Mass Effect: The [Direct-to-DVD] Movie
Thankfully, established characters from previous Mass Effect games maintain their high quality and rise above and beyond the mediocrity. But virtually all the new faces in ME3 elicit feelings of a high school drama production with stilted dialogue, embarrassing voice acting, and Twilight-level romance. Some new characters like Diana Allers (embedded news reporter), Steve Cortez (shuttle pilot), Samantha Traynor (personal secretary), and James Vega (squad mate) are forced down your throat and offer little more than atrocious single-dimensionality.
As for James Vega (or ‘Beefie McLargeHuge’ as I like to call him), he is never really introduced and merely appears in the beginning of the game as your new best friend. He basically looks like he walked off the set of Jersey Shore
and behaves like a stupid man-child for the first half of the game. As a native from Spain, James’ forced attempts at injecting Spanish slang into everything he says is, quite simply, painful. He does somewhat redeem himself by becoming a somewhat more relatable character free of the petty dramas others suffer. His interactions with other members of your team are actually funny, and he will frequently blurt out what you, the player, are really thinking about a particular situation. In fact, he is a great foil to Shepard’s new-found softness.
Garrus Vakarian deserves a shout-out for being the best “bro” character of all time. He mentions moments in past games for you to laugh about, hangs out with you, always has your back, and knows when and how to make light of any situation. He alone helps bridge all three games together. I never realized just how much I loved him until Mass Effect 3
. The other veterans of the trilogy, Liara and Tali, contribute just as greatly to the overall story. Liara’s heartfelt attempts to deal with the tragedy are endearing and full of legitimate sorrow, while Tali’s new-found hopes and dreams help alleviate the doom and gloom. Last character mention goes to EDI, the artificial intelligence of the ship, who you get to shape and mold throughout ME3 to realize what it means to be alive. So that makes it even worse to see the mixed bag that is how BioWare handled her, which is at times both brilliant and sloppy.
Pretty much everyone from the first two games makes some sort of cameo appearance, and if your old squad from ME2 survived the suicide mission, you get to have one last side-mission with each of them. Some are really cool and touching, like Thane Krios dealing with Kepral Syndrome and Jack growing up, but others felt like a bit of a throw-away. Without revealing anything, I’ll say that a few of your former squad mates do play an integral role in the plot of Mass Effect 3
. If some of them died in ME2, the game’s story can play out very differently, perhaps even becoming excessively tragic and depressing.
In my case, I kept everyone alive and did most things right, so ME3 played out like a huge triumph over evil. However, other players who either weren’t so vigilant or did not import a save file, may have seen a completely different outcome to a wide array of situations. So that talk and hype about an immensely divergent and fluid ME3 experience actually has a lot of validity to it. Unfortunately, not all choices that you’ve made in ME1 and ME2 really matter. Most of the time, they merely merit a side mention or contribute to your Galactic Readiness Rating.
Put briefly, the Readiness Rating is a number that represents all of the War Assets you’ve rallied for the fight against the Reaper invasion. We’re talking Krogan battle-masters, highly-skilled biotic trainees, dreadnaught flagships or entire fleets, basically some kind of military component from almost every race or organization you help out along the way. Everything is gained as a result of completing missions during the campaign, as well as scanning and probing planets via exploration, and the size of your army has a direct impact on how the end of the game plays out.