Game Review: Mass Effect Legendary Ed – Mass Effect 3 – PS4

Title Mass Effect Legendary Ed – Mass Effect 3
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre:science fiction RPG, tactical third person shooter, action, shooter
Date completed:September 2021
Information on game

Summary review: The final game in a really great trilogy and I finally get to bring forward my character started way back in the MAKO days.
Graphics: A worthy upgrade and looked fantastic on my 2020-era 4k TV. When I first started the game I was struck by the stark difference in textures. Like a filter had been applied to it, it just seemed so different than the second one I had just finished playing. The dead-fish-eyes-effect I complained about before is entirely gone, finally.
Music: I think they did worlds better than the first two on music this time around. One note though: it could be my misconfigured stereo system but a couple of places I have to mute because of too much emphasis on the bass. The Afterlife club being one of them.
Controls: This first time with ME3 is on PS4 with a gamepad. Other than a few instances of covering instead of activating a thing I have no complaints about the controls (stupid X button).
Replayability: This is the first time I have played this game and I’m not sure yet on this question. The whole trilogy at a later date I think but I don’t know about ME3 in particular.
Total score: 9/10
The answer is yes, if you haven’t played this trilogy before, it is definitely worth the time and effort to do so. Just remember: these are 360/PS3 era games with new coat of paint. They may not have the “quality of life” features you’ve grown accustomed to as standard in the past 10+ years.

Introduction

Note: This review will not contain spoilers for ME3, but it will contain spoilers for ME1 and ME2.

For my thoughts on the first game, see my existing review of Mass Effect 1, for my thoughts on the second game, see my existing review of Mass Effect 2. Also some in jokes that assume you’ve played ME1 and ME2. So play those…

Also, I played the Soldier class again. The start of game prompts you to choose a new character type and there’s actually a “press triangle to switch classes” on the main title screen which I never bothered doing.

The Premise

As it happens literally 3 minutes into the game it’s probably not a spoiler: the reapers have arrived and are decimating Earth. Mostly London for some reason. Kind of World War II vibe in that way. Wait a minute…the Normandy…might be something to that…

And you, Captain Shepard, are immediately thrust into the fight alongside something of a side kick. Still not sure where the side kick came from or why he’s so attached to Sheppard as it’s not really explained.

In fact there’s a two year time jump between ME2 and the start of ME3 but the events between the two are only really hinted at. They did something of a yada-yada-yada for that part of the story.

The first thing I noticed in the start of the game was that the mechanics had changed to some degree: where as – in my mind at least – ME2 was only hinting at a “Gears of War envy” for its cover and vault system, ME3 has gone fully Gears of War: full snap-to-cover, full vault over barriers, full auto-quick-run to the next cover location either to the side or in front and also a slide across an extended cover when necessary. Even that somersault out of the way thing and doing a somersault in place when you’re against a wall.

But more on that later.

The real hero of the ME trilogy: Conrad Verner

I enjoyed how there are at least some obvious and non-obvious threads that carry through all three games. One of them being the fan boy in the form of Conrad Verner. He gets kind of a redemption arc. There’s another confrontation with the reporter that follows through on first two games, emails are received thanking you for the help in missions from ME2.

The entirety of ME2 is spent collecting team members to save the galaxy from the new threat of The Collectors. Then ME2 ends, there’s a time jump and everybody has gone their own way.

I like how the game kind of works in those team members of ME2 so fluidly. You just run into different characters who have gone on with their life after saving the galaxy from the new foe. Some of them might re-join you, some of them say they’re too busy or committed to other things. So it’s something of a tie up loose ends/last conversation with these characters. But it seemed very organic the way the story just weaves in these past characters.

