Mass Effect 3 has been out for awhile now, but I wanted to wait before writing a review until I had finished the game. I took my sweet time absorbing everything the finale of this great space opera had to offer. Here is the information I can offer you, spoiler free.
Starting with the basics, this game looks great. There wasn't any huge advancement in the graphics that made my brain explode with amazement, but it still looks really crisp, nicely saturated colors, and there was no noticeable motion blur. The music was generally appropriate although sometimes pushed the limit of being overly dramatic. I appreciate some high octane music when I'm in combat to keep my pulse up, but some of the fight scenes were really long and listening the background tunes began to get annoying, resulting in me going into the menus to turn it down.
The game play definitely had a few quirks that took getting used to. There were times when ducking into cover took a couple tries, but it was also problematic to pop up and take a shot on enemy and duck back down. Occasionally, smaller things like getting the angle correct to open doors, pick up items, or highlight objects could be picky and frustrating. Throughout the game, I became used to slightly awkward angles and habits of the controls and it was way more manageable by the end of the game. I thought that this could be due to my adversity towards third person perspective, but after talking to friends and hunting around forums I found that I wasn't alone.
I was very disappointed to see the return of the stupid power wheel with no improvements, it's still just as annoying as it has been in the previous games. Comparing weapons was better than it was in ME2, but I still miss the actual numerical statistics that were present in the first title. I did like the weapon customization much better and the armor customizing was also much improved.
All of those things aside, the story is what we really care about and I thought it was great. The fate and whereabouts of all major characters including squad mates from the previous titles were addressed. The side missions were appropriate and all really contributed to the sense of impending galactic war. There were no little missions where I was sent to find a battery or locate someones totally insignificant brother. Everything really seemed important and added to the sense of urgency and severity of the situation. From rounding up other races to help in the fight, to solving generations-long conflict between species, Commander Shepard has a lot to do.
Without giving away any spoilers, I really liked the ending of the game; it was almost everything I wanted it to be. There were sweat inducing battles, jaw dropping cinematics, resolution/closure with characters, and an amazing grand finale to this giant story. I know there has been negative feelings in the online community in that some players didn't like how the game ended, and Bioware has responded by saying that they will address the story's ending and possibly provide a new one. There are no details as to when or how, but there is a significant chance that story altering DLC is in the works. Whether I agree that I did or didn't like the ending, I love the fact that Bioware listens to their fans and is willing to make adjustments to continually earn their love.
If you haven't played the first two games, don't get this one. You will be way behind in the story and that is the most powerful part. However, you should definitely back track and play the first two. They are both still relevant and totally playable. If you have already conquered one and two, three is an obvious purchase that lives up to the expectations. I liked the game play, loved the story, and tip my hat to Bioware on a job well done.