I know no other way of saying this but MASS EFFECT 3 WILL KILL YOUR LOVE FOR THE MASS EFFECT GAMES. Actually, no, that's not true either (not entirely anyway). Mass Effect 3 however is a very sad example of how a great series has been somewhat ruined for everyone who has played it all the way through to the end of ME3.
Let's start at the beginning, Mass Effect 3 started out a bit simple but the action and all the great features from Mass Effect 1 and 2 quickly returned. Even though most missions weren't as unique and individual as the missions in Mass Effect 2, they were very action packed and entertaining in that way only a Mass Effect game can get you involved with what you're doing.
It even got better, the more you play the game the less you feel you have to worry about choosing the wrong conversation options with your squad mates. You're just friends, randomly chillin out, talking and thinking of the old days. You feel more connected to your teammates than every before.
The only down-part of that is that the conversation-system where you can choose different responses seems rather useless now, or rather so I thought until I accidentally killed an important squad-mate and even an entire race by just choosing the wrong option (ooops).
Anyway, the game builds up the tension rather well and even though the threat of a reaper invasion seems less... threatening when you're chilling out in the Citadel bar, you still get reminded of it on every mission you're on.
Oddly enough, AND THIS SORT OF IS A SPOILER, you spend more time fighting Cerberus than the Reapers during the game. And even though they promise you 20 hours of constant gameplay, the game still feels rather short.
Oh, and now we come to the ending... ...yeah. I should say spoiler alert here as well but if you've played Mass Effect and seen the trailers for the 3rd game you'll probably be able to figure out what the ending(s) are like when I say there not a happy ending in this game. Sure, you save the galaxy either way, but that's not a huge surprise, fans would have torn BioWare apart if they had made another game where Shepard doesn't defeat the Reapers in some way, the bad part is that BioWare really seemed to make to want a point about not being able to make a sequel.
Yeah I get it BioWare, this was meant to be a trilogy, you don't need to shove it in my face when I get to the ending of the last game...
And it's not as much the fact that -:WARNING MAJOR SPOILER:- Shepard dies in the end that bothered me much as the fact it was the end of the whole bloody game. You don't get to see how your squadmates get on with their lives after the end, you don't get to see what happened to the fleet, or Earth or anything else for that matter.
The ending was also very confusing, there was a character there that you meet only at the very end of the game and that doesn't really explain itself very much why it's there or what its purpose is.
The largest mistake BioWare made probably happened at their very first meeting when setting up the base story for Mass Effect 3. That is the Reaper invasion of Earth in very beginning of the game. You see, being a hobby writer myself, that would have been an idea that I would have thought of as well, smiled when imagining the reaction and expressions on peoples faces when they first found out but then I would have quickly dismissed the idea as being something that just would not work.
BioWare truly made the best of this idea but in the end (as you notice when playing the end) nothing good could ever have come from this idea.
Basically, here are the flaws that makes the idea not work: One, you can't give Shepard as much freedom to explore and to take his time for sidemissions because there is a timer on how long it will take before the Reapers kill everyone on Earth and let's face it, that doesn't make any sense. So they had to remove that and by doing so they also removed one of Mass Effects greatest features. And two, as mentioned before: then ending. By using this idea as a base for the whole game the ending was unavoidable. Basically, Bioware just dug their own graves by sticking to that exiting but ultimately flawed idea of a Reaper invasion.
SO... overall, was it a bad game? No, I enjoyed it very much and it really is all you would expect Mass Effect 3 to be. However, the ending(s) ruin the Mass Effect experience for anyone who wants to play the series all over again.
If I were on Noveria in Mass Effect 1 now I would definitely be thinking about Shepard's end in ME3.
If I were doing the assault on the Collector Base in ME2, I still would be thinking of the end of Mass Effect 3.
Not only has this game given Bioware a game of nearly 0% re-playability, it also gave them thousands of angry fans and a game that due to all the bad publicity it will be receiving will not sell as good as any other Mass Effect game. *Sarcasm mode engaged* Well done BioWare!
Worst of all though, the fate of the Mass Effect series will from now on always be remembered as a game-series that focused heavily on story and eventually let everyone down because of its story, as a result we probably wont be seeing more proper story focused games for probably another decade or so...
..and that's really sad.
There has also been a lot of discussion on the internet about the "From Ashes" DLC/extra mission that already was under production before the game was released. I pre-ordered the Mass Effect 3 N/ Collectors edition so I got the mission for free. BioWare claimed it was a mission of no importance to the overall story and this is partly true, however, if this Protean character (the one in the From Ashes DLC) wasn't in the game, I would definitely notice it.
No, he is not hugely important to the story but as with the Shadow Broker DLC for Mass Effect 2, it is a hugely important character for Shepard and if not more important, also a great importance to Liara.
Oh, and though he also is the most serious character in Mass Effect 3, he also manages to have some of the funniest lines in the whole game.
When talking about the Salarians in his time, his remark "They used to eat flies" kept a smile on my face for hours after I stopped rolling in the floor with laughter.
Yeah, I used to hate the RPG genre because of crappy stories and acting, but Mass Effect changed that and completely turned me around. Now I know I will again have to stay away from the genre until there is another Mass Effect-like game out there and well... it sure isn't Skyrim, which, by the way, I now think will be the main direction RPG games will take. Just a focus on countless of simple quests and literally no story whatsoever...
2012 is a sad year for gaming, and for me, definitely the end of me calling myself a real gamer.
END NOTE (No Spoilers):
It may seem that when I was writing this piece I was depressed and sad... sad maybe, but depressed or angry, no. I've always been the most critical of gamers and I truly believe more than 99% of all games made, even today are just flawed and poorly made. Writing is always an issue, acting is another. Then there is the Hollywood complex 80% of all games tend to stick to.
No, I'm not depressed, I'm just a gamer before his time...