I first got in to Mass Effect by accident when I found it cheap. ME2 did the business and more and like the hugely massive and nearly impossible expectations that one had for Halo 3 and GOW3, the promise of Mass Effect would could only be that it would be the most biggest, bad assess space opera ever.
And so it was.
I find it weird to say that the initial Reaper invasion of Earth where innocent children were blown from the slay, an awesome slow burner start, that's indeed what it was - and it had to be the slowburn because the game's plot only got faster and more brutal as my 'Aubrey Sheppard' sought to defend against and defeat the Reapers.
The first few missions were easy enough and simple enough to get into the spirit of things. Find a Turian soldier there, battle a marauder there, pick up a female Krogan there, arrange for some illegal trade in guns there, telling The Illusive Man to frack off there, give advice to an A.I. with big silver tits about how to pick up humans there and the scene was set.
Cerberus were quickly up to tricks with Sheppard and the Illusive guy was probably a bit pissed that the Commander prevented him from capturing what were apparently the finest young minds humanity had to offer (they seemed pretty dumb though).....
By this stage I've got used to the game play. It's a strong improvement on the prior games and the running, ducking and diving options now available feel quite natural after coming off a lot of Gears of War lately.
Mass Effect has always made it clear that decisions have consequences. The original game this painfully clear when the choice came to kill the Krogan Wrex. A key choice in that game was to decide whether to let the Rachni Queen live or die. Well ME3 makes sure the chickens come home to roost in that regard. Finally a true decision in ME has had a massive influence in this game. To this end, Mass Effect's promise that decisions have consequences has never been borne out so well. Kudos to Mass Effect's writers.
Mass Effect 3 is a killing machine. Millions of people are dying all around me. Planets are being decimated, I'm deciding the fate particular species and I'm sending major characters to their deaths. Some characters are also sending themselves to their own deaths. The game gives some of them glorious endings, others unsatisfying ignoble good byes. With the Reaper attack threatening the existence of the galaxy as we know it, I guess that's c'est la vie.
A key element of ME2 was Cerberus and The Illusive man directing Shepard to his own ends. ME3 features a heavy sub plot of Cerberus plots that help lead us to one inevitable conclusion - it's all going to end badly for everyone.
There's a certain character betrayal which seems like it was telegraphed from day one which is all a little to Da Vinci Code like for me (even though I never pick them myself in the books!) - it's a trivial complaint none-the-less but it did lead us on a wild goose chase.
So now I'm tired of finding strange prothean disks for lazy scientists so I'm going to charge in to save the day. Am I ready? I'm kind of ready. Have I made the right decisions? Are my Geth troops up to it? Should I have been nicer to the Salarians? Is my reasonably respectable paragon leading Sheppard up to the task. Will the Alliance battle as brave as the Krogan?
This is truly a Galaxy at War.
The final dash through, taking out the Cerberus base is a long affair with no real consquence but to serve as a chance to give the Illusive Man the finger and set up the finale run which was long, fun and had just the right amount of sentiment in saying goodbye to a few friends before Sheppard stepped up to save the galaxy.
Then there was that crazy ending. It's caused a stir, and rightly so but I think it was a brilliant ending and I'm gonna have to spend a whole different post talking about it (This explains the David Lynch reference). I am truly satisfied with the efforts of my Sheppard, despite him kind of turning into NEO from the Matrix..... well that was my ending. I didn't get shot by Martin Sheen.
I'll trying to figure out why the Prothean's built the Crucible knowing ? the Catalyst was the er... Citidel and seeing as they'd have known they didn't actually build it themselves, could they not see that their own plan had a gaping hole in it? Or did I just miss something here?
If I wanted to quibble, a big deal was made about the choice to save the Rachni Queen throughout the series and ME3’s writer Mac Walters said “[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers." Well I didn’t see one damn Rachni that was on my side in the final battle charge. I feel cheated in that regard and I imagine that sentiment will be shared be several players.
Overall, game of the year for 2012. Halo 4 is gonna have to be amazing to beat it.
Update: ME3 is going to have an expanded ending.