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Video Game Review: Mass Effect 3

Video Game Review: Mass Effect 3 1


Video Game Review: Mass Effect 3

A few nights ago, I finished Mass Effect 3. As the credits scrolled I again sat silent in the dark, dumbstruck by what I had beheld. Not out of the bittersweet satisfaction that comes with the conclusion to any story, but in the confusion and anger that occurs when you’ve witnessed a crime you could do nothing to stop.

Mass Effect 3 box art
Mass Effect 3

Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows
Developer: BioWare Corp.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Binary Choice driven 3rd Person Shooter RPG
ESRB: M for Mature
Auteur Attached: Casey Hudson (Director)

CLR [rating:2.5]

Reaping the Harvest of Poor Choices

Five years ago, BioWare began a science fiction odyssey into the unknown. A series where the player was faced with choices, often hard choices, about how the characters would proceed, and the results of their decisions would carry over from one game to the next — to truly create long form interactive storytelling on a scale never before attempted. It was called Mass Effect.

Three years ago, the sequel released. It had its issues, but the promise of player driven continuity was maintained; the unique universe your Commander Shepard traipsed around in was expanded. There was much rejoicing, and the stage was set for a conclusion that was going to redefine how games, and possibly stories, were to be made in the future.

One year ago, I finally finished the original Mass Effect. The Faunts “M4, Pt. 2” played during the credits and I sat in rapt silence, truly awestruck. The satisfaction was an almost religious, revelatory experience. Ashamed to have missed out on the most important science fiction series of the last decade up till then (a situation quickly remedied), I perhaps overcompensated by delving deeply enough into the series’ expanded errata to be labeled a fanboy. With the upcoming final installment, I knew the challenge would be to write a fair, objective review uncolored by my obvious bias.  

A few nights ago, I finished Mass Effect 3. As the credits scrolled I again sat silent in the dark, dumbstruck by what I had beheld. Not out of the bittersweet satisfaction that comes with the conclusion to any story, but in the confusion and anger that occurs when you’ve witnessed a crime you could do nothing to stop. 

As it turns out, I was right, but in the wrong way. It IS difficult to give an objective review of Mass Effect 3; not because it’s too easy to proclaim it excellent out of bias, but that it’s very difficult to weigh such lopsided quality. Is it fair for an 11th hour shift to change the perception of all that came before it? Is an otherwise excellent experience still excellent when its end is so tragically terrible? 

The answer to that question is only a matter of personal taste if you’re someone without any. Yes, for those keeping score at home: the ending matters! Especially in the case of Mass Effect 3 since it redefines the entire experience . . . in about the same way being left at the altar by a spouse ditching you for your mom redefines a relationship.

Mass Effect 3

Shepard considers redefining his relationship with Liara once he learns that amongst Asari, fin-rot is a venereal disease.

For the uninformed, who may wish to stay that way, Mass Effect is the story of one Commander Shepard, a human soldier of the Earth Systems Alliance. During each installment, Shepard travels around the galaxy in the starship Normandy with a variable crew of intergalactic misfits and mercenaries trying to prevent the utter destruction of galactic civilization by The Reapers, an ancient race of Cybernetic Space Cthuluhus that cleanse the universe of biological life every fifty thousand years or so. It’s a monumental task considering most Reapers are about a mile long, composed of nearly indestructible material, can get all Donald DeFreeze with mind controlling “indoctrination,” and have perfected a zombification technique that Vlad the Impaler’s envious of. 

Keeping things interesting, each game follows different motifs within the confines of the same shared universe: the first was a hybrid of Star Trek and 24; equal parts exploration and super cop action as you tracked rogue space cop Saren across the Milky Way. The second had a distinct A-Team/Inglorious Bastards feel as Shepard led a criminal crew into a suicide mission situated in a black hole minefield. This final installment follows a “First half of Seven Samurai” motif, as Shepard must rally and unite all of the races and factions on the galactic stage into a united armada in order fight back against the invading Reaper horde and prevent the extinction of not only humanity, but ALL organic life EVERYWHERE.  

