North America

Mass Effect 3: Special Edition

by Curtis Bonds - November 18, 2013, 5:00 pm PST
Total comments: 8


It's one year later. but I'm still just as confused as to why this was made.

Before the Wii U launched, EA announced that part of its “unprecedented” partnership with Nintendo would be a port of Mass Effect 3 with some of the DLC included along with special GamePad functionality. Seeing as the Mass Effect series was heavily reliant on decisions made in past games, as well as the fact that the entire trilogy was released for the same price 2 weeks prior on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it made choosing the Wii U version of the game far less appealing.

Having no experience or connection with the Mass Effect series, which EA expected of buyers of the Wii U version, I decided to take on reviewing the game. I figured it would at least provide a good experiment to see how the game by itself holds up by itself, without any connection to or knowledge of the first two games. After playing the game for over 20 hours, all I got out of it was a generic third-person shooter.

Since the first two games were not released on the Wii U, the game starts you off with an animated comic book, that briefly summarizes the story from the first two games, and lets you make key decisions at certain points that affect different aspects of the game, such as which characters live or die. Sadly, the comic doesn’t represent the story very well, as it came off sounding like a glorified Mad Lib, as different names, places and creatures sounded weird and out of place due to a lack of context. Not knowing something as simple as why exactly the Reapers are a threat, other than the narrator telling me that they are, makes playing the first two games in the series that much more important. Though with how trivial and boring this game’s story was, I started to wonder if I was really missing anything in the first place.

The story in Mass Effect 3 involved Commander Shepard, our hero or heroine, having to fight the Reaper invasion throughout various planets, while teaming up with new and old squadmates alike. Each planet has their own little story and objective, but it’s rare if any of them have any real impact on the game’s narrative as a whole. During the game’s cutscenes, a wheel will pop up with various choices that range from finding out more information, responding with kindness or hostility, and assigning squadmates to various tasks. Depending on how you choose to respond to different characters in these scenarios, you can gain Paragon or Renegade points which unlock new dialogue choices in future conversations where you can charm or intimidate people, as well as Reputation points that let you be taken more seriously by other characters. None of these seem to have any real impact on the game’s story as a whole as much as they’re used to give a sense of control to the player over how they would react to the situation at hand.

That would be okay if the story and characters were interesting in the first place, and unfortunately it isn’t. The writing is about as dull as any generic space opera and provides no reason to care about anything going on. It doesn’t help that most of the characters speak in a monotonous, straight-faced manner, making any sort of compassion I might’ve  had for the characters fly out the window. In a series known for its storytelling, it’s extremely disappointing to not be able to connect or identify with any of the characters, and made it extremely tough to continue playing the game. Thankfully, the game became a bit more interesting when I actually started getting into combat..

As mentioned before, the game’s combat takes place on various planets that have their own objective and story. Although each planet has its own feel and unique design, the objective tends to be nothing more than “shoot everything you see, then do something in the highlighted area”. The game plays like your typical third-person, cover shooter. You move forward, you take cover behind walls, tighten your aim, and shoot shoot shoot until they’re dead. There’s nothing here that really shakes up the stale formula, but it still manages to be enjoyable in its own right. You can level up during these missions and earn skill points that you can assign to yourself and squadmates. The various special powers you gain through the skill points do shake things up and keep the combat from becoming dull and repetitive, but I found that no matter what you use, your gun will be the end all be all of taking down the enemy. You can upgrade your gun on the ship as well, but if there’s any difference after you do so, it’s minimal at best.

There’s online multiplayer is in the form of horde mode, in which you and 3 other players team up to battle waves of enemies as well complete several other objectives. In multiplayer, not only do you create a new character from scratch, but get to pick its class as well, giving you different abilities. You still gain experience and level up through this mode, but it actually feels like it’s making a difference compared to the single-player. As you level up, it’ll be easier to take on higher difficulty levels, where there are more varied enemy types, and you are able to gain more in-game credits to spend on new weapons and upgrades as a result. I found this mode to be quite addicting when I was able to actually find people to play with. It was rare that I actually had a full 4-player mission going on, but when I did, it was a ton of fun and was way more enjoyable and fulfilling than the single-player story mode.

Both the graphics and sound design are very impressive; however, graphical and sound glitches hurt them overall. For the most part, it’s on-par, if not better, than what you would normally see in the PS3 and 360 versions of the games, but every now and again, a little graphical or audio glitch will rear its ugly head. There have been multiple instances where characters in cutscenes will straight-up disappear, even though we hear them talking. The opposite will also happen, when the character is clearly supposed to be talking, yet no voice acting whatsoever is heard. I chose not to have subtitles on, so this made certain conversations very confusing.

If there’s one thing the Wii U version has over the other consoles, it’s the GamePad functionality. You get access to an incredibly useful minimap when you’re on your ship and on planetary missions. You can also take advantage of Off-TV Play, but as great as the game looks, not having that map proved to be too much of a tradeoff, as the game itself doesn’t really have a great sense of direction or positioning.

Playing this game without playing the first two entries feels like showing up to a movie an hour after it starts: you don’t know what’s going on, but you just have to roll with it because they expected you to be there from the beginning. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed the game more having had some personal connection to Mass Effect 1 and 2, but EA decided not to give Wii U owners that choice. From the boring story, to the shallow single-player gameplay, to the dull characters, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition didn’t do anything for me to live up to its Wii U subtitle. Maybe some day I’ll finally give the first two games in the series a try, and finally realize why this trilogy has such a mass effect on gamers’ lives.


