After so many characters, planets, side stories and adventures it is hard to not be invested in the Mass effect universe. With that in mind, this review will be more of a personal experience than a review, which in some way is good but on the other hand there should be some spoilers, probably for the first two games of the series but in occasion the third as well.
So, Commander Sheppard is back to stop the Reapers and as soon as the game starts you are in full force into it. After a few scenes you realize instead of fighting head on the optimal course of action would be to gather the forces across the galaxy while at the same time working on a discovered weapon against the Reapers designed by ancient civilizations.
Suffice to say the main story was good all around. You meet again many familiar face and help solving some longtime issues.
However there is this thing many people on the internet are vocal about, it is their displeasure with the ending of the game. While I personally like to make up my our mind before seeing some thoughts, especially regarding to the resolutions of a big story like this one I had to take some things into consideration.
For the first time I finished the game I had no idea of what the ending would be like, all I knew was that many people were unhappy with it. At first I thought it was okay, not good by any means but not as bad as many people claimed, until I came to realize the basic complains most people had (I’ll touch into the more complicated ones a little later).
First and foremost, the lack of resolution. You as Commander Sheppard puts so much effort in unifying the races of the galaxy and make agreements and partnerships along your way and you have these efforts measured as War Assets. Having a minimum point on a percentage scale not only takes the thrill of not knowing if you did enough but makes it hard to relate it to anything in the game. So when you fight the Reapers in the final battle, you expect to see those assets you put so much time into gathering having more of an impact but to everyone’s disappointment you don’t see any of that.
From what I’ve gathered the only addition to having the maximum of the war assets is a 2 second scene added to the final video which is more of a tease to anything else, which again, I’ll get to later.
After the assault, those who have already seen the ending know there is a nice conversation between Sheppard, Anderson and the Illusive Man, I found it nice, although I’m not sure if you can in any way convince the Illusive Man to change his mind, as even though my paragon points were high, they were just a bit short of maximum but considering what I’ll mention later, this may be intentional.
The thing that bothered a good deal of people, myself included were the dialogue with the little kid afterwards which makes little to no sense, some senseless arguments about synthetics having to destroy organics, considering that Sheppard just made peace between the Quarians and the Geth possible not to long ago.
Then you are given three option which change little to the ending and without some really thoughtful interpretation make the ending even worse in my opinion: control the Reapers, destroy the Reapers or combine synthetics and organics so they are not apart anymore.
After that in many cases, mine included, squad mates that were with you on your final mission appear alongside Joker in a planet where the Normandy crashed after trying to escape the explosion of one of the many Mass Relays that just exploded by whatever choice you just made of the three.
Not only that fact the Joker running with your squad mates leaving you behind is bad enough, but the explosion of the Mass Relays makes it unlikely for the races to travel to distant systems, so it makes one wonder that some sort of continuity is unlikely.
With all that in mind the ending while in my humble opinion not entirely horrible, leaves much to be desired. However there is one thing that people have come with that gives a whole new perspective to the ending which is the Indoctrination Theory.
I will not explain it in details as there are well done videos which I believe explain the whole thing in a much more comprehensible format. (One is from The Angry Joe Show and the other video he recommends).
In short, this theory explain with many arguments to support it is that from some time, Commander Sheppard was being slowly indoctrinated. It is hard to pin point when or where it started but safe to assume that from the beginning of Mass Effect 3 he has been suffering its effects. It goes from the visions of the kid he sees in the beginning of the game, the dreams, headaches, things you hear from other characters to even more compelling arguments.
With this in mind I think the ending goes from disappointing or just okay to really good, which is a shame because it is far from obvious yet even if it were it could have been better implemented. Not to the point of us making sure he is being indoctrinated throughout the game but at least in the ending we making sure he is suffering from it and what happens after it.
With all that in mind, I really liked the game, I thought it to be great. Not close to Mass Effect 2 but still really fun. What I realize is that for some people, and I dare say most of them tend to put the value the ending of something in a much higher place than I think it should.
Sure it is important but by no means I think if it isn’t good or to a person’s liking to hamper the whole experience. One example I use a lot to explain this is a movie which a like a lot but I hate the ending, which is “28 Days Later”. Even with the “bad” ending everything else is so good and well made that it can’t stop me from loving it. Sure it wouldn’t be the same in a movie, book or game that depends on that particular plot twist to cause a necessary impact to the audience.
Overall, I had a great time with Mass Effect 3 and I highly recommend it to anyone. Some design choices aside, it is great from beginning to end. Add that some nice additions like improved combat and aiming, weapon customizations, improved graphics and the same great music and acting we’ve all come to expect from not just this series but from Bioware, Mass Effect 3 is a package worth the price of admission.