Hey guys what’s up? I had the extreme pleasure over the last month to partake in the completion of an epic trilogy; a trilogy I am now saying is the absolute best in the history of gaming. A trilogy that has you make choices both big and small throughout the series and you come to realize that even the smallest choices play a part in the big picture. I am of course talking about Mass Effect, and more importantly, the conclusion, Mass Effect 3. Now I will get around to reviewing the other 2 games in the series because that’s how it’s meant to be played. It’s not meant to be out of order or to start playing on the 2nd or 3rd game. It’s meant to played start to finish from the moment Commander Shepard steps onto the SSV Normandy to the final ending in the third game. For the sake of the people who never played the first two games, I’ll give you a short, quick history lesson to catch you up.
So you start out as Commander Shepard. You can customize your characters sex, first name and facial features, but no matter what, you will always be Commander Shepard. In short, the first game is much more RPG than Action based, but it does have plenty of action. You head to the planet Eden Prime to find that a Spectre named Saren has turned rogue. You later find out it’s because a Reaper (an ancient being you originally think is more of a ship that returns every 50,000 years to wipe out all life in the galaxy) named Sovereign has used a power known as Indoctrination, which allows Sovereign to control Saren’s mind. The main antagonist in the game is thought to be Saren as you spend the majority of the game hunting him down, but you later find out about Sovereign’s indoctrination on him and realize that the Reapers aren’t just giant scary ship like things, they are living beings, which is way scarier when you get to talk to one. So after you defeat Saren, you then have to defeat Sovereign which proves to be a task. Jump ship to Mass Effect 2 and in the first 3 minutes of the game, you die.
However you are brought back 2 years later by a human corporation known as Cerberus and their leader, The Illusive Man. You find out he spent MILLIONS of credits and resources to not only find your body, but to bring you back and also to rebuild the destroyed Normandy SR-1 which was destroyed when you died due to a Collector attack. The Collectors are an ancient race that you later find out they are…well, go play the games. It’s a big moment and I don’t want to spoil it. So you spend the entire second game recruiting a team worthy of jumping through the Omega-4 Relay to the Collector home world, a feat that no other ship has ever returned from. Once you recruit the team and get them loyal by doing missions based on them, you can jump through the relay and eventually take down the Collectors once and for all.
A bunch of surprise shit happens and I once again won’t spoil it. Bioware released a lot of DLC for the games and their last effort for Mass Effect 2 was a DLC called Arrival, and if you play the games, you know why it’s called that. Throughout the series, Shepard is plagued by visions of the Reapers returning for another cycle of death. Well in this DLC, you make some tough choices to try to if not stop their arrival (get it?) to at least delay them. Jump ship to Mass Effect 3…
Ok so now, we’re all caught up on the basics. There’s a metric shit ton more, but I won’t spoil it as I loved every minute of discovering it on my own and you will too! So in the beginning of Mass Effect 3, Shepard, after the events of the Arrival DLC, has been grounded and his rank has been pulled. This quickly changes as earth is in some serious shit. The Reapers are here. It makes you feel almost sad because it took an entire fleet to take down one Reaper in the first game, Sovereign. This time, THOUSANDS are here, and in the first 20 minutes or so, you lose your home planet of Earth to the Reapers. You board the Normandy which has been confiscated by the Alliance and redone to fit their military needs, and you bail on Earth. It becomes quickly apparent that if you are going to win this war against the Reapers, a seemingly impossible feat, you are going to need the entire galaxy and every single race! So you board the Normandy SR-2 and quickly head to Mars. Once there, you gear up and head out with squad members Ashley Williams and James Vega, no choice in members because you haven’t recruited anyone. But after reaching the facility on Mars, you find Liara T’Soni, an old friend from the first game. She tells you about the plans the Protheans left behind for a weapon called the Crucible that they believed could stop the Reapers.
The bulk of the game progresses on quite like this. Head to a system in the galaxy map, find a planet, land on it, do a mission and maybe find a new squad member. Most of them are returning members from the first 2 games with a couple new ones thrown in. One of them, Javik, a Prothean (which is an ancient race that the Reapers wiped out a long time ago, they were believed to be the smartest race of aliens in the galaxy.) You can get this character only by downloading the Day 1 DLC titled “From Ashes”, which most fans frowned upon, but after playing the mission from the DLC and upgraded Javik and his weapons, I HIGHLY recommend this $10 DLC to anyone who plays this game, and make sure to get it early on. Along the way through the story, you will run across a metric shit ton of side missions. The most important are the ones labeled N7 and mostly deal with Cerberus troops. But they are all important and are time sensitive, so once you find one, I suggest you do it before continuing the story, otherwise important characters can die and events can be missed. This ALL comes together in the War Room on the Normandy where you will find the computer that will tell you your Effective Military Strength or EMS number.
To get the absolute best ending, you need to have this number over 5000. It’s not hard, but what makes it difficult is the Galactic Readiness or GR meter. This deals with the 4 player co-op multiplayer aspect that Bioware added to this game. Why it has to be part of the story, I don’t know. But there are 6 or 7 areas of this map that you need to play about 17 matches of multiplayer to get your GR up to 100%. How it works is when you do missions, main or side, you gain allies that will fight with you in the final battle. This number adds up and adds up throughout the story. It’s very possible to have over 5000 and maybe over 6000 before reaching the final part of the game. But if your GR meter isn’t full, you won’t get that number. It starts at 50% and will never go lower. To get it to 100% like I said, you need to play about 17 matches. However, it goes down through time. And that’s another reason most fans are pissed. You not only have to get it to 100% by playing the multiplayer, you have to play a few matches every day to keep it at 100%. I, myself, had over 5600, but thanks to not playing the multiplayer, my EMS was less than 3000. You will not get the best ending of the game with that number. So you basically have to grind out some multiplayer.
