Since I write so much in this space about fantasy role-playing games in general and Bioware stuff in particular, I feel kind of lame for saying nothing of note so far about Mass Effect 3 (ME3). The Mass Effect series is one of the best series in the genre, written by one of the best development houses, and BioWare has long been a huge influence on my work.
(Note I picked female Shepherd for the image above. Because FemShep is just better.)
People really care about this series. Perhaps a bit overmuch. If we as a people could give to real problems the same focus and energy we expended on arguing about the ME3 ending, the world would be a better place.
I played Mass Effect 1 and 2 obsessively. All side quests, all everything. I played Mass Effect 3 front to back (skipping a lot of the side quests, which sort of telegraphs how I felt about the experience), experienced the ending, and then watched the recently patched new endings on YouTube. There's a lot of good stuff here for game geeks to argue about, though, before I get too cranky about it, I wanted to say what I liked.
I think the Mass Effect setting is one of the best in computer games. BioWare has this stuff down to a science. It was only when I was playing ME3 and revisited all the great conflicts in the series: Salarian vs. Krogan. Geth vs. Quarian. Humans vs. Everybody, that I really started to realize how much stuff there is. How complex and nuanced the issues facing the characters are. How interesting the setting is and how that, in turn, leads to interesting stories.
Between Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I personally think that BioWare is the best maker of computer game settings. I hope they keep doing it.
Tight as a drum. Except for occasional problems finding walls my character could hide behind, the game plays well. It's fast paced, fun, and full of exploding things.
I do wish that there was more variety in what you could do. I desperately miss the vehicle sections in Mass Effect, which were great for breaking up gameplay. They had their problems, but, honestly, I think the game would be much better if those sections had been improved instead of dropped entirely.
The world of Mass Effect is a huge epic full of intractable conflicts. There were a lot of them left at the end of Mass Effect 2. The developers decided that, in ME3, they would all be settled. This makes the story of ME3 one of the most ambitious and far-reaching of any game I've ever played. It's a very generous gesture to players, a bit of fan-service to make sure that no lingering issues, even ones that could easily support a whole full game on their own, remained.
This choice was a little problematic in the execution. The ways these plots were settled felt a bit perfunctory. By the end of the game, there was no problem so enduring and thorny that it couldn't be solved by one guy fighting his way down two long corridors littered with chest-high walls. Still, the game wanted people to leave the series content, and it did its best to give the fans what they desired.
It's a great series. I hope these dialogue and story-rich single-player experiences still have a place in the gaming industry. I truly enjoyed it (especially the first two). I'm grateful to Bioware for making it and hope they keep making games like these.
Now that this is done, I have another article to write about the ending. I hope I can come up with something fresh to add to the countless gallons of virtual ink that have been spilled on the issue.