Gaming Extra: Mass Effect 3 revisited


Sheehan Hannan, Assistant A&E Editor

Mass Effect 3 is simply an amazing game. That said, it has its shortcomings, some of which jeopardize the game’s otherwise prevalent super-fun-time-awesome factor. Warning: if you haven’t played the game, there are spoilers below. If you have played the game, there is anger below.

Firstly, the game’s ending must be addressed. The lead-up to the final cinematic is perfect, with the tension of the situation building to the fantastically desperate end run to the lift. For me, it was an emotional moment, as all the deaths of crewmates culminate in Shepherd’s almost fatal crawl into the bowels of the Citadel. Once on board, however, things start to go downhill.

The cinematic with Shepherd, Anderson, and the Illusive Man was far from what I was expecting, as the storyline seems to marginalize the Illusive Man rather than paint him as a central player. Even his experimentation into controlling the Reapers seems like a side quest, or maybe a setup for a later DLC release, rather than a central pillar of the storyline. Even more disappointing was the end choice, with the two branching choices illustrated literally with branching bridges.

Even so, the endings were essentially the same, all leading to Shepherd’s death, and the inevitable “cut to black when the crashed ship door opens” thing was equally unnerving. The post-credits sequence, with the child asking his grandpa to tell him another story about “the Shepherd,” was a bit less rage-inducing, though it implied that the series was simply a story told to a grandson. Though the ending was in no way what I expected, and was frankly a bit weak, it is what it is. Bioware should not go back and change the ending, as some fans would have them do. Similarly, they should have stood by their game, even under pressure from disenchanted gamers, rather than issuing an apology.

Another weak spot in an altogether stellar game was the unequivocally thin writing of the side plots. Running around the (still too small) Citadel and zipping around space to retrieve useless racial holy books seems a bit contrived for a series known for in-depth storytelling. In the same vein, the journal system seems to have taken a step back and could be improved. While it does have flaws (what game doesn’t?), ME3 is still a spectacular title, and the team at Bioware has managed to nail down flawless third-person shooter mechanics and a story that connects with fans.

Even with its less-than-stellar ending, plot holes, and sometimes disappointing limitations, the game is still worth buying, playing, and making sweet love to.