Mass Effect 3

Thanks to the Reapers, including this little guy here, it’s the end of all worlds as we know it, and unsurprisingly, no one’s “feeling fine.” REM are just jerks.

First and foremost: it’s quite tricky to evaluate the potential impact Mass Effect’s story has on players since its appeal differs heavily depending on how many entries you’ve played. One of the core themes of the series from its inception was that it not only allows players to tailor their experience with customization of sex, look, and character class, but that the story adapts to a progressive series of choices the player makes via save file transference between games. A veteran of the first two games picking up ME3 has a unique history with their Shepard as their previous choices always inform the current situation and even their character’s attitude; this shared continuity creates a sense of identification with the story stronger and more involved than perhaps any yet seen in a game!

You can start a fresh new save file at the start, picking from a bunch of options in lieu of playing the previous games, but the choices you make on a sterile menu screen simply don’t carry the value of context with them. As with comic books and soap operas, this reliance on continuity is a double-edged feature; a point of excellence for those that have been around, but new entrants simply won’t have an experience nearly as deep or satisfying. But then, new entrants without any emotional investment can’t be so utterly disappointed when things fall apart. 

Mass Effect 3

One positive thing about Mass Effect 3 is the acknowledgement of the Shepard as capable at giving life as taking it away, Jennifer Hale’s “femshep.”


With that caveat out of the way, it must be stated: for 98% of its runtime Mass Effect 3 is arguably the best game in the series. Building upon the mold of Mass Effect 2, it’s focused on delivering excellent cover-based gunfights for the bulk of its gameplay, but several tweaks and additions make it a fundamentally better experience. Simple health regeneration is given enough complexity to be a decent mechanic, weapons and powers are better balanced, cover abilities and melee combat are expanded, the number and variety of enemies is improved, and the AI is smart enough to be a legitimate threat on the higher difficulties. 

As if to prove this new found combat competence, there’s a new cooperative multiplayer mode to the game: “Galaxy at War.” Aside from the frankly manipulative incentive to play this mode included in the single player game – it affects the effectiveness of one of your major in-game resources – Galaxy at War actually proves to be a fun, challenging diversion (especially if you encounter some nasty de-sync bugs). 

Mass Effect 3

The very model of a scientist Salarian, fast talking Mordin Solus returns!

Then there’s the other key aspect of traditional Mass Effect gameplay: dialogue choices that affect the plot. The iconic selection wheel and interrupts return unaltered, but a revamp to the reputation metric that determines conversation flow finally allows for players to walk a line between the standard Paragon (Murtough) and Renegade (Riggs) options without losing the ability to sway opinion in more tension filled conversations. Though not major, this alteration alleviates an incentive to game the system in order to get the best outcomes, rather than making choices that reflect your actual values; thus reinforcing the series focus on letting the player direct the flow of the narrative naturally . . . which is ironic considering the endings- but I’ll get to that in a bit. 

As with any game – but especially in RPGs – strong combat and dialogue systems work best amidst strongly developed worlds and characters, and again, the vast majority of Mass Effect 3 is fantastically constructed. BioWare’s confidence with the Unreal 3 engine allows them to craft locations with the love of a pyromaniac, seeing as most burn beautifully. Animations are noticeably better and more varied as well, especially the facial animations, which convey much more nuance than in either previous adventure.  

Nuance aids, but isn’t entirely necessary in making the swarm of supporting characters come to life as the dialogue is still top-notch. If there’s one thing ME3 (and the series as a whole) can claim, it’s that it boasts some of the most memorable and well developed characters – along with one of the best voice casts – in gaming history, and since the majority are returning players, we get to see serious growth and development amongst them. Liara gets cynical, Tali and Jack get responsible, AIs EDI and Legion get more human, and even Joker’s sarcastic façade continues to reveal inner strength. Since Garrus couldn’t get any more awesome than he was, he remains thankfully unchanged. 

