Classics 6


Okami HD

It’s understandable why this game is so beloved, but it has all the hallmarks of a First Game; Ambitious, flawed, good ideas, bad execution. Absolutely recommended if you haven’t played it before.
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Golden Number: 7.15
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 26.05 Hours
Time Reviewed: 8-27-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Cutscene: The opening cinematic is nicely stylized and ties into the game’s main strength
  2. Cutscenes: The game is very stylized and creatively constructed… not just in the obvious ‘hand drawn’ way, but in how it moves, flows, animates, and little touches (the grass erupting at your feet, the ‘wind’ flowing through the sky) all creating a very unique and creative visual experience…
  3. Cutscenes: …earning it two positives
  4. Character: There’s a lot of memorable and interesting supporting NPCs throughout the first third of the game…
  5. Character: …easily earning two positives
  6. Humor: Okay, I’ll admit it, the game is legitimately amusing
  7. Atmosphere: The atmosphere and tone of the game is quite quirky
  8. Atmosphere: The atmosphere is, similarly, very … well, myth
  9. Outro: The ‘final’ Orochi fight is honestly legit, a good epic ‘outro’…
  10. Outro: …further helped by Susano, who finally comes into his own and deserves his own positive for his arc throughout the first act
  11. Character: There is a legitimately high quality of supporting NPCs throughout much of the game
  12. Brickwork: So let’s get this out of the way; the game is visually gorgeous. Ignoring any visual storytelling, the Brickwork on display is absolutely fantastic, and absolutely holds up to this day…
  13. Brickwork: …easily earning…
  14. Brickwork: …three positives
  15. Animation: Further, the way the game is animated isn’t just good, it’s well used, with characters clearly getting across tone and emotion despite the deformed style they’re presented in, and further there’s often animations going on just a bit ‘off focus’ which adds to most scenes…
  16. Animation: …earning…
  17. Animation: …three positives
  18. Character: I love the way they use Ninetails; the fox that would be god, broken down bit by bit over the course of our interactions with them until they are nothing left but a tired old fox
  19. Outro: The spirit bomb moment of the Outro is legitimately enjoyable, with one caveat
  20. Spritework: Not gonna lie, I do not like how the enemies look in this game, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give them a positive for the styling

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: Intro is… not very engaging. It is very low key and meanders, heavily, between side characters and minor plot points, and generally just doesn’t engage, in addition to being very, very slow
  2. Empty Text: There is a very real Empty Text problem…
  3. Empty Text: …not the worst I’ve seen, but pretty bad
  4. Empty Text: This is related to the repetition problem that a lot of the dialogue has…
  5. Empty Text: …which is related to the repetition problem that a lot of dialogue has…
  6. Empty Text: …which is a shame given how much of a repetition problem that a lot of the dialogue has
  7. Character: Issun starts off honestly pretty damned irritating
  8. Character: Issun continues to be irritating
  9. Padding: The forced slow text is a nonstop aggravation throughout the entire game, dragging the Pacing to an absolute crawl in about half the cutscenes of the ENTIRE GAME…
  10. Padding: …earning it…
  11. Padding: …three negatives
  12. Writing: This is partially for Issun but the game’s insistence on talking up and focusing on the ‘sexay’ is just irritating
  13. Story Sequencing: The story sequencing is all over the place, with events often feeling completely disjointed from previous ones…
  14. Story Sequencing: …earning a second negative
  15. Padding: The Orochi refight sucks already for laziness (given how it just sort of repeats the same cutscenes with slightly different lines) but the way it diminishes everything makes it even worse
  16. Outro: Issun gets one final negative for his utterly unearned ‘redemption’ in the literal final boss fight
  17. Voice Acting: The ‘voice acting’ causes some… issues, especially considering the two worst ones talk the most

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music: Music is really quite enjoyable throughout…
  2. Music: …earning two positives
  3. Controls: The core controls for movement and combat are reasonably good
  4. Core Mechanic: The implementation has issues but the core idea of the brush mechanic is an interesting gimmick
  5. HUD: The NPC dialogue indicators help with quest progression
  6. Info In Game: In-game hints on progression in the form of the bead indicators, fortune teller, and NPC dialogue
  7. Minigame: Several minigames are pretty fun
  8. Animation: Animations are legitimately excellent, both helping with enemy attacks and general visuals
  9. Log: I like the in game journal and story-thus-far
  10. Viscerality: Good, flashy viscerality
  11. Level: Orochi’s lair is good when it’s good, being the first dungeon in the game I’d think is actually a dungeon
  12. Boss: The Orochi fight is actually legit; each head having their own gimmick, the variety of attacks, working in the drunk thing, fun stuff
  13. Level: The entire sunken ship dungeon is honestly the best dungeon in the game so far, with neat gimmicks and creative enemies and puzzles
  14. Grind/Leveling: While it’s minor, I do like the xp distribution system for leveling
  15. Level: The shrunk ‘level’ was pretty good too
  16. Level: Oni Island is pretty neat, with the race mini dungeons and the electricity gimmick
  17. Boss: The Ninetails fight is honestly pretty awesome, one of the better ones in the game
  18. MSQ: The mad dash through the forest, with enough timer to do optional things but encouraging you not to stray too far, is actually pretty legit
  19. Enemy Variety: The enemy variety is excellent, introducing new enemies regularly and giving them slight variations on gimmicks and bonus kill methods…
  20. Enemy Variety: …earning two positives
  21. Core Combat: Combat itself is reasonably fun, if simple
  22. Pacing: The game does a good job of keeping the variety up, helping with Pacing
  23. Kit: The game has pretty decent kit, between the brush attacks and the three types of weapons (which also each have a seperate alt fire mode as a secondary)
  24. Boss: The twin owls fight is, as per usual, actually pretty legit boss fight, with good pacing and good variety to it
  25. Outro: The Outro’s final boss fight is really cool, varied, and fun
  26. NG+: Good new game plus is, as always, a plus
  27. Difficulty Curve: Reasonably smooth difficulty curve
  28. Guidance and Flow: The guidance and flow of exploration, when it’s good, is good
  29. Itemization: Game is reasonably well itemized, with what is accessible and when, as well as in money flow
  30. Mid-Boss Checkpoints: Reasonably well done

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Graphics: The game’s visuals are… legitimately painful to look at. There’s a ghosting on the models which can’t be turned off, and a constant blur which (you guessed it) cannot be turned off. This is legitimately awful visually…
  2. Graphics: …earning a full…
  3. Graphics: …three negatives
  4. Graphics: For…
  5. Graphics: …each…
  6. Graphics: …issue
  7. Tutorialization: The Tutorial is excessive and heavily railroaded
  8. Intro: This problem bleeds over into the Intro, which is just sort of… absent any real gameplay of note
  9. Controls: The drill down / drill up controls are inconsistent based on which screen you’re on
  10. MSQ: The ‘stop the log’ sequence was irritating and had very inconsistent pixel hunting on top of an awful camera angle
  11. Saves: The save point placement is too spread out, especially given saves are it
  12. Controls: General inaccuracy of the painting gimmick
  13. Seconds In Minutes: Sprinting (and general traversal), the painting, and the menuing
  14. Pacing: The painting gimmick itself honestly completely kills the pacing of combat, made worse by how frequently the game expects/is balanced around you doing so
  15. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleep
  16. Seconds In Minutes: Repeat popups on consumable pickups
  17. MSQ: The ball rolling segment of Orochi’s lair sucks
  18. Minigame: The Kaguya digging minigame, in contrast to the previous ones, sucks. Dead ends, too precise of requirements for too imprecise of controls, and a strict timer
  19. Music: Interrupting the music when brushing is another minor but constant irritant
  20. Minigame: The penalty for failure in the final race in the Oni Island is actually awful, nevermind the platforming issues that entire section has thanks to wonky jumping physics
  21. Pacing: The entire sequence you have to go through to learn new abilities
  22. Secondary: Most side quests in the game are either padding or irritating
  23. Boss: The Orochi refight is a negative for the usual refight issues
  24. Boss: The Orochi refights deserve their own negative for the sheer length of the fight
  25. Outro: Outro’s first part? Long, sloggy refights…
  26. Outro: …earning two negatives
  27. Outro: The Outro’s final boss fight is too long for what it is, with long invuln phases and way too much hp (draining what otherwise would have been a good hyperbeam moment)
  28. Camera: A PS2 camera, aka not great
  29. Guidance And Flow: The guidance and flow of exploration, when it’s bad, is ‘where the hell am I going?’

