They said it couldn’t be done. They said the 360 wouldn’t be around long enough. They said it would take a decade. They said… a lot of things. It has been a tumultuous last year, but BioWare and Mass Effect 3 have done what couldn’t be done. Thus there is no other choice, no game that meant more, or will be remembered as much as Mass Effect 3, this years Game of the Year.
When BioWare first proposed a trilogy on Microsoft’s’ Flagship console late 2005, most people were skeptical. BioWare had a giant reputation but certainly did not have a track record for producing games at a pace necessary for the trilogy to hold water. Even now years later the feat has not been attempted in anything but the most simplistic of forms; SquareEnix Final Fantasy XIII is one such example. It had been attempted before, Majesco Entertainment tried with Advent Rising, a beautiful game coauthored by Orson Scott Card with a vanguard musical score. Despite an Olympian effort, it never rose above the crowd and was the final nail in the coffin for the embattled company which would never again be a relevant console publisher.
Mass Effect hit so many high notes that a few less than stellar parts of the game were ignored. The combat was at the time typical BioWare fare, lacking. The inventory system was clunky and forgettable and the items could be set into four tiers, but were otherwise utterly indistinguishable from each other. It wasn’t even the most popular new IP on the 360 in 2007; that distinction went to a little franchise called Assassins’ Creed. Barely eeking out a RPG fantastic 2 million sold on the 360 and PC, it nevertheless failed to garner much attention outside of RPG gamers until Mass Effect 2.
Though Mass Effect 2 is oft-maligned for the story elements, and bringing too many new characters; BioWare’s nod to the Dirty Dozen added some much needed flavor to an, at that point, vanilla take on saving the galaxy. Until Mass Effect 2, players hadn’t understood just how bad it would get for the galaxy they were fighting to save or how much they might have to sacrifice. Moreover it introduced a prototype of the combat seen in Mass Effect 3, which made great strides in quality. Introducing the darker edge in Mass Effect 2 enabled BioWare to escape the inevitable shock that would have arisen from Mass Effect 3 and its dark, but powerful storyline.