Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick Update: Mass Effect 3 Review

I moved to Northern Germany last week, in case you wondered why there's no posts. Since my job doesn't start immediately, I have some time playing games. Fortunately I didn't have to play the 1000th round of Civilization because Mass Effect 3 has been released.

Of course, Mass Effect 3 isn't really a game. The reason I will never play ME3 as much as Civilization is that it's an interactive movie. As an interactive movie, however, I liked it.

The story is about 10% credible at an absolute scale which means 90% credible at a relative, computer-games/movie scale. No, I'm just a tiny bit ironic. The story makes more sense than the stories of most games/movies and I liked it. Since this is a quick update with no spoilers I won't go into detail about what doesn't make sense (although that would be fun).

The way the endings are handled is a bit disappointing, but I've seen worse. Overall I got some 24 hours of fun out of it - doing every side quest - and that's easily worth the money. I especially liked the fact that all side quests are (reasonably) well connected to the main quest. I hate to have to save the world in one week .. and running unrelated errands. ME3 is far from perfect here but clearly above average.

One thing I particularly disliked was the way politicians are presented. The Western world, and especially the US, should have more respect for the people who actually engage in democracy and not just follow orders (or disobey orders whenever it makes sense to them). A lot of depth could have been gained if the story had high-lighted the problems the politicians face.

ME3's game-part is a nice strategic action shooter and quite demanding at hardcore difficulty. I don't think I could have completed the game at insane-mode without a calculator and serious min-maxing, but I didn't try, either.

What I liked most about ME3 is that the story is not predictable. That is in contrast to the (pretty bad) 'story' of Mass Effect 2. Moreover, ME3's unpredictability is not achieved with completely unreasonable behavior on the part of the actors. (Many movies are..)

At times the story is very well told. At other times, however, it could have been told better. For example what would really have been useful is more time to build an emotional connection to Earth before the Reapers appear. If this was a TV series, the story would have been told too fast.

I really hope that there won't be a sequel. The story is over, let it rest. The greatest feat of Mass Effect is still the basic idea of the Reapers and the Star Wars / Babylon 5 - related, yet different, interesting and even innovative universe.

One last thought that crossed my mind: I absolutely prefer this kind of single-player interactive story to SW:TOR. But I will neither pay for main-story-unrelated DLC nor for a sub. I'd prefer longer interactive movies that cost more money to buy. In my opinion, the industry should have a look at how TV series keep consumers interested for many months/years while telling just one main story.

Should you buy Mass Effect 3? Unless you hate Sci-Fi, yes.


  1. I was rather disappointed by the ending but the rest of the game was fantastic. Bioware did say that this is basically the end of the Shepard story, but we might see other games set in the universe somewhere down the line; plenty of in-game lore they could draw on for other games.

  2. I really enjoyed the entire ME series. I had 5 saved games from ME2 (a sixth was started) and will play at least 3 and probably 4 of them in ME3. If you didn't go femshep you probably need another run to listen to Jennifer Hale and her really good voice acting.

    As for ME4, there will be one but it won't have Shepard in it. Either a few hundred years in the future, or they can go to things like first contact war, rachni wars, krogan rebellions etc. Depends if they want humans to be central or not. If they do then ME4 will be set in the future from where ME3 stopped.