Mass Effect 1

Still a good game, still worth playing. About what I expected overall; lackluster and flawed gameplay with a great story on top. Big recommend.
Total Story Score: +37
Total Gameplay Score: -16
Golden Number: 40.13
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 25.27 Hours
Time Reviewed: 10-15-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice Acting: This is honestly one of Jennifer Hale’s better performances, and what solidified her in my mind as a great actress
  2. Exposition: The game does a lot of efficient exposition very quickly with the opening, establishing the military theme, our position thereupon, humanity’s position in the galaxy, etc.
  3. Intro: So the Intro in totality does quite a lot well. While it stumbles periodically, we get a lot of the characters, world, premise, as well as the tone, vibe, etc…
  4. Intro: …earning it two positives
  5. Storytelling Mechanic: The Codex and its method of getting across a fairly large amount of information to the player as you progress
  6. Storytelling Mechanic: The spoken version of the Codex is similarly awesome…
  7. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning it two positives
  8. Voice Acting: The Codex’s voice actor is just where it needs to be
  9. Character: Though brief, Nihilus is well established and interesting for his brief foray
  10. Prime Opt: Liara’s romance slides so smoothly and naturally into just interacting with her that it is, for what it is, very well written and arguably the best romance in the first game (not that that’s saying much)
  11. Secondary: The Homecoming quest is one of the better quests in the entire game honestly. Both sides have a valid point, there is no right or wrong answer, and both sides are magnanimous in defeat
  12. Visual Storytelling: Citadel. There is so much implied and stated by the design and style of the station
  13. Brickwork: Citadel. Seriously, the Citadel is gorgeous to this day
  14. Lindblum Effect: Citadel, roaming NPCs, and background situations
  15. Secondary: Citadel side quests are memorable and enjoyable
  16. World Building: Similarly, a huge amount of the Citadel does some wonderful, wonderful world building, between quests and visuals and random conversations…
  17. World Building: …easily earning it two positives
  18. Visual Storytelling: The background and backdrop of Bring Down The Sky
  19. Prime Opt: While not the best introduction, the usage of the batarians and the choices related thereto as well as the world building therewith are interesting
  20. Prime Opt: The recovering slave quest you can encounter as a Colonist background is… extremely well acted (not counting Mark Meer) and well written, and terrifying on many levels
  21. Storytelling Mechanics: Elevators. Good banter, world building, and consequence during these
  22. Voice Acting: Citadel
  23. Voice Acting: Noveria
  24. World Building: Noveria
  25. Atmosphere: Noveria and its creepy, creepy labs and the constant Rachni attacks
  26. Secondaries: Secondary quests have some surprisingly good micro stories and world building to them…
  27. World Building: …especially about establishing Cerberus
  28. Atmosphere: Feros is wonderfully creepy
  29. Writing: And the Thorian is kind of horrifying on every level
  30. Moment: Wrex’s big scene on Virmire is good, and has multiple ways it can go too
  31. Character: Kirrahe is legit even here
  32. Voice Acting: Sovereign’s voice acting is legitimately fantastic, perfect intonation and perfect emphasis…
  33. Voice Acting: …which honestly is most of why his scene works as well as it does
  34. MSQ: Sovereign’s scene, impact
  35. MSQ: Sovereign’s scene, relevance (revelations)
  36. Writing: Sovereign’s writing
  37. Moment: Punching Udina is just as satisfying as always
  38. Character: Joker is awesome. He’s worked and pushed, hard, for everything he’s ever earned, and he knows it
  39. Voice Acting: Generally good VA for the NPCs and side characters
  40. Voice Acting: While they don’t have tons of screen time, Anderson and Hackett are both legit
  41. Integration: Gameplay/Story Integration with Spectre
  42. Character: Saren is a weirdly interesting villain for how miniscule his presence is, helped a lot by his voice actor
  43. Animation: Lots of little, good details of animation
  44. Character: Ashley is one of the better characters in ME1. Yeah, I said it, she’s got actual layers and depth to her, and flawed and foolish though she is, she’s honestly…
  45. Character: …worth two positives
  46. Character: While he’s not super awesome yet, Garrus is still Garrus
  47. Character: Tali falls into the same general category
  48. Character: Wrex is the best character in this game. Layers, depth, voice acting, presentation, some of the best plot relevance, and multiple moments which help flesh him out as we go…
  49. Character: …earning him…
  50. Character: …three positives
  51. Atmosphere: The entire game’s focus on being on the ‘surface’ of society
  52. Atmosphere: The usage of tech and the aesthetics thereof
  53. World Building: Geth construction
  54. World Building: Quarian society
  55. World Building: Council Space and the concept thereof
  56. World Building: The Asari as a species
  57. Character: She doesn’t have as much as I’d like, but Liara is still a good character
  58. Outro: The final rush up the Citadel Tower is very visually impressive
  59. Babylon 5 Effect: Periodic, but it’s there, and usually quite hidden
  60. Internal Continuity: Game does a good job of adhering to itself

Story Negatives:

  1. Exposition: Dry exposition problems early on
  2. Storytelling Mechanics: Codex mandation
  3. Intro: Because plot with Nihilus, plus the weird bit with Saren being… just bestial for no really explained reason
  4. Prime Opt: Conversely to the Liara romance point, multiple ME1 romances just sort of… progress without you really meaning to or wanting to, for various reasons, and this is a bit off-putting because then you have to shut them down which leads to some oddities (and Kaiden’s horrible horrible death)
  5. Character: Udina is honestly not well written or constructed as-is, and arguably serves as an example of world destruction (HOW exactly does this guy have, let alone keep, his job?)
  6. Voice Acting: Mark Meer. We know why, but it’s still true regardless. And of course it literally made me quit first ME playthrough just due to the performance…
  7. Voice Acting: …and it honestly gets to the point where I just tune him out…
  8. Voice Acting: …and the sheer quantity of it earns a third negative
  9. MSQ: So the initial Council scene… honestly kind of sucks. The dialogue is lacking (especially compared to the remainder of the game), and all three humans give… just the worst, most terrible possible arguments, to the point where it’s almost character assassination
  10. Writing: Total lack of proof against Saren, plus convinced by a friggin’ audio log…
  11. Animations: Stiff, off animations
  12. Storytelling Mechanics: So, per every game like this, there are related issues to being limited in which characters you can bring. This means limited dialogue and certain reactions… which is even worse than usual because of the fact that we have friggin’ comms which could facilitate limited party size for gameplay and full dialogue for story
  13. MSQ: So the second Council scene is even worse than the previous one. It’s hard to describe in summary because it’s so clearly thrown together. Logical leaps, people acting weirdly, no real connect, awful dialogue sequencing, it’s just… honestly the second worst scene in the game…
  14. MSQ: …earning two negatives
  15. Dialogue: It’s not the worst but there is a weird clunkiness to the ‘tell me about X, explain explain’ format in ME1, more so than most Bioware games
  16. Character: And then there’s Kaiden. Bland, boring, vanilla Kaiden. If he was ejected entirely the only thing we’d miss out on is some backstory on biotics
  17. Moment: Benezia’s big confrontation is… deflating, even if you bring Liara. The voice acting is off and the scene has no impact that it should
  18. Cutscenes: Visions and squick factor on top of disturbing imagery with no real purpose beyond ‘disturbing’
  19. Character: So, the Council are Obstinate Bureaucrats… but what really pushes them into ridiculous and stupid is the sheer volume of evidence they willfully ignore
  20. Outro: There’s… several logical flaws and holes in the entire Outro
  21. Outro: But then there’s the fakeout death, which can go straight to hell
  22. Outro: And finally the actual ending, as per Bioware’s standard, is not great
  23. Music Direction: There is some… strange decision making regarding what music plays where

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music: The music is honestly quite legit…
  2. Music: …inconsistent, but legit
  3. Intro: The Intro establishes a lot very very well. How to talk, how to navigate conversations, general tutorialization, the flow of escalation between yellow mobs, drones, Geth, and Husks, and finally the timed mission and last push against a group of enemies. It’s all very well constructed…
  4. Intro:…earning it two positives
  5. Class: Vanguard is probably the best class overall in ME1, risky but rewarding and capable of closing, hitting, and slamming with the shotgun…
  6. Class: …earning two positives
  7. Class: Sentinel has a good mix of the two stances
  8. Class: Similar to Infiltrator, which really makes good usage of the sniper rifle and the tech to back it…
  9. Class: …earning it two positives
  10. Class: Adept is a bit dull for a pure mage, but ultimately is still serviceable
  11. Class: Soldier is vanilla but coded well enough to work for it
  12. Interface: The equipment interface is actually quite legit. Color coded, everything well labeled and indicative, and lots of information with good at-a-glance
  13. MSQ: Generally decent encounter design and layout to the Liara recruitment mission
  14. Sound Design: Generally good sound design across the board
  15. Integration: Spectre and the in-story justification for us being a PC
  16. Viscerality: It’s not the best, but I do like the sound and design of guns and spells
  17. Enemy Variety: While it’s not the best, there is a legitimate variety to how enemies attack and function
  18. Choices: Probably the best choices gameplay in the franchise
  19. Core Mechanic: Okay, even with the changes… the Mako is still a delight to just ride around and have fun with
  20. Minigames: Decent photo mode
  21. Replayability: Between the pseudo NG+ and general quality and routing, decent replayability
  22. Save: Generally good save system

