The Mass Effect trilogy is a bundle of three RPG third-person shooters developed by BioWare: Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3.
The gameplay is a mix of action role playing and third person shooting that takes advantage of AI team based combat. There is also large universe to explore that features many characters where interaction contains choice based branching dialogue.
Pro Choose your own adventure
The player is required to make many choices over the course of the three games, all of which have far-reaching consequences. Not just friends, but entire species can live or die based on player decisions. Morality is also not prescribed - the player is free to make Shepard be who they want them to be.
Pro Good romance subplots (Mass Effect)
The romance subplots in Mass Effect are great. Playing as male Shepard, you can romance either Liara or Ashley, while female Shepard can romance Liara or Kaidan, your human male squadmate. There are certain consequences for being unfaithful where your partner will confront you or the person you're cheating with in a heated showdown. Sticking with one person for the whole game rewards you with a romantic scene near the end of the story. A lot of care and attention went into these subplots, giving you the chance to see each of the characters in a new light.
Pro Memorable cast of authentic characters (Mass Effect)
Mass Effect has an amazing cast of both human and alien characters who feel like real people. While just about any NPC you meet is fantastic, your squad members are the ones that stand out the most. They all have backstories and traits that are believable and natural.
Ashley is a human soldier who joins your team early on. As you chat with her in between missions, you get to learn about her history with her family and religious faith back on Earth. But then as you explore the Citadel, the game's main hub area, she makes snide comments about all the aliens around, keying you in on her true feelings about non-humans. By contrast, your scientist team member Liara is an asari: Mass Effect's species of blue female-only aliens. Despite being reserved and shy, Liara often jumps at the chance to gush about her research. Talking to her gives you the chance to learn more about the asari and why exactly she's so devoted to her academic studies.
Getting to know everyone through dialogue and squad banter is a lot of fun, making it easy to grow attached to your favorite characters.
Pro Calm and thoughtful atmosphere (Mass Effect)
There's something calming about Mass Effect's atmosphere that really gives you the space to think and reflect. Exploring places like the indoor trade port Noveria feels special because of the cool blue color scheme, the blizzard blowing outside the full pane windows, and the ambient, yet quietly emotional synth music looping in the background. Even the title screen has a thoughtful song playing over the beautiful sight of Earth from orbit. The atmosphere is wonderful in a way that's almost nostalgic, making you feel right at home each time you start up the game.
Pro You can customize your protagonist Commander Shepard
There are lots of ways to make Commander Shepard feel like your own character. The character creator at the start of a new game lets you change all sorts of options, from your hair, to your skin color, the shape of your nose, mouth, and ears, and so much more. Or, if you prefer, you can simply stick with the default male or female Shepard. You also get to pick which class you want to be for combat: soldier, infiltrator, vanguard, adept, or sentinel, each with their own unique abilities, like the adept's helpful "magic spells" and the infiltrator's specialty with sniper rifles. You can role-play as Shepard however you want, with plenty of options to customize your looks and your combat specialties for whichever role suits you the most.
Pro Great third-person shooting combat and gun variety (Mass Effect 3)
The combat in Mass Effect 3 feels great to play. Taking out groups of enemies is fun because of all the ways you can change up your gameplay. There are lots of different loadouts to choose from and ways to customize your build with components, such as having an assault rifle that tears through armor, or adding elemental effects like ice to your shotgun to freeze enemies in place. Customizing your sniper rifle just right, for example, to decapitate an enemy from as far away as possible is very satisfying. Combat here is the best it's ever been in the trilogy, improving a lot over the clunky and unresponsive mechanics from the first game.
Pro Your choices have true consequences on the story (Mass Effect)
Your choices have direct consequences on how the story plays out, not only in this game but also across the rest of the Mass Effect trilogy. You get to choose between options like sparing or killing off an entire race of potentially dangerous enemies, saving or sacrificing one of your own squad members to finish an operation, and dealing with an enraged teammate who feels betrayed by your actions. How you handle certain side objectives during story missions can also have an impact on how the galaxy at large reacts to you. Each of your decisions, big and small, carry over through your save files to Mass Effect 2 and 3, opening things up for many different playthroughs to see how things turn out with other choices.
