mikeinsc's Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360) review

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Great Conclusion

The Mass Effect trilogy has come to a conclusion and it seems to have enraged a few people. Commander Shephard's battle to save the universe from the Reapers comes to an...odd conclusion.

I will get to the ending, but for the rest of the game, the title is excellent. Not as good as ME2, but still better than the original and a more than suitable conclusion to the best new RPG franchise this generation. Bioware has toned down your team to a smaller core group that you have more time learning how to work with them and maximize your efficiency in battle. The game seeks a larger scale as your core goal is to unite the assorted races into a coalition with which you will take on the Reapers and end the threat.

Cerberus, as expected, is deeply involved as well and with the Illusive Man and you no longer being buds, they end up being epic thorns in your side. They are the main antagonists of the game, with the Reapers and Geth serving as a constant annoyance as you deal with Cerberus attempt to deal with the Reaper menace, which is not how you or anybody else wishes to deal with it.

The side missions are far more organic than in the prior two titles. You will get them, frequently, by hearing NPC dialogue discussing things. Sure, quite a few are handed to you, but a lot are simply of the "This individual needs something and I will find it for them". The searching for materials isn't as tedious as it was in ME2, but the non-stop interference of the Reapers while searching for things is just a bother.

You don't get new powers to use, but that is a logical choice given that this is a linear story. Your assorted powers are still a blast to use and your character from ME2 will have some input in how powerful your character starts. There were some odd load times in the Normandy, but it was the only time where a load time just seemed really out of place. The game looks great, the frame rate has rare dips, and it just looks outstanding.

OK, the ending is kind of hard to ignore. The ending sequence starts off as an energetic battle all the way to the Citadel ---- and then changes pace completely, becoming a non-responsive cutscene. A fairly lengthy one and one that feels like a near-total disconnect with the series fiction. Somewhat rational sci-fi was given that ending off. And, yes, the ending itself is less than great with absolutely no good options. Admittedly, I do want the happy ending for this series, with Shephard winning in the end and celebrating with his friend. I won't say what the ending is --- but you sure as heck don't get to feel good about your choice when it is all said and done. Hopefully, they will pull off some good DLC because ME, outside of the Shadow Broker DLC, hasn't exactly pulled off a lot of great DLC in any of the first two. That it did get much better in the sequel than in the original, so hope remains. But, wow, that ending kind of sucked some wind out of the sails.

...yet I immediately started a second playthrough after that scene. It isn't THAT much of a turn-off. It is depressing for it to end like THAT, but it doesn't un-do all of the greatness included in the game itself.

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