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3.8 out of 5 stars
Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Platform: Xbox 360Edition: StandardFormat: BoxChange
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2014
Sublime. Mass Effect 3 is the culmination of what has become not only one of the most perfectly realised examples of gaming to date, but one of the most sophisticated sci-fi narratives in any medium.
Whilst the first Mass Effect was often a bit of a chore, behind the repetetive Mako missions and overly expositionary dialogue, the potential for the series shone through thanks to it's strong characterisation and complex multi-threaded story.
With number two, the creative team did an incredible job of streamlining the in-game combat mechanics and sharpening the dialogue whilst ingeniously integrating multiple versions of all of ME1's major plot points into the sprawling continuation of the saga as they steered the story in a bold new direction. One which enabled the Mass Effect universe to open up in unimaginable ways.
With number three, all of the improvements made in number two have been refined to the point of flawlessness. This is a living, breathing universe populated by complex people and peoples with their own individual and collective concerns and prejudices. And the reality of the Mass Effect universe is particularly appropriate for a story that puts so much focus on the question: at what point does an artificial intelligence cease to be artificial? And: is a synthetic being any less alive than an organic one?
The sheer enormity of the narrative is truly dizzying to consider, having snowballed across it's two epic predecessors to reach this point not just once, but numerous times to allow for all of the alternatives resultant from countless decisions that the player has made throughout the series. Seemingly significant moments from ME1 and ME2 are merely referenced whilst what might have appeared to be an almost throwaway decision that you made halfway through ME2 could have a colossal impact as you race to prepare a reluctant galaxy against an unthinkable extinction event. At the time, it seemed like the only choice. Now look what's happened. An entire species; gone.
And this really is Mass Effect's greatest strength. Whereas in film or literature, the story is solid, more and more often games offer a narrative flexibility which simply isn't possible within any other medium. And Mass Effect 3 surpasses its counterparts by light years in this regard, offering a tremendous variety of possibilities within it's enormous framework for you to make the story your own. If gaming is to be the 21st century art form, then Mass Effect 3 is gaming's first true masterpiece. In no other game are the results of your actions so vast in scale and so dramatically satisfying.
The voice cast - major and minor - all put in sterling work, bringing their pixelised characters to vibrant life, but the highest praise has to go to Jennifer Hale who manages to nail the deceptively tricky task of imbuing the female version of Sheperd with genuine pathos and depth regardless of the necessarily indefinable nature of her character.
And Mass Effect itself is equally indefinable. Comparisons to other fictional epics simply don't stick. Philosophically more sophisticated and far larger in scope than Star Wars. Cleverer,darker and a tad more on the realist side than Lord of the Rings.
Oddly, Lawrence of Arabia is closer than any of the most obvious points of reference. Like Lawrence, Sheperd is an extraordinary wo/man charged with uniting armies that have been at war with one another for centuries into one consolidated force for the greater good of all. And like Lawrence, s/he is the only person who could possibly achieve the task... Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
Unlike Lawrence though, Sheperd gets to do it with some bitchin' space armour, a multi-species crew and an arsenal that could turn the most ardent pacifist into a crazy-eyed gun nut.
Any tiny similarities to other works of fiction are almost coincidental; this is a true original which owes more to Asimov than Lucas.
In what other work of fiction can you look up from a moon to see a planet on fire as an invading force of skyscraper-sized sentient robots trample across the vista, laying waste to an entire civilisation to a fantastically Vangellis-esque soundtrack and the loneliest piano in the universe? And what other work of fiction poses so many questions about existence and the very definition of life in such magnificently rendered high definition and sends you off to shoot at stuff while you contemplate the answers?
To be disappointed by the ending is to have missed the point entirely. Everything that ME1 and ME2 have been building towards finally comes together, piece by piece as you hurtle through a game in which there is not a single conversation or mission which does not drive the plot forward in some way or another and by the time you finally reach the climax, after so much loss and regret, the story ends in an incredibly satisfying culmination of all of it's most prominent themes. And then - like all great sci-fi - it asks just one more question. Roll credits.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2013
There has been plenty of controversy regarding this games ending, however i found it to be a fitting conclusion to the series. Again the gameplay and graphics have been refined and the script is as good as ever, add that to a multiplayer mode which lets you play as different species and you have a winner. This is one of the best game series of our generation and i would urge people to try it out- start from the beginning as it is interesting to see how choices you made in the first and second games affect this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2014
Mass Effect one and two earnt this revered saga the title of the greatest RPG series in modern gaming from more sources than it's possible to count. It left Bioware with a lot resting on their shoulders for the third installment, so it's not surprising that some hopes would be dashed. A lot of web space has been devoted to venting feelings regarding the plot of this final part of the trilogy, to the extent where I don't need to waste time going into explicit detail here. But it's impossible to objectively review a game this dependent on plot without mentioning it, so apologies for covering old, much traversed ground in this review. But let's dive in anyway...

