33 hrs. 4 days.
I beat Mass Effect 3 yesterday, and after spending countless hours playing Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 multiple times, I was very invested in this conclusion to the trilogy. Mass Effect is one of my favourite video games, so naturally when ME3 came out I retreated to my computer to spend the week ravenously devouring the finale. Hell, I was even dreaming about it, when I wasn’t playing.
Now that the whirlwind is over, I’m reflecting on the series. I really think it’s an amazing saga – like a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings for video games. I loved the apocalyptic feel of the last game, I think they did an amazing job of putting you right in the action. The Reapers are destroying all of galactic civilization, and I felt: 1) A sense of haste even though often there was not an actual time limit. 2) Like I was really in the action. As galactic civilization is being destroyed, Shepard has to go to various home worlds that are under attack, and the scale and impact were enormous. Watching the Reapers tear apart huge cities as Shepard runs through the rubble was incredible. 3) Pissed off that the damn council didn’t listen to Shepard’s warnings THREE YEARS ago.
We finally see the pressure of having the weight of the galaxy on her (or his) shoulders really get to Shepard in this one. Shepard has been warning people about this and working so damn hard to save the galaxy, and it starts hitting her hard in ME3. She knows how much depends on her, and how many lives are at stake. And, consequently, so did I as the player. The characters, as always, come to life and make you care about them. Seeing a more vulnerable side of Shepard (I’m making it sound like this happens the whole time in the game, it doesn’t – Shepard is just as badass as before, don’t worry!) pulls you in even further, and gives the other characters a chance to let Shepard lean on them, for once.
The dialogue is as funny, emotional, and well-delivered as ever. Some of the exchanges between characters made me laugh out loud, while others had me tearing up. Especially when at the end of the game (don’t worry, no spoilers!), you can go around and talk to your squad mates before the final mission. By this point in the game, the battle for the galaxy has become pretty desperate, and things aren’t looking hopeful. All of my squad mates seemed to be saying their goodbyes to me before I went into that last mission. It made me so sad – a testament to the way this game pulls you and and makes you care about the characters and what is happening in the galaxy that you’ve come to love.
Here’s a pretty hilarious scene of some joking between Garrus and Joker – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMRgCUCUIoU
I did kind of miss the mini-games from ME2 though. They removed the bypass and hacking mini-games, but I actually had really liked those. It wasn’t a big detriment to my gaming experience or anything, but I did wonder why they were gone.
I got the day 1 DLC that has been so controversial. I really liked it, the mission was good, and the prothean squad member was interesting. Mostly, I liked the addition of the extra lore and backstory that came with having the prothean squad member to learn more about the protheans from. It wasn’t essential to the game, but it was an excellent addition. Like Liara, I found that the protheans were not what I had expected.
Combat was fun. I played a Vanguard, which is a great class. And nothing is more fun than killing husks with a shotgun as they run at you – that was probably one of my favourite things to do. Space zombies + Commander Shepard + shotgun = pure entertainment.
On another controversial topic – the ending. (I’ll try to be as unspoiler-ee as I can here!) I’m seeing an uproar on teh internets about the ending. I liked the ending that I got. I thought it was a good outcome. That said, it needed more closure. I needed to see more about what happened to the characters and the civilizations that I had come to love throughout the course of the three games. Fighting so hard for the fate of the galaxy, and having very little of the results of my efforts shown to me at the end was disappointing. Also, I didn’t like the thing after the credits, with the stargazers.
Further, apparently higher galactic readiness scores (obtained through multiplayer) allowed for “better” endings, where certain characters lived who did not live in the ending I got. While that is desirable, I still think that the ending I got was the best for the WHOLE galaxy, not just for the characters that I personally care about. So I’m not sure that those “better” endings are actually “better”.
Play Mass Effect 3! I think a blog post can’t really capture how much I’ve enjoyed it. So you’ll just have to see for yourself, if you haven’t already! I’m pumped to play it through again as renegade, and see how badass Shepard is this time around. As long as I get to punch a reporter, I’ll be happy.
You can fight like a Krogan, run like a leopard, but you’ll never be better than Commander Shepard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeY-2ovpF9c
What did you think of the ending (or maybe after it’s been out for a bit, which ending did you choose…)? Did you get the first day DLC? What is your favourite class to play? Are you Renegade, or Paragon?
EDIT: I found a great short article about how BioWare could (and in my opinion, should) rectify the mistakes they made with the ending, and the release of day 1 DLC. The more I think about the ending, the more I feel dissatisfied by it. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/03/12/how-bioware-could-find-redemption-using-mass-effect-3/
2nd EDIT: I found another excellent article about why Mass Effect fans are so disappointed in the ending. I think it addresses the problems quite well. http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-reasons-the-fans-are-right/