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Floaty controls. It’s hard to explain if you’re not at the controller but it just plays… wrong
  2. Padding: Codex time sink. There should be an option to listen to the Codex while questing or roaming, not having to literally stop playing the game to listen to it
  3. Interface: Inventory management is… not great. Lack of shortcuts, bad feedback, and some other related issues
  4. Graphics: Depth of field in cutscenes
  5. Graphics: Graphics inconsistency with textures and meshes not really lining up right
  6. Choices: Paragon/Renegade requirements for dialogue options, and related issues
  7. Difficulty Options: Lazy difficulty, as per usual
  8. Sound Design: There’s… wrong audio mastering on the dialogue. Sometimes it’s too quiet, sometimes it’s too muffled, but it’s just irritating either way…
  9. Sound Design: …and its just all over the place
  10. Core Mechanics: Cover is… wonky and wrong. It doesn’t always work in general, doesn’t always work period, is aggravating to control, and actively goes out of its way to be incredibly frustrating to control…
  11. Core Mechanics: …earning it…
  12. Core Mechanics: …a full three negatives
  13. Itemization: The game just shotguns loot at you…
  14. Itemization: …far, far too much
  15. Raspberry Jam: Yep, it’s there
  16. Difficulty Curve: It’s a bit off and a bit wonky, partially because of the availability to do quests ‘out of order’, but even ignoring that there are obvious weird spikes (especially early on)
  17. Secondary: Side quests are pretty bleh across the board gameplay wise
  18. Music: No music problem in a huge swath of the dungeons and fights
  19. Hub: The Normandy is… not super well laid out gameplay wise. Doors, hidden loading zones, and that damned elevator
  20. Overworld: The seemingly random, non-designed non-main worlds terrain sucks in general to navigate
  21. Padding: Then there’s the fact that these worlds are too empty with too little to do and are effectively just padding
  22. Secondary: Finally there’s the general lack of… content to the worlds
  23. AI Design: Enemy AI is not great
  24. AI: Party AI isn’t great either
  25. Level: Repeat dungeons… essentially all the side quests have a grand total of three dungeons across them, and it gets boring and repetitive…
  26. Level: …earning two negatives
  27. Audio Spam: Noveria USER ALERT
  28. Boss: Let’s be real, the attempts at ‘boss fights’ aren’t great in this game
  29. Map: The in-game map is… not helpful and irritating to use
  30. Level: Ilos is probably the worst ‘level’ in the game despite how short it is
  31. Outro: The final ‘stage’ is… not good. I’ve seen worse, but this isn’t good
  32. Outro: And the final ‘boss’ is A: a recycled enemy and B: boring
  33. Core Combat: At the end of the day, the core combat is (at best) ‘there’… it doesn’t really vary and it’s not really fun
  34. HUD: The HUD is… not super well laid out, and not very indicative, and worse you can only see the stats of one enemy at a time
  35. Terrain: The game has… troublesome terrain, entirely too easy to bonk or clip or catch on stuff
  36. Unskippable: The loading screens are weirdly unskippable (and frequent… and long)
  37. Choices: So the game suffers the same problem from DA:O with drifting into romances, but it’s even worse than in DA:O in two different directions, and is only really resolved by one of their deaths, plus Liara is just absolutely flung at you…
  38. Choices: …for two negatives