While the dialogue is the cream at the top of the script, the overall plot works quite well. As a conclusion to a long running trilogy, the adventure – though more linear in order to corral the rampant variables coming in from past choices – is often one mind blowing climax to an unresolved plot thread after another. From releasing a city-sized space worm to fight off one of the monolithic Reaper doombots to vast space battles that make the entirety of Star Wars look like amateur hour, the game is about six Michael Bays of spectacle and three James Camerons of vast scale. 

Mass Effect 3

. . . as does Turian Batman himself, Garrus Vakarian! Best moment in the game: he compares notes with James “Who the hell is James?” Vega, about who’s the bigger badass. Guess who wins?

Not to be outdone by the parade of jaw-dropping moments, the drama delivers as well; even the manliest men will be driven to tears at times, most likely more than once. Of course, these moments are aided by the moving and majestic soundtrack by Clint Mansell. Combining the film orchestra style of ME2 with the Vangelis-inspired electronica of ME1 into a mixture that’s perfectly suited to the high tension and morose themes explored in the game. 

Of course, before we get to the amply foreshadowed Elcor in the room, I must note that not even the general excellence of the pre-ending ME3 is perfect. The quest tracking for small missions is atrocious, level design could still use more variation, and though weapon customization is expanded upon the anemic system of ME2, its counterpart armor mechanic shows absolutely no growth. Also, though overshadowed by the ending, the day one DLC is still a debacle. The “bonus” character Javik is not only obviously a key original cast member that fills in some necessary backstory, but his content was poorly tested; most of the bigger bugs I experienced only occurred with or around Javik. 

A DLC gaffe of this magnitude would have been more than enough legitimate controversy for a game (and has been for others), but compared to the ending, well . . .  

Mass Effect 3

Some have forwarded the notion that the endings are intentionally bad so we’ll buy proper ones later as “incentivized” DLC like Javik here. While that would be capital “E” Evil, this is EA we’re talking about.

Without giving anything away, (directly, as all subsequent links will contain some spoilers) the ending, by which I mean the final five to ten minutes, of Mass Effect 3 is easily the worst finale I’ve seen compared to the preceding quality that came before it – in any medium. At literally every level, it’s objectively terrible.

Sloppy execution that reuses art assets reveals that it’s a hurried inclusion. The under thought and over pretentious dialogue does nothing but create bizarre, confusing plot holes. It even commits the same sin The Devil Inside did earlier this year, and has the gall to add an advertisement by the producers at the end of the credits, which is frankly insulting. 

Far more importantly though, it betrays key themes and values well established by the series thus far. Past player choice impacting the shape of events is negated in favor of an arbitrary and poorly explained “pick your favorite color” moment. Science fiction justification in an otherwise material world is abandoned for magical deism, since quite literally, a god in a machine appears. Unification through altruism and sacrifice is thrown out for pure nihilism: each of the choices you’re forced to make results in Shepard committing some level of genocide or another, with the benefits removed from any relatable emotional touchstone to the intangible space of far flung statistics. It even manages to make The Reapers, one of the more imposing forces of antagonism in recent memory, come across as foolish pawns.

Mass Effect 3

Speaking of foolish, I can’t avoid pointing out that the ending to Martin Sheen’s Illusive Man seems very . . . similar . . . to another major character’s exit from the series.

Topping all of this is off, the entire affair seems to be a vain attempt at symbolism ala the similarly jarring conclusion to 2001: A Space Odyssey rather than offering even the minutest form of concrete closure. As there is no novel to turn to that explains what they were trying to attain and the steaming mess that exists is as disconnected from sense as it is, the endeavor rings hollow as metaphor. To quote Roger Ebert for a moment:

“If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.” 

