Game review: Some thoughts on Mass Effect 3

I am currently doing my second play through of this game, with my original Shepherd character that has been with me since the original Mass Effect game.  She is a Sentinel class, and has been used for 2 playthroughs of ME, ME2 and now ME3 (some achievements can only be unlocked with a second playthrough of the same character).

I’ll switch to my Soldier at some point and take the more renegade path choices that I am yet to explore.  And I am trying to do somethings differently on this playthrough.  But there are somethings that my Sentinel can’t and won’t do.  I don’t mean that she is  not capable of these things – the decision tree options are there – but my Sentinel is mostly paragon with a chunk of renegade.  She has been pro-AI, pro-krogan redemption, pro-rachni, pro-sapient species working together for 3 games.  My soldier is the one who let the Council die and collaborated with the Illusive Man, but my Sentinel Shepherd would never do that.

Which brings me to the Tuchunka sequence.  I have to say that this is probably the best storytelling in the game, and up there with the best I have ever experienced in a CRPG.  The choices involved go back to the first game – whether you shot Wrex or not.  Then there was the choices in the second game, including if you saved the female krogan and kept the research for the genophage cure for the krogan or destroyed it.  And this time, it was about curing the genophage and gaining the support of the krogan, or sabotaging it and getting the support of the Salarian.

In the middle of this is Wrex – the squadmate from ME turned Krogan leader in game 2, who was an interplanetary war leader in game 3.  Pretty much THE war leader.  Well if you didn’t shoot him in the first game.  If you did that is too bad, you are dealing with his untrustworthy brother instead (and that is a different scenarion in itself).  Plus there is the Salarian Scientist Mordin, a squadmate from ME2 who is one of the most interesting and nuanced characters in the series (likewise Thane, but he only makes a brief appearance in ME3).

The thing about the Tuchunka priority mission is there really is no right or wrong decision.  It is about the moral decision that your character would make (or I guess if you play that way, the one that gets you the most war assets).   There is the obviously paragon option which is just moving and brings me to tears to watch.  There is the renegade option, but it is only available if certain steps have or have not been taken.  And there is the Machiavellian option which gets the most war assets but causes Shepard to act in a way my Sentinel would not behave and would cause her to deliberately bring about the death of a friend and companion.  I think I could do it with my Soldier, she is full renegade and very self interested.  But not with the character I am playing now.

That might seem odd to people – it is just pixels on a screen and how can a decision effect the way a character is played?  Well this game is all about the choices made and the long term effects.  To me that is important, one of the things that appeals to me about the game.  Actions have consequences, and after wars are won and the major players go home, the little people still have to live there and deal with the consequences of those actions and decisions.  And I am the one making the decisions here, I don’t make them lightly.  I do want to explore how the game plays out in different ways, but I think I will have to do it with another character.

And so, in honour of a great storyline, fantastic character acting, and some of the best crpg characters I have come across, here is Mordin’s song:

I am the very model of a scientist Salarian!
I’ve studied species, Turian, Asari, and Batarian.
I’m quite good at genetics (as a subset of biology),
because I am an expert (which I know is a tautology).

My xenoscience studies range from urban to agrarian –
I am the very model of a scientist Salarian!

It had to be him, someone else might have got it wrong.  And he Held the Line.  Mordin and Wrex both rock.

I hope to do a review of other parts of the game at some point, but as this is pretty much my favourite part of it I wanted to write about it now.  This is what good writing for gaming can be like.  I wish there was more of it.

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