Mass Effect 2

Flawed, but still one of the best games I’ve ever played. Fun to play, fantastic characters, wonderful presentation. Love this game.
Total Story Score: +129
Total Gameplay Score: +31
Golden Number: 392.96
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 5 Days // 37.47 Hours
Time Reviewed: 10-23-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Moment: Walking out into the breached bridge of the Normandy SR1
  2. Spritework: Much better than the first game, not just with the cast and crew but also the three merc groups, the husks, the collectors, and the robots…
  3. Spritework: …for a full…
  4. Spritework: …three positives
  5. Voice Acting: Garrus
  6. Voice Acting: Jack
  7. Voice Acting: Miranda
  8. Voice Acting: Grunt
  9. Voice Acting: Legion
  10. Voice Acting: Zaeed
  11. Voice Acting: Citadel
  12. Voice Acting: Omega
  13. Voice Acting: General crew
  14. Atmosphere: Omega
  15. Atmosphere: Ilium
  16. Storytelling Mechanic: The Codex and its method of getting across a fairly large amount of information to the player as you progress
  17. Storytelling Mechanic: The spoken version of the Codex is similarly awesome…
  18. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning it two positives
  19. Voice Acting: The Codex’s voice actor is just where it needs to be
  20. Atmosphere: Generally the atmosphere of the whole game…
  21. Atmosphere: …is brilliant and enjoyable
  22. Intro: The opening of the Normandy’s destruction is still one of the most powerful and well presented moments in the entire series, and honestly across gaming still sticks out in my head as both memorable and good…
  23. Intro: …earning it…
  24. Intro: …three positives
  25. Storytelling Mechanic: The opening ‘comic’ which has the narrated retelling and acknowledgement of choices in ME1 is really, really well done…
  26. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning it…
  27. Storytelling Mechanic: …three positives
  28. Moment: The first TIM scene establishes the man brilliantly and beautifully, as well as the nature of his relationship to us
  29. Storytelling Mechanic: The little post-mission wrap ups are little, but they get across some good insight into TIM, Cerberus, and the mission
  30. Storytelling Mechanic: The usage of the emails as a way to acknowledge choices and keep the world connected is a good one…
  31. Storytelling Mechanic: …and the sheer quantity and quality of these pushes it into two positive range
  32. World Building: The Citadel continues to do a lot of heavy lifting for the world building of the game
  33. World Building: The amount of little details added here and there are really awesome, and really make the world feel more like an actual world
  34. Moment: Garrus’ fatigue, voice acting, animation, showcasing
  35. Storytelling Mechanic: The Interrupt system is great
  36. Moment: Mordin’s opening scene is just fantastic. Immediately establishes who he is and how he operates
  37. Foreshadowing: Mordin!
  38. Prime Opt: Kasumi mission (character for Kasumi, general amusement and enjoyability)
  39. Brickwork: Kasumi’s mission
  40. Secondary: The cutscenes, storytelling, and atmosphere of the Hammerhead missions
  41. Brickwork: Korlus is brilliant visually (as are most worlds in this game honestly)
  42. Character: Okeer has very, very little screen time, but does a lot with it, being a fascinating example of a Krogan
  43. Moment: Grunt’s intro is actually really legit, both his speech patterns, his actor, and the bit with the gun
  44. Moment: It’s a little thing, but the moment when you reinforce your romance with Liara in Lair of the Shadow Broker is very powerful in how understated it is
  45. Voice Acting: Finally I can give Mark Meer the positives he deserves. He’s a great actor, both as Shepard and of course as his best role… the Vortcha…
  46. Voice Acting: …earning him two positives by himself
  47. Voice Acting: Further, Jennifer Hale comes into her own here…
  48. Voice Acting: …getting two positives as well
  49. Animations: The addition of mocap is nice but the extra work in polishing the animations in cutscenes is a great addition…
  50. Animations: …easily earning two positives
  51. Lighting: Similarly, lighting is finally being used to actual atmospheric effect, and really adds to a lot of the areas of the game (sadly the Legendary Edition overdoes this sometimes, limiting this to a single positive)
  52. Camerawork: The camerawork is some of the best I’ve seen in a game like this in many cutscenes…
  53. Camerawork: …easily earning it two positives
  54. Plot: The loyalty missions as a concept are a great in-lore way to be on point, focused, and dealt with previous baggage to be able to do what they have to do… obviously they get their own plusses but even the concept is a great one, great structure and great function for the story…
  55. Plot: …earning it two positives
  56. Moment: Jack’s scene where she opens up about her loyalty mission is… just… it’s poetry. Under-stated, well shown, well acted, just perfect
  57. Lindblum Effect: Lots of good usage of terrain, people, and sights to make the world feel very alive and lived in…
  58. Lindblum Effect: …even more so than the previous game
  59. Doodads: Excellent doodad usage on the Citadel
  60. Doodads: Excellent doodad usage on Omega
  61. Doodads: Good doodad usage elsewhere
  62. Brickwork: The Citadel continues to be amazing
  63. Brickwork: Omega looks fantastic from every angle…
  64. Visual Storytelling: …and at every point sells the story that is Omega
  65. Plot: The overall escalation of the Collectors from our defeat to theirs is actually handled quite well, and does what an inordinate number of games fails to do
  66. Character: Though brief, Kal’Reeger is fully awesome for all of his screentime
  67. Animations: Okay so the cutscenes are very, very well done in general this time around. They nail animation…
  68. Storyboarding: …the blocking and storyboarding…
  69. Camerawork: …the usage of camera…
  70. Lighting: …and how they use the lighting to accent the scene…
  71. Sound Design: …all while being complimented by some great sound design
  72. World Building: Everything to do with Omega
  73. World Building: The majority of the game’s overall presence and underbelly nature in the galaxy’s society
  74. World Building: The additional lore and development of the Asari on camera
  75. World Building: Similarly the Salarians get some good fleshing out as well
  76. World Building: And just the very society itself, how the species interact, is much better done
  77. Brickwork: Ilium is gorgeous, honestly
  78. Lindblum Effect: The way the ‘side conversations’ just add to the world on Ilium and Omega is great
  79. Moment: The sweet but simple Asari and Krogan couple
  80. Moment: Conrad Verner… and being shot in the foot
  81. Theme: Moving on / how we deal with the past
  82. Moment: Special mention to two powerful scenes on Ilium. One is between a Salarian and his stepdaughter who is at the end of his life. The other is between us and an Asari who hurt… and hurts in turn. Both manage to be very well written, well performed, and impacting in their simplicity
  83. MSQ: The Thane recruitment mission has several amusing Salarian-related moments, a good interrupt…
  84. MSQ: …but does a great job with Thane himself, establishing everything about his character perfectly and efficiently
  85. Moment: Niftu Cal… both ways, too!
  86. World Building: Krogan get a whole lot more development this time around, culturally and historically and personally…
  87. World Building: …earning two positives
  88. Humor: What can I say, this game gets a laugh out of me
  89. Visual storytelling: Tuchanka, the blasted hellscape
  90. Prime Opt: Grunt’s Loyalty mission does some great stuff with the aforementioned Krogan culture, has some great moments, and interweaves with Wrex
  91. Writing: Okay let’s get this out of the way; the way they use the Genophage as a narrative concept here is nothing short of excellent. It’s one of the best plot points in the entire franchise, brilliantly constructed and beautifully grey in its dilemma and morality…
  92. Writing: …earning it…
  93. Writing: …three positives
  94. Prime Opt: Then there’s Mordin’s Loyalty mission, the best one in the game. The nuance, the characterization, Mordin’s voice acting, Maelon’s position, the relevance to the core theme of the work, the world building, the significance for the future, and hinging on the largest decision in an entire franchise of them…
  95. Prime Opt: …this mission…
  96. Prime Opt: …gets three positives
  97. Prime Opt: Jacob’s quest is brilliant in its horror and one of the better quests in the game. It opens, literally the FIRST dialogue we can see, is about how bad the situation is, and before we even see another person or face a single combat we have all the pieces we need to understand broadly what’s going on. We then get into the layers of how messed up things have gotten, and the entire time Jacob is nailing it, as he speaks possibilities and platitudes his tone indicates he doesn’t believe for a second. All of this comes beautifully to a head when we finally encounter Ronald (who’s been lying to us from the moment he first speaks) and who is incredibly voice acted to show just how little he feels remorse or contrition for any of it… and finally we get multiple options to show him justice, vengeance, or both… Jacob’s mission…
  98. Prime Opt: …deserves…
  99. Prime Opt: …three full positives
  100. Prime Opt: While simple and cheesy, Garrus’ Loyalty mission is still enjoyable for what it is
  101. Prime Opt: Similarly, Miranda’s allows her to finally become a character, even if she skips a few beats along the way
  102. Prime Opt: Thane’s Loyalty is simple and powerful in its presentation, but still has time for humor and general fun, and finally manages to be well written in how the entire scenario is constructed, from Bailey to Mouse to the crook to the politician to the final beginning of resolution itself…
  103. Prime Opt: …earning it two positives
  104. Prime Opt: There’s some hiccups, but the Samara Loyalty mission still varies things up a bit and has some great moments with the victim’s mother and with Samara herself
  105. Prime Opt: Jack’s Loyalty mission… what can I say about this one? The layers it adds to Jack, the personal insight into how messed up it was and what it did to the survivors, the atmosphere and the visuals, all brilliant…
  106. Prime Opt: …earning it two positives
  107. World Building: Geth culture fleshed out very quickly via Legion
  108. MSQ: Reaper IFF and horrible, horrible atmosphere
  109. World Building: Quarian politics… whoo boy quarian politics
  110. Prime Opt: Tali’s Loyalty mission
  111. Animation: Legion’s animations
  112. MSQ: The sequence with Joker and EDI attempting to salvage the ship is, itself, really good
  113. Music Direction: The usage of the Suicide Mission theme
  114. Outro: Generally good moments, direction, voice acting, and presentation in the Outro
  115. Character: Generally good characterization of the crew of the SR2
  116. Character: Special mention to Donnely and Daniels, who are just a treasure
  117. Character: Joker is, as usual, fantastic
  118. Character: Special mention to the dynamic between Joker and EDI, which really helps both
  119. Character: The Illusive Man is a fantastic villain. Intelligent, long term thinker, completely amoral, holds nothing back for himself or others, brought down only really by his own paranoid (and ME3)…
  120. Character: …further helped by fantastic motion capture and voice acting
  121. Character: A lot of people don’t like Jacob, but I’m quite fond of him in 2. He’s a straight shooter, unfailingly honest, and owns up to his mistakes pretty consistently
  122. Character: Miranda should honestly be more positives than just one, but she is hampered by starting out with a prickly shell and then drifting into a real character with no real in between. Still a good character
  123. Character: Bailey is a weirdly great supporting character and a fascinating insight into a good corrupt cop, who is simultaneously renegade and paragon
  124. Character: Kasumi isn’t much, but I do like her backstory and her personality
  125. Character: Similarly Zaeed is mostly just amusing old anecdotes and tales, but he’s alright
  126. Character: Grunt isn’t quite as interesting as Okeer, but he’s still a great insight into Krogan culture, has his own unique personality, and of course the best part is that he literally talks differently (as in sentence structure differently)
  127. Character: Thane is… fascinating. Good bad or in-between he is an insight into his people, the Hanar, and assassins in general
  128. Character: Let’s just get this out there; Mordin is the best character in the franchise…
  129. Character: …earning…
  130. Character: …three positives by itself
  131. Character: Then there’s the little details in Mordin. His singing, his verbal ticks (and the inhaling), his sentence structure, his voice actor, his movements, even the camera changes based on him…
  132. Character: …earning Mordin’s presentation, alone, two positives
  133. Character: Harbinger is not quite as impacting as Sovereign, but still substantially more of a character and provides lots of hints and insight into what the Reapers are and what they want, as well as how they operate
  134. Character: Okay so there’s some ups and downs but the romances in the game in general get a positive
  135. Character: Samara is a bit bland at first glance, but very well acted and animated, once again distinguishing her from the rest
  136. Character: Legion, similarly, is somewhat bland but forms a great insight into the Geth and, once again, fantastic animation with his ‘facial expressions’
  137. Character: Garrus is finally a truly great character here. The tiredness, the scars (internal), the pragmatism and renegade smacking into reality, just wonderful stuff…
  138. Character: …easily earning him two positives
  139. Character: Jack, similarly, is definitely a two positive character. A much better done variant of Miranda with more smooth of a curve, and easy to see multiple sides of her depending on how you interact with her, and finally being able to legitimately help her and pull her out of her nonsense…
  140. Character: …all while being well acted and animated and presented
  141. Character: Tali, like Garrus, steps up to the plate a bit more here. More nuance, more opinions presented for her, just more in general…
  142. Character: …earning her two positives
  143. Brickwork: The visuals of the Shadow Broker’s location are honestly brilliant
  144. Storytelling Mechanic: The data files the Shadow Broker DLC gives are neat storytelling points
  145. Writing: Miranda’s romance is simple, but sweet, and helps to warm her as a character
  146. Writing: Thane, similarly, is well done if simple
  147. Writing: Tali, the adorable woman pining after the hero, while matching him in combat and besting him intellectually…
  148. Writing: …for two positives
  149. Writing: Jack, with all her issues, finally opening up to someone and embracing someone who really cares about her…
  150. Writing: …for two positives
  151. Writing: And finally Garrus, growing fond of Shepard and finally joining with her…
  152. Writing: …for two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Writing: The game sort of… forces a few things right off the bat, and one of them is they force us to work for/with Cerberus, and that’s it. We’re locked in, the end
  2. Writing: So Project Lazarus brings us back. Cool… but they never do anything with it. It is a classic example of Underthought; this huge change happens but it only happens because the plot needed it to, and it’s never mentioned ever again
  3. Story Sequencing: So there’s an issue with ME2. The order in which you get whom and can then do their loyalty missions is… off. The structure should be something more like; All recruitment missions, then Horizon, then all loyalty missions, then Collector Vessel, then wrap up and finale… this odd structure literally screws over several aspects of the game and encourages the player to either very carefully map out their ‘route’ or to just bumble along and miss stuff…
  4. Story Sequencing: …earning it two negatives
  5. Storytelling Mechanics: The limitations of bringing people to missions are even worse here thanks to the aforementioned problem…
  6. Storytelling Mechanics: …earning it two negatives, especially given how little relevant dialogue even EXISTS (Bring Grunt to Mordin’s Loyalty mission? No reaction at all)
  7. Cutscene… Competence: So several characters (Kasumi, Shepard, and especially Jack) are super mega awesome in cutscenes and… not in gameplay
  8. Moment: Kaiden/Ashley’s scene on Horizon is… not good, no matter how it’s sliced, and worse, it turns a major character from 1 into a one-cutscene cameo, and it’s all done for pointless drama
  9. External Continuity: What they do with Ashley / Kaiden in general is honestly unacceptable, but the fact that the scene is NEAR identical regardless of which you pick makes it worse
  10. Storytelling Mechanic: The ‘walk by’ conversations are infrequent, but they’re still irritating
  11. Character: Morinth… is an edgelord, and a badly written one
  12. Moment: The drama llama moment between Jack and Miranda is poorly placed, poorly used, and literally does both characters a detriment
  13. Writing: The, and this is me being kind, excuse of the ENTIRE playable squad leaving the ship right when the Collectors attack so the entire crew gets captured but it’s okay cuz we don’t need them anyways really and just… what? This is severe Because Plot, and worse, it’s very easy to sideline…
  14. Writing: …earning it two negatives
  15. Outro: As usual, Bioware’s endings suck
  16. Outro: So the human Reaper. …… I really have nothing to add to this
  17. Writing: So, there’s… a lot of surface-level writing, dialogue, and characterization in Lair of the Shadow Broker, and it’s just… lacking
  18. World Building: Sssoooo why are there hundreds of mercs on the Shadow Broker’s ship?
  19. Character: Shepard is officially stupid as of the DLCs. It’s there in Shadow Broker but it really ramps up in Arrival
  20. Writing: Okay so… everything about the Alpha Relay throws everything into the thresher. Sovereign could have just used this instead of spending a MILLENNIA doing other things, plus even without the Collectors or the Citadel they have no trouble doing this and slamming the galaxy so it even contradicts ME2’s overall plot, and it just… why?
  21. Writing: So the build up / pay off of the reaper artifact is bad. We should’ve seen it coming, and then we not only walk right up to the damned thing, but fail to do anything about it, leading to a supposed-to-lose fight
  22. Writing: So they keep us alive for… reasons… and then we wake up while sedated for… reasons…
  23. Writing: Good a time as any to give the negative for us being totally immune to indoctrination for some reason