Now the multiplayer isn’t too hard, but it’s not easy either. It’s basically just Horde mode from games like Gears of War. You and up to 3 other people, grind it out through waves of enemies. The difficulty is based on the color (Bronze=Easy, Silver=Medium, Gold=Hard) of medal you choose. Playing the side missions in the main game will help because the maps for multiplayer are basically the side mission locations in the story. I suggest if you’re going to do this, either have friends that play the game too, or go to a message board such as Bioware‘s and ask for serious players to join you because a few of the matches I played, there was a few assholes who were just there to troll on the team and not help us. And for Silver or Gold, you are going to need all of your team to help. Bioware and EA have promised DLC for both story and multiplayer in the future and on April 10th, which is a future date from the time I wrote this, there is a free multiplayer DLC coming out that will add in new characters, weapons and maps.
Also, in multiplayer, you choose not only your class, but you character. No longer are you stuck being a human, you can be a Turian, Batarian, Krogan and all of the names of these races will make more sense to people after they play the games. It’s a pretty decent feature for something new to the franchise and I suggest everyone try it out, especially if you want the best ending. I can’t say much about it, because it’s not something I enjoy playing and I feel it leaves a lot to be desired to the longtime fans who expect more out of a company like Bioware.
*MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW…IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE ENDING OR BEATEN THE GAME, STOP READING NOW!*
Now I’m going to talk about the big time controversies of this game. There’s two major ones, the ending of the game, and a new one that has popped up recently and that is morons who are pissed off that Bioware included gay & lesbian characters.
Let’s discuss the ending shall we? Once you make your final push towards Earth and you attempt to not only take back your home planet, but to destroy the Reapers, it really starts out like an epic battle. You get however long you want to talk to not only your squad members, but pretty much every single character that has been a part of the trilogy. It really sets you up to believe that this is going to be a hell of a battle! And for the most part it is. At one point I had 5 Brutes on my screen charging at me! And for those who don’t know, Brutes are fucking HUGE! But once I disposed of them, I got a cut scene with me, my 2 squad members and Anderson (who somehow has been on earth fighting the entire time of the game and survived.) Once the cut scene ends, you and the whole team start charging toward the Conduit, which is basically a giant laser elevator that will take you to the Citadel where the Crucible needs to be connected. However, Harbinger, one of the largest Reapers, lands and takes you and everyone else out with his laser beam. End of the game? No. Should have been the end of the game? Probably, would have been better than the actual ending. Shepard awakens in a pile of rubble, watches Harbinger take off (for whatever reason), listens to the comm say that everyone was decimated and no one made it to the Conduit. He stands up, walking in slow motion, shoots a handful of Husks and a Maurader and takes the beam to the Citadel. If that wasn’t funky enough, it’s about to get a whole lot weirder.
On the Citadel, you hear from Anderson. How the hell did he make it up there too? The comm said everyone was decimated. He not only made it up there, but he beats you to the terminal that opens the Citadels arms. Suddenly, The Illusive Man shows up. If this is all sounding really weird, it should. So the Illusive Man makes you shoot Anderson, you kill him, you head up further, and meet the God Child…he “controls” the Reapers and he wants you to pick the Paragon or Good ending and control them too. He doesn’t want you to take the Rennegade or Bad ending and destroy them all, which is what the entire game has been about. You know what? Screw this, open a new window on your computer and go to YouTube, type in Angry Joe Mass Effect 3 Indoctrination Theory. Watch his video and then click the link in the description of his video and watch that one too. It will explain everything and it makes PERFECT sense! Unlike me watching this ending when I played the game and nearly threw my controller at my TV! Now Bioware has been quiet about this theory though they have made it clear they have seen the videos as well. They are however releasing a free DLC this summer that will extend the ending and explain more. Hopefully they aren’t full of it, because a lot of die-hard fans of this series including yours truly…are pissed.
Ok, now that I got that off my chest, there’s one other controversy that has reared its ugly head lately. Some assholes are upset that Bioware included a gay male character and a lesbian female character in the game. Both are on the Normandy ship and both can be romanced if you choose to, however the female can only be romanced by a female and vice versa. I’m not going to get into it with these people; I have a very strong stance on the gay community. I’m straight myself, but I have quite a few friends who came to me and told me they were gay after I’ve known them for a while. Did it piss me off? No. Did I stop being friends with them? Hell no. They’re gay, not diseased. Anyway, this issue is stupid and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
In conclusion…Mass Effect 3 is a very great, solid title! I loved it. I loved every minute of it. From my fight to get off Earth to the first time I stepped foot on Mars, from the battle to end the Genophage for the Krogans, to the fight on the moon of Palaven. From the first time I walked onto the redesigned Citadel to the fight I had with the Reaper one on one. All the way up until the confusing ending. That was the only moment of this game, really of this whole trilogy where I was upset at what I saw. EA & Bioware did an amazing job taking the action from the second game and the best RPG elements of the first game, tweaking them both and ending up with a great game! My score may change this summer when we get an explanation of this ending controversy, but until then…
Not-So-Final Verdict – 8/10