Somewhere at the core of Mass Effect lies the promise of a nuanced adventure in a detailed sci-fi universe. Unfortunately, that promise has been swept aside in codex entries and overheard NPC conversations as the series tightens its desperate embrace of big, dumb action movie conventions.

Confidence in BioWare has never fully recovered from Dragon Age II. With "push button get awesome", low effort content hiding behind cinematic spectacle, and increasingly laughable rehashes of the company's long-running awkward romances, they seemed to have shifted away from the craft and substance that defined their success.

Still, some have been willing to chalk Dragon Age II up as a fluke. The game was, after all, created by a team that wouldn't be touching Mass Effect 3. Maybe a bad outing can be an isolated incident rather than a reflection of a changing company.

Then the details began to emerge.

Mass Effect 3 would feature multiplayer and a "fuck the story, let me shoot" mode. Leaked plot points were shockingly stupid, making quantum entanglement teledildonic fan fiction seem reasonable and understated. A game journalist most known for being an attractive woman that once licked a PSP turned out to be a weirdly accurate character model in the game, complete with an outfit that Miranda would have turned down for being too ridiculous.

Mass Effect 3 might not be total shit, but at this point it is safe to say that everything we have heard about it is almost entirely comprised of shit.

That's not to say that BioWare is incapable of delivering twenty hours of engrossing and satisfying sci-fi. It's just that they've already exhausted those twenty hours, then sprinkled them throughout the 200+ hours it takes to play through the Imperial Agent and Smuggler storylines in The Old Republic.

At this point, it's hard to imagine Mass Effect 3 sounding any dumber. That's why I've done the hard work for you. It can always get worse. Here's how.

  • The horrible boss from the end of Mass Effect 2 is now your buddy - and he's voiced by Patrick Stewart! Time to team up with him to fight the REAL threat!
  • You no longer need to worry about inventory, ammo, heat, or space magic mana. In the interest of streamlining the game for a more cinematic and engrossing experience, all classes have been removed. Now Shepard simply has the N7, a gun with infinite ammo that causes screen-wide explosions every time it fires.
  • If you Like the game on Facebook, you get an exclusive pre-order armor that must be registered with BioWare's social network after signing in through your Origin account, then logging into the game, then logging in a second time to bring up the in-game browser to post about the game on Twitter to confirm your download. Only available for players that have registered the game as a new copy by going to EA.com (not Origin) and creating a Mass Effect account (separate from your BioWare account).
  • Over thirty characters based on a digitized model of Felicia Day! All of them are wearing skimpy outfits, and all of them love nerds.
  • Space mining was tedious, so it has been replaced with space lockpicking, complete with all your favorite QTE button prompts.
  • One way you can fall in love with someone is to manually control Shepard's arm like a salute in Iron Brigade and clumsily rub the back of his hand across their face. If you do this enough their love meter will fill up because they will realize how much you mean to them. Then you unlock their alternate armor and a mission, because love.

NeverDead
Clumsy action combined with the worst qualities of modern Japanese game storytelling, topped off with WACKY elements that only sound halfway cool on paper. 5/10

Final Fantasy XIII-2
I'll take part of the blame for encouraging this like this by thinking Final Fantasy VII was cool, as long as everyone that didn't buy Final Fantasy XII accepts the brunt of the blame. 4/10

SoulCalibur V
A tense battle to determine what's more bland and vaguely offputting - the characters or the UI. 4/10

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell

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