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Tutorialization: The Intro actually does a pretty good job of helping you out without forcing you too badly
  2. Intro: The first handful of missions are good indicators of how quest progression will go, core combat, and other mechanics
  3. Core Mechanics: The different types of healthbars are neat in and of themselves…
  4. Core Mechanics: …but the extra layer they add to moves and damage types is good stuff
  5. Core Combat: Similarly, the weakpoints system (while not fantastic) is still good, and makes combat more fun
  6. Enemy Variety: There’s some pretty good variety this time around…
  7. Enemy Variety: …between the mechs, different weapon types, and different weaknesses
  8. Core Combat: The ammo buff system is another good way to change up squad variety and relevance
  9. HUB: The ship is probably one of the better designed of these types
  10. Enemy AI: The enemy has evolved from braindead to actually interesting
  11. Party AI: Similarly the party members are actually worth a damn now…
  12. Kit: …further helped by their abilities being sufficiently varied and useful
  13. Encounter Design: Generally good encounter design throughout
  14. Level: Garrus’ recruitment mission
  15. Level: Mordin’s recruitment mission
  16. Choices: The Interrupt system is amazing. It’s a perfect evolution of Choices gameplay and not only adds to scenes by virtue of its mere existence…
  17. Choices: …but it’s well used, not always being ‘mandatory’ but always being about that core choice gameplay and how you want to play it
  18. Level: Kasumi’s mission (not super multi-pathed, but it is a break from the norm and is fun for it)
  19. Level: Hammerhead missions
  20. Level: Jack’s recruitment mission
  21. Level: Horizon and the escalation of new enemy types at the end of Act 1
  22. Boss: Okay, I’ll give you this, the Praetor fight is actually quite legit
  23. Minigame: The hacking minigames are actually pretty neat
  24. Prime Opt: The very existence and structure of the Loyalty missions as an optional method to ensure loyalty and the impact it has on the end game is a great idea and earns its own positive regardless of individual missions
  25. MSQ: Collector Vessel mission
  26. Prime Opt: Grunt’s Loyalty mission
  27. Prime Opt: Jacob’s Loyalty mission (some well designed, fun ambushes where the terrain actually matters)
  28. Class: Adept starts to have some fun with combos, and spells have more punch
  29. Class: Soldier gets good, and with the range of weapons has more options for basic combat
  30. Class: Vanguard similarly really kicks it into gear…
  31. Class: …earning it two positives
  32. Class: Engineer is given some neat new options
  33. Class: Infiltrator becomes much more interesting as well
  34. Class: And finally, Sentinel takes its place as the functional ‘full mage’ spec
  35. Checkpoints: Generally good mid-mission checkpoints, usually in between encounters but sometimes in between phases or waves
  36. Sound: Excellent sound design, helping to keep track of enemies, cooldowns, and actions
  37. HUD: The game has a good HUD overall, with the targeting reticule helping with cooldowns, better healthbar showcasing as well as better color distinction, and better squad indicators
  38. Level: The Garrus Loyalty mission has some good encounter design and some fun layouts
  39. Difficulty: Good difficulty options, with actual AI improvements based on level
  40. Level: Overlord, some actual level and puzzle design, though basic it’s fun
  41. Boss: The Overlord boss fight
  42. Level: Legion’s Loyalty tries to vary things up in several ways
  43. Save: Reasonably decent save system
  44. Viscerality: Generally good viscerality (mostly with spells)
  45. Music: Generally okay music
  46. Outro: The Suicide Mission overall gets a big thumbs up from me. The sheer quantity of probabilities of how it progresses, based on who you’ve recruited, who you’ve loyal’d, and what choices you make is all brilliant on the face of it…
  47. Outro: …earning it…
  48. Outro: …three positives
  49. Boss: At least the Shadow Broker boss fight is actually fun and interesting
  50. Minigames: Decent photo mode
  51. Choices: General romance choices gameplay positive
  52. Song: Suicide Mission…
  53. Song: …for a full…
  54. Song: …three positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Bug: Crash on hotkeying bug
  2. Map: Good God… when it’s there, it’s awful
  3. Boss: The Donovan Hock boss fight wouldn’t be terrible if not for the fact that it’s not a boss fight, it’s ‘avoid the turret while killing adds’. Takes too long too
  4. Core Mechanics: Cooldowns being synced with each other is just not a good system and deprioritizes tactical thinking
  5. Raspberry Jam: Raspberry jam!
  6. Graphics: Depth of Field in conversations
  7. Padding: Probing tedium / mandation combined with fuel tedium
  8. Minigame: The hacking minigames, while fun, are way over-used and get old fast
  9. Padding: Additional negative for both probe and hacking
  10. Controls: Cover combat is still awkward and weird… not as bad as 1, but still bad
  11. Secondary: It’s infrequent but some of the secondary quests really have issues with guidance and the journal only sometimes helps
  12. Controls: One button for everything and related Assassin’s Creedy issues
  13. Padding: There’s… just a little bit too much padding in combat, especially on harder difficulties
  14. Choice: Morinth. The choice to pick her is ridiculous and out of place. It’s purely evil for no real benefit but worse it just doesn’t fit, not the game, the quest, or even the scene
  15. Sound Design: The Hammerhead is fun but sounds VERY irritating (and no music!)
  16. Encounter Rate: Honestly if you removed one or two encounters per level the game would go much smoother
  17. Info In Game: The general lack of information in game about the timer and the post IFF countdown
  18. Outro: The final boss… sucks. I’ve seen worse, really, but it’s not great
  19. QoL: The total lack of information about when to talk to whom is irritating
  20. Boss: The Vasir boss fight is a one-note gimmick which could have been interesting and instead is just a slog
  21. Level: The Shadow Broker’s ship goes on too long for what it is
  22. Encounter: The supposed-to-lose fight by Object Rho has several things wrong with it, but at the end of the day it is boring
  23. Level: Sooo Arrival. In a game entirely designed around squad gameplay, we’re solo. And this could have worked if they designed it around it, but instead it’s just another typical level like any other

