The Mass Effect 3 Journal: Day 1

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are Mass Effect 3 reviews. I can only play so much of a game on day one, and judging by my 40 hour save file from ME2, it’s going to be a long journey.

This day one journal installment will just give you a taste of what I’ve experienced in the first six or seven hours, which isn’t much because as always, 80% of game time is wrapped up in dialogue. I’m a “pursue every conversation tree” kind of guy, and the story and characters have always been my favorite part of the game over combat, which is the focus of most similarly themed titles.

It’s been about three years since we last saw Shepard, and despite his insistence that the sky was falling (that was literally one of the DLCs, wasn’t it?), the universe is stunned when the Reapers finally invade and start wrecking everyone’s shit.

Tearing the entire galaxy apart city by city? I guess you’re not on a tight schedule.

The good news is, the destruction of the galaxy is going to take awhile. Though the Reapers have started invading the outer colonies of the Milky Way, Earth included, there’s going to be time for Shepard to run around recruiting allies for the cause of…not dying.

It seems like kind of a silly premise on the surface. Do we really have to convince people to band together for their own survival as giant mecha robots are tearing apart all of their homeworlds? Well yes, yes you do.

I actually think it’s darkly humorous that the whole idea behind the game is diplomacy. Even though it would seem like a giant, obvious threat would unite all parties, politics is politics, and that doesn’t change across species or in the face of certain oblivion.

After watching Earth get torn apart, Shepard jets away in search of new allies, and in turn, a new crew. You start with no familiar faces, but as the plot unwinds, they start to trickle in the way you’d expect.

What is a little off-putting at the beginning of the game, and something that cannot be avoided by anyone with eyes and a knowledge of pop culture, is that three, count ’em, three initial members of your crew look like very specific Jersey Shore characters.

The resemblance is beyond uncanny, and I know I’m not the first to point it out. There’s James Vega, a perfect stand in for the tan, tattooed, roided-out, fauxhawked Ronnie. A war reporter comes onboard your ship who is a dead ringer for Snooki, and Ashley Williams has been tragically made over as Sammy Sweetheart, complete with overtan and lip gloss. One of these would be funny, three? It’s downright bizarre, and I can’t believe no one saw this during the design process.

Oh COME ON!

In any case, fortunately you have less guido-ish crew members to collect. I like how the game isn’t a specific “FIND YOUR CREW” scavenger hunt the way it was in the last game, and so far, the process of acquiring new members seems quite natural. A few spoilers ahead in the next few paragraphs if you’d rather not know who I’ve found so far.

My old flame Liara is back from the start, though I had to crush her heart by telling her we should “just be friends” as I’m waiting for my lady love Tali to show up. I finally got Garrus back on my team, but so far the most interesting new member is EDI. Yes, your ship. She ends up taking a physical female form that allows Joker to crush on her in person, and it’s absolutely hilarious to see her try and return some of the affection as she analyzes how to be an actual “person.” I’m not so sure how I feel about her Jetsons-meets-Fembot aesthetic that kind of clashes with everything around her though.

Not everyone is coming back however, and I had a very sad run-in with Thane, who is looking greener than usual as his debilitating disease has him seeking daily medical treatment, and  he is unable to rejoin your squad. But he’s at peace facing death, and it was one of the most gratifying, heartfelt exchanges in the game so far.