Beating Mass Effect 3...9 Years Later

Beating Mass Effect 3...9 Years Later


With the release of “Mass Effect: Legendary Edition,” I realized that I never finished my first playthrough of Mass Effect 3. Being someone who writes guide professionally, know that I'm generally busy on multiple games at one time (like covering New Pokemon Snap, Cyberpunk 2077, and Destiny 2: Season of the Splicer all at once). When ME 3 dropped, I wasn't assigned it, so, like the other 2 games, I was actually playing it at a leisurely pace. The first Mass Effect easily took me the longest to complete. There was just so much to do. At the time I was busy with “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” Wondercon 2012, and “Tales of Graces F(orte).” RPG's have a way of eating a lot of my time, so it can be hard to put the time in (that and I was just starting to date the woman I would marry). Still, it was a game I very much meant to beat back in 2012. I've beaten dozen of games since and written a number of guides, none of which have touched the Mass Effect series. When “Mass Effect Legendary Edition” released, I thought I should finally sit down to finish out what I had been working on for a long time. I fired up my Xbox 360, loaded the file and took off back into the Milky Way. It was time to finish this story for Commander Shepard.


A little background information on my Commander Shepard. I played as Fem Shep since the start. She was an Infiltrator and I loved using the Sniper Rifles, especially after I got the ones that could shoot through cover. In general, if it was a Geth weapon, I was using it... a lot. She had some Renegade (cuz in my mind, no one is solidly all good or all bad, there's gotta be a little of each). However, she was largely about saving people. There were still times I'd go “Renegade” and deck someone, or avoid a stab and shoot them, or shoot someone to save a friend. I cried a bit when I lost Legion, who I'd taken a lot of trouble to build up and help. The Geth and the Quarian storyline was really fascinating for me to play through. Resolving that was a highlight going through the playthrough. Even if this Shepard didn't romance her, she's likely the next one a Future Commander Shepard will romance. I saved the bug race and generally avoided genocide, undoing the genophage inflicted on the Krogan. Romance wise, she stayed with Liara completely through all 3 games. Sure, it didn't go anywhere in Mass Effect 2, but I put work into it regardless. I knew there were other options but felt not real desire to chase them (But I did want to pursue Jack during another playthrough). Also, if I could save a party member, I would. It remains a point of pride that I made the “Suicide Mission” run blind without losing ANY of my party members.


When it comes to Mass Effect 3, I have my story to tell about the “Space Edition.” Myself and another employee of GameShampoo went out searching for the “Space Editions” that had been released. While we helped find people lost in the mountains who were doing the same, we couldn't get the game. It had been stuck up in a tree where no one could get it. The best the assembled group could do is hire an Arborist to climb up and get it. Not something we could stick around for. Most of the trek and our hours out in the wild are still up on the GameShampoo YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.


When I got back to the game itself, I had a few missions to complete then I got to the Cerberus “infiltration” mission. You get someone like me who enjoys sneaking around a bit, and any “infiltration” mission all about running and gunning, it's a little disappointing. Understand, I opted to play the game blind. While I would look up the miscellaneous objectives (find this thing for someone in the Citadel), I would be going progressing through the story without any foreknowledge. I ran around for a hour or two, getting credits, upgrading my guns doing side missions here and there. As much as possible, just running around enjoying myself. After a time, I decided I should go deal with Cerberus. I fine tuned by armor, equipped my favorite guns, spent any remaining skill points and set off toward the mission.


What surprised me a bit was immediately after I had finished this Cerberus mission, it was time to start a series of assaults. While the odd mission had been challenging, things really started to ramp up at this point in the game. Going and reach the “Human Reaper” was a tough battle, but very manageable. Grabbing it, there was just one more run to make, which was to get the Prothean VI from the Illusive Man. Fighting Kai Leng was a nice challenge of a boss fight at least. Him destroying sections of the floor, creating more varied terrain was a good touch. From there, it was time to head to Earth and break into the Citadel from London. This is where the Challenge really began for me. Fighting through, taking on numerous Banshees and Brutes was more challenging than Cerberus Atlas mechs. Just all the armor and the power of the Banshees alone still brings a feeling of dread. Brutes are just that, brutal to deal with. They would frequently down my team mates quickly and do heavy damage to Shepard. Fighting through the streets of London under the heavy fire of the Reaper forces was brutal to daunting almost the entire time. Approaching the beam, things got more and more desperate. Still, a mix of skill, the tactical cloak and careful headshots got Shepard through. Then it was just a sprint to the beam up to the Citadel. Fighting through the husks have the Reaper beam tore through the Alliance forces was nearly panicked for me. Just quick drawing, firing and hoping to kill them before they reached Shepard in her weakened state. My armor and powers gone, it was just wits and a pistol to see me through to the end of the mission. Reaching the beam at long last, but seeing Shepard in that state left me with a sense of dread. The final stretch was tense for it up to the final choices and confront with the Illusive Man.


Reaching the end of the game, I looked at the 3 choices. Having to choose between; eliminating the Synthetics, to control them, or to create a synthesis, took a moment. I stopped and thought about my character's journey and what she would do. Saving Earth was assured from any of the choices. The bigger question was to either seize control of the Synthetics or to go for synthesis, melding organics and Synthetics. Looking at just those 2, I realized that she would go for synthesis, giving everyone the best chance to live, to survive and to thrive. With that decision made, I enacted it, bringing Commander Shepard's story to a close.


At this point, it's been over 9 years since the release of Mass Effect 3. I knew about the controversy because of the endings. I played it on through with the Extended Cut update. There was more to the ending then what I would have experienced back in 2012. In ways, I'm grateful for how long it took so I got the best game experience out of it. I do I had beaten it sooner though.


I felt a deep sense of accomplishment for finishing Mass Effect 3. I got curious and looked back across Mass Effect 1 and 2 for this character. Her career started on January 19th, 2010. It took me about 35 hours to beat the original Mass Effect for that playthrough and doing at least a little of the DLC (but not finishing it). When I got to Mass Effect 2, that's where the bulk of my time was spent at 52 hours. That one, if I could do it, I did it. Just about every side quest and relationship mission was done. I wanted the Normandy to go in against the Reapers in its peak condition. Meanwhile, Mass Effect 3, after the credits rolled and my choice had been made, clocked in around 40 hours. There is a plenty left to do in Mass Effect 3 looking at my Quest Log. I might get back to it in the future, but not for a long while. The story has been told for my Commander Shepard. There's another galaxy to explore in Mass Effect: Andromeda and I feel ready, finally, to really dive into that.

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