Mass Effect 3

This one surprised me a bit on review. Great story, mired by a terrible story. Great gameplay, mired by awful gameplay. This game is nothing but whiplash… and averages out to be, ironically, below average. If you play it, do the Citadel DLC last and end the game there.
Total Story Score: -24
Total Gameplay Score: +42
Golden Number: 33.27
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 5 Days // 45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 10-28-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Storytelling Mechanic: As with in ME2 the opening comic for new characters is a great retread and decision tool…
  2. Storytelling Mechanic: …and it earns…
  3. Storytelling Mechanic: …three positives
  4. Sound Design: Holy hell they nail the Reaper’s sound design
  5. Brickwork: The Mars mission visuals are quite impressive
  6. Background Lore: The random snippets from people on the Citadel are honestly really good. Like, really good…
  7. Background Lore: …easily earning…
  8. Background Lore: …three positives
  9. Brickwork: Citadel, as usual
  10. MSQ: Priority Palaven has some great moments, and is a good down-to-earth showcasing of the trenches and the war
  11. Prime Opt: Okay the mission to recruit Javik is surprisingly well done. The flashbacks, the direction, the voice directing on Javik himself, and the weight of his history are all quite well done
  12. Prime Opt: The mission to help the Grissom Academy kids is good top to bottom
  13. Character: Jack and her growth is honestly just smile inducing, and a great conclusion to her arc from 2
  14. Dialogue: Jack’s mission has some smart, snappy, and well written dialogue
  15. Humor: Badassfully, the Blasto 6 movie is honestly just… great
  16. MSQ: The initial moments during the Sur’Kesh mission are quite good. Kirrahe, Wrex, the humor…
  17. Lindblum Effect: Citadel. It’s really more fleshed out and presented then it ever has been before…
  18. Lindblum Effect: …earning it…
  19. Lindblum Effect: …three positives
  20. Moment: Wrex declaring us his brother is honestly just a great moment in itself
  21. Moment: Mordin guilt about genophage scene
  22. Moment: Betrayal scene on Tuchanka
  23. MSQ: The entirety of the Tuchanka mission is fantastic with few exceptions. The way it fulfills on so many plot threads and can weave in and out of different outcomes depending is just amazing…
  24. MSQ: …and deserves…
  25. MSQ: …three positives
  26. Character: Now, I can’t give him as many positives as in ME2, but the way they use Mordin here really is perfect. No matter how things go… it’s Mordin…
  27. Character: …and he earns two positives
  28. Moment: While Tuchanka has good moments throughout, I have to give special praise to the destruction of the Destroyer
  29. Moment: And… Mordin’s death. It’s… essentially perfect. He isn’t unhappy, he isn’t unsatisfied, he isn’t angry, he’s resolute and … fulfilled. He accepts what he’s doing, and he dies smiling, having accomplished what he set out to do, singing… it’s beautiful…
  30. Moment: …and it earns…
  31. Moment: …three positives by itself
  32. Banter: Special mention to all of Joker’s banter throughout the game
  33. Moment: Thane’s final moments still hit just as hard. The outmaneuvering of Kai Leng, the smack talking, the final prayer… for us, as he dies with his only remaining mark on the galaxy, his friend and his son…
  34. Moment: …earning two positives
  35. Character: Conrad actually has some really good stuff here, but what finally makes him a good character and not just comic relief (and meta jokes) is his being a legitimately brilliant scientist, just… someone who isn’t really in our field
  36. Voice Acting: Meer doesn’t do as good of a job this time around, but he still does a good job
  37. Voice Acting: Ditto for Hale
  38. Character: Thane only gets a little bit of screen time, but he uses it quite well
  39. Banter: Tali & Garrus banter
  40. Cutscenes: Lovely cinematics around the Rannoch sequence
  41. Brickwork: Geth Dreadnaught visuals and audio
  42. Brickwork: Geth Consensus mission visuals
  43. World Building: Geth Consensus mission world building
  44. Moment: Tali’s rock, and picking out her window
  45. Moment: There are a few good emotional beats in Rannoch
  46. Moment: The moment after the fall of Thessia is actually REALLY well done. The acting on our part, the councilor’s quiet disbelief, ‘the continuity of civilization’, it’s good
  47. Banter: The general banter in this game is honestly top notch, and frankly better than it’s been in the entire rest of the series. It earns…
  48. Banter: …three positives…
  49. Banter: …in general
  50. External Continuity: So this will sound weird, but ME3 does a really good job of acknowledging (some) choices from previous games and doing something with them
  51. Atmosphere: Some of the game’s war sections really do a good job with the atmosphere
  52. Storytelling Mechanic: The Codex and its method of getting across a fairly large amount of information to the player as you progress
  53. Storytelling Mechanic: The spoken version of the Codex is similarly awesome…
  54. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning it two positives
  55. Brickwork: Frost areas
  56. Brickwork: Tuchanka
  57. Brickwork: Omega
  58. Visual Storytelling: Omega (especially reactor)
  59. Moment: I am Garrus Vakarian and this is my favorite spot on the Citadel!
  60. Character: Ashley and Kaiden sort of get lumped in together here because… they’re really kinda the same character. And both are bland and irritating, but both do get some good moments to themselves, enough to drag them up to a collective positive
  61. Character: Joker remains a bright spot in all of these games…
  62. Character: …earns a plus for himself…
  63. Voice Actor: …and for Seth Green
  64. Character: This may raise some hackles, but I do actually like Vega. He’s an idiot in the Intro, but then everyone is, and he’s fine everywhere else
  65. Character: Similarly Javik really should have been more relevant, but he does get his own moments and they do some good stuff with it
  66. Character: Traynor isn’t great (and most of her character is locked behind romance), but she’s a big step up from Kelly
  67. Character: EDI continues to be interesting and engaging…
  68. Character: …honestly one of the better characters in 3
  69. Character: While Wrex only really gets his one sequence, and it has some flaws, Wrex is still Wrex
  70. Character: Eve does a lot with what little screen time she gets
  71. Character: Ditto for Victus, probably one of my favorite Turians
  72. Character: A general supporting cast positive
  73. Voice Acting: The voice acting is… lacking in 3, but there’s still some good stuff scattered throughout
  74. Character: Legion continues to be awesome
  75. Character: Ditto for Miranda
  76. Character: And then there’s Garrus. Garrus is honestly probably the best character in this particular bundle alongside EDI…
  77. Character: …earning him two positives
  78. MSQ: Sanctuary is… really, really horrifying
  79. Prime Opt: Okay so the atmosphere and visuals and audio and everything of the deep dive during the Leviathan quest, though short, is really quite well done and deserves mention
  80. Storytelling Mechanic: Anderson monologues in the Citadel DLC
  81. Humor: The Citadel DLC. ‘Nuff said
  82. Moment: The moment where the entire squad just sort of comes up and bodies everything is fantastic
  83. Moment: Generally good apartment moments
  84. Moment: Thane’s memorial, just… Thane’s memorial
  85. Moment: It’s JOKIN’ TIME!
  86. Moment: Grunt’s… escapades
  87. Prime Opt: The party…
  88. Prime Opt: …the party…
  89. Prime Opt: …the party.
  90. Moment: Finale and emotional power thereof… of the party
  91. Cutscenes: The big dramatic showcasing of all the species we’d gotten together, and the big space battle, iiiis pretty cool
  92. Moment: The final goodbyes before the final mission
  93. Moment: Garrus’ final scene
  94. Moment: Anderson’s death is honestly very powerful, if brief, and absolutely carried by Keith David
  95. Writing: General romance positive

Story Negatives:

