Bioware says "just wait until you see what we have in store DLC-wise!" I... hope they mean it. I'm sad it's all over (even though I still have my second Shepard run-through remaining).
Naturally, pretty much everything I say in the LJ cut contains massive spoilers for the entire series.
My Shepard - background
In this playthrough, I used Samantha Shepard (who was actually my 'alt' Shepard originally, but I will play through with the other too). She was a Spacer War Hero in the Vanguard class (body slamming foes is one of life's greatest pleasures, second only to awesome-looking tech armour, which is why my other Shepard is a Sentinel...).Gameplay
See some gorgeous screenshots taken of my Shepards over ME2 missions (although the planetscapes in ME1 will always be the most breathtaking of the visuals ME has ever produced).
Sam romanced Garrus exclusively.
My Shepards are always Paragon (with a few fun Renegade choices thrown in).
In both games, all my squadmates survived the Collector Base and were loyal. Base was destroyed.
I collected almost all of the War Assets and also had 100% Galaxy at War status, so I got the best possible of the particular ending path I chose. Yeah, I'm a completionist.
I really enjoyed the fact that I could customise and level my weaponry again, but without spending a decade in my inventory like I did in ME1.Squadmates / NPCs
I like the way fights were handled (interaction seemed similar to ME2 although Vanguard felt nerfed at the earlier levels until I realised how much my gun's weight was affecting my biotics). Generally fights felt fluid and learning the various tactics to get through a particular area or enemy were enjoyable.
That said, what I come to ME for is the story, the interactions with NPCs, the amazing visuals and space. Buckets and buckets of galaxy porn. And the illusion that I, in some way, have an impact on the galaxy through my choices. I love building characters and then roleplaying them through an enormous set of story-shaping decisions. I found the Paragon/Renegade choices to be mostly satisfying although they seemed to be pretty pointless in the last stage of the game. Maybe Bioware were making a point.
I loved how many NPCs returned for this game. Barla Von, Aria, Kirrahe, Kal-Reiger (though Kal was only mentioned in a news report...). Bioware gave me some sense of closure for those minor characters, which was fantastic. Although given the fate of the Citadel/Galaxy, it kinda feels like their "closure" ended up being rather meaningless.
ME3 makes ME2 look upbeat. The same way that ME2 made ME1 look upbeat. Yeah. That said, I had a lot of laughs, especially at the way Conrad Verner re-appeared. And some of the squadmate banter was very entertaining.
- Man, it felt good to be back with the Alliance again. That said, I miss how lively the ship was when I was lugging around 12 team mates. Even with the From Ashes DLC, the ship still felt a little empty. I was pretty cut I couldn't get Kasumi back as a squadmate, her cloak-and-stab routine was priceless.
- I'm also disappointed that Legion had to die no matter what choice you made when resolving the Geth/Quarian conflict. I adored Legion. Although at least little pieces of him are spread throughout all the Geth. I kept visiting the AI Core every now and again... hoping he'd recompile and show up somehow, changed but still him, anyway... I would pay good money for a DLC where he does just this, in a Ghost in the Shell kinda way. I don't care how reset-buttony people would find that, it seems totally believable to me. Geth are platform independent and resilient. I hope all Geth are now calling Shepard Shepard-Commander...
- Javik, the squadmate unlocked with the From Ashes DLC, is brilliant and the source of some wonderful moments in the story. This DLC is definitely worth buying if you did not buy the Collector's (hah hah) edition of ME3. His armour is magnificent, his voice acting was enjoyable and he had some brilliant lines.
- I swear I went into the Life Support area of the ship after EVERY mission, and there was never, ever anyone else in there. It was like Thane's tomb. Creepy.
- Speaking of Thane, I always wanted to like his character but he just never grabbed me for some reason in ME2. However, I really enjoyed his few scenes in ME3. I don't feel bad we couldn't cure him; he had reconciled with his son and accepted his fate, and his thoughts were with the Normandy, not his own welfare. The Thane fangirls must be furious, though!
- I loved how your crewmates appeared in different places around the ship instead of just being stuck in one room, in one pose, with only one or two extra lines as you progressed the game. To be honest, interacting with my crew was probably my favourite thing in ME3. They really listened to the fans who told them how enjoyable it was to interact with NPCs who aren't all "BRB CALLIBRATIONS" or "Commander c_c" every time you visit them.
