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Here are the real questions everyone has: did my favorite feature from Mass Effect come back? Does my favorite skill from Mass Effect 2 carry over? And what about the romantic relationship I chose, or my favorite companion, or that great gun? Is it my Normandy, my Citadel, my galaxy? Do my choices matter? Is this, in short, truly the Mass Effect title for which we have all been waiting for so very many interminable months? Yes. Yes it is.
Every action the Commander does or doesn't take influences the Galactic Readiness meter, which the player can access from a console on Shepard's ship, the Normandy. Here, Shepard can see the total effect missions have had on the status of every surviving spacefaring species. The higher the number, the stronger the chance for allied forces of civilization to take down the reaper threat. To see every detail ME3 has to offer would take playing through many, many times. The end result of three games' worth of "either / or" choices certainly isn't an infinite set of possibilities, but there are still quite a few of them.
Indeed, the word of the day is "choice." The Mass Effect franchise has always rested on the idea that the player gets to pick Shepard's path, and in this last installment BioWare seems determined to give the player a small array of options for almost everything. Are conversations not your thing? There's an option to make them into cut-scenes. Is reflex-action combat too challenging? There's an option to make it significantly simpler (you only need to bother taking cover in the hardest of fights). Like your helmet? See it in cut-scenes. Hate it? Turn it off.
This is Mass Effect 3: The Reapers have come, just as Commander Shepard spent two games trying to warn everyone they would. Most species' homeworlds are burning, all around the Milky Way. This still-mysterious alien race is a genuinely existential threat, and the odds of full victory against them are inescapably slim.
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