Mass Effect 3 is a sci-fi action role-playing game set across planets in the Milky Way. You play as your own customized Commander Shepard, leading your ship and your squad to save the galaxy from the Reapers.
Pro Good romance subplots
The romance subplots in Mass Effect 3 are very well-done. If you romanced someone in the first Mass Effect and/or in Mass Effect 2, then those stories continue here in Mass Effect 3. 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 -- or perhaps the whole trilogy -- rewards you with a romantic scene near the end of the story. There are also more scenes that you get with them right before the final battle and in some of the game's DLC that are really special and memorable. 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 Great third-person shooting combat and gun variety
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 Memorable cast of authentic characters
Mass Effect 3 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. Their personalities shine through the most during story missions that are relevant to their own personal arcs, where you get to help them reach their longtime goals.
Your engineer squadmate, Tali, returns in Mass Effect 3 to join your team. She's a quarian: an alien species forced to wear full-body suits to survive environments other than their home planet. During missions with Tali, you help her reclaim her home planet from dangerous robotic enemies called the geth. This once-impossible goal of hers culminates into an emotional conclusion that changes depending on what you decide.
Another returning character is Liara, your asari scientist teammate who offers helpful advice for your missions. She's more certain of herself in Mass Effect 3, having grown out of her shell and matured from her shy, socially awkward traits in the first game. You also get to see a finale with what happens with Liara's home planet, along with all the ways this affects her character for better or for worse.
Getting to know everyone through dialogue, squad banter, and story moments is great on its own, but seeing how they've all grown and changed across the trilogy is a truly unique experience.
Pro Your choices have true consequences on the story
Your choices have direct consequences on how the story plays out. If you carried over your save files from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, then you get to see how each of your decisions impact the finale here in Mass Effect 3.
Even if you haven't played the first two games, the choices in this game are still impressive because their large scale and high stakes. It's up to you to choose between groups of your comrades who oppose each other, to stop or to encourage your longtime team members to sacrifice themselves for a good cause, and to decide the fates of entire galactic species, Your choices truly matter and manage to leave long-lasting emotional impacts, encouraging you to play the game again to see what happens with different outcomes.
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.
Con The ending is unsatisfying and lacks closure
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 Horde mode multiplayer can quickly get stale
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.
Con Story leans too heavily on an unimaginative plot device
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 The human villains are poorly-written
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.