The third part of a well-received trilogy will always have high expectations. Some storytellers rise to the challenge and end their story in an emotionally-satisfying way. Others fold under the pressure and let the story just fizzle out. Mass Effect 3, sadly, falls into the latter group. It starts well enough. Earth is conquered by the Reapers, and you need to put together a coalition to take it back while also gathering resources for a superweapon that might be able to beat them. Fair enough, it's easy to accept. So you travel the galaxy, visiting the homeworlds of the major races to help them with their problems, freeing them up to help you. Two planets in particular, Tuchanka and Rannoch, tie up long-running plot threads. Rannoch is arguably the weaker of the two, as you try to create peace between the organic quarians and synthetic geth. After using a targeting laser to kill a skyscraper-sized Reaper on foot, you have to choose which of the two races is wiped out, unless you made certain decisions in the second and third game that allow you to take a third option of making them stop fighting. It's heart-warming, but it also feels like a wasted opportunity. Instead of peace, they could've had players choose between two morally difficult options that, while not wiping out either race, would certainly harm one. Tuchanka was much better, and speaks of the true potential of video games as a storytelling medium. It ties in decisions from the first two games, then adds a few more twists, creating a difficult decision that can gain you the support of one race at the cost of betraying a second one. Also, giant thresher maw vs. Reaper. Awesome. No matter how you play it, it's full of powerful moments, and will make you cry. The combat is much improved, and weapon upgrades are handled well. The dialogue writing is the best in the series. Squadmates move around the ship and talk to each other, making it feel more alive. But the game has quite a few plotting issues. And, of course, the ending. Sigh. The ending fails on every level. It is one of the worst pieces of writing ever. It really is. But if you just pretend the ending doesn't exist, it's a thoroughly enjoyable game. Most of the flaws are easily overlooked, in light of the fun combat and fantastic dialogue. It's a fantastic game, despite the truly, truly awful ending.
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