  • Excellent gamepad usage
  • Graphics and Sound Design are top-notch
  • Multiplayer is addicting and a lot of fun
  • Combat can get repetitive
  • Dull story, writing, and characters
  • Graphical and sound glitches


MetalMario2November 19, 2013

It's worthless without the other two. Period.

ShayminNovember 19, 2013

I was about to play the WiiU version for a review myself. Thanks for taking the bullet, Curt.

But yeah, I think I'll play 1 and 2 first and try to carry Femshep along.

MagicCow64November 19, 2013

I didn't play the first game but was able to dive into Mass Effect 2 without a problem, and thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps in spite of the generic gameplay. Mass Effect 3, though, is just objectively worse. The story is sloppy and really reveals just how shallow all of the touted choice elements actually are, and the gameplay is virtually identical to the previous game, and I was already sick of it. I also ideologically refuse to buy DLC, and it was painfully obvious that you were supposed to have the Protean character to fully engage with the narrative, such as it is.

StratosNovember 19, 2013

I'm surprised that they did not try and port the complete trilogy to the Wii U instead of 3 as a stand-alone product. They would have gotten more sales for their efforts as I would have picked it up.

Mop it upNovember 19, 2013

This game is like $13 new on Amazon, but it sounds like even that isn't worth it...

leahsdadNovember 19, 2013

I think Mass Effect is emblematic of what's wrong with most gaming today:  the emphasis on story as on par with or above gameplay.  Hell, I blame Ninja Gaiden.  I was replaying it last week for the first time in years and I noticed I really hated those cutscenes-- they are so cheesy and long.  Starting mashing A on my 3DS and realized that GOOD GOD you cannot skip them or make the text load any faster. 

And to think I liked these cutscenes -- NO I was ENRAPTURED by these cutscenes back in 7th grade.  Geez.

azekeNovember 19, 2013

Quote from: leahsdad

I blame Ninja Gaiden.  I was replaying it last week for the first time in years and I noticed I really hated those cutscenes-- they are so cheesy and long.  Starting mashing A on my 3DS and realized that GOOD GOD you cannot skip them or make the text load any faster.

Pressing Start doesn't skip cutscenes in 3DS version?

ClexYoshiNovember 19, 2013


yeah, I have a history with these games inasmuch as they are the reason I got fed up and gave my Xbox 360 to my dad and sold all my games because of how stupidly in love he is with this dreck.

The first mass effect I -REALLY- enjoyed. don't get me wrong, it was incredibly flawed, bug-riddled mess with long loads, but it had personality to it and most of all, it felt like an awesome RPG where you bopped around the galaxy. the gun play was shaky, but it was unconventional, with guns having an overheat meter rather than the dreaded heat clips that the sequels used. also, the powers weren't all on a shared cool off,so it was VERY much possible to go into an encounter without having to even shoot all that much, and constantly stopping the action to use the power wheel gave things a much more turn based feel. that, and enemies and boxes actually had LOOT in them and there was lots of equipment management with changing suits, changing guns, outfitting guns with new ammo types , not to mention meaningful choices that if they didn't immediately pay off, they did so in the sequels. also, I could live with the copy-paste cargo bay area designs because quite frankly, I was actually exploring open worlds in the silliest dune buggy physics ever. <3

Mass Effect 2 turned me off from the series. it moved so, SO far away from the first game. what used to be big open spaces or labyrinths became knee-high barrier-laden corridor shooter land, the charming elevator load times where you'd hear the news or your party banter with each other were  replaced by ugly orangescreen, almost all the equipment customization was inexplicably stripped out, powers were put on shared cooldowns so that there was far more focus on the third person shooter gameplay, and they introduced your bog standard reloading clip ammo system. instead of shooting things, a lot of the time I was using my infiltrator's cloak ability  to get behind the enemy cover and I'd just spam melee attacks in the back of their heads  because I don't wanna have to deal with running out of sniper or pistol ammo ... but for all I fault the game over, they set up a really good, character driven narrative where your attachment to the squad mates and gathering the right resources to buy the ship upgrades play a very relevant role in the final mission, as any squad member could suffer cutscene death and not just the 3 that could in ME1

I didn't bother with Mass Effect 3 because by the time it came out, my dad had already amassed 37 different separate saves unto which he could choose through to transfer to ME3. He had gone through 3 Xboxes and 2 controllers. he still plays through them to this day.

I am not kidding.

He is retired and if he doesn't have a game to play He will sit there and play through the trilogy, and then when he's done with Mass effect 3 he will immediately put in ME1 again. he will delete the DLC off his system memory since we don't have a hard drive and he doesn't have the patience to save up for a proper memory unit. He instead pays for Xbox Live gold for the express and single reason of being able to use the cloud save function for his game saves  so that the meager flash memory on the system can hold his precious DLC that he continues to clean the fridge on.

Also, he still has troubles with some of the battles in Mass Effect 1. he is the type of gamer that Super Guide was built for. the game will give him the slightest of slight resistance and then I'm summoned like a genie out of a lamp. (see what I did there?)

Yeah. Mass effect 3. I'm a little skewed on my view of that... heh.

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Genre RPG
Developer BioWare

Worldwide Releases

na: Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
Release Nov 18, 2012
PublisherElectronic Arts
jpn: Mass Effect 3
Release Dec 08, 2012
PublisherElectronic Arts
eu: Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
Release Nov 30, 2012
PublisherElectronic Arts
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