Mass Effect 3 is an epic conclusion to the trilogy. The scale of some of the set-pieces is astounding, with vast ships cruising through the air, exploding against one another and annihilating chunks of cities, all while you scrabble through the rubble below them like some kind of super powered army ant. Graphically this series has come on well from the first game, with characters moving a lot more like people rather than floaty light mannequins. Ordering your squad around using the pad, as I was, is no hassle at all, so exactly how much of an impact Kinect really has on the gameplay is impossible for me to say, but I never struggled to communicate what I wanted my team to do.

The cast of characters this time round includes some familiar faces and some new, as expected. It is disappointing that certain characters from the previous games are unable to join your squad, and their presence in various locations throughout the game universe adds little to the overall plot development (if anything). It's nice to see a favourite character appear, but more interaction with them rather than having to take on board new crew members would have been welcome. New crew member James Vega, voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., adds little to the overall experience, being something of a generic meathead character. The roster of available squad members is actually smaller than in the second game, which some might welcome, but I lamented the loss of characters that I'd grown to love in the second game.

The new multiplayer element of the game, whilst sneered at by some, is actually pretty good. I was sceptical at first that multiplayer could work in Mass Effect, but it manages to be pretty entertaining. Certain classes are a lot easier to use and win with, and the randomisation of what you're going to get when you upgrade isn't particularly helpful, but the barrier to entry is set very low for newcomers, meaning it has a surprisingly approachable, pick up and play feel. It's hardly reason enough to get the game, but you might be surprised how much time you spend on it.

What's unique about this series is that Bioware have always claimed from the beginning that your decisions throughout the trilogy will cumulatively affect the outcome of your story, giving everyone a different ending. It is here, in this bold claim, that the most serious criticism with Mass Effect 3 ultimately lies. Because whilst the game is very well put together, it ultimately falls a long way short of this lofty ambition. Several decisions made in the first and second game, referred to throughout the series, are revisited, and it turns out that those with multiple options result in exactly the same thing happening in the third game. Having spoken to friends who made totally different decisions to me, I was disappointed to find out that they had a very similar experience to me throughout Mass Effect 3. Some decisions, such as the preserve/destroy one at the end of the second game, seem to be totally disregarded, a certain thing that should definitely be in tiny little pieces in the middle of space just popping up randomly later on in the background, with no explanation. A new enemy character is introduced, who Anderson seems to know and have history with, but you'll likely feel much the same as me towards them, which is total ambivalence. Whether or not certain characters surviving the end of the second game has a large impact on this one I can't say, but I do know that in at least three cases, it doesn't. But the most serious criticism has to be the ending, or "That ending," to be dramatic. Yes, the conclusion of this trilogy I've poured hundreds of hours into is disappointing. It has caused me to reevaluate the rest of the series in light of it. I have found it difficult to revisit the first two games when I know that ultimately, everything I've done, all the decisions I've made and the people I've saved, failed to save or pushed out of a window because it was frikkin' hilarious, have no bearing whatsoever on my endgame. I mean none at all. There are mildly convincing arguments that there is something sinister going on in the background of the main plot, and maybe there's something to that. If these theories turn out to be correct, however, and not just desperate fans clutching at straws to explain the biggest ball drop in plotting ever, I'll be surprised. To gamble that much is a big risk, and has caused a huge controversy amongst the gaming community, and I just don't buy it myself.