This conclusion is on the short list for “things that ruin dreams”, right up there with “discovering that Santa isn’t real because your dad dressed up like him and died” and actually manages to steal the disappointment crown from Lost. It’s bad enough that fans have formed a protest group against it, complete with a conspiracy theory and memetic hero trumpeting their cause: forcing BioWare to change the ending.  

Mass Effect 3

The ending sets a land speed record for “reversal of quality”, clocking in at lean 4 minutes, 46 seconds!

Normally, I’d find it wrong to support consumer demand altering authorial intent just to fit the vociferous opinion. Except in this case, the authors simply aren’t justified by the “statement” made. Aside from being a hackneyed mess of bad ideas running counter to everything this series has stood for, the sheer tonal shift prevents absorption for someone paying attention – the inability to convey intent is the definition of failed art.

For anyone with perspective, I know I’m belaboring a point – a bad ending can ruin all, from prose to play – but the sad fact is: no other professional review of Mass Effect 3 factored this ending into their universally positive ratings for the game, even though many acknowledged it as a problem. Not being one to claim conspiracy is to blame, I’d rather point to the more obvious culprit: ineptitude. A critic that can’t realize that narrative is often as important as gameplay – especially in an RPG – and that poorly constructed endings tarnish narrative quality  – especially as it is the last thing the audience sees – is a poor critic indeed. 

The gestalt of Mass Effect 3 is an end unjustified by its means, unworthy of defense. During its final moments it commits storytelling suicide, and the taste of decay it leaves in the mouth cripples the otherwise impeccable quality of what came before, poisoning even nostalgia against it. At best and being fair to the game’s other traits, the quality comes out a wash – simply mediocre.

Casey Hudson, the Director of the Mass Effect series, said in a recent interview that he wanted the endings to be “memorable.” I think he succeeded. We will remember it, nay, we need to remember it. 

After all, those who forget the history of bad ideas are doomed to repeat them. 

Mass Effect 3 Trailer

As one of the unfortunate few born with three first names, Adam endured years of taunting on the mean streets of Los Angeles in order to become the cynical malcontent he is today. A gamer since the age of four, he has attempted to remain diverse in his awareness of the arts, and remain active in current theater, film, literary and musical trends when not otherwise writing or acting himself. He now offers his knowledge in these areas up to the "California Literary Review," who still haven't decided what exactly they want to do with him yet. He prefers to be disagreed with in a traditional "Missile Command" high score contest, and can be challenged this way via his Xbox LIVE Gamertag of AtomGone, and if you want to "follow" him on twitter, look for Adam Robert Thomas @TheCromulentMan



  1. Iwassodissapointed

    October 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    It was a short game that pulled at the heart stings to players of 1 and 2, then shat on your head.

  2. Jamin Luke Koehn

    October 13, 2012 at 6:22 am

    I liked the review, but I really wish people would learn that Clint Mansell didn’t compose the entire sountrack. In fact, he only composed 1 track on his own (“Leaving Earth”) and collaborated with Sam Hulick on another (“An End, Once and For All”).

    The composers are as follows:
    Sam Hulick
    Clint Mansell
    Christopher Lennertz
    Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan

  3. yokai

    August 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Please revise this review to factor in the extended cut dlc (which is canon – it is included as a part of the game in the upcoming Wii U version of Mass Effect 3) as it will likely strongly revise your views of the ending ‘ruining’ the series.
    As someone that completed the trilogy with the extended endings already installed, I can safely say they do maintain that your past decisions affect the ending of the story.

    • Flaris

      August 26, 2012 at 10:48 am

      I think it’s fine to leave as is. Everyone isn’t going to review a game a second time just because a patch was applied. Besides all Bioware did was try to appease a fanbase by turning a garbage ending that breaks a franchise into a disappointing ending that only somewhat ruins it. In the end the chief complaints still apply. Your decisions didn’t really matter (not only the ending, the Rachni being a chief example there) and your war assets still are meaningless when it comes to the ending.

