Monday, March 12, 2012

Post-ME3 post

Intentionally vague spoilers below, but if you plan to play the game I encourage you to stop reading now.  You’ve been warned.

I play as FemShep.  Jennifer Hale's voice acting is superb.

Playing through the game took me about 35 hours.  I am not the fastest player, plus I tend to do every side quest.

Mass Effect 1 is all about learning what the threat really is (what are the reapers?).  Mass Effect 2 is about building a team and discovering the intent of the reapers (what are the reapers doing?).  Mass Effect 3 is about the galaxy at war, and what must happen for organic life to have a chance.

You know that expression you can’t make an omelet without breaking any eggs?  Mass Effect 3 makes a lot of omelets.

Death makes quite a few house calls in ME3.  I’m not going to say who is called on – if you really want that info, it’s out there, but I’m not going to post it here.  Some deaths are unavoidable.  Some people you can save. (And yeah, I cried.)

There are a lot of tough calls.  Do you save civilians, or one general who can help with the war effort?  Whole planets are left in the path of destruction.  For the first time, you have a glimmer of an idea of what the extinction of an entire galaxy of intelligent species might look like, and it’s awful. 

And the war takes its toll on every character you encounter.

Gameplay-wise, it’s a very slick successor to ME2.  The minor changes are welcome, for the most part.  I’m sure this will be a contender for Game of the Year, along with Bioshock Infinite (assuming it lives up to the hype).

But it’s the emotional investment that has me still thinking about it. 

One of the greatest stories of the 20th Century, The Lord of the Rings, requires 12 hours to watch – and roughly the same to read, depending on your pace.  And you don’t actively affect the outcome of the story.

If you have played through each Mass Effect game once, that is roughly 100 hours of your life spent in this world.  And you shape the outcome of the story intimately.  Yes, Bioware built the sandbox, but you’re the one who decides what the sand castle will look like.

The ending left me extremely unsettled.  I had to walk away and think for a long time – and then follow that up with a couple of internet searches to see if I was full of baloney – before I felt any sense of resolution. 

I’m still pondering.  And to me, that is the mark of a good story. 

I hope Bioware grants us additional opportunities to visit this world in the future.

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