So, should you buy Mass Effect 3? That's what it really comes down to, isn't it? Yes, you should. I've thought long and hard about how I would review this game - it doesn't seem fair to write off the achievement in making a well paced, action packed game by giving it one star as a knee jerk reaction to some poor plotting decisions, so I've held fire and come to terms with my initial feelings of disappointment. Be prepared to be unhappy with what you end up with in terms of story - although Bioware have released an updated ending, which might go some way towards repairing the damage this one has done - but know that you are playing an exceptionally well made game that just doesn't quite manage to live up to its own lofty claims and expectations. The action is top notch, and the emotional moments that are in there are exceptional. Don't let the last 30 minutes ruin the preceding 1000, because there's a lot of fun to be had in them.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
From the start this game was fantastic....

The game play has been improved and it feels a lot smoother with the addition of the new 'hold down B' melee which is a great new edition.

The graphics are also fantastic, i was most impressed with the graphics of the many different planets you can fly around in the Normandy and i was impressed with the graphics on the citadel as well. Furthermore, BioWare designed The Citadel very impressively, there are many different floors on it where there are different types of buildings on each, there are Bars, Hospitals and Embassies to explore with plenty of missions.

I have no quarrels with the companions, they all bring there own banter. There is a couple of new companions but most are ones from the previous games e.g Garrus who is my personal favorite, Liara- the sexy one, in a weird alien blue way- and Kaidan and Ashley. The only problem i have with the companions is the first day DLC in which BioWare made 800 MSP, and i thought the plot was too important to not put in the actual game which i thought was a bad move, the companion you get with this DLC is very good though.

The missions were all gripping and had excellent twists so i had no problem with those.

I loved the choices throughout the game, with the paragon and renegade options which i believed would impact the end of the game, this is why i made my choices carefully and i was looking forward to the outcomes.

I was bitterly disappointed with the ending.... all these choices i carefully chose and thought about had no impact at all. It had no impact which species you sided with or what your battle readiness was or how many fleets you had. You still ended up with the sam 3 endings to choose from, all of which were dreadful.... The 2 games before this were leading up to the very moment and it just wasn't good enough..... I just didn't care what happened to my Shephard or what happened to the Reapers or Earth because it just didn't make sense and the ending just flew over my head. I put 40 hours into this, explored every room and planet possible and this all counted for nothing in the final battle. It also, doesn't tell you what happens to your companions or Shepard after the battle. You just see them getting out of the downed Normandy and then it finishes.

I thought the ending to Mass Effect 2 was fabulous and i completed it 3 times, each time with a different outcome, i don't think i will complete ME3 again because i just don't care about the other endings because im just not bothered.
Very annoyed with BioWare with this unfinished and rushed ending to the greatest gaming trilogy of all time.....
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on 4 September 2013
If you've played ME1 and ME2, this is a superb end to the ME trilogy. Unlike ME2 which played as a series of largely unrelated set-pieces, every one of the main missions in this games is related to the core story.

Much has been made in online forums of the disappointing ending which completely flies in the face of everything Bioware promised for this final instalment. The free "extended ending" DLC does not completely address those issues, but it does transform the ending from one which was originally ill-conceived and badly executed to one which is now still just as ill-conceived but is at least well executed. Even with the DLC, therefore, it's likely you'll find the ending a bit of a let-down on first play-through. The rest of the game, however, is excellent and on subsequent play-throughs (because you're sure to want to play it more than once!) the problems with the ending tend to irk less and less. That's the benefit of knowing what awaits you, I guess!

Another source of irritation on first release was the fact that you could not achieve all possible endings unless you also played the game's online multiplayer. Thankfully, that requirement has now been dropped and all endings are now achievable, even by players who want a single-player, offline experience only.

Characters from the previous games all make appearances (assuming they survived!) and - even those which were unpopular or marginal in ME1 or ME2 - invoke slightly nostalgic feelings when they reappear here. If you're importing a saved character from ME2, you'll definitely want to use a saved game in which Jack and Mordin survived the final suicide mission, since they add considerable poignancy to a couple of ME3's important missions.