Badassedly: This game is better than I expected

When I first played the opening “tutorial” of this game, I was a little concerned that the newly-realized-full-subsidiary-of-EA version of Bioware would “Michael Bay the shit out of it”. Given EA’s reputation of consuming other studios and ruining them it seemed like a legitimate fear. Well they didn’t “Michael Bay the shit out of it”. They might have done other things to it, but Michael Bay-ing (is he a verb?) wasn’t one of them. Maybe because so many of the original developers were still at Bioware at this point. Given the reviews of Mass Effect Andromeda – I believe almost all the original Bioware developers had left by then – I can only imagine.

I got used to almost all the revisions and changes in mechanics from ME2. They re-did the paragon/renegade display, for instance and combined the primary and secondary missions into one long list of things to do.

It’s the last game and it’s fun!

I like how they added a few things into this game I would have liked to see if either of the first two: a special Specter section of the Citadel to buy equipment and get email and test weapons on a shooting range, an entire new section of the Citadel that includes things like an arcade, a casino and a battle arena against bots.

Speaking of which, some of the missions felt like I was playing an online game, like Unreal Tournament, against a bunch of bots. I think originally ME3 had a multiplayer team death match mode added to it so I have a feeling a lot of that is left over from having that mode. But I don’t really like multiplayer modes set to single player with bots. I didn’t like it in Unreal Tournament, I didn’t like it in Battlefield 2, and I don’t appreciate it in ME3. I did waste a lot of time that battle arena, though.

There’s also some random things they added in like finally giving Joker his own side mission story line. Always seemed like a character with a lot of untapped potential to me. And I can’t help but feel like Seth Green was having a lot of fun with it.

There’s also a little side scenario where the whole crew has a little party with lot of alcohol which leads to some hilariously awkward conversations.

There also a few fourth wall break sort of comments in this game. Mocking Sheppard’s ability to “dance”, for instance and dismissing the idea of playing “Towers of Hanoi” in the arcade (a puzzle from ME1). There were a few lines like that in ME2 as well but it seemed like they played it up a bit more in ME3.

Seriously. Some EA game creep

I knew right from the time the game had me take over a mounted machine gun, the Battlefield guys must have taken part in some of the meetings for this game. That might also explain why there are no puzzles left in this game: need to get into a locked door? Just wave your hand in front of it and don’t worry about it. Need to check that PDA? Just wait two seconds and that 1,500 credits is yours.

There’s also the previously mention mounted machine gun scenarios – that seems like something out of World War II – there’s also a few times you get to drive a machine-gun toting mech.

In one major boss battle where you have to point a laser targeting pointer at the enemy so some ships can fire down from orbit. Literally a mechanic from Gears of War.

But also some new mechanics

There some things I don’t remember from ME2: for instance just walking around the Citadel you’ll over hear conversations. You don’t talk to the NPCs directly, you just hear a doctor lamenting about a lack of chemical burn treatment or one alien or another wanting some artifact to help give his people hope. If you happen across a PDA describing a chemical burn treatment or happen to find that particular artifact, you can then return this item to that character on the Citadel and get something in return. Maybe a thanks, maybe some extra forces or a fancy new piece of armor.

There’s also a few places where you have to play Sherlock Holmes: find and activate different items in a given area to solve a murder mystery.

In this game – unless I managed to miss it – there is no MAKO or MAKO-like vehicles to drive. Actually you do come across some other people driving MAKOs at one point. Some of whom are complaining about how they drive (cough-cough).

Jumping from one part of the galaxy to the other is largely the same, as is flying a little mini-ship from one star system to another with fuel running down. Actually, in ME2 I upgraded the Normandy to have 1,500 units of fuel capacity and yet in ME3 it was back down to 1,000. I’m not sure why it was downgraded in-between games but it is kind of annoying. And due to the new scenario of ME3 not every system with a relay has a refuel station. Which is kind of annoying.

The system for scanning planets from ME2 is back but modified a little. Instead of scanning every planets and having a specific number of probes, you scan parts of a given solar system and only going into planet-scan mode when something is detected. Even then you just follow the arrow to exactly where to launch the probe (no mineral mining of any kind).

