WARNING – MAJOR SPOILERS INCOMING
I REPEAT… MAJOR. SPOILERS!
No, seriously, if you want to know what happens at the end of Mass Effect 3, don’t read the last page of the review.
You’ve been warned…
Devilschoice: when it was released back in 2007/2008, I played Mass Effect mostly because it was a promise, after I had „killed” a hard drive with Knights of the Old Republic some years ago. Still a sci-fi universe, but without the Star Wars reputation, sporting new heroes, unrestricted by movie or other creative licenses. And I have to admit Shepard got to my RPG loving soul… until Mass Effect 2 threw out almost all the role playing and went for action.
Don’t get me wrong, because I have nothing against action games per-se, but I’d rather have an RPG that’s more complex than 2 clicks and a few skills. And since we are at the third game of the series and, theoretically, to saying goodbye to Commander Shepard, we needed a memorable hoorah, right?
Bossman: that’s the theory anyway. It’s no secret that I liked the first Mass Effect a lot, just like I didn’t agree with Mass Effect 2’s new direction. I don’t deny the entertainment value of the sequel or the fact that it was more of a „blockbuster” than the first one, but I thought it had too much form and not enough substance. And the demo for Mass Effect 3 didn’t manage to give me too much hope for the last part of the trilogy, mostly since I thought the multiplayer to be pointless anyway. But alas…
Devilschoice: for those new to the series, the short story would go something like this: Commander Shepard already saved the galaxy twice, putting a dent into the plans of a very powerful synthetic race – Reapers – to destroy all organic life in the galaxy. But these feats were only battles, because the real war has just started, and the Reapers are decided to put an end to everything. To start things off, their first target is Earth, where Shepard was released from active duty due to the events from Mass Effect 2 and The Arrival DLC.
Just like in ME2, we get the option to import existing saves, but unfortunately that didn’t work for me. So I went for a new hero who, without previous accomplishments, comes with a default history where you only get to choose who you lose between two previous companions. And thus I got a female Shepard, Ruthless, one I tried really hard to make a real Renegade, but without much success.
And to at least partially satisfy the RPG part, I chose the Story mode, based on a more cinematic experience and less fighting. But for an adequate challenge, the RPG mode is recommended, with a normal difficulty level and the decision process still fully active.
Bossman: using your existing character has been a main topic ever since Mass Effect 2, so I was glad to see my hero once again, ready for a last good fight, and ME3 was kind enough to offer me a short recap of the major decisions I took over the years.
When I heard there will be 3 ways to play the game I was intrigued, wondering what was BioWare concocting. Disappointingly enough though, it’s actually just some adjustable settings in the game menu. So it’s not much of a fuss and I went for the RPG mode, considered to be the „traditional” one.
Devilschoice: well, besides not having to redo the face, the advantages of a successful import are in the supplementary NPC mission. With a new hero, Mordin, Garrus, Tali, Miranda and Jacob survive, plus the one you chose at the beginning. For the rest, the party is a mix of former and new companions, one appearing only if you buy the From Ashes DLC (integrated as a mission on Eden Prime, the planet where Shepard finds the Prothean beacon in the first Mass Effect).
You’ll also run into old friends (or foes), like admiral Anderson, Aria T’Lok, councilor Udina. Not all of them will survive the Reaper’s galactic war, and there will be some tough decisions to make along the way.
Bossman: because it’s the last game of the trilogy, BioWare had to cram in as many characters as it could, a job it did quite well and it was rewarding to see all my friends again (everybody survived the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2). Moreover, DLC characters or from the Mass Effect books have a role to play (Kahlee Sanders, Kai Leng), some more important than others.
However, the personal moments you get to experience alongside your allies are definitely an upside of the game („I am Garrus Vakarian, and this is now my favorite spot on the Citadel”). You might even say that you get to see the more “primal” side of the characters, now that the Reapers are around the corner and hell has broken loose. By comparison to what you mush accomplish now, the suicide mission in ME2 seems a walk in the park, and in moments like these the desire to do something just because you can is quite irresistible. An aspect that the writers emphasized well during the story.
Another pleasant surprise was the way death is handled. In my run, Thane, Mordin and Legion made the ultimate sacrifice to help me stop the Reapers, but I never thought „Yeah, another one killed off for nothing”. The events that lead to the bitter sweet moments were natural, giving the feeling that you really lost another one of your best friends. Keelah se’lai.