      It’s better, but still leaves this series on a sour note. Think this review should stand anyways to reflect what Bioware actually inflicted on its fanbase and not the ones lucky enough to just play after the extended ending was added. For those who did play it first it does ruin the franchise and reflects how bowing to EA has ruined Bioware’s quality. First Dragon Age 2 and now this. As of this moment it seems that the days of quality Bioware games are behind us.

      Besides the ending still sucks. The God Child was a horrible decision that ruins the Reapers as enemies. If you want the universe to survive you still have to do what that thing tells you (either kill the Geth, assault the very genetics of the universe, or try to do what your enemy wanted to do and hope it won’t bite you in the rear down the road). The choices of who you added to your army still doesn’t matter one bi.

      The review can make note that there is a dlc extended cut, but shouldn’t factor it in. Mass Effect 3 on March 18, 2012 had a horrible ending and that shouldn’t change in the review.

  4. Cyclekarl

    July 4, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Well it’s a pleasant surprise and quite unexpected to read an unbiased review,maybe EA haven’t bought you off yet unlike countless other reviewer’s from web sites and magazines yet.

    Personally though I don’t think this game is good at all in fact it’s by far the worse of the 3 in my opinion and I never wish I played it let alone wasted good money on this poor excuse for a Mass Effect game,it has many faults as if it was written and developed by an entirely different team than the it’s predecessors,

    firstly it has inconsistent graphics,loads of glitches,awful new characters instead of familiar ones you know and love,it has much less dialogue options auto dialogue,it has simplified missions,such as instead of being informed of quests you pick them up be eavesdropping on strangers conversations and instead of visiting a planet to rescue people,you fire a probe at it and they are rescued,how lazy is that? it seams more linear and much shorter than before,although number two was bad enough,this is much worse,there’s also less places to visit,no planets to explore other than the main missions,you also don’t get to see all of your efforts come together at the end,I also hate the fact you get lots a cheesy dialogue from your squad mates at times directed at the enemy.

    London doesn’t look like London at all,the street to street fighting is lame and too brief,you don’t get to see the various factions like mercenaries,mechs Rachni etc fighting the the battles,then finally the stupid trench run that makes no sense at all and finally the worst ending in gaming history even with the Extended cut,I am done with Bioware and I hope they have upset enough people to go out of business and some day this game could be remade as it should have been and without the tacked on pointless multi-player and kinect additions.

  5. Nimno

    June 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm


  6. Alex Gregory

    June 9, 2012 at 3:12 am

    For a so-called “literary review” blog, this site (just like the game) took the easy way out and put the horse before the cart.

    There’s much more wrong with the game than just the ending, which many have now discovered:

    1) The quest/journal system is an absolute nightmare. You’ll often pick up half-a-dozen different side missions the first time you go to the Citadel, and you won’t even know who assigned them to you because everything is picked up via word of mouth. The quest system only gives you a faint indicator of where to go, and doesn’t update when you procure the item in question, nor does it tell you who to deliver the item to. Why was this system so fundamentally broken, when it worked fine in the previous installments?

    2) The Crucible. One of the most blatant and poorly-imagined deus ex machinas in recent history. A device being worked on for thousands of years by various races who have no idea what it does – huh? The Alliance stakes their entire “retake Earth” plan on a device that it doesn’t know how to operate – what? The player has no investment in this device, and no understanding of how their war assets affect the success or failure of this device.

    3) The “war asset” system is poorly designed and poorly explained. Why is a biotic teacher worth twice as much as a fleet? What do the numbers assigned to these assets mean? What does EMS actually do? Why can’t I assign these assets to the final battle if I’ve been collecting them for the entire game? Worse yet, you can’t get the “best” ending in the game (Destroy-Plus ending) unless you invest several hours in multiplayer – it’s actually impossible, even with serious metagaming, to achieve a high enough score in the main game to get said ending without playing a tie-in game (multiplayer, Datapad, etc).