- Although Garrus telling me "Not right now," several times when I came to speak to him seemed a bit standoffish given our otherwise warm relationship, but still, better than calibrations.
- Cortez was fantastic. His story, and helping him recover from his Collector-related angst is one of my favourite interactions from the game. I'm impressed how much Bioware was able to make me feel for this guy in such a short period of time. Much better than having a Faceless Mook pilot.
- Vega was actually a pretty fun character. Useful in a firefight, and a red herring romantic interest - I am certain Bioware did that on purpose. His banter with Cortez was great.
- Kaidan's hair looks sillier than it did in ME1. Whereas Ashley's (from screenshots) seems to have gotten prettier. They must not go to the same Alliance hairdresser.
Uh, when I accepted Traynor's offer for a game of chess, that's all it was! It was frustrating that I either had to hit on her or shoot her down rather harshly than just choose neutral options from the very start - same with the reporter character when she visited my cabin for an interview. Yeah yeah, I know, Everybody Loves Shepard. But it was annoying that I had to summon them both to my cabin before I could start checking emails in there again. Naturally, I shut them both down hard. Sam is a one-Turian lady.Cerberus
Speaking of Garrus, I like that there were a few additional pieces of dialogue with your love interest in this game, rather than the "just before the final battle" conversation and not much else. The date on the Citadel was an inspired little adventure. And their goodbye on Earth was really a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming (as was Javik's).
What did strike me as odd is that I'm sure I read in a Bioware interview that they planned to have more characters react to and comment on your choice of relationship, but this only happened twice in the whole of ME3. Once Tali told me I'd better "watch myself" as another human had sent Garrus some Turian chocolate as a gift, and once Javik commented he could tell that "you and the Turian are... bonded?" That was it. I mean, the galaxy is at stake here, so people had bigger things to worry about. And I certainly did get lots of little bonus pieces of dialogue when speaking with Garrus that referred to his relationship with Shepard. But the fact that it had no effect on anyone else made it feel a little... unreal? Again, I understand they[NPCs] had more important things to worry about, but I would have enjoyed the relationship having more impact on the story, like some of the other choices do.
I guess that's it. The thing Bioware gives us, the satisfying, wonderful thing (other than amazing stories and world-building) is the feeling that our choices do matter. Which, given the scale of the galaxy, is incredibly unrealistic, but I don't care!
Plus I'm a total sucker for well-written smooshy romance. I in no way deny this.
Oh wow, did they get disturbing fast. Okay, they were already disturbing in ME1 (I did the optional quests in ME1 that wind up with an NPC you knew on the Citadel dead at Cerberus' hands, I was enraged to the core when it happened, I think it made me angrier than any other even in ME1.) So when Cerberus tried to butter me up in ME2, I was very reluctant. Still, I warmed to my Cerberus crew. And they always had that "The Illusive Man didn't know what horrors his minions were performing" excuse, which I wanted to believe in 2, but was clearly a lie.
Sanctuary had me jumping out of my seat multiple times, and I didn't feel a shred of sympathy for the minions I mowed down. Turning members of your own race into husks, people who had come to you for shelter... *shudder* I felt really disgust and horror at Sanctuary, and while I could be sympathetic to the Illusive Man's plight, I never doubted that he was impossible to win over or save. He was long, long gone.
I still don't get why the human Reaper looks like a giant human (who would, what? Propel itself through space through an embarrassing rear port? Don't answer that.) and all the other Reapers look like aphids. Surely all the other races of previous cycles did not look like aphids.Turian mission
Perhaps Reapers go through a metamorphosis after they are fully formed and become a Destroyer Aphid Thing. And until that point they remain in an "infant" stage that holds on to its original shape. I can swallow that.
I'm glad I didn't realise throughout the game that the gun arm of a Cannibal is a human. That would have made them even creepier.
Also: Banshees. Ugh. Bane of my life. Ruined my winning streak in Multiplayer mode many a time.
Hooray, Palaven! Oh, wait... damn. Palaven's moon. Oh well. I'd been hoping to see Palaven, but I guess this meant I didn't have to have any awkward conversations with Garrus' dad! :P
As always, Turians were badass.
I should have expected the Citadel to be breached at some point, but it still surprised me when it happened the way it did. Great to see people coming together and bonding. I loved the little NPC conversations that built on each other as you passed by. Particularly the human woman who had sold her treasured speeder to secretly buy her Salarian friend some protective armour to keep him safe as he was about to go out to fight... that was adorable.