Con Tedious inventory management (Mass Effect)
The game overloads your inventory with weapon upgrades, modifiers, equipment, and all sorts of duplicates of those items. Clearing out your inventory can take several minutes at a time since there's no quick way to select the things you don't want and get rid of them. If you're diligent enough to trek to a store to sell things off every single time you're low on inventory space, you can make quite a bit of money, but it's not always convenient to do this, like when you're out in the middle of a remote planet. It takes a lot of patience to not get annoyed with managing all of your items and components.
Con Levels are very linear (Mass Effect 2)
Mass Effect 2's levels are more like winding corridors with the occasional wide open space here and there. You always have a clear sense of where to go next, but there isn't much room for exploration. It's also obvious when enemies are about to show up, since you'll come to a place with a bunch of chest-high walls conveniently spread around the area for you to take cover behind. It's unimaginative, making missions feel like you're only going from point A to B.
Con Vehicle controls with the Mako are absolutely terrible (Mass Effect)
Driving around on planets to get from place to place in the Mako is awful. Controls aren't as responsive as they should be and the vehicle's physics are all over the place. Just trying to make basic turns is bad enough; roving up a rocky mountain, for example, makes the Mako bounce and spin around like it's in zero gravity. These driving parts are mandatory and unskippable, so there's no way around them. It's so bad that the developers got rid of the Mako in Mass Effect 2 and 3, but you unfortunately still have to deal with it here.
Con Clunky third-person shooting combat (Mass Effect)
The third-person shooting part of Mass Effect isn't that fun because of how janky it is. Your character gets glued to cover whenever you're close to a wall instead of letting you press a button to enter cover whenever you want. The actual shooting mechanics are slow and heavy, and with guns that overheat if you keep firing them for too long. Suicidal squadmates run around getting killed unless you remember to keep directing them to hide behind cover everywhere you go. The combat is just unsatisfying, clearly taking a backseat to the game's story and characters.
Con The main enemies, the Collectors, feel misplaced in the trilogy (Mass Effect 2)
The Mass Effect trilogy's story is about stopping the Reapers -- ancient, unknowable beings who destroy all life -- but this gets interrupted in Mass Effect 2 by the Collectors who are more like minions of the Reapers. The Collectors are dangerous because they harvest humans, though this is not as important as the Reapers who seek to end all life in the galaxy in Mass Effect 3. It would have made sense for Mass Effect 2 to focus on the Reapers instead of the Collectors, since they're more of a secondary problem.
Con The ending is unsatisfying and lacks closure (Mass Effect 3)
Even with the free Extended Cut DLC that expands on the ending, Mass Effect 3's conclusion still falls short of expectations. Commander Shepard and his/her squad are denied a satisfying ending no matter which path you choose. For a series that features such incredible characters, it really stings that you don't get to see everyone have a proper farewell.
Con The human villains are poorly-written (Mass Effect 3)
Mass Effect 3's human villains are more of a joke than anything. Their motivations don't always make sense and they only seem to keep getting in your way for the sake of drama. This is most annoying during scripted story moments where they're suddenly able to overpower you and your team for no real reason. The game's story would have been better off without these certain villains altogether.
Con Story leans too heavily on an unimaginative plot device (Mass Effect 3)
It's disappointing that the big finale to defeat the all-powerful Reapers relies on a plot device. This MacGuffin-like device is boring and feels way too convenient, like the writers ran out of better ideas. It's not all that creative and feels anti-climactic, mostly because it comes out of nowhere in Mass Effect 3 with no mention of it whatsoever in the first two games.
Con Horde mode multiplayer can quickly get stale (Mass Effect 3)
The multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 is a lot of fun at first, but this doesn't last for long. You play with a team of up to three other players against AI of the different enemy factions from single player. Even though you get to unlock lots of unique characters and weapons, it's the same type of horde mode gameplay over and over. You may find yourself getting bored of the ten waves of enemies after a while.