I think I actually missed a couple of mechanics: for instance it wasn’t until pretty much the end of the game I realized there were upgraded versions of guns I could have been using the whole time. I think the only place I really ever found upgraded versions of the guns was in ship’s price-jacked purchase terminal. So it’s possible to play with level 1 guns through the whole game is what I’m saying.

And in what may or may not be related, on the weapon select screen is a “200% overweight” status. It appeared pretty much from the start of the game and remained for the whole game. I don’t know what it means or if the game would play differently if it said something else.

Somewhat surprisingly they actually took out a mechanic: the “large gun” class of weapons. The final game with the actual galaxy at war storyline and I can’t even have a missile launcher or mini-nuke-launcher? In trade, there’s the SMG. Which is worthless.

Don’t Canon Backstory Me, Bro

At the time of this writing there is a new Rick and Morty episode in which Rick resists another character trying to explain something that happened in Rick’s past that hadn’t been explored yet. It was an amusing fourth wall break that may or may not fit here.

There is an opportunity toward the end of the game to get some extra information on what went into resurrecting Shepard, which leads to some interesting speculation on “what Sheppard is”. Although not drawing any particular conclusions.

So it was a “Canon Backstory” moment through an “exposition dump” that just explains things. But it was also literally the last possible moment of the last game in which that could happen. So why not “canon backstory” Sheppard?

On a semi-related note, contrary to my review for ME2, all that mining for resources in ME2 does actually come back as a benefit for ME3’s scenario. Not by a lot. But some.

Also-also on a related note, I didn’t understand the point of the leveling system as even though I started with my level 30 character from ME2 I got up to level 40 so fast it may as well have been level 10 anyway. And by the end I did reach the level cap of 60 which may as well been level 30. But at least I felt really high level and like I had a lot of options with powers of my team members.

Now some negatives…

I kind of missed the more RPG elements of the prior games.

A bit too much of an offline team deathmatch vibe for me.

The over simplifying of old mechanics just made me miss the more RPG-like games.

Some the scenarios were underdeveloped or out of place.

The vendor system for buying new weapons, armor and upgrades doesn’t work very well. For instance there is no way to sell duplicate items and no indicator of which items you already own. So do I buy that new weapon for 50,000 credits? Or not? What happens if I already own it?

Conclusion

As I write this my completion of The Last of Us 2 is still a recent memory (see this post for the review). So my expectations and views on story telling and presentation in games may be a little colored.

Having said that, I’ll talk in a very vague non-spoilery way about the ending: there is no boss fight at the end. An extended battle with lots of waves of the more difficult enemies, but nobody on a hoverboard or a giant head creature. It was almost like something out of a Kubrick movie actually (you know the one…Clockwork Orange, exactly. No, not Clockwork Orange).

The thing is, though, I didn’t even notice or care that there was no final boss battle. It was a very narrative ending. I think the reason it worked so well is because the ending was something of a call back to a certain almost forgettable thing that happened at the start of ME3. So in a way the ending was “earned”. At least to me. After all, this isn’t Gears of War, it’s supposed to a “role playing game”. Well ME3 kind of pushes the limit of the definition of “role playing game”. But still manages to at least play homage to its RPG roots. And it’s still relatively narrative driven even if it became an action game with “RPG elements”.

Lastly my play through came in somewhere in the 50 hour mark. The game doesn’t give you an exact play time, just a played time as of the last time it saved. It only took me that long because I wasted some time in the battle arena and a few other places. I could have otherwise easily beat it in 45 hours or less.


Metadata

Method of control used Regular PS4 gamepad
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) n/a
Hardware requirements: n/a
Supports 21:9 aspect ratio screens?n/a
Device(s) tried on PS4 (non-pro)
TV2020-era 55″ 4k TV with HDR specialness
Initial setup required No setup needed.
Sound setup5.1 surround system/receiver
Total time to completion~50 hours
difficulty level“Normal” difficulty
Random assortment of meta data

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