Mass Effect is a bit of an acquired taste, like raspberry lemonade ice cream. Some people will love it, other people will think it was okay, or too sweet or too sour. The first Mass Effect game didn’t sit well with me. The second one was outstanding. It seems fitting that the third one falls somewhere in the middle. I had started playing it months ago, but got bored, as I did with the first game. I had hoped the story would be more compelling, like the second one, and it was, yet it wasn’t.

 

I’ve still got an impressive number of games that are on either the XBOX 360 or the PS3. Even though I didn’t upgrade my TV, I can still see and feel the difference. I’d argue there isn’t nearly that much difference, but that’s a discussion for another time. Suffice it to say, the reason I’m still playing older games is because I’m not sure what else to do with them. After playing the first two Mass Effect games, I had high hopes for this final chapter, even if I’d heard the rumblings for several years that it fell short.

 

The game itself was very similar to Mass Effect 2. The stakes were somehow higher, yet they didn’t feel that way until I reached the last bit. When the crew get to Earth, then the gravity of the situation really hits home. The play up to that point felt very repetitive. In each case, the missions were basically the same. Go to planet X, fight opposing forces, retake location, save person who becomes a war asset, repeat. This is what made the first two-thirds of the game downright boring. While there was a lot to like about getting to revisit characters I’d grown fond of, it just didn’t feel like you were learning anything new. This all might sound like a detraction to the game, but it isn’t meant to be.

 

Games of this magnitude should have something for returning players to be familiar with. In a game like Mass Effect, the world is so sprawling, so open, that some tasks need to be repetitive. It would have been interesting if things had some variety to them, but by the end of the game, the repetitive was almost missed. There are a lot of things that the game could have done to make the overall experience interesting. I wasn’t crazy about how quickly the ending hit you. If I hadn’t been playing to accrue lots of war assets, I would have been in far worse shape, and even then I’m still not sure if Shepard lived in the end, even though I had thousands of points at the end.

 

 

What made Mass Effect so amazing was the story, the ability to make the story seem somehow unique. By the end of this game, it is clear that there really are only two options, neither are really preferable when you’re first presented them. Games that act like they are open for interpretation, but aren’t (Deus Ex: Human Revolution), seem less significant once the ending is reached. The overall quality of the game (graphics, sound, voice acting, etc) were all wonderful, but that the end of the day, it didn’t really matter what all I did, the outcome was predetermined. This brings gaming into question, in my mind, but with a massive queue left, there’s no rest for the weary.