Combat is similar to that in ME2 and the option to begin or reprise a romance with one of your squadmates is also present. Make sure you download both the extended ending DLC (see above) and the From Ashes DLC (which includes a very important additional character) before you play, and fans of the series will have a great time with this game. I've already lost count of the number of times I've played it through to the end!
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on 28 June 2013
This game is disappointing because it is a confused game that delivers less than its predecessor.
Why is it confused. Well, it's neither one thing or the other. It cannot be an RPG because there is only one environment to explore free from attack. Optional missions are few and there is a very structured feel to the game, like sitting on a train, passing interesting towns you would like to explore or thick forests, but having no option but to stick to the rails.
To be an RPG it would need more towns/villages (or such like) to explore. A larger variety of weapons and enhancements and much more free roam. At best it gives the illusion of an RPG but in fact it seldom delivers on that. Which is annoying because the previous game achived this to a much greater degree (and incidently bungie can create a real RPG aspect - see KOTOR). In playing this game I never felt in control of my own destiny. I felt like I was a puppet controlled by a not always benevolent programmer.
So, is it an FPS (or TPS) then? Well, not really. The levels seem to get progressivly shorter as the game progreses. And the solution to increasing the difficulty in the later levels seems to be, all to often, send more enemies. An idea for a new battle, hey how about three brutes and two banshies. 90% or the enemies seem real samey.
And where the heck are the vehicles? You could fly that little hover craft in ME2, jeeze you can fly a space ship in Halo Reach.
So if you want an RPG then this aint for you. If you want a space shooter, jeeze Halo is way better than this.
I just wanted ME2 but a bit better, (actually I wanted KOTOR but with improved combat) but what I got was ME2 but quite a bit worse.

As for the ending, I didn't think that it was that bad. I think that it is just a bit of a shock when the game ends. I completed what turned out to be the final battle without a clue that this was the end. Then as it became clear I thought, that was a bit sudden (and easy).

This game was a missed opportuity. Money, one would imagine, the root of all evil caused Bungie to push this game out too early. What a waste of what could have been a real legend.
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on 10 March 2012
When I first played this game, minus all the DLC since has come between release and now, it's safe to say like many others, I was disappointed. I was disappointed not just with the ending, but with also the lack of the sheer emotional engagement with the story, the fact that previous 'major' decisions had absolutely no real consequence and the issue that ME3 felt incredibly rushed and everything seemed 'half-baked'

It's only recently that I've managed to pick up this game again, and decided to download all of the DLC (except the day one DLC which I had already played) - The Extended Cut, Leviathan, Omega and The Citadel. For me, personally, I thought they all completely transformed the game. The extended cut provided the clarification we needed to what happened after the final choice was made on the concluding mission. Leviathan gave an interesting insight into the origin of the reapers, and how the harvests actually begun - being a fan of Mass Effect from the start, I thought this was interesting and re-enforced the story. Omega was excellent and well done, it was a great place to re-visit, and the actual campaign that takes place on the station also adds that extra weight ME3 desperately needed. Finally, The Citadel which was the perfect personal conclusion to relationships you've invested hours in developing.

I wasn't expecting the campaign that followed, but it was great fun and gave the satisfaction that the final goodbyes were sealed and nothing was outstanding.
Prior to the DLC I would've given this game around 6/10 now, with all the hard work that's gone into making the game upto scratch I'd give it a 9.5/10
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2012
I must join the ranks of many and say, despite their efforts to correct their earlier flat and depressing ending in Mass Effect 3 - which went down like a lead balloon, their downloadable content (DLC) attempt helped, but didn't repair the damage.

* * * SPOILERS * * *
I personally chose to spare the Rachni queen in Mass Effect 2, why did I bother? This made no impact upon the outcome of Mass Effect 3 and also, who wants their main character to 'snuff it' at the end of (what was until the end) a long and rich adventure? I know that some people will mention that there was one sliver of 'survival' in one scenario - but did that make any sense? Isn't Shepard full of bio implants - so how can choosing the destruction option lead to his survival? Don't get me started on that annoying squeaky kid giving ridiculous choices to Shepard.

