In Earth's final days, Shepard has his final journey
Mass Effect 3 is an incredible game. In fact, if you even "liked" Mass Effect 2, stop reading and go grab a copy of Mass Effect 3 right now and finish reading this later. For those of you who are still here, I will explain why this is one of the best story driven RPG's on the market.
First off, I have no doubt that you NEED to play through Mass Effect 2 at least once before playing Mass Effect 3. Part of the appeal of these games is to create your own story, and you can better do that by going as far back as you can in the Mass Effect timeline. This story is yours to make and that makes you feel much more connected to your experience. The game starts out as dire as can be. Earth is under attack, cities have fallen and this is only the beginning of the Reaper invasion. Every ship and solider is needed to even have a slim chance of defeating the Reapers and that is the goal Shepard must achieve before earth is burned to nothing but rubble. Mass Effect 3 does an incredible job of making everything feel hopeless. There were many points where I felt discouraged because of the large tone of depression and destruction from every race affected by the menacing enemy. The game is broken up into about 3 sections, each interlude has you coming back to the Citadel before gearing up for the next portion of the game. I rather enjoyed these "slower" times, with all the stress and hell the Normandys crew has been dealing with the reapers, having time for themselves is totally appropriate and interesting. The main storyline missions are all incredibly well done and thats all Im really going to say to avoid spoilers. Every mission you do has consequence, sacrifice, victory, and defeat and you can feel every impact you have in the world. The galaxy is coming to an end and you feel it every second you are in the game.
On a lesser note, the side missions are more generic than they were in previous games. There are basically 3 different types, arena missions, fetch quest, and your story driven sidequest. Naturally, the story sidequests are just as awesome as the main story, as well as have an impact on that main story in different ways. The arena or N7 missions have a loose story attached to the basic turn on this the return to the ship. On top of that these missions take place on the few multiplayer maps which really makes em feel kinda "thrown in". Its worth noting some side missions are actually dependent on finding things during these missions as well. While these missions are still ok, the fetch quests are the worst offenders. While you will most likely scan every galaxy anyway, just having to constantly return to the Citadel is a bit annoying.
Gameplay wise, Mass Effect has never felt better. Cover works great, Shepard is much more agile and the biotic and tech powers feel awesome and powerful. Shooting is as solid as ever and cooperating with your team via the power wheel is just as good as previous installments. Scanning has been well streamlined and exploring every bit of the galaxy is still as fun as ever. Melee has been revamped as well and feels much better than previous games. There are a few turret sequences and one pretty cool vehicle sequence but these are small in number and pretty short as well. Of course there are many dialogue wheels to go around and its all well voiced and just as you remember from previous games.
Mass Effect 3 sounds and looks great. The backdrops of the worlds are incredible, sometimes showing the invasion of the planet or one nearby. Characters look and move better and voice acting is excellent all across the board. There is tons of lens flare being faithful to previous games and things have a nice "shine" to them that just reeks of "futuristic space". Guns have a very distinct sound and feel to them that makes combat seem a bit more fierce.
While Mass Effect 3 has multiplayer in it, this is a single player experience, but what makes the co op so interesting is it can very well affect your story. The more matches you play in multiplayer, the better the war is going in your single player expereince making it easier to get the best ending in the single player game. The basis of this mode is a gears of war like horde mode. You and 3 others defend against waves of enemies and every 3 waves or so you must complete an objective to continue on through to the final wave and extraction. There is progression and all the separate classes as in the single player, and you can even pick different races which is neat. Overall, this isn't why you come to Mass Effect but it is actually well done and totally fine, not to mention it helps your main campaign.
Mass Effect 3 is an incredible story. Yes it is a game but the story is what makes playing Mass Effect worth it. The world is so damn dense with detail that it is extremely hard to not be sucked into the fiction and in this case, despair of the Mass Effect world. This is Earth's final hours, can Shepard make sacrifices nobody should have to make it. In, the end will it even be worth it, will there be a just cause to the consequences you live with in the game. Is there any chance to beat the Reapers or is all this worth nothing? You will constant question yourself as well as your choices, and this is what makes Mass Effect 3 one of the most engaging stories in gaming and the best Mass Effect game in the series