Yep, that’s it I won’t be doing a full review of Mass Effect 3 even though we (with Silver Sorrow) did it for the two previous games here and there. The main reason is: I don’t have the time for that. The second reason is… who cares? in fact it’s almost a miracle that I take the time to even write this QuickView because I’m one of those reviewers whom hate to have to say bad things about a series they really do love. But well, here we go so let’s get started and be done with it.
A bit of the story so far (consider it a refreshment course). For this purpose I’m going to assume you are familiar with Mass Effect 1 and 2 and particularly the Arrival DLC (although you don’t need to have played it, the game will adapt the dialogues in this case). Remember when Admiral Hackett told Commander Shepard that he expected him to “face the music”. Mass Effect 3 begins that way. Shepard is kept under guard in the Alliance headquarters on Earth (amusingly, in three Mass Effect games, it’s the first time you get to be on Earth). Officially Shepard is imprisoned because of his/her former alliance with Cerberus. Off the record, the Alliance just want to keep the Batarians off his/her back following the Alpha relay “incident” (Arrival) which caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Batarians (if you never played Arrival, the event never happened and the game will switch lines just stating that if Shepard was not already thrown in a dark jail it was because of his/her knowledge of the Reapers).
While the Commander learns to be almost civilian again “soft beds, hot food” the Reapers decide to launch their massive offensive which thanks to Shepard was delayed but still unavoidable. The Batarians are the first ones obliterated because they are at the backdoor that the Reapers need to use to enter our Galaxy so they just “stood in the way”. Then, possibly because Shepard was a real pain in the ass for them, they target the Alliance 5th fleet headquarters at Arcturus before heading directly toward Earth. This would be the occasion for Shepard to say “I hate it when I’m right” but there’s no time for that. In a matter of minutes the situation goes from bad to worse. The Alliance brass are decapitated (almost literally). And that leaves Anderson and Shepard fighting their way through the rooftops to escape the mayhem. Their objective, to rejoin the Normandy, escape what is rapidly turning into a lost fight, regroup with what forces remain in the Fleet and organize both the resistance and some counter attack plans. By the way, you’re also rejoined for the occasion by either Ashley or Kaidan — whomever survived Vyrmire all those years ago. A few fights after Shepard finally board the Normandy but Anderson decides to remain behind to organize the resistance on Earth. He reinstates Shepard (but with no promotion, it occurs to me that our dear Shep is the only one who never got a promotion — Ashley/Kaidan were promoted, twice(!), during that time, Anderson made it Admiral, even Kirahee — the Salarian Captain who supported you during Vyrmire — became Major; I guess that “Captain” Shepard was sounding less cool than “Commander” Shepard.). Anyway, Anderson gives him the task to find help for what is now a shooting war while he will try and hold the fort on Earth or what will be left of it after the initial carnage. On leaving Earth orbit, Admiral Hackett contact the Normandy and order her to the Alliance facilities on Mars. Apparently Liara (which led some research there while Shepard was detained) discovered something that could stop the Reapers. It is therefore vital to retrieve that piece of info before loosing Mars to the Reapers. Unfortunately, Cerberus and the Illusive Man have their own agenda about that.
For the remainder of the game, Shepard’s task will be to play diplomat, fight the Reaper forces, fight Cerberus, and attempt to assemble the largest fleet that the Galaxy has ever seen and that of course begin by gaining the support from the Turians but since their own military is being pounded by the Reapers they want in return the Krogan support which automatically involves the Salarians because of the Genophage (and considering Krogan relationships with Turians/Salarians which are far to be stellar, it’s like fighting a second war). The whole process may be facilitated or not by the decisions you made in the previous games but on the whole what really impact the end of Mass Effect 3 are the decisions that you are making within Mass Effect 3 and then again, not all of them. What mostly impact the end is your Effective Military Strength (EMS) and don’t get me started on that. The fact that 50% of the damn thing relies on the supposition that you go multiplayer grates my nerves horribly. Anyway simply put very low EMS means that you’ll win the war but at tremendous cost, high EMS means that you’ll win the war with acceptable losses. Some people claim there is a very high EMS (8000+) which is supposed to be the best case scenario but you won’t get that just playing the Single Player campaign (personally I never witnessed it and I think this claim is kind of an urban legend anyway). Playing the SP campaign making all the good choices and playing ALL the DLC available will just get your EMS to the acceptable level where you may win with reasonable losses.