The final nail in the coffin was the ridiculous outcome of giving a fourth option of saying 'no' to the kid. Despite Shepard having a high Galactic Readiness, this made no difference, the Reapers still destroyed sentient life - so what was the point of spending time in improving your Galactic Readiness rating? What was the point at all? A great series, ruined at the very end by poor story writers. In terms of game play, very good and if the price is cheap and no other RPGs grab your eye, (and you have already played ME1 and ME2), then you might get enjoyment of this game, just don't expect to complete it with a happy grin on your face.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2012
Where do i start, people have probably heard this all before, i been a massive fan of Bioware since i was a teenager, baldurs gate and so on, so the games designers of back then are probably not even working for Bioware anymore which i think has a detrimental effect on the approach they are taking nowadays, back to the game, loved mass effect 1, loved mass effect 2 my favourite, but Mass effect 3 is a different story all together, im not gonna even say it was the last five minutes that ruined it for me, it was the overall rushed experience that i didnt like, first of all the side missions which i loved in 2, loyalty missions tied in with your companions loved all that, 3s side missions are a case of over hearing somebody and then controlling your little lego ship getting chased by lego reapers scanning the planet then hey presto done, little more than a fetch quest, which i must admit is my biggest urk in an RPG, next will go with the constant battles against cerebus, no variation in them, couldnt import my character face into mass effect 3 so ruined the feel of using the same character you have been using for the last 2 games, bugs in conversation sequences, dumb downed mechanics for a wider audience, when this game was supposed to be an rpg, i wonder if bioware even know what an rpg is anymore, a really repetitive multi-player, which to start with i didnt mind trying, but this was their first attempt at it and you can see why, lots of cheesy cliches, which was done for a wider audience, i can see why they are trying to do it, to claw back what they spent on the game, and the last urk is the day one dlc, no need to charge for that tiny piece of content, overall i must say this experience of mass effect 3 has made me seen what direction bioware are heading in. In all sence and purposes it not the same company that was making games like baldurs gate and neverwinter and so on, it is just another bog standard games company.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2012
The majority of the game, leading up to the ending was spectacular. If, like me, you had played the first two installments in the series, then the way they tied everything together and brought back characters from Mass Effect 1 & 2 (provided you'd imported a game, done their missions and/or kept them alive during the game) was wonderful. The graphics were brilliant - I didn't think they could get any better than Mass Effect 2, and I was proven wrong. The writing was, and always has been, brilliant, with a perfect mixture of hilariously funny and truly sad moments.

However, the ending managed to completely spoil the greatness of the rest of the game in one fell swoop. The main aspect of the Mass Effect series has always, from the beginning, been about choice, and giving the player the ability to shape their Commander Shepard (the main protagonist of the game) the way they want to, whether it reflects themselves as a person, or somebody they may aspire to be like. The end of the game is exactly the opposite of the Mass Effect series, because it completely takes away the player's choice, and basically negates every decision that the player has made throughout the past three games. It's as though everything that the player has done - over a span of approximately 100 hours of gameplay if they used an imported game from as far back as Mass Effect 1 - does not make a difference; it doesn't matter. Before its release, the game developers had specifically stated there would be up to 16 different endings to this game. There weren't 16 endings, there was 1. It may not have even been that bad of an ending if it hadn't just gone against all of the established lore in the Mass Effect universe. It was as though they had brought in a new set of writers just for the last 15 minutes of the game who had never played or read anything about Mass Effect. I'm not usually one to criticise continuity, but at the end of the game there were so many gaping plotholes it was impossible to ignore.

Another thing that I wasn't overly fond of in the game was the dialogue. The conversation trees that we had in the first two games were almost nonexistent, appearing every now and again so the player could choose the general gist of the conversation being had, and then it was just a case of sitting back and listening to it all being said automatically without any of the variation that could be had before (you could pick practically each line of dialogue you wanted your Shepard to say, ranging from kindly and charming, to neutral but diplomatic and then to sarcastic or rude). For this reason, my Commander Shepard, whom I'd spent over 100 hours playing with and shaping his personality the way I wanted, didn't feel truly mine anymore because I didn't have full control and influence over him as I had done in the previous two games.

Overall, the game is good, but with the addition of multiplayer it seems to be catering more towards the action/shooter genre rather than the RPG genre like the first two games. I'd have quite happily given this a 4 or 5 star review if I hadn't gone through the ending. But I did, and I felt it completely detracted from the brilliance of the rest of the game. If you're one of those people that lives by the ethos of 'it's not the destination, but the journey', then you will probably find this game exceptionally good. But for me, I just can't say I enjoyed the journey when the destination I arrived at was so overwhelmingly disappointing.
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