  1. Consequence Storytelling: Intro. There’s just an absence of consequence here, as if this was the first game in the series
  2. Dialogue: Intro’s dialogue is… really, really bad
  3. External Continuity: So the Reapers are everywhere and they’re super powerful… in the Intro
  4. Moment: We fight or we die!
  5. Exposition: AS YOU KNOW Shepard, the person I reinstated as a Spectre, personally, six months ago, you are a Spectre!
  6. Moment: Killing the kid was cheap on every level
  7. Brickwork: The… the cheap, animated GIF people…
  8. Writing: So the Reapers are SO powerful they wiped out the entire fleet in SECONDS before it was even able to send out a distress signal… which is already insane, but then you take into account the fact that they are defeatable conventionally (IN this game) and people will successfully resist them for lord knows how long (while elsewise they won’t)… and all of this is a round about way of showing ONE of the many ways in which there is massive, massive amount of inconsistency across the game…
  9. Writing: …earning it…
  10. Writing: …three negatives just here
  11. Writing: Alright. The Crucible. This thing is a macguffin, which is already bad, but it’s a mega macguffin, which is much worse. This thing doesn’t just help or aid, it literally wins the entire conflict with the press of a button. The Crucible, BY ITSELF…
  12. Writing: …is…
  13. Writing: …three negatives
  14. External Continuity: Also, the Crucible plans were found on Mars, which makes no sense given how much work has been done already on Mars (for a VERY long time)…
  15. External Continuity: …and was built by the Protheans, who A: Already flung a light into the future in ME1 and B: lost the last war but it’s okay cuz they made a friggin’ I win button
  16. External Continuity: The way Liara acts like you’re essentially a stranger is irritating on the face of it, but gets worse if you actually romanced her
  17. External Continuity: In fact let’s get this out of the way; every romance from previous games is poorly carried forwards into this one
  18. Writing: So we’re fighting Cerberus on Sur’Kesh for… … some… reason?
  19. World Destruction: Also the Cerberus Empire even being able to A: Find, B: Field, and C: Attack with success the STG base on the Salarian homeworld is bonkers
  20. Writing: So Cerberus just kinda… takes over the Citadel. Which is already bonkers but then you realize they did it stealthily and it gets worse
  21. Cutscene Incompetence: The scene between Kai Leng and Thane is literally flooded with cutscene incompetence. Shepard loses advantage to threaten, our party members do nothing, Thane doesn’t use his advantage, and Kai Leng gets in on it too
  22. Cutscene Incompetence: THEN we have the immediately following scene where Kai Leng just sort of wins against our car during which we could have done many, many things… but do nothing except shoot at him with a pistol
  23. Consequence Storytelling: So Cerberus invaded the Citadel, cool cool, then we killed a few dozen which made their super spy Kai Leng flee, and now we… won? Huh. Okay
  24. Character: Jacob; character assassination
  25. Character: Jacob; Romance disrespect
  26. Dialogue: Liara’s unnecessarily expository dialogue
  27. Moment: So then there’s the first kid scene. This… doesn’t work on any level. It’s trying too hard, there’s no real reason to have this particular attachment, we’ve been through worse, and we have more things that could be used here instead
  28. Moment: Then there’s the SECOND kid scene, where they kinda get it right with whispers of the dead, but they actually REPEAT themselves, and of course it’s still a dumb forest and a dumb kid and fire
  29. Storytelling Mechanics: Loss of banter via limited party size is worse than ever before thanks to, ironically, the good banter in this one…
  30. Storytelling Mechanics: …earning it…
  31. Storytelling Mechanics: …three negatives
  32. External Continuity: Lack of acknowledging choices in previous games (smoothing out the narrative)
  33. Character: Dalatress is stupid evil for no really good reason
  34. Exposition: As you know is pretty bad early on
  35. External Continuity: Punishment for ‘wrong’ choices… which are almost always Renegade ones
  36. Moment: Diana Allers again… dammit woman
  37. Fake Drama: Omega drrraaamma
  38. World Building: So Cerberus can just field a massive fleet over Omega, and a huge army, which then takes over the entirety of the Terminus systems… SURE
  39. Writing: The entire Rannoch sequence feels like it needed several more polish passes to really work
  40. MSQ: There’s a lot of issues with the Rannoch conclusion that would take too long to summarize here, but in short I feel it could have used several more variants and gradients and is entirely too tonally incorrect if you do anything but the golden path
  41. Dialogue: The entire Rannoch sequence really needed an extra polishing pass, some of the dialogue literally makes no sense
  42. MSQ: The Rannoch finale… is a lot more lacking then I remember. I won’t pick it apart individually, but there’s a lot of missing steps there and it just… doesn’t land the way it should
  43. Visual Storytelling: Thessia visuals
  44. Character: Thessia Liara
  45. Atmosphere: Thessia trying too hard
  46. Storyboarding: Kai Leng bodies us effortlessly in a way that actively detracts from the moment
  47. Writing: The entire Kai Leng sequence is honestly pretty awful on every level. Liara and Javik wrecked in seconds, one gunship and one guy overpowering our entire team at THIS point? The whole thing doesn’t work
  48. Cutscene Incompetence: Thessia. Just… Thessia
  49. Internal Continuity: So… Thessia falls in like, a day, effortlessly, but Earth holds out for like 6 months? Sure
  50. Fake Drama: Liara, post Thessia
  51. Internal Continuity: Codex issues
  52. Dialogue: So, the dialogue in this game isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but there’s a lot of holes and necessary polishing passes it never got…
  53. Dialogue: …earning it two negatives
  54. Atmosphere: The game does not know what tone it wants and flip flops badly between them, hurting both…
  55. Atmosphere: …for two negatives
  56. Storytelling Mechanic: The walk-by conversations are back but are MUCH worse this time, as there’s more of them, most are time sensitive, and you have to literally reload the area to progress them…
  57. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning…
  58. Storytelling Mechanic: …three negatives
  59. Voice Acting: Special mention to Diana’s VA who just does not do this properly at all
  60. Voice Acting: There’s… weird issues with everyone’s voice acting, really. Rather than point to specifics…
  61. Voice Directing: …I’m just going to spread…
  62. Voice Directing: …the negatives out in aggregates
  63. Storytelling Mechanic: So the Warscore is necessary to unlock endings… and that’s it. Sure. Remember this for later, by the way
  64. Spritework: I … really do not like the weird sexification this game got, but I could tolerate it all if not for what they did to Ashley, who literally looks like a different person
  65. Consequence Storytelling: So in a game all about a massive interstellar invasion, it’s… all a ground war. This is a huge, constant problem throughout the entire work and informs a lot of what happens and where, when what should be happening is a focus on fleets and infrastructure… but this is a shooter, so it keeps being a ground war. Now this could have worked, but no effort is put into MAKING it work, so it doesn’t…
  66. Consequence Storytelling: …earning…
  67. Consequence Storytelling: …three negatives
  68. Character: Shepard is stupid here. They always have been, really, but it’s much, much worse in 3…
  69. Character: …consistently and repeatedly
  70. Character: I can’t friggin’ believe it but Liara is just… hit with the stupid stick, hard, this entire game
  71. Internal Continuity: This game cannot keep its own writing consistent internally whatsoever…
  72. Internal Continuity: …earning an easy…
  73. Internal Continuity: …three negatives
  74. Secondaries: The secondary… ‘quests’ are such nothingburgers, I can’t give them more negatives but they are such a waste of everything
  75. Writing: General underthought in small but multiple ways throughout the Leviathan quests
  76. Consequence Storytelling: The Leviathans should be a sea change and super are not
  77. Writing: More underthought with regards to the big plot twist with the Leviathans
  78. Internal Continuity: So… uh… the Citadel DLC really, really does not fit no matter how you cram it, and there’s no real avoiding that without fundamentally changing the endings
  79. Cutscene Incompetence: Okay so… there’s some really, really bad cutscene incompetence in the Citadel DLC when CloneShep shows up. Like, it’s some of the worst I’ve seen…
  80. Cutscene Incompetence: …earning two negatives
  81. Plot: The… overall plot and function of the main plot of the Citadel DLC is… actively bonkers stupid…
  82. Plot: …and I get it, and it’s fun, but DAMN is it stupid
  83. World Building: So, the Human ProtoReaper is in the Cerberus base, powering everything… sure…
  84. Plot: The big dun dun dun moment about the Catalyst being the Citadel is… sure
  85. Writing: So the Citadel has been dragged to Earth. …why? How?
  86. Cutscene Incompetence: Oh and nobody noticed Kai Leng very loudly and obviously approaching you (twice)
  87. Visual Storytelling: London is… fine, really, and in stark contrast to, for example, Palaven
  88. Writing: Lots of underthought with the big going back to Earth cinematic
  89. Writing: Final lunge to the beam initially is already problematic on several levels and absolutely filled with ‘just go with it’
  90. Consequence Storytelling: Then we have the Normandy which shows up near instantly and our other two squad members leaving… uh… okay
  91. External Continuity: Theeen we have the final run itself where Harbinger is… not saying anything. The dude most well known for being vocal, who’s already established as the largest, original, and leader of the Reapers, just shows up, blasts, and peaces out
  92. Writing: THEN as we’re rushing up we survive a beam hit to the face
  93. Writing: Also Harbinger just lets the Normandy peace out without doing anything about it
  94. Atmosphere: So then there’s the gore on the Citadel. It has no real point or purpose and, worst of all, absolutely does not fit tonally with the entire series
  95. Consequence Storytelling: Then there’s all the lack of logic at this point. We warp in in SHAMBLING distance of where we need to go, which happens to be lined with tons of corpses, all simply to set the scene… oh also Anderson is here… somehow?
  96. MSQ: The aping of the Saren final boss dialogue simply does not work. It is simply too repeated, and not enough developed, and it does not work
  97. Outro: One final massive push of the child which is cheap (literally, since it’s reused assets) and does NOT work
  98. Theme: The massively incorrect theme usage in the finale… not just picking one of ME’s themes, of which there are many, and rushing off into the distance to do this other stupid thing
  99. Outro: The sheer stupidity of the starchild’s solution deserves its own negative
  100. Dialogue: The Starchild’s dialogue is stupid on so many levels, but it’s also… just… bad
  101. Writing: The Starchild is “Right” despite all logic and reason and as a result it makes Shepard so, so much worse for just kind of going along with all of it
  102. Writing: So uh. The Red ending wipes out all synthetic life. ….how??? How does it target it? What are its requirements? How… just how?
  103. Writing: So uh the Synthesis ending is, by every metric within the game insists the Synthesis ending is the ‘best’ ending, the golden path. … .. …WHAT?
  104. Outro: The Refusal Ending is… lackluster, to begin with. It’s spiteful. And screw it…
  105. Outro: …earning it two negatives
  106. Outro: So first, the crayola endings initial parts are entirely too copy paste
  107. Outro: Then there’s the fact that they all involve this big rushed fleeing from a giant explosion despite all logic and reason so we can have an exciting moment
  108. Outro: Then we get into Destroy’s Extended Ending which tells (not shows) the… opposite of what was shown
  109. Outro: Synthesis is awful on absolutely every level. I don’t feel like typing up why, I spent like 20 minutes straight talking about it, Synthesis gets…
  110. Outro: …three…
  111. Outro: …negatives
  112. Outro: Synthesis also suffers the ‘telling despite showing’ problem
  113. Visual Storytelling: Visual storytelling of Synthesis is honestly bonkers
  114. Outro: The slides are… fluff. They don’t add anything, they barely change, they don’t do anything
  115. Outro: Stargazer is pointless, tacked on, and essentially doesn’t change regardless
  116. Animation: Lacking animations in several scenes and generally lower quality overall
  117. Pacing: Act 2 and 3 have some pretty serious pacing issues
  118. Theme: Also the theme of ME3 is totally synthetics vs. organics despite barely doing it at all
  119. Writing: General romance negative

