Commander Shepard's epic five-year battle draws to a close, but has BioWare silenced its critics?
Where do you start with a game like Mass Effect 3? The final act of an epic story that has taken note of dozens of narrative choices, both big and small, across three substantial games. Where every player has their own version of its force-of-nature protagonist, Commander Shepard, and expects the conclusion to the story to feel satisfying on both micro and macro levels - from individual relationships, to the fate of the entire galaxy.
According to virtually every existing review the only place to start is 2007, with the first Mass Effect. Time may not have been kind to BioWare's ambitious entrance into that world, and its streamlined sequel may have been criticised for dumbing-down, but no matter how many game modes EA adds to welcome in new players for the close of the trilogy, the glory of Mass Effect 3 at its best cannot be grasped by a first-timer.
You can tell Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead had a rewarding experience, and not just because of the 10 sitting at the bottom of the text. Tellingly, Whitehead deploys a first-person anecdote to book-end his glowing review - a tactic often used by critics who like a game so much that a breakdown of its mechanics, story and atmosphere just aren't enough to convey their excitement.
In the context of Mass Effect 3, however, it can be read as a confirmation that BioWare has delivered on one of the loftiest creative promises of this console generation.