    4) The treatment of Cerberus. An organization that was stated outright to be less than 150 well-intentioned extremists in the previous game suddenly turn into the Galactic Empire from Star Wars. Meanwhile, the Illusive Man (who was a well-written character who was your mission control) changes from a mysterious benefactor who wants to protect Earth at any cost…to a scenery-chewing madman who wants to sell humanity out for Reaper control.

    5) Half the player’s squadmates from the previous game get horrible treatment (that is, if they survived). No explanation is ever given for why most of your former squadmates won’t join your team (with most of them sitting around in the Citadel for the majority of the game). Some are underutilized and don’t fit in with the plot, even though there are plotlines that clearly could have involved them in some fashion.

    6) Lots of bugs and general clipping issues – running/walking animations on Earth and the Citadel are bizarre and floaty, there are lots of holes in the game environment, enemies can disappear for no reason, etc.

    7) The new characters (Cortez, Allers, Traynor, Vega) have no real impact on the plot, and seem to be there mostly to fulfill relationship scenarios if your character locked him/herself out of one in the previous game(s).

    8) Major choices don’t affect anything – it doesn’t matter whether you saved/destroyed the Destiny Ascension, did the DLC’s, saved/destroyed the Collector Base – the difference (in war asset points) between the variables is negligible at best.

    9) Lots of laziness throughout the game – ME2’s “N7” missions have been severely cut back, and replaced with missions that are just horde mode maps in single-player. Reused art/character models. Lots of dialogue that never plays – there’s a whole chunk of dialogue with Ashley onboard the Normandy that doesn’t play if you talk to a certain character before talking with her. Was there even QA for this product?

    Anyone saying the game was “98% perfect” is showing their fanboyism. Honestly, to me, this is of the worst triple-AAA releases of a game I’ve seen in quite some time. Not even going to get into Bioware/EA’s terrible handling of the backlash and their ignorant PR spin.

  7. Lopez

    June 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    @KnnOs yes that was the original ending when Drew Karphysn who was the lead writer for Mass Effect 1 and the lead writer along with mac walters in Mass Effect 2, was still the lead writer of Mass Effect 3 but after he left i think they scrapt that idea. i alwso want to clear something up this was not the ending that was leaked back in november because ive been hearing alot of people sayin that the endings bad because people read the leaked script and bioware changed it to this crap. thats complelty false i was one of the people who read the leaked script litearly the day or a day after it was leaked and then some more of the newer script leak stuff and no where does it mention the old mass effect 3 dark energy ending….unforchanatly this is what theyve had since as early as November most likely longeer before that…….the script ending is the same as the ending we got unforchantly but the sad thing is is that the script ending explained it alittle bit better than what we got…it still sucked but it was expalined a litle tiny bit better…i wish Drew stayed as the lead writer

  8. KnnOs

    June 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    The ending seems slapdash and haphazard because it was. It was not the original ending to the game.

    I used to be in the camp that said the ending should stand, because frankly my Shepard (female) spent the last half of the game expecting to die. I don’t think any ending without a messianic sacrifice would work for me. HOWEVER, after letting go of my… irrational need to defend that point of view, I can’t really deny anymore that it just didn’t work. It doesn’t invalidate the whole wonderful series, but it’s like a bad aftertaste; no matter how good the flavor was, you still don’t want to have another one, and get stuck with that taste in your mouth.

    But the original ending was not this way. The ending was in fact leaked. Some details are in the link below:

    Just run a search for Mass Effect 3 Dark Energy and you’ll find out more. Essentially, the Repears WERE working to save life, all life, organic and synthetic, from the growth of dark energy (possibly as a side-effect of mass effect fields) which caused things like Haestrom’s sun to suddenly die. A buildup of dark energy is a Bad Thing. Reapers were combining organic races to try and find a solution, and humans were particularly valuable to this effort because of their supposed adaptability, genetic and otherwise. The choices as laid out in the above article are so much TRUER to the spirit of the series, that it leaves one really angry that someone leaked it so the studio made an eleventh-hour rewrite.