Despite all the hints, I actually assumed Udina was a solid guy, just a bit of a jerk. Shot him in a heartbeat when he looked like he might have taken out the Asari Councillor, though.
I'm totally bummed that in all but a few permutations of the ending, the Citadel is destroyed along with the Mass Relays. Although given what it looked like at the end... *shudder*
I chose to cure the genophage, so Mordin went out in a blaze of glory. Mordin and Legion are my favourite ME characters, but I felt Mordin's sacrifice was so utterly in character and so valuable that I am utterly fine with how his story ended. He did not die in vain. He helped so many people, and showed such depth. I wish he could have run tests on those seashells, but man, his death was amazing. What a guy.Geth/Quarian mission
I watched the alternate play-outs of that scene on YouTube. The version where you kill Mordin to stop him from fixing the Shroud? That ripped my heart out and stomped it to pieces. Could never ever do that to Mordin.
The Krogan female, Eve, gives me hope for the Krogan, along with Wrex. I hope that the Krogan are able to stabilise their population in the new future chosen by my Shepard in the Crucible...
The first time I did this, I didn't realise that as I had not destroyed the Geth Heretics in ME2, I needed to make sure I did the other two Rannoch missions before doing the Rannock Reaper mission. So when I chose to support the Geth, they destroyed the Quarians and Tali committed suicide.Thessia Mission
Whoops. Uh, uh. *reloads from save* That was one poor choice I refused to allow to stay canon for any Shepard.
I went back and did the mission I'd missed, losing only about an hour of gameplay, and was then able to unite the Quarians and the Geth. I didn't look at any guides while playing ME3, except when this happened. I could not countenance any save games with either the Geth or the Quarians obliterated, although if I'd had no ability to negotiate peace I still would have chosen the Geth. They were only ever defending their right to exist. Much like organic life fighting against the Reapers.
It was at this point of the game that things started to feel rushed. I don't mean "you're running out of time" rushed, it just felt like I was being hurried to the end. Maybe it's just because I was dreading having an end to Shepard's story. But it also felt like I was being told "okay, enough directing the story, now just follow along this linear path because... look, our budget isn't infinite so we gotta cut back on the divergent storylines somewhere". From this point onwards, it felt like my choices didn't really continue to impact anything other than my Reputation score slightly increasing. I could not kill Kai Leng, even though he had a fake boss fight. I could not alter any events in any significant way from this point on.Illusive Man's base
That said, naturally at some point Bioware is going to need to
ASSUME DIRECT CONTROLtake control of the overall plot line - I mean, that's no different in ME1 and ME2. You still have to follow a set path to victory. I guess by this point I'm just so indoctrinatedused to having so much control that when BW begins to funnel me off somewhere specific I feel a little claustrophobic.
Loved the EDI was the Rogue AI from ME1. That was a nice touch. The video logs made this slog through turrets worthwhile.London
Firing the ship through the base was great. Bioware put a lot of awesome cinematic moments into the game, for sure. Nothing beats Thresher Maw vs Reaper fight though :D
Kai Leng finally dies. About time. Wish it were possible to knock him off on Thessia. Bioware did a great job at making me hate him.
So... the goodbyes you get to give all your squadmates new and old were lovely, but... I could never find Kaidan. I looked everywhere. I guess he just doesn't stand out in his uniform? Or maybe my game bugged out and thought both he and Ashley were dead? But he appeared with my squad during my inspiration speech. Meh. Was annoying not to get to say goodbye to him.
Was great to get an opportunity to speak to Jack, Grunt and the rest one last time, though.
As I come to the end of the game, I honestly think Liara is the best match for Shepard. Her perspective is broader than your other squad mates'. But... while Liara is best for Shepard, smart-mouthed heroic snipers work better for me :P
Battles in London were stressful and my Shift button finger was cramped up by the end... but I expected that. I turned the difficulty down to casual so as to not get too frustrated. Do not regret this at all. Those fights were brutal.
