation options or assumed knowledge for weapons and tactics etc…i.e. for the latter, games should clue you in as to what the right thing to do is, re weapon selection etc.
Okay, that example was for DLC…although I never saved some outcomes, there are some really poignant/tragic scenes which may happen in your game if you don’t have the requisite amount of conversational options, as per the previous games…Tali’s is particularly affecting. Basically, playing the “paragon” version of Shepard, I was emotionally invested in the characters and the story.
Bad about the game:
* The cover system can be very annoying…e.g. if I was under heavy fire in cover and wanted to get away…I seemed to get into cover nearby and not just free run away like I wanted to.
* The side missions can be broken if you don’t do things in the “right” sequence…and there is no way to know beforehand what that “right” sequence is…which brings me back to my earlier point about what the default should be re character knowledge vs the gamer’s knowledge. The photo quest was broken for me for some silly reason, which sucked…I didn’t have that problem on my second playthrough though.
* The load times.
* The load times when you want to replay a conversation to see different outcomes.
Intolerable about the game:
* The way that the game cripples Shepard in that section at the beam on Earth. On insanity it’s just enough to make you want to cry…the gameplay is radically different to the gameplay throughout the game and all previous ones in the series. Whilst it might be great as a cinematic technique, I have never felt so robbed by a game in all my life. It’s where my Insanity run ended and I haven’t completed the game as result. Just abysmal stuff from Bioware.
* The intolerable load times. Oh…did that say again? Let’s not forget the intolerable lack of save spots which forces you to replay over an hour of content up to a bit you might want to handle by itself. The beam section could have done with an opportunity to save, if you got past the first wave of enemies on your slow walk to it. It’s just crushing and soul destroying having to go through that section in all its agonising, nauseating gameplay. It really made me want to not play that section of the game. Which I acted on…by not trying to get past that section of the game on Insanity. It’s that bad.
* On the original ending of the game, the narrative and final choice options are just badly handled or opaque. It’s not clear who dies or how to identify the final options in the game…and it seems if you want to retry the ending you have to…wade through an intolerable amount of time replaying the game in order to do that. That sounds like torture. Ruinous to a game. As with the beam section, the thought of having to do this just makes me physically recoil from the thought of wanting to do that again.