To conclude the Legendary Edition’s trilogy we get another game starring Commander Shepard. He gets the Normandy spaceship, once again allies with the Citadel council and sets off to face the Reaper threat from the end of Mass Effect 2.
The plot is a wild mashup of everything that came before, from all the alien species personal squabbles to the origin of the Reapers to Cerberus’ ability to clone Shepard. There was so much going on through both short and long mission chains. Sometimes it’d be an atmospheric trek through darkness while others would have you running around a space station pressing computer buttons. It did a really good job of using old companions as they lived their lives after the events of the last game and the choices were anything from settling a pointless argument to destroying entire species. This focus on characters kept the story of the Mass Effect universe fantastically interesting to the point that it rivals Dragon Age for how clever it is, they even introduced a new companion who was a brilliant addition to the lore.
Mass Effect 3 made some obvious changes from previous games including the removal of tedious hacking minigames, removal of the slightly annoying vehicle missions and it swapped out planet scanning for resources for galaxy scanning to find assets. At first the lack of vehicles made me happy, however having them did break things up a bit so it’s a shame they were abandoned rather than perfected. I found the planet scanning change also effected how weapons are upgraded, now just requiring in-game currency and little thought which was disappointing.
Combat was the now familiar cover shooter with a bit of run-and-gun which worked well for me as I used the soldier class. Exploration was a lot easier as map markers could be summoned while on many missions, but locations like the Citadel still annoyed me with the often unhelpful static map that I think should have been a decent compass or minimap instead. Movement did flow well though and I got caught in gunfire a lot less than previously as the controls seemed a bit more responsive.
The ending of the game was a disappointment. The pallet swap ending became infamous in the gaming world so I was really excited to see it (I think I got blue), but there was no big boss fight and it ended with a cutscene which had interesting lore but didn’t really give any satisfaction as it largely seemed like I had little to no control of the outcome in a game that gave so many choices.
As for actual function problems, there were a few achievements that never popped when they should have, missions glitched out preventing progress and the game got stuck loading twice. Thankfully the autosave system was generous enough that I never felt like I’d lost too much when I had to reboot.
Overall, Mass Effect 3 is a great way to end the trilogy but it cannot stand on its own like a Dragon Age could, my favourite missions all involved the past characters from Mass Effect 2, it’s probably even fair to say that 3 relied on the older games for all its best content, and the overall galaxy ending threat was a bit dull but I’m not big on sci-fi. The graphics in Mass Effect 3 are a huge improvement and having played all three games now I can see why Mass Effect is considered an amazing space epic.