    • OrderedComa

      April 15, 2013 at 12:10 am

      The whole entire problem with that theory/ending that makes it look just as silly and stupid as the ending s we actually got, if not more so. Is the fact of Mass Effect technology itself causing the buildup of Dark Energy…..the Reapers are not completely and utter morons, they may be overconfident as all hell, sure, but they’re not utter morons and simpletons…they would not lay the very technology causing what they’re trying to stop (the build up of Dark Energy) as the whole entire foundation of their cosmic horror trap. Sovereign very clearly states in the first game that the Reapers invented Mass Effect technology and use it as a pathway of their own design for races to develop along…..this is not something they would have done if it was what was causing Dark Energy and the build up of said Dark Energy was something they were doing their best to stop.

  9. Archeron5

    April 22, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Interesting and well-written article, thank you. You made many good points and I’m glad you highlighted the games many excellent qualities as well as the other shortcomings that had been overshadowed by the furore over the endings.
    For me personally, the ending was a damp squib rather than an outrage, but you can hardly say that this is any better for the finale of such an epic series. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out over the next few weeks/months.
    I feel quite sorry for those at Bioware who have likely poured their heart and soul into this game over the last 5+ years only to have it thrown back at them now in this way. However, I think that they do need to carefully consider that when so many of their fans – fans who have happily invested hundreds of dollars in the games, platforms and DLC as well as hundreds of hours in playing and replaying them – when the (apparent) majority of these fans are categorically stating that they now have no further interest in revisiting the Mass Effect universe, Bioware has to look hard at itself in the mirror and admit that something, somewhere has gone badly wrong.

  10. Dippy500

    April 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Really enjoyed this review. As has been mentioned above, the rest of the game certainly wasn’t perfect but still a hell of a lot better than most other games. And I was willing to overlook any of those relatively minor flaws because I loved the franchise & the Mass Effect universe.
    Bioware stated all along that we were meant to become emotionally invested in these games, that we were crafting our own story. How the heck could they have ever thought that endings they then FORCED on us right at the end would be satisfying, especially when all of them effectively tear down the individual universes we have all created.
    What saddens me most is that the last 15minutes of ME3 has left me never wanting to even look at any of the games ever again. There is no point playing through any of them again because you now know that none of it makes any difference.
    Epic fail and one that so easily could have been avoided.

  11. AOPrinciple

    April 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    The single best review of Mass Effect 3 I’ve read to date. I’m not one to flatter, but you really are a wordsmith, my friend. I greatly benefited from you elegant statement of the core issue with the ending, from a bird’s eye view. I’ll link to this review and try to draw attention to your well-articulated, informed, and intelligent analysis.

  12. DJordan

    April 19, 2012 at 6:48 am


    No offense implied, but I’m very tired of reading comments that the ME3 ending is like “classic science fiction” – it is nothing of the sort.

    You cite Asimov, but I would point out that while he sometimes left things open, everything he wrote was strictly consistent with its internal logic. This was why he never used metaphysics and aliens. In fact he wrote on this extensively in his essays, and he would have hated the idea of any kind of “Space Magic” or Deus Ex Machina.

    As for the 2001 parallel, which I have read elsewhere, I assume everyone is talking about the pretty colors at the end.
    It’s true 2001 had a superior entity manipulating human evolution but to compare it to this is frankly insulting to Arthur C. Clarke’s memory (and Stanley Kubrick for that matter).

    What we have is more like Star Wars with the 2001 ending tacked on at the end. Or to be precise, we got Mass Effect with a cheapo 2001 ending tacked on at the end.

    Frankly it was insulting to my intelligence – even a vanilla Michael Bay ending would have been better.

    This was sloppy storytelling, which is why 99% of the target audience hated it. Pure and simple.

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