OMG, drippy bleedy citadel. This was without a doubt the most horrific thing I saw during the entirety of ME. I'm going to assume all those dead bodies in the Keeper's walkways (love that the Keepers were neutrally going about business as usual) were people who were beamed up from Earth and not people living on the Citadel. That said, it looks like the chance of anyone surviving on the Citadel - Aria, Commander Bailey, the Turian general... are effectively zero. I'd hoped they just locked the Citadel down but that the Reapers had not flushed out every corner and killed every bit or organic life present. But... I get the impression they were all very horrifically deceased. Trapped and slaughtered.ME3 Multiplayer
And even if somehow there were survivors in the Presidum or elsewhere, they would have died when the Citadel vapourised.
This was a punch in the gut.
Killed the Illusive Man before he killed Anderson (I did not try Paragon-ing him out of things as this Shepard had utterly no sympathy for him - my other one will try a little harder).
However unrealistic, I'm glad Anderson made it, too. You two have come so far together. What a history.
Looks like he dies (or passes out... then dies when the Citadel explodes...) regardless, though.
Why did the Catalyst choose to take the form of the dead kid and not Shepard's parents, or the squad mate who died on Virmire, or anything? This more than anything else makes me give some credit to the Indoctrination theory(link to that in a second), that Shepard's dreams were part of her indoctrination, and this vision was the point where it began to really set in.
I chose the "Synthetic" green option, fusing organic and Synthetic life as one. Not sure what this really did other than make Reapers go green and shy like chlorophyll-filled Boo ghosts, and people everyone get a sparkly circuit board decal. I saw Joker, Edi and Garrus walk out of the Normandy alive after it crashes. Which makes no sense, because Garrus and Edi were definitely back on Earth before... so confused.
Watched the alternate endings on YouTube. I think the Synthetic ending seems like the best one, although I could be wrong, and the best Destroy ending has Shepard actually surviving (although for how long, one wonders...) rather than turning into a million pieces of Love and Peace Dust.
I am not totally outraged by the endings like some fans have been. Although the theory that Shepard is indoctrinated and just hallucinating after being hit by Harbinger's beam is intriguing.
However, I do think the endings are lacking what made Mass Effect great. I don't need to have my Shepard alive. I don't need her to have magic fairy cake parties and everyone comes back to life and dances into the sunset. But after investing about 150 hours into this series through various replays etc, I wanted a little more epilogue than slightly different coloured versions of virtually the same outcomes.
I guess Bioware could be saying "In the end, some choices don't matter worth a damn and no matter how amazing you are, no matter what feats you accomplish, in the end your actions are but the tiniest blip on the stage of the universe and mean nothing in the greater scheme of things." Fair, but ouch, all the same. I mean sure, no matter what you choose Shepard ends the cycle, but it seems like the end invalidates the paths taken on the journey, and that the three choices really don't change anything about the ending other than the colours and an ambiguous future for the galaxy either way.
You can think of the entirety of Mass Effect 3 as the ending, in which case you do get a lot of closure. You see Conrad Verner, the Rachni Queen, Aria etc again... you hear news about other NPCs you once knew.
But I spent the whole game building relationships, building a story around those relationships, and the ending tells me nothing about how those relationships are impacted by my choice, other than "You are now dead. Joker is alive. Maybe some other dudes too. Also say hello to a new dark age." Is Hackett alive? Did anyone in Sword make it? What was the point of gathering up all those War Assets when they never even showed up in the battles, other than the Asari dreadnought? Did the remnants of all races end up living on Earth? Were the Geth able to help us rebuild the relays faster than we would have otherwise? Did all Turians and Quarians on Earth die due to lack of food? Did we really enter a new dark age for centuries?
Even if it was just text, I would have liked some closure on how my final choice affected those relationships, those bonds important to Shepard. Because that was a core part of the ME series.
It does seem like BW may well have gone for a Schrodinger's Butterfly ending. Along with What Happened to the Mouse?
Other people's related thoughts on this:
- ME3's focus on diversity being stronger than homogenous populations averted with ending
- Pick a colour
- Endings side by side comparison
- Musings of a screenwriter on the ending
- Good video review!
- Attack of the Fanboy
- Read just the comments on this article
- Aahahahah - priceless if you've seen Evangelion
- More silliness, because I love it
Also, I am sad. Regardless of my thoughts on the resolution... There is now a big gap in my life unfilled by space operas. I need more space operas D:
Surprisingly awesome! I am enjoying this far more than I expected to! Although I am not game enough to enable the microphone setting. I'm not sure I want to hear what random strangers are saying, even though at times I really want to congratulate someone on a great manoeuvre or warn them about the Brute around the corner.
- Current Mood: exhausted