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Difficulty Options: The game does some great stuff with its difficulty, changing enemy AI, patterns, and tactics…
  2. Difficulty Options: …earning two positives
  3. Build: Finally some actual build gameplay in honest mutators in skills
  4. Respec: Ability to just respec on the fly, which works well with the pre-existing build setup (though this goes away if you leave the menu) but then you can respec on the ship for credits
  5. Music: Some really good songs in this one
  6. Interface: The leveling and equipment interfaces is neat and informative
  7. HUD: In-combat HUD is distinct and useful
  8. Guidance and Flow: There’s markers, which don’t show up automatically and are usable by player input
  9. Core Mechanic: The Weight system is legit. It allows you to have a gradient of choice between weapons, cooldown, and several things in between
  10. Level: The Priority Palavan mission (on the moon) is actually quite legit. It’s a good real ‘first glance’ at the Reaper combat type
  11. Level: Continuing the good stage design is Priority Eden Prime, where we recruit Javik, and are introduced to Engineers and Atlases
  12. Level: Jack’s Mission has good tutorialization (ATLAS’s and taking over one), good layout and encounter design, and fun and challenging terrain design…
  13. Level: …earning two positives
  14. Class: Okay so, yeah, the class design really comes into its own in this one. Each class has had a tuning pass, with slight variations to existing abilities, new abilities added, and on top of the new Builds and Weight systems, every single class is very fun to play, so we’re just going to give two positives to all of them, starting with…
  15. Class: …Adept
  16. Class: Soldier…
  17. Class: …which manages to be interesting and still fun despite mostly being a shooter
  18. Class: Vanguard…
  19. Class: …which is an absolute blast to play as always
  20. Class: Sentinel…
  21. Class: …which is a tank from hell
  22. Class: Infiltrator…
  23. Class: …which actually has the level design necessary to properly enjoy the stealth / sniper combo
  24. Class: And finally Engineer…
  25. Class: …was already amusing, but massively comes into its own with turret and ability gameplay
  26. Level: For all its narrative issues, the ‘demo mission’ on Sur’Kesh is pretty legit, as per usual for this game
  27. Level: I like the pseudo optional minibosses of the Harvesters across the Tuchanka Turian Platoon mission as well
  28. Level: For all its irritations, the fights and encounters on the Citadel 2 mission are legit
  29. Aggregate: Level: So, how about that bomb on Tuchanka? // The beginning mission on Tuchanka // The initial Citadel 2 stage
  30. Choices: Tuchanka is one of the two really excellent, pinpoint examples of actually acknowledging the choices we’ve made and managing to properly weave them into many different possible outcomes, all of which are satisfying…
  31. Choices: …thus the Tuchanka MSQ…
  32. Choices: …earns three positives by itself
  33. Level: Arrae and the Jacob mission, as usual, are legit
  34. Level: Omega 1
  35. Level: Omega 2
  36. Level: Omega 3 (reactor)
  37. Boss: Omega final boss
  38. Level: Geth Dreadnaught
  39. Level: Geth Dreadnaught uniqueness
  40. Minigame: Decent photo mode
  41. Viscerality: Spell viscerality
  42. Viscerality: Gun viscerality
  43. Kit: Gun variety x1
  44. Kit: Gun variety x2
  45. Kit: Gun variety x3
  46. Level: Thessia 1
  47. Enemy AI: The AI design is the best it’s been, especially with the new difficulty options…
  48. Enemy AI: …earning two positives
  49. Party AI: Further for the party’s AI and their general usefulness…
  50. Party AI: …for another two
  51. Enemy Variety: Cerberus troops are very, very well designed, with lots of interlocking and overlapping tactics and abilities…
  52. Enemy Variety: …earning…
  53. Enemy Variety: …three positives
  54. Enemy Variety: Reapers aren’t quite as good, but are still exceptionally well designed…
  55. Enemy Variety: …for two positives
  56. Enemy Variety: Geth line up alongside the Reapers…
  57. Enemy Variety: …for two positives
  58. Enemy Variety: Generally excellent enemy variety…
  59. Controls: Game controls better than every previous game…
  60. Controls: …earning two positives
  61. Core Combat: Core combat is easily the most fun it’s been, between skills and a huge kit of guns and just everything…
  62. Core Combat: …earning…
  63. Core Combat: …three positives
  64. HUD: The HUD is good stuff
  65. Animation: Animations USUALLY help inform and add to fight tactics
  66. Encounter Design: Encounter design has a lot of thought put into which enemies should be faced alongside which, also taking into account terrain and placement in the game as a whole…
  67. Encounter Design: ….easily earning…
  68. Encounter Design: …three positives
  69. Music: Music continues to be a bop
  70. Level: Leviathan mining area, with the interesting and well designed escort mission
  71. Level: Leviathan arid planet, with the constantly changing terrain and a final boss fight against a Harvester (with lots of strategically positioned barrels to use)
  72. Level: Citadel 1
  73. Level: Citadel actual variance based on different mission parameters
  74. Level: Citadel 2 and onwards
  75. Minigame: Armax Arena…
  76. Minigame: …is a lot of fun with some good variety to it too
  77. Choices: Many many ways the party can go
  78. Save: Generally good save system
  79. Replayability: The game is very replayable, technically speaking
  80. Sound Design: Generally good sound design
  81. Song: Leaving Earth

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Choices: Removal of choices gameplay (or, functionally, limited choices)
  2. Camera: Drunk cam
  3. Unskippable Cutscenes: It’s inconsistent but it’s there
  4. Controls: The one-button-for-all-the-stuff thing returns
  5. Minigame: Scanning slowdown is redunculous and unnecessary
  6. Padding: The entire ‘exploration’ mechanic is… not good, at best
  7. Padding: Oh and if the Reapers catch you in deep space you instantly die
  8. Secondary: Side quests are awful. There’s no real engagement, barely any gameplay, and no real direction… they also tend to be of the ‘go mash A on random thing’ variety…
  9. Secondary: …earning them…
  10. Secondary: …three negatives
  11. Interface: Y’know, I wasn’t sure at first, but the quest log really is the worst quest log I’ve ever seen. Total lack of useful information on multiple levels, and a total lack of updates as you progress. Hope you have a guide! So yeah…
  12. Interface: …three…
  13. Interface: …negatives
  14. Graphics: Usual depth of field issue
  15. Hub: The Citadel is literally irritating to navigate this time around
  16. Choices: The fact that there are actually acknowledgements of choices that are ‘wrong’ from previous games is fine in theory, but the way it’s applied…
  17. Padding: Seconds In Minutes problems. It’s bad. It’s the worst in the franchise and I hate it and I hate wasting literal hours trying to just see all the content…
  18. Padding: …earning it…
  19. Padding: …three negatives
  20. HUD: Items not showing up until A: Close and B: Not sprinting
  21. Enemy Design: Special mention for several enemies being… honestly bad (Banshees being able to instantly grab you with no capacity to see it coming or dodge)
  22. Core Mechanic: Warscore as a method to unlock endings is… really bad. I spent an additional 2 hours, 15 minutes just running around getting warscore to be able to showcase almost everything…
  23. Core Mechanic: …earning…
  24. Core Mechanic: …three negatives
  25. Level: The Geth Consensus mission should be a talky mission and… isn’t
  26. Boss: The Kai Leng supposed-to-lose fight is honestly one of the worst supposed-to-lose fights I have ever seen in my career…
  27. Boss: …and it earns…
  28. Boss: …three negatives
  29. Level: The ‘detective’ sequences in the Leviathan quests… suck. They’re padding, and they’re just ‘mash A’ quests
  30. Padding: Having to enter and leave and enter and leave the apartment to unlock convos is pointless and wasteful
  31. Boss: The final boss fight (Kai Leng) isn’t as bad as last time, but it’s not great
  32. Outro: So per the previous point; the final few levels are substandard by this game’s excellent, uh, standards. Now normally this would be merely an absence of a negative, but in this case this is the final dungeon. The Outro has higher standards, as it always does
  33. Outro: Then there’s the actual final encounter, a… boring horde battle. Uh, okay
  34. Outro: And the true final boss fight…. The dialogue ‘battle’ with TOM? Does not work for the aforementioned reasons in the story negatives
  35. Padding: One final bit of padding screw you at the very end
  36. Choices: And a total lack of proper options at the very end
  37. Choices: So… Shepard dies, no matter what. In a franchise like this, in a genre like this, this feels… off and wrong
  38. Saves: The inability to save in the finale, forcing you to redo all of it for the final choices, is ridiculous
  39. Choices: So the Romance gameplay isn’t great to begin with (ME1 issue) but also some of the better ones are totally locked out unless you already romanced them in 2