The lights are on
After playing through the first two games, many times on both male and female characters, Mass 3 was probably my most anticipated game. I actually *gasp* followed news on its building and everything. Got it with the DLC, From Ashes, and went to work. I loved seeing all my choices playing through in the story. I also liked interacting with arguing citizens on the Citadel (from what I can tell, they are Paragon/Renegade options in them selves). The missions provided as well, leaving little to be desired. Conversations were played out well with the expected emotion, whether the emotion is defeat, forced optimism, or Garrus's lovely sarcasm. I would have preferred however if they managed to make the convo enders after talking about things in the "Investigate" option or whatever its called end the conversation smoothly.
The graphics were spectacular, save for some small parts, but I assume that is because my computer's hardware can't run this game at its premium level. The cinematics play out like you would expect if you went to go see the movie.
The DLC was really fun even if it only added 30 or so minutes of gameplay to the game, as I play for the story, because it added a new squadmate who is actually really good. The interactions between the squadmate and Liara are also eyeopening. There was one problem with the DLC though where at a certain point (quite early in the mission if you ask me) the whole game would just crash, and I was able to replicate it and the answer was easily found on the Mass Effect Wiki.
The controls seemed more fluid (a bit) than Mass 2, though pressing a button to go around cover seems unnecessary to me. The only real complaint I have for the controls is the fact that some genius decided to map the use, sprint, and cover controls to the same button, which imo is just plain stupid.
My biggest problem came with the ending, as many have said. It made me feel like everything I did was for naught. I wont bore with the details as many have already said it, regarding the plot holes and organic/synthetic peace. but the whole rush that accompanied it just left me dazed and confused. Obviously almost all life would be wiped out as we have learned from Arrival, destroying a mass relay is like a star going supernova. That and the fact that you get, scratch that, have to go against everything you stand for to end the game, I kinda prefer if I had let Marauder Shields kill me instead...
The replay value was set to Very Low for me because of the railroad ending, I even had a second character to play through with too (I made an ideal male and female shep to find out all the endings of Mass 3), but until I see the ending that is unlocked with "The Truth" DLC in April, I wont be playing this again, sadly.
TL;DR - Loved the game and the lead up to the ending, but because of the ending, the poor button mapping, and the CTD associated with the From Ashes DLC this game only gets a 7.75
I don't believe you truly are a played this game with that review. The whole game was great and the ending, at least in my opinion, was a great closer and the replay value of this game was really high for me. I say this because if you play through the game multiple times you get to choose different endings to the game.
Mass Effect 2 is a better game. I agree with number of things you said. I give it an '8' which is great, but, if I hadn't played Mass Effect 2 and built on ... it would have been a 7.3. So it's good but again Mass Effect 2 has better everything except slight graphics and fluidity of shooting as you mentioned. Disappointments in some of story line and the ending was very disappointing. Romantic scenes could have been a whole lot better too.