Please be warned that this contains spoilers. Read no further if you haven’t finished the game and don’t want to know how it ends:
So I finally managed to finish Mass Effect 3. Yes, I took my time. I’m one of those players that has to explore every single quest and every single dialogue option. I feel I get my money’s worth this way and by completely immersing myself in the wonderful story that Bioware has put together, I’m more invested in the game for doing this.
This means it takes me several weeks to finish a game, rather than several days. I also have a job and a little bit of a life, so my review is later than those who get paid to do nothing but play video games and review them (although I still don’t think they could’ve explored all the game has to offer in such a short period of time).
My final review? Just… WOW. EVERYTHING about Mass Effect 3 is bigger, louder and more explosion-packed. Everything you’ve decided in the previous games goes into effect in this final game, so even those little things you never put much thought to previously just might come back to bite you in the butt.
Fortunately, for me, my Shephard was mostly paragon. I couldn’t help it. I wanted her to be the hero in every way possible. And she was.
I guess a little history in previous games is in order. My Shepard (who I named Rose) hooked up with Kaidan Alenko way back in the first game. When it came time to let a crew member die, it was Ashley that bit the dust. In Mass Effect 2, she worked with Cerberus, but fought them every step of the way.
In Mass Effect 3, my Shepard was back for more reaper butt-kicking. I played her even more paragon, although she did end up killing Udina (hitting that right-trigger on the XBox 360 controller was a total instinct of mine when he pointed a gun at the Asari councilor). My Shepard also re-romanced Kaidan and the two were doing the deed fairly regularly if random dialogue is suspect:
Kaidan: “You should have woke me up before you left.”
And that was even BEFORE the sexy time cut scene. So obviously, they were doing it WELL before that in my game.
But wait, this game is about saving earth. And Shepard does exactly that.
Okay, so here’s the part where I talk about the end of the game. There are so many people complaining about it and I think these complaints are really unfounded. I felt the end of the game was perfect. It could not have been better. This is what all three games were building up to, after all. And unlike with many games and movies, it actually was a finale. Bioware promised a trilogy and they delivered it.
And To those idiots actually wanting to press charges against Bioware? I have to say it: GET OVER YOURSELVES. If you think you can do better, get off your lazy butts and create your own video game.
So at the end of the game, you have three choices, all of which will result in the loss of Shepard. Having made a similar choice in Dragon Age, I was expecting that. There’s something romantic about the hero sacrificing all to save the universe. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is the only way I could see Shepard going out. Did you really want your Shepard to have a normal life after all of this? Do you really think a soldier that’s been through the war and fought the reapers could have a normal life? I felt that this was the best possible end for our hero as possible.
I know some gamers are upset that all of the choices they made in the three games didn’t seem to factor into the end, but I disagree with that. I think those gamers are, in essence, missing the point. The entire Mass Effect 3 game serves as the end of the series, not just the last 15-20 minutes. Remember that it’s not the destination, but the journey. Shepard’s choices changed the journey and the relationships of the characters around him/her. Those led up to the final decision that he/she had to make.
In the end, the final question was this: Do synthetics have a soul? This is actually asked throughout the game. This is something that previous game decisions have been made about. If you have ever played a true RPG, you’ll think about the final answer and remember what you had decided previously. Do you want to control synthetics or destroy them? Or perhaps you want to live in unity with them? That is a huge question and does affect the final outcome of the game.
In the end, my Shepard chose to run and jump into the light, therefore bringing together synthetics and the rest of the galaxy. The final image of Edy and Joker embracing at the end of the game was all the happy ending I needed. And I loved the after-credits scene where the old man is telling the young boy about the adventures of Shepard and how she saved Earth.
My final thoughts on the game are this: The fact that so many fans are emotionally obsessing about the ending means Bioware did their job right. And whether you like it or not, they’ve created a beautiful story that’s better than any movie I have ever seen. If one can argue about video games being art, the Mass Effect series is a fine example to hold up to the light.