Mass Effect 3 Wii U review

  • Cool use of the GamePad
  • Included DLC pads out the already strong campaign
  • The ending
  • Not being able to carry over previous games' choices
  • Some blurry textures and audio problems
  • The ending

Earlier this year the divisive Mass Effect 3 was released, concluding the current console generation’s largest, most ambitious sci-fi franchise. Though some took issue with the ending (which we mention in our Mass Effect 3 review, few argued against the improvements to the gameplay, and the general strength of the storytelling. With the Wii U’s release, BioWare has repackaged the thrilling shooter, inviting Nintendo gamers to experience Mass Effect for the first time. And though it’s a competent port with some nice additions, it’s hard to justify picking this one up when it means forgoing the continuity carried over from the first two games. 

The core experience--the one we played back when the game launched on other consoles earlier this year--is essentially the same. Commander Shepard is on a quest to stop the reapers from their intergalactic genocide quest by blowing up bad guys, sleeping with aliens, and making ridiculously difficult decisions. These choices continue to escalate as the game progresses, making the “which person do you save” moments of past Mass Effect games seem quaint in retrospect. Third-person action segments are thrilling, frequently reaching heights usually only seen for fleeting moments in other franchises, from the beginning of the game until its conclusion. The multiplayer, too, is intact with the Wii U version, and you’ll be hard pressed not to find yourself pulled in to the thrilling wave-based matches. 

Technically, Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U is about the same as it was on other consoles, save for some occasionally blurry textures and audio problems. They're minor, and the visual differences are only noticeable if you've played the game on another platform first, but they're still there. Some minor additions, however, make up for the issues, and create a more flexible experience when it comes to combat. Ordering around squadmates, both to change position and use abilities, is easier to control with the touchscreen. Quick taps will cause your allies to dash across the map, and commanding them to attack enemies is even easier when you don’t need to constantly try to remember what was assigned to what button. The inclusion of a map on the screen, too, is a technical improvement, even if it isn’t needed.

More important is the inclusion of a smattering of additional features, including the Extended Cut ending, as well as the From Ashes and Leviathan DLC. Since Mass Effect’s downloadable content is best interweaved with the rest of the story, it helps the game’s value, padding out the already lengthy campaign.

The largest, most unavoidable issue with Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U is also the most obvious one: It’s best served as the conclusion to the past two games, and not really meant to be a stand-alone experience. The introductory motion comic works for those who have already played the game on other systems, but it doesn’t really give the full story for anyone looking to jump into the series for the first time.

If you really, really want to play Mass Effect and simply can’t get your hands on it for other consoles, the Wii U version will definitely work, and it’s a fine iteration. But unless you fall into that niche, it’s likely worth grabbing the games on other consoles so that you can get the full experience.

More Info

Release date: Nov 18 2012 - Wii U (US)
Available Platforms: Wii U
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: BioWare
Franchise: Mass Effect
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Violence, Sexual Content

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  • Squirrel - November 20, 2012 8:06 a.m.

    If EA releases the Mass Effect Trilogy for Wii U I will buy it in a second. But I just can't buy the third game, and sadly if enough people dont but it they probably wont put the trilogy on Wii U. Such a vexing conundrum.
  • mothbanquet - November 20, 2012 7:55 a.m.

    Ocarina of Time aside, Hollander is quite correct. All three games are available on three other platforms and you'll be wanting to play them all in succession for the true experience. If all you've got is a Wii U you're better off either waiting to see if they release the others for the console eventually or picking up a cheap 360/PS3 when the new ones come out and playing entire trilogy on those. As a standalone experience there are better single and multiplayer games out there for you to try.
  • winner2 - November 20, 2012 6:22 a.m.

    Why would you buy this when you can get all 3 for cheaper on a cheaper console that has better games? I'm not seeing a bunch of people with wii u's wanting it. The people who are familiar with games (like anyone on this site) probably have a pc or other consoles they can play it on, and the "casual gamers" (I hate using that phrase) probably aren't liable to take much interest in this. This is not a casual game, it's for people wanting to set aside large periods of time for it. Just my thoughts.
  • t_skwerl - November 20, 2012 5:25 a.m.

    I pretty much agree with Cooper. The appeal of Mass Effect 3 is strong. It's a great game, but again I have to scoff at the "great jumping on point" ad campaign. The Genesis comic on PS3 was a nice freebie that let you make the major decisions from Part 1 to carry over, but quite a few were simply made for you with no options for carry over saves. Kirrahe, Conrad Verner, The Consort, Balak, etc. You'd never convince me to buy this for the Wii U, when I have the entire trilogy (come December 4th) for every other major platform.
  • AuthorityFigure - November 20, 2012 12:54 a.m.

    I don't think the Wii U ultimately needs these sorts of games, but if that's your thing - this is good news I suppose.
  • Marcunio88 - November 20, 2012 5:51 a.m.

    The Wii U doesn't need one of the best new IPs of this generation? Ok then...
  • UltimateLemon - November 20, 2012 6:50 a.m.

    Depends. A port will inevitably draw comparison between versions and that gets reflected to capabilities of the consoles; especially at console launch.
  • AuthorityFigure - November 23, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    We don't know that it needs these types of games, no. The Wii certainly didn't.
  • SentientSquidMachine - November 19, 2012 10:01 p.m.

    I would assume that a sensible person would have played 1 and 2 before 3, so why would you play it on a console where you cannot carry over saves, when you could buy 3 cheap on the console (thats still on par or superior wo wiiu). The pad is cool...not the price of the complete triology set cool though.
  • cokelogic - November 19, 2012 9:29 p.m.

    This game should not exist. Just read a comic book synopsis about Star Wars before you jump right into Return of the Jedi. See if you even care about Vader's redemption. (Spoiler from 1983)
  • talleyXIV - November 19, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    This should be $30 at most, Wii U will get nowhere re-releasing year old games at full price.
  • larkan - November 19, 2012 11:31 p.m.

    Yeah, and people wonder why console ports to PC that take months longer to complete and are usually shitty get pirated so much. They expect us to pay full price